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   I share a laundry facility with my neighbors. At times, I attempt to do laundry and the washer is occupied. I then get frustrated because now I have to find another time to do it. I catch myself grumbling about my neighbor under my breath. Why do they always have to do laundry on my day off? I sometimes find their laundry sitting wet in the washer. Do I move their clothes to the dryer? Do I put them in the basket? I must move their clothes into the basket so I can dry my clothes. I again notice the chatter in my mind wondering why my neighbor appears to be so lazy.

Yesterday I put a load of towels in the dryer. I then decided to leave them there while I ran some errands. I could not be bothered and I told myself that if someone really needed the dryer, they could take them out.  I wondered if they too would grumble about it.

I heard my neighbor doing laundry this morning. I wondered what he did with my towels. I expected to see a messy heap. Instead, I discovered my towels folded, neat in a pile. I smiled.

It occurred to me that we can take these small opportunities in our daily life and we can see the good or we can focus on the negative. We have a choice to make gestures that seems small to us, but could mean the world to someone else.  The next time I hear my inner grumble, I hope I will remember those folded towels and choose wisely.

I recently had the chance to visit Bogota Colombia and stay with friends who live there. Colombia has never been a country on the top of my vacation list,  but  the opportunity presented itself and I jumped at the chance to see a country I may never otherwise see. I only had 5 days to soak it all in.

Food

If you love meat and potatoes, you would love the food in Colombia.  On several occasions we ordered baskets of potatoes, pork, chorizo, corn, etc. We’d order enough for the table and everyone would share. No utensils required!

Drink

Aguardiente is a spirit you drink on ice with fresh lime. Refreshing!

Fast Food?

When you think of Fast Food in America, you probably  think of McDonalds. In Bogota, fast food seems to come in a different package. You may see an older lady with a small table set up on the street corner. Freshly squeezed juice, tortillas, corn, potatoes, meats…. all organic, fresh and can be taken to go.

Church

The Catholic church I attended there was full. While passing by the church in my own neighborhood the other day, I noticed a lot of empty seats.

Old and New

I enjoyed the contrast of the old and the new. A new skycraper stands tall next to the 100 year old wooden shack. Bogota showcases the old and the new, rich and poor …A harmony of opposites that blend together for an eclectic charm.

Family

Lots of laughter. Family bonds. Holding hands. Family.

It may have only been 5 days in Bogota, but it was filled with impressions I will take with me forever.

On my drive to work, I was listening to a song by Melissa Etheridge called “Wake up!”

……”Have I been sleeping? I’ve been so still…afraid of crumbling…
Have I been careless? Dismissing all the distant rumblings?

Take me where I am suppose to be.
 To comprehend the things that I cant see.

Cuz I need to move, I need to wake up, I need to change, I need to shake up, I need to speak out!….Something’s got to break up, I’ve been asleep and I need to wake up now!”

 … I am not an island…I am not alone…I need to move.. I’ve been asleep and I need to wake up now.”

I was contemplating the song and realized how it is so easy to fall into complacency and resist change. Sometimes we need to wake up and realize we can change and move in a new direction.

Then I looked over to my left shoulder and saw the biggest, fullest, brightest full moon glowing over the western sky. Yet another reminder to me that we are all going through phases, just like the moon, but the full moon is there to remind us of the perfection all around us and that right now is “perfect” just the way it is.

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At 7am on a Saturday morning, I walked over to Starbucks for coffee. As I entered, I noticed a police car parked near the front door. Must be an early morning shift for them, I thought.

I approached the counter and two police officers were ahead of me in line waiting for their coffee. I noticed a polite smile from the young police officer as he grabbed his iced tea from the counter. I got my coffee, set my stuff down on a table and went over to the condiment station to get some crème and sugar. The police officer was next to me doing the same.

It’s not particularly common for me to start up conversation with someone I don’t know, but I felt the need to say something to him at that moment. After several seconds of silence I finally asked,

“Just starting your shift?

He said, “Yea, actually it is my first day back in a year. I’ve been in Afghanistan”.

“Wow, I said. “That is very cool. Thank you for going to Afghanistan.”

He grabbed his coffee and made his way to the door. He said,  “You’re welcome. Its good to be back but I’ll never do it again.”

“Good luck today on your first day back!” I said.

With a grin from ear to ear, he thanked me as he walked out the door.

I sat down at my table, watched him drive away and reflected on what he said. I looked at the faces around me and thought about the countless other stories like his that never get told.

Brothers, fathers, sisters and wives, you fight for your country or your cause. You face extreme conditions, unpredictable terrain and witness unfathomable death and pain. And when your time is through, you return to the life you left behind, rejoin your families and carry on.

To all the heroes out there among us, these two words will never be enough…

THANK YOU.

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While looking out at the Pacific Ocean from the pier the other day, I felt the waves move below me. There was a comforting and rhythmic motion as the waves moved in and splashed against the wooden beams.

I focused in on a particular wave as it continued on its journey towards the shore. I wondered how long that wave had been traveling and where it came from.  The wave may have traveled millions of miles to get to this particular pier on this particular day.

I imagined that the wave had moments of great surge and moments of slow progression as it made its way across the vastness of the ocean. I observed only one wave among many, and realized how quickly I lost focus of the enormity of the ocean that contained it.

The wave moved consistently forward where it finally met up with the shore. As I watched the wave unfold and swallow the sand in its path, I assumed that was the end of this wave’s journey.

Then I noticed a swift current pulling the water back to the depths from which it came. The wave lost its form as it became one again with ocean. Perhaps a new wave would form in its place.

This was the story of one wave within the vastness of the open ocean. What will my story be?

I wondered, when I reach the shores of my life, will that be the end of it all?  Or do I simply take on a new form, and move in a new direction as part of something much bigger.

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oceanWhile jogging on the beach tonight, something caught my attention. A seagull was flying overhead and suddenly dropped something from its mouth and it landed on the sand near me. I noticed it was a clam that was tightly closed. I quickly realized what this bird was up to. He somehow knew that by dropping the clam from above, there was a chance it would open up and he could get in and eat a big treat.

I was impressed with this bird’s efforts and wondered how the bird “knew” this was a good idea. I continued on my run but curiousity caused me to glance back over my shoulder.  Would the seagull fulfill his mission? The seagull tentatively walked closer to the shell he had just dropped from the sky. The bird cautiously stepped up to the clam, wary of all the humans in his path. He got to it, put it in his mouth, and the shell opened up. Success! Impressive!

I continued on my jog and then made a stop on the pier where a young man was fishing. He was baiting his hook, tossing the line in the water, and waiting for a fish to bite. That got me thinking. This fisherman was not all that  different from the seagull patiently waiting and working  for his food.

While jogging on the  beach tonight, I felt a close connection to nature. I realized we are all trying to find something good to eat and we are willing to do a bit of work to get the good stuff!

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