Friday, May 1, 2009

Old Pictures

I found this picture and decided it would be fun to share it. Hopefully, I will be back soon to actually post a real blog. This semester has been a bit overwhelming and I haven't done any extra writing. I'll start posting again soon...promise!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pictures from Halloween Party

Here are some pictures from the annual Halloween party in big Roscoe, TX. I hope you enjoy them. We had a blast & as you can imagine, I loved wearing a kimono.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Other side of the window

October 15th was the one year mark of the death of Cassie, my cousin's daughter. This was the first of many losses my family would suffer over a 12 month period. I remember being awestruck as a line of people wrapped around the block waiting to show their respect to Cassie and to her parents. I watched as people I loved and people I never met were brought to their knees in grief and incomprehensible sorrow. It was one of many moments this year that I had to ask, "Why?"
I am very blessed to be close to my mom's side of the family. Though I am the youngest of, oh, about 100 cousins, we are close, we have each other's back, and we come together in times of joy and of mourning. This was true over this past year.
My grandpa, Dutch Eshbaugh, passed away early this year. We all gathered together and celebrated his 90+ years. We laughed, hugged, cried, told stories, and felt his presence in the space between each of us.
A few months later, my Aunt Maki passed away. I spoke of this in earlier postings.
Last month my cousin, Sgt. Dan Eshbaugh, was killed in a chanook helicopter crash while in service in Iraq. His funeral was my first military funeral experience. It blew my mind. The entire service was like a standing ovation for his service and his life. It is forever etched in my mind looking out my window during the funeral procession and seeing rows of people holding flags and saluting. The procession was led and ended by the patriot guard (big dudes and dudettes on awesome motorcycles). My word for this whole experience is "Overwhelming". Later that evening the family gathered for supper together. We laughed, shared memories, cried, hugged, and embraced life in the moment.
I have a different perspective after this year of losses (and gains). Here are some thoughts I'd like to pass on:
1. Live today as if you are not dead
2. Support your family, friends, neighbors, and people who do not have family, friends, and neighbors--when there is a death. Support by being there and standing for their loved one, marking that moment with them.
3. Your presence at a funeral is a standing ovation witnessed by the ones left behind.
4. Tell people you love them every chance you get
5. Forgive
6. Be present in the moment, slow down & experience people put in your path
7. Ask God to increase your faith
8. Embrace your own history, present & future
9. Think of the person on the inside of the car window in funeral processions. Pull your car over and pay respect & honor. It looks so different on the inside looking out.
10. This world is not our home, we are all in the process of dying...

Life is short, Go Live,


Thursday, August 28, 2008

"The Rest of the story..."

I recieved an e-mail from my cousin in California after she read the post about the socks I recieved from her mother. I have to include what she had to say about the socks. I have to tell you, I've never felt so honored to recieve such a simple gift. Below is my cousin Susan's response:
Hi Gretchen~Another thought just came to mind, and I wanted to share with you...She was interesting. She would always say how no one gave her anything when they got married, not even a pair of socks (Mitchell side and her family's--I assume because she married a Caucasian--- when they found out she was pregnant with me, they told her to dump me in the well and none of the neighbors would know). When they moved to America, she felt very poor and impoverished. She said that even so they loaned money to the Mitchell grandparents so that Kathy could have an operation and were never paid back. She always told me that people wouldn't even give her a pair of socks.... Interesting. I didn't know that she attached so much value to socks until I read your blog. Growing up during the war, she was given hand me downs. She had four older sisters. By the time she got anything they were worn and threadbare. This is the reason why she went into sewing. So she could wear the gorgeous clothes that you saw in the Power Point. Even after she got married, she continued to say no one gave her anything, not even a pair of socks... Funny how she put such high value on a pair of socks. Growing up during the war probably impacted her in ways we will never imagine. I don't think my father experienced war quite like she did.
Susan, if you are reading this, I hope you don't mind I shared the rest of this story. I think it is an important piece and I think it teaches all of us a little about ourselves and others. As each of us live our lives it is all to easy too lose sight of all the other perspectives, experiences, and needs that exist around us.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Memories, Gifts & Surprises

A few posts back I talked about my Aunt Maki. This post has been brewing most of the summer. However, I have been too busy to write it. I decided today is the day to release it from that chamber in my mind that kept it from disappearing into my forgetfulness.

One of the clearest memories I have of my Aunt Maki is from around Christmas time in Mississippi when I was a little girl. I did not share this memory in my previous post. Mostly, because it is a random memory that only holds significance to me. You know how sometimes you remember something that appears to be completely unimportant yet there it is year after year just as clear as the year before. Nevermind the fact that I often can't remember what I did last week! Anyway, I digress. This is one of those memories.

Get ready to be completely unimpressed with how little I actually remember of this little but clear memory nugget. When I was a little girl my Aunt Maki was the antithesis of everything I knew and understood about people, culture, and especially my father's family. It was Awesome! We usually went to Mississippi about twice a year to visit my father's family. This usually was around Christmas and the Fourth of July. I have to admit, with the exception of the time we spent gathered around singing hymns together, I really really did not like going to my grandpa's house. (One of those reflections that show me how self-absorbed I was as a youngster). The exceptions to the boring, hum drum of these visits always included my Uncle Eddie, next his children, then on at least this occasion, his wife, Maki. My Uncle Eddie was also the antithesis to the rest of my dad's family. He was so unconventional, knowledgeable, and FUN and his presence could fill the entire house. I don't remember much in the way of conversation with my Aunt Maki. For one thing, when I was younger she didn't speak English. In fact, that's what stands out most in this memory.

So, here's the nugget: I remember being in my grandpa Mitchell's kitchen with my Aunt Maki. She is handing me a gift and saying something that I do not understand. She repeats the same thing over and over and each time getting a little louder. This frightened me. I held the little gift in my hand unsure what I was supposed to do. I wasn't even sure if the gift was for me. Someone eventually came in and facilitated the gift exchange. I don't remember who. However, I do remember my fear instantly melting and being ecstatic that I was getting a gift from my exotic and exciting Japanese aunt. My imagination was exploding with the thought of what it could be (a Japanese fan or a cool trinket). I slowly opened this spectacular surprise...I reached in...I felt around...then I dumped out the contents to find what was inside and out fell a pair of socks. About that time my Aunt Maki said the same word over and over again and I'm guessing she was telling me she got me some socks.

That's the end of the memory, or so I thought.

After my Aunt Maki passed away my cousin Sharon brought by several items from my aunt's home for me and my children. My Japanese inheritance you could say. I picked up all these great gifts which were in Japanese boxes and bags. My kids were outside playing so I was able to pour over these gifts on my own. Suddenly, I was a little girl again. I slowly and methodically opened each bag and box. All the containers had Japanese writing on them, with each item I unwrapped I could feel myself getting younger and younger and filled with more awe and fascination. Sharon had truly given me a valuable inheritance from her mother. Among these gifts was a beautiful Japanese tea set with an elaborately carved wooden tray, two pair of geta (wooden clogs), a t-shirt, and delicate handkerchiefs. I sat at the table and stared at all the beautiful gifts. I soaked it in. As I began cleaning up my mess, I decided to neatly fold each bag, because of course, I want to keep anything with the Japanese writing on it (haha). My kitchen table became clear and with the exception of one last bag, everything was in a neat stack. When I got to the last sack I realized there was something left inside keeping me from a flat fold. I unfolded the bag and held it upside down to check the contents from inside...and out fell a brand-new, still in it's plastic wrapper with Japanese writing, a pair of socks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Summer...Can't wait for school to start!

Well, this summer has been a bit more stressful than last year. Last year I spent the whole summer voluntarily unemployed and I planted flower beds, cleaned my house, visited family, volunteered, sowed and reaped vegetables from a large garden, learned how to make the family recipe for spaghetti sauce and homeade rotel with those vegetables, and most importantly spent precious and fun time with my children. This year, I am voluntarily in grad school. A summer ride my child are on unvoluntarily. Between class and more homework than I've had all year, my kids get a quite frazzled mom. My house is a wreck and there is grass growing in my flower beds. The back pasture has grass to my knees (only a little exaggeration) and the only gardening I've helped with is to take vegetables to the clinic to share. My kids are so bored they actually look forward to shelling peas.

I say all that to say, I can't wait for August!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Stepping Into the space

Last Sunday Richard Beck was a guest speaker at Highland C of C. Admittedly, my first thought was "Uh oh, am I going to understand any of this?" Because quite frankly he is pretty brilliant and his intelligence is evident in his language and message. Yes, I know what you are thinking, Gretchen, you too are brilliant! Okay, yes, yes, I am. Haha! Even in my brilliance at times I need some things dumbed down for me to really track and allow to soak in.

Sunday the lesson was about finding God in the space between you and another person. This is great for me because I am very visual, so I can actually picture the space and imagine stepping into it. I've had that vision with me all this week. As I was climbing the stairs to the MFI clinic for the 3rd time yesterday, I thought about how blessed I am in my vocation as a therapist. I am given the opportunity to step into that space with those who are hurting on a daily basis. That space, where God is...if I can treat that space as God's dwelling imagine the amazing things He can do while we are there! Being brave enough to intentionally step into that space between myself and my clients, my peers, my family, and strangers, I believe that is how to change the world.

I want to challenge you to step into that sacred space between you and each person you encounter. Meet God in that space. What does it look like for you?

Blessings on your day and on the space between you and me.