Monday, December 27, 2010

A Resolution Worth Trying to Keep

This book was written by a CEO of a hospital. Although he is also, of course, so much more than that title, that is his qualification for writing this book. I fully understood the importance of this book by the time I finished the first page. He remarks, “CEOs don’t take care of patients. So, what do they do? The single most important thing a hospital CEO does is to take care of the people who take care of people – to serve the servers.” Now I am obviously not a CEO of a hospital, and I am fully aware that I will probably never be the CEO of the hospital. But this one statement, to take care of the people who take care of people, has just become my 2011 professional, New Year’s Resolution (also, ick, I hate resolutions and think it’s annoying that I hate them, but then talk about them and make and break them each year…but this seems like a worthy one…not that “throwing away all granny panties and stained t shirts from middle school” weren’t worthy at the time).
So, my book pick of the week, this last week of the best and busiest year of my life, is “Radical Loving Care” by Erie Chapman. He defines Radical Loving Care as "creating a continuous chain of caring light around each and every patient." Who doesn't want to strive to create more of a chain of caring light around each person we come in contact with in our personal and professional lives? As long as this is the beginning of my long list of resolutions, I don't mind jumping in to the 2011 resolution making trend...maybe I will be able to keep this one. Wanna join?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i"

“The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he paid for the turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckled till he cried.”
The women in my family have a problem. We sisters were cursed with it from our mom, who received it from her mom, who we are told also received it from her mom. So it must be a Felker/Sowell/Blake woman trait. We, like others who have this epidemic, often get together and laugh until we cry. Now this sounds beautiful. But let me assure you it’s not. It’s not that cute joyful noise of laughter that is accompanied by a simple tear or a delicate “wipe away your mascara with a white tissue’ cry. We seriously cannot breathe. We laugh so hard that we cry and forget what we were laughing about because we start crying and cannot talk or make a noise. You can’t even hear any laughter. You can’t remember why we started laughing or if it was even funny, because we cannot talk to explain what just happened. Usually this hits one of us and it makes the others start, and then just hold on because it won’t be over soon. And then, only making it worse, when it finally passes no one else thinks whatever it was that got us started was funny. Except, the funny part, is the way we look when it’s all done. We are not pretty laughers and we are not pretty criers, so the combination is the worst.
This is all only to make a few comments about A Christmas Carol that I just finished: One, I loved this book as much as I hoped and thought I would. Two, the Felker/Sowell/Blake girls have been called pretty and been called “Crazy Indians” and these two often go hand in hand..however, when we laugh we only fulfill the latter. Three, I understand dear Scrooge. I understand, thank God, how it feels to be so overcome with joy that you have to chuckle until you cannot breathe because there’s nothing else to do.
We are less than one week from Christmas and I am so overcome with joy and love that I feel like we will all just have to sit in a room and laugh until we cry in order to get this joy out of us. My mom and I drove to Kansas City to finish shopping yesterday. She told me that she can seriously feel my grandparents with her and that it’s such a complete feeling of joy – that it’s an actual physical joy. I agree so many times a day. I feel that it truly is a wonderful disease or epidemic. And that it’s contagious. You only have to be in my mom’s presence, or Seth’s, or Judy’s, or David’s before you catch it. That feeling of being so overcome with joy that you have to let it out somehow. And sometimes all you can do is chuckle till you cry.
Thank God for this contagious joy. And in the next week I pray that we let it happen and don’t worry about not being pretty. One of my favorite Christmas songs says “guide us thy perfect light.” I think of this sort of joy as a perfect light.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let Your Heart Be Light

I know that this is a blog about books, and I know that I have not read many books this year. However, 'tis the season to get busy with the things that make this season so wonderful.
Baking cookies with friends

Christmas partying with my David

Not missing the big "gender revealing party" for my best friends' baby..It's a Girl!

You get the picture. So, no, I haven't quite finished a Christmas Carol or re-read Little Women for this season. No, I have not wrapped all of my Christmas presents, and no, I'm not done shopping even nine days out. No, I have not bought the last twelve rolls of ribbon for the wedding or finished the guest list. But, Yes, I have made it to each Christmas party (and won the dessert contest at one), handed out Cherry Mashes at the end of Holiday Park, turned on my tree the minute I wake up each morning (even if it is way too early because I had to drive to Bethany Missouri and leave town at 6:45 every morning), and have refused to move my radio from 102.1 for 24 hours a day. I have had my nephew for a Birthday slumber party and eaten popcorn out of the Christmas tub until the four year old admitted "Kiki, my tummy hurts." And I have been excited for my fiance when he brought home a pheasant, a duck, or a crane (yes, he crane hunts...) And I told a dear friend goodbye in the midst of editing and finishing a state proposal. I may not have finished my book, I may not have texted you back in a timely manner, and I may not have made it to every single Girl's Night Out. But I have worked hard this season to try to be the best Christian, the best sister, the best aunt, the best daughter, the best fiance, and the best friend. And, if I have time, the best PowerWorks specialist, the best dessert maker, and the best lemon cookie baker. And, if you have time, tis the season to read some great books.

Friday, December 3, 2010

There'll be scary ghost stories...

Now here is something scary... Today while reading one of my favorite blogs I heard that the setting of one of my favorite family traditions will no longer be open for business. Brace yourselves for this one, call me dramatic, avert you eyes before I crush all your dreams for your future families, or keep reading on completely bored. Whcichever action is your own, know that I apologize. I apologize that your life will never be the same because Pik a Pine is closing. I kid you not. This is the last year of Pik a Pine.

My family has been going to this Christmas tree farm since before I was born. Seriously, I went while in the womb. While everyone else is running around St Joe like mad the day after Thanksgiving for the sales, we are bundled up chanting "pik a pine, pik a pine, pik a pik a pine." We all complain. We all make fun of the silly tradition, and we all never miss it (or the hot chocolate and popcorn). In fact, even our dogs go.

2010 has been a year of changes for me. You might say that I made it my "D.B." In the past 11 months I have gotten engaged to the love of my life, moved out of my Plaza apartment (with this change came moving away from Abby who I had spent the previous ten months living just three floors above) into my first home, moved David from St. Louis to start a completely new career, lost our three grandparents that were still living, accepted a new position and left my first career, and, oh, planned a wedding. There was a cold January night before one of my best friends, Jenna, moved to Nevada that Abby, Jenna, and I sat outside on our bench on Ward Parkway and promised we would all make 2010 our dirty bitch. Yep.  That's the phrase we chose. So we proclaimed that 2010 would be our "D.B." And I would say that all of these changes proved that I did do just that.

I don't know exactly why all of this hit me with the announcement of Pik a Pine closing, but it all seems related to me. I was hesitant to switch family traditions around this year when Erika suggested that we all go to Schweizer's instead of Pik a Pine. So, just as any normal family would do, we put our heads down and took a vote. (What, that's not how your family does it?) And when push came to shove, we all agreed that it would be fun for Seth and Eli to take a tractor ride at Schweizer's. And it was fun. We started a new tradition this year. We decided 2010 was the year to start new Christmas traditions, and I guess that Pik a Pine agreed too. We didn't know this would be the last year of Pik a Pine before we went to Schweizer's, but this all seems to have fallen in place just perfectly.

As I say good bye to Pik a Pine and wonderful memories, I have to close this year saying goodbye to my grandparents. So I will go to Pik a Pine one last time. Not for a Christmas tree this year, but for beautiful grave mounds for George, Ray, and Shirley.

And I thought the scariest thing was that "Marley was dead." ...I've only read to Chapter 1, but more on this later.