Sunday, August 31, 2014

Magic Moment #19 - A Full Life

I was about to write and apologize for not posting on my blog recently—overcome by current events and a busy schedule.  When I remembered a conversation I had with my mom and sisters a month ago.  One of my sisters remarked that I really did not know what busy was.  At first I was offended, but I realized she was defining busy as a long day filled with “requirements”.   But, oh yes, I was that kind of busy for many years of my life.   After receiving my college degree (which in itself required my time 24/7), I set off to have an ambitious career.  Working long hours, volunteering for special projects and accepting additional assignments.  I was promoted and my salary rose with the increasing responsibilities and eventual advancement into management.  There was very little time at home/leisure and my life was way out of balance. 

This went on for 20+ years until 18 years ago, after a particularly grueling stint of months and months without a single day off from work and 12 to 14-hour days, I looked in the mirror and realized this was not the life I wanted.  I did not have to be “busy”.  My hair was literally falling out from stress.  I developed a irregular heartbeat and I took medication to prevent the pounding from keeping me up at night.  Although others noticed and remarked on my declining health, it wasn’t until someone loaned me the book in 1995, Your Money or Your Life, published in 1992 by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin that the proverbial light went on. 

A few years later I was able to transfer to an individual contributor/staff position.  One that required very little overtime.  Yes, I took a slight cut in pay; but overall the hourly wage was actually higher (my corporation’s management positions did not pay for additional hours worked—most companies do not).  My husband and I downsized to a smaller home and yard (no yard actually, we purchased a townhome), got rid of toys (camper, boat, etc.) that were used very little or no longer used, downsized my wardrobe (no more dry cleaning, no more heels!) and generally downsized everything that needed care and took up space.  I devoted my new found time planning for a retirement—a future when I could do activities that pleased me everyday, all day.  Best of all,  I no longer needed the heart medication.  The retirement planning paid off and we retired at the young age of 55.  I feel better than ever (out of the office/cubicle and in the outdoors again).

I could go on in more detail how I made my life “requirements” much simpler and replaced them with meaningful “to-dos”, but I will leave you with this for now.  You have choices.  Yes, you really do.  My life is no longer “busy”.  My days are very, very full of happy and rewarding activities spent with my husband and friends and just myself.  So, forgive me as I skip a few blog posts--I am enjoying myself with days bursting at the seams with things worth doing.  In the future, I will no longer describe my day as busy, I will say with a smile, my day was full.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Coles–Final Installment

Of course, the Cole family lives on; it is not really “The End”.  My grandfather, Joseph Franklin Cole, was the grandson of Elizabeth Buckingham Cole; and she has been the subject of my series of family history.  My father was Joseph Franklin Cole II.  My brother, Joseph Franklin Cole III.  And finally my nephew, Joseph Franklin Cole IV.  And brother Neil and his two boys, Casey and Mason.

teacupElizabeth Buckingham Cole passed away May 1899.  “Left for the other world,” as my elderly aunt once said.  The strong thread that held the family together for so many years was gone.  She never gave up her aristocratic habits through all the years.  Tea at 4 pm.  Wool clothing for day, silk for Sunday and a fur cape for special occasions.  Never cotton—much too common.  Always full of love and kindness for her husband, children and family back in England.  Missing her home in England, but never allowed to return.

Elizabeth would have most likely led a comfortable life in England if she had forsaken the “Irish Gardener” and the twinkle in his blue-gray eyes.  She went with her heart and experienced the most exciting life. 

And although I no longer have the Cole surname, I have something very special--I inherited my great-great-great grandfather’s blue-gray eyes.  {Smile}

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Annual Mother/Daughters Get-Away - 2014

Once a year my mother and two sisters get away for a weekend to reconnect.  We drink a lot of wine, never cook a meal and do whatever we please.

Last year, we spent the weekend with my sister, Tracy, at her “work” home.  A haunted 100+ years old home in southern Ohio.  Tracy gave us the tour of Ohio green acres and at night we poked fun at her resident ghost, d’Ellie (dead + Ellie).

houseboat_slide0Last weekend, sister Melinda, booked a houseboat located on Lake Union in downtown Seattle (owned by a friend of a friend).  The weather was perfect in the low 80’s and we had use of their small paddleboat.  Our navigational skills were a bit off (The rudder was faulty!  Honest!) 

Absolutely, the best time.

Next year, it is my turn to plan.  Possible choices are Victoria, B.C., or La Conner during the tulip festival, or Port Townsend (Do you think I can talk everyone into experiencing the Steampunk Festival?) or maybe Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  We’ll see, but anywhere will be just fine.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Magic Moment #18–The Music Plays On

Each moment in my life can be marked by a special song.  I cannot imagine life without music. 

The late 1960’s left the biggest mark.  Jim Morrison.  Jimi Hendrix.  Janis Joplin.  The Beatles early and later.  Then on to the early 1970’s with the Doobie Brothers, Jim Croce, Van Morrison, Eagles and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. 

jimihendrixI had an enormous poster of Jimi Hendrix on my bedroom wall when I was teenager.  His image scared the bee-jeesus out of my brothers and sisters.  “The Wind Cries Mary”, my favorite song. 

My first school dance playing, “Crystal Blue Persuasion”.  The girls hugging the wall on one side of the gym; the boys on the other side.  My heart pounding when “that” boy walked across the gym to ask me to dance.

“Riders on the Storm”.  Playing over and over on my boyfriend’s recording driving back from our vacation at the Kah-Nee-Tah resort.  Jim Morrison of The Doors was the definition of sex.  Good god, I was lost.

The illicit high school beer parties always playing “American Pie” over someone’s car radio. 

One of the nuns at my husband’s church, had a beautiful voice and graciously agreed to sing, Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” at our wedding.  The church echoed with her song.  Perfection.

My grandmother’s recording of “Careless Love” from her 1930’s band.  The host introducing her as the lead singer…”and now the lovely Mrs. Peggy Hopp”…

Each year brings new music, new singers, an inventive way to play past and present songs.  Jazz.  World of African, Celtic, Asian.  Opera.  Classical.  Folk.  Good ol’ Rock and Roll.

Life is set to song and I love it.  Glorious.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Coles–8th Installment

On December 6, 2012, I wrote the following (second paragraph below) fully expecting to receive some more family history details from my second Cousin, Tom, and photographs of Elizabeth Buckingham Cole.  Tom was taking over the reins as the Cole Family Historian from Pat Weeks (another distant Cole relative—her mother Florence Cole Weeks, granddaughter of Elizabeth).  If you would like to refresh your memory of Elizabeth Cole (and for those of you new to the blog and wondering what in the world I am writing about), I started her story on this blog November 22, 2012.

“A note on the 8th Installment of The Coles (refer to the last 7 blog posts).  I know I left you hanging and Elizabeth still has some major challenges in her life, but I would like to post some pictures of her.  My cousin (second cousin, that is) is sending a few photographs.  Don’t forget me, Tom!”

Sadly, Cousin Tom lost his battle with cancer last year not able to follow-through with my request.  Pat unexpectedly died within two weeks of Tom’s passing.  It was unclear to me who would be maintaining the Cole family history after this.  Another reminder of how quickly life moves on.   I have been asked to finish Elizabeth’s story with what I have currently.  Such an interesting life, it would have been made so much more alive if I had the visuals.  Here is the rest of the story…

William Thomas Cole & Elizabeth Buckingham ColeElizabeth Buckingham Cole

“If you recall the last post on Elizabeth Cole, she lost her husband (my great-great grandfather) in October 1889 (the handsome Irish gardener)and at age 71 he was finally laid to rest.  Leaving their small farm in Iowa, Elizabeth headed West again—to the farthest reaches of the country in Washington State.  (Photo at left is William and Elizabeth during their Iowa years.)

Traveling with her son, William Buckingham Cole, and his wife, Viola Bonebrake, and their five children, they made their new home in Centralia, Washington where other relatives had settled years before.  A few years after making a home in Centralia, Viola became ill with tuberculosis and died October 17, 1895 leaving an elderly Elizabeth (now in her 70’s) to raise a large and very young family.

Although their home was bare, grandmother Elizabeth made a warm, comfortable home for her grandchildren.  As a skilled seamstress, she taught her granddaughter to sew when she was five years old.  All four grandsons adored her.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were filled with the delicious scents of her famous old country plum puddings.  

But survival in the woods of the Northwest was a challenge.  If ever there was a courageous woman, she was one, as Elizabeth’s son, William, became very ill with a lung infection and required a delicate operation.  Medical facilities and staff were almost non-existent in this part of the country.  To save her son’s life, Elizabeth’s nursing skills were needed by the local small town doctor.  The operation was performed on the dining room table with all the sheets and instruments sterilized by Elizabeth and giving her assistance to the doctor.  Young grandson, Ira, administered the anesthetic.

Her son survived.”

I will finish the final chapter of Elizabeth’s life next week.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Magic Moment #17–Undergraduate Degree

IMG_2941Although my parents wanted and expected their children to continue to university after high school, I knew they had no money to send me.  Through a program (too complicated to explain here), my dad had a “grant” for each of his children to attend the University of Washington tuition-free.  But, obtaining it (too complicated to explain here) and paying for books and cost of living in Seattle, was simply out of the question.  I had to figure it out myself.  I wanted a four-year undergraduate degree and knew it was in my best interest.

Using the cooperative education program at my high school and the business skills I learned early on, I was able to get a job during high school and after graduation with a government contractor offering paid college tuition for coursework taken after hours.  I worked full-time (the job had a 40-minute commute) and attended college courses at night, on weekends, and sometimes taking vacation to attend courses only offered out of town on the main college campus at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.  One quarter I took a 3-month work leave and signed up for double the college credit normally allowed (had to get special permission).  There were no short-cuts or easy on-line access available during those days—same number of hours (usually from 5 pm to 10 pm, 4 nights a week with no time for dinner and some weekend classes), same amount of homework as a full-time student.  I drove to the school, plopped my butt in a hard seat and absorbed what was taught.  I gave up sleep during the workweek and socializing on weekends with friends to complete the homework or attend class.  I am not whining, just saying it was extremely difficult.

It took about ten years after graduating from high school (there were a few quarters I simply could not afford to buy the books and was not able to attend), but with determination I achieved a B.S. in Business Administration at Central Washington University (focus on Finance and Marketing) and a decent grade point average.   And I am proud as hell I did it.  “Magic moment” does not even begin to describe how I felt when I received that single piece of paper above.  And yes, it was worth it…I was able to retire young, wasn’t I?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mystic Moment #16–Fortune Teller

kristine_rose_walshWith two friends, Linda (originated from the Isle of Wight—south of England) and Wanda, we journeyed to Port Townsend today to have our fortunes told at Phoenix Rising.  You know the shop with glowing crystals in the window and incense wafting out the front doorway.  We had appointments with a well-known intuitive/medium, Kristine Rose-Walsh (her photo, left—looks pretty normal, right?).  I am a skeptic in most things spiritual, but I have to say she had some very interesting insights about me and my life.

The reading started with the dampening of dry tea leaves in a delicate tea cup.  The moistened leaves are swirled clock-wise while you are instructed to think about significant thoughts/events on your mind.  After a minute, the cup is quickly turned over on a cloth.  With the cup turned up right-side, the leaves remain stuck to the bottom.   Kristine set them aside.

She then selects eight random cards with symbols from a large stack.  Two represent your past, two your present, and four as the future.  Kristine begins interpreting the cards. 

The past for me has been very structured, mostly mental, left brain.  Everything organized.  Everything strategic.  Events thought out.  [Okay, she has this right.   Long hours making a living and planning our retirement.   But, this can apply to many…] 

The present shows a transition to a creative life.  A desire to lead with the heart rather than the mind, but there is difficulty moving away from maintaining tight structure and over-thinking everything.  [Wow, this is getting close.]

My future includes a concentrated effort to delve into my creative side, painting, maybe more.  [Did I just hear her mention painting!?]  “Once you make time for this, you get lost in it, don’t you?  It is important to you to do more.  Keep going. ”  [Yes!  Well, that was insightful and very encouraging.]

On to the tea leaves.  “You are planning a far-away trip in the next few months?”  [Yes!]  “The trip will be exciting and you will have wonderful experiences.  I see interesting, unusual trees.  [What?  Trees?]  Trees with flattened branches.”  [Well, dang!  I will be looking for those trees when we travel to Croatia in October!]

After the three of us received our readings, we compared notes over a cup of coffee.  [Port Townsend is filled with little coffee shops with freshly baked pastries located in old little cottages.  So cute!]  Of course, Wanda and I will be traveling to Croatia together and Kristine told her the same as me—traveling to a far-away place in a few months.  Wanda’s trip prediction includes a life-changing event.  I am looking forward to seeing her experience that!  And Linda’s reading had advice for dealing with a past difficult divorce and moving on with her life. 

A little spooky, new experience.  Try it!  I think I got some good advice.  And my friends were pleased with their readings.  Time to move on with right brain thinking and stop being so “mental”!