Friday, June 26, 2009

Cindi Psalm 1

Lord of Heaven
You call our name
You whisper in our heart
May we grow to love like You
May we learn to see what’s true
May we choose to follow You
Lord of Heaven

Lord of Heaven
Your word gives life
You waken up our soul
May we follow where You lead
May we recognize the need
May we honor You in deed
Lord of Heaven

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dear Mr. Obama

Dear President Obama,

I just read another (e-mail forwarded, of course,) letter supposedly from another teacher, and let me just say, I have had it, too. But in contrast to how that other letter started, I have had it with all the nasty and divisive criticism of your administration. I am saddened by the treatment you have received by people who would never allow their kids to speak of a classmate or neighbor the way they criticize you, by people who claim to know Christ and claim to value love and kindness. I have had enough. I apologize to you for our selfish, small-minded interpretation of things you have done and said.

I commend you, Michelle, and your team for all that you do on behalf of the United States of America. I am deeply touched by your leadership and integrity, impressed with your intelligence, value your ability to articulate truth, appreciate your sense of humor (Stephen Colbert’s haircut, for example), applaud your decency, respect your commitment to Michelle and your daughters and how you champion fatherhood, envy your coolness under pressure, admire your ability to think on your feet, applaud your down-to-earth approachability as evidenced in interviews and other efforts, cheer for your commitment to the greater good, and thank you for many things, including keen insight into complicated issues, boldness in values, heart for service, humility in understanding the complexity of our times, kindness to your new dog, patience with pundits, and sacrifices both personal and professional demanded through this job you have been graciously willing to take on for the people.

I know you are intelligent, grounded, and wise enough to surround yourself with others who will look at details, statistics, and strategies beyond what I will ever be able to know or calculate. My pledge to you: I will grant you time and space to lead without being second-guessed on everything by me. I will acknowledge failure is an expected part of success, and grant you the grace needed to move ahead. I will concentrate on the areas where I have influence and control, and use my energies to make a positive difference in my arena, and support you in yours without assuming I have enough information to judge.

Your speech in Cairo was profound. Your visits to other countries inspired. Your delicate walk with the situation in Iran educated me. Your comments on abortion at Notre Dame’s graduation elevated that conversation. Bravo!

In the first few months of your presidency, I have learned powerful lessons and been reminded of how I want to live in response to the crazy stuff going on through various talk TV and radio personalities, forwarded e-mails, and conversations with people:
• I choose to not be critical from this far away from what goes on in federal government, since I do not have all the information, and often the information I do have is not accurate.
• I want my words and actions to be true to The Golden Rule.
• I want to remember to be kind to all presidents in how I speak of them, even if I do not agree.
• I want to be part of solutions and service, not of division and damaging words and efforts.

My demographics: I am about to turn 54, live outside a major city in a state that is broke, registered as an Independent voter, a follower of Christ that attends a large evangelical church, public school educator, have a Master of Science degree in Education Administration, worked briefly in public relations, was an intern for the State of Indiana Assembly, and lived outside of Chicago for about 14 years – and Chicago remains my favorite city to this day! I am happily married to Glen (a Democrat), have no children, and have really had to learn to live more simply with reduced income in recent years due to my husband’s worthy vocational choice (consultant to build capacity for community organizations).

I’d like to say more in support of you, your words, and your administration, about issues I’ve heard some friends and family members cruelly speak against, but who has time. There is a lot to do together.

You are a good man and a capable leader and president. Keep it up. Stay safe. Love your family. Play basketball. Live the faith. Thanks for everything. It is a new day in the USA, and I’ll walk with you to move on. God bless you and everyone, and God bless the United States of America and all nations. We hope to meet you someday.

Another Real American
Cindi Peterson

Global Responsibility

Challenging excerpt from a One report on a meeting at the UN, June 25, 2009...

Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the President of the General Assembly, stated at the outset of his speech that we are meeting because “we are going through the most singular moment in human history when our common future is at stake.” He said we must acknowledge that the current economic and financial crisis is the result of “an egotistical and irresponsible way of living, producing, consuming and establishing relationships among ourselves and with nature that involved systematic aggression against Earth and its ecosystems,” which masked social imbalance and global social injustice. He called for “a sustainable way of life,” which stems from a shared vision of the values and principles that promote the well-being of present and future generations, and a creation of a new global ethic to share our common global good that is the “Mother Earth.” This should be extended in dealing with the concerns of environment as well as humanitarian issues including poverty, which is a “time bomb” against humanities of all societies. He concluded his moving speech with a plea that that we “arm ourselves with solidarity and cooperation in order to make a qualitative leap forward to a future of peace and well-being.”

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oma, Opa, and Raspberries

I just ate a little bowl of fresh raspberries, drizzled with cream and a light sprinkle of sugar. This is a summer treat from my childhood. When I was growing up in Akron, Ohio, I was introduced to this summer delight. I would go with my next door neighbors, Annette and Debbie, to visit their grandparents for the morning or afternoon. I remember four things: 1) we called them Oma and Opa, 2) they were of German descent, still with an accent, 3) they had the most fabulous doll house there, and 4) they'd sometimes serve us fresh summer raspberries with cream and sugar. Delightful dessert and memories for me to this day. [Sorry I don't have a photo of fresh raspberries right now. I just ate them.]

Immigration Reform

As I learn more about the issues of immigration reform, I have walked away from the black and white standard responses of my previous positions. My mind has been touched by real life situations that bust some myths wide open. My heart has been broken in repentance for systemic sins.

Through further study of Scripture, I have gained broader perspective on citizenship, personalized alien status, and looked deeper into the eyes of people impacted by this complicated issue. I am now cautious about blaming a people group for problems, without being willing to listen. As a public educator, I have a higher purpose when I look into the eyes of a child. I grasp the power of education to move out of poverty. I will work to educate that child. I cannot police who is deserving.

I must continue to learn. I am called to love...God, neighbors, and enemies. That will keep me busy for years. I look forward to moments that nurture understanding and establish caring conversation on the topic.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Goodbye Guest Room Wallpaper!

Today, I finished removing the wallpaper in the guest room. We have lived in this house for 13 years. We had many rooms that need to lose the wallpaper. Glen's office and the dining room have reached that goal. Now the guest room can be added to the list.

I don't have any memory of serious wall paper removal. Glen did that task in his office. We paid a friend to do that for the dining room. I tackled the guest room. "How hard can it be?" I thought to myself. It was time consuming, but moved along faster than expected. It was physically hard, but manageable. The perfect physical task after winding up another school year! I went in the room and sprayed and scraped and saw progress each day. A nice way to unwind, really. Thankfully, the temperature was pleasant outside, too.

I learned a lot doing this myself. Glen helped me understand the process with some good tips. I cannot believe it is done and soon will be painted. The grand thing about projects like this is once it is done, I don't have to do it again -- no more wallpaper there. That is in contrast to chores, which do have to be done over and over. Another plus is the feeling of satisfaction as I walked out from under the cloud of procrastination and away from the frustration of never getting to it. That right there has payback when it comes to energy given back.

I am excited to see the room freshly painted in a Bennington Gray (looks like coffee with plenty of cream). I can't wait to finish it up with two more mini-blinds and other decorative accents, most of which we already own. When my parents visit in December, it will be a welcoming room after so many years of annoying walls and unorganized storage. I call it "The Nutcracker Suite" when they visit; not a comment on them, just a holiday name for a room.

We do like to share the room. Friends are coming next week, thus the push to get at it! A family of five from the Midwest will use it a base camp while the sight see in the area. I will look forward to sharing it more readily, now that it will look nicer. It is a delightful room, facing west, plenty of windows, and a pretty view through the trees. We can even see downtown L.A. in the distance at night -- the lighted skyline.

So why did it take so long to get it done? So many years of meaning to get to it, and then in less than a week it is ready to paint? We are busy, but really?!! Anyway, it is done now. As I thought of the procrastination, while I was scraping away, I noted a hint of something interesting within myself. When a task is undone, lots of dreaming of the day it is done goes on for me, bringing me joy and something to look forward to. And yet, once the task is complete, the dreaming stops. The "looking forward to" becomes reality. There a mild sense of loss of a dream that prevents us from moving ahead. Do I subconsciously think what if I don't like it once done, what will I have to look forward to creatively then, and what if I can't do what my ideas have crafted in our heads? This may be the curse of the creative person. Not all creative people are procrastinators, though. Anyway, I moved past that moment of melancholy. It did make me pause to see if that is a little of what makes me procrastinate. I'd rather dream than do.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Bakery Quest

This weekend, I started a new quest. I began to look for little bakeries as I travel around. My friend recommended two to me. One in Santa Barbara and another in Capitola, California. We stopped at Our Daily Bread in Santa Barbara on Friday afternoon for a late lunch. We did not get to Gayle's in Capitola. Another friend recommended The Buttery in Santa Cruz, which was very close to our hotel. We stopped there on the way out of town this morning.

There is something quaint, charming, and welcoming about a town bakery. It is a personal touch in a crazy world, and people gather there to enjoy something good and often to share relaxed conversation with others. Is it the daytime version of what a neighborhood bar might be at night? I don't know. The bakery seems to be a gentle peek into a local community for a tourist, providing a neighborhood connection. A bakery is a nice alternative to the fast paced world of food chains.

So, I'm enjoying this new quest. We'll see what I learn from observations and sampled treats! As a sociologist by education (B.A. Sociology), I love learning how people function in groups in society, and a bakery can provide interesting perspective.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Tortilla Chip of Engagement

On June 10, 1992, Glen turned to me over dinner at the Uptown Mexican Cafe, and romantically and practically speaking, said, "Well, marry me, then." My first act of biblical wifely submission. I said, "OK." Pause. "Are we engaged now?" I inquired. He said that he thought so. So, there we were over refried beans, and a simple exchange of a few words changed our lives forever.

We were therefore and thereby engaged. We needed some sort of ceremony or ritual to make it feel real. So, we each took a tortilla chip in hand, dipped each said chip in the salsa, linked our arms in that feeding the wedding cake kind of awkward motion and fed one another a chip. That officially became our tradition of promise, the beloved "Tortilla Chip of Engagement." And we all know, a one time ritual like that can bring memories of delight as the years go by.

I'd say "yes" all over again. And in fact, each day in marriage requires some broad sense of generous yes. I still have a crush on my husband. I am grateful to God for Glen. Marriage is hard. A good marriage is hard. And worth it. Most days, we have a great time here. Seventeen years later, I'm still happy he asked and I said yes.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

My First Zumba

Now I've gotten in touch with my inner Latina. And I now consider entertainers who can breathe, dance, and sing, like Beyonce, athletes!

I went to my community YMCA this morning for the Zumba® class. I have never been before. I had read the description, and thought I'd give it a try since I like Latin musica. Zumba® is described on the official web site this way: "fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy to follow moves to create a dynamic fitness program that will blow you away."

I lasted 25 minutes. I was wishing I'd brought water. It was a workout, baby!

The dance studio/exercise room was crowded. Besides myself, there was one other woman who looked to be of northern European descent. The only language I heard spoken before class began was Spanish. Maybe I picked the wrong day to wear my t-shirt with the United States flag on it, but my globe t-shirt was in the wash. [I don't have a globe t-shirt.] One man participated.

I headed to the back wall and claimed my spot. The instructor came in, set-up her i-Pod, and moved to the front and center. And the music started. The beat pounded from the speaker over me head, and women all around me, all ages and stages, sizes and shapes, tattooed and not, started to move a little.

Then the teacher started moving. She did not speak. The music was too loud for that anyway. And we all followed her. Forward, back, left to right, side to side, bend, twist, arms up, arms back. And shake it, girlfriend. If that's fun for you.

What a workout! I had fun, but thought I should cool down at the end of 25 minutes. Actually, I thought I might die if I did not. So, I left for today. I walked around the parking lot twice to slow down my pulse before driving home for a big glass of water. Wow! That was exercise. And it was fun.

I laughed at how uncomfortable I was "dancing," basically. I laughed at how uncoordinated I am. It was tricky for me to feel the flow of it all. I discovered I am a decent mimic, so I followed the teacher OK. I did not hurt myself or anyone else in my attempts to move this way and that. I did OK.

Let me just say...some of the Zumba sisters got it going on! They can move to the groove with a flair that is enviable. I, on the other hand, remain rather mechanical and comfortable with that. This seems to be a group that has Zumba'd many times. Some even wore trademark Zumba clothes! I may have been the only one new. That's cause for some minor discomfort, too. Hey, it keeps me young to learn in new situations. And the activity, in spite of the small moments of self-consciousness, is a great investment in life.

Hooray...for getting to the gym. For getting exercise. On a Saturday.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

That Bugs!

Bugs are eating my spearmint, oregano, and basil plant leaves. Ugh! That bugs! Those bugs. I can't seem to catch them in the act to put them on time out. But I see their scat and the holes in the leaves. What shall I do?