Be Interested, Not Interesting.

Be Interested, Not Interesting.


Submitted by admin on Mon, 02/18/2013 – 13:19

It’s a good thing my husband and the guy in the aisle seat were dozing because I started writing this and soon had mascara running like an idiot.

I first wrote this on a plane to San Francisco–my dad’s favorite city–last fall on what would have been his birthday. We made so many memories there, our camper parked on the wharf, mingling with a certain breed of San Fran hippie at the Whole Life Expos where we exhibited. We had some epic father-daughter talks on the end of the pier at dusk. The year before he died I stopped at his hospital room at the VA on my way to a conference in San Francisco. We spent a couple hours shooting the breeze and he told me he thought he wanted to have his defibrillator unplugged. Then when it was time it was time. Before I left he asked me to pour him a shot of caffeinated soda into a pill cup and he took a swig—his first taste of such a beverage in like 25 years—and toasted to life.

I know everyone loves their dad, but there was something else. Everyone loved MY dad. Why was that?

Yes he left quite a legacy with a big posterity and a bustling family business. He had an earthy sense of humor and found balance between high altitude dreams and street-level humility. Yes he was smart and unorthodox. But many folks have those qualities. What made him special to us?

Maybe it was simple. Everyone loved him because he loved everyone first. He believed a person would have more friends by being interested than interesting. And he was intensely interested in us, in what we had to say and in our dreams. He didn’t so much light up a room as light up when YOU entered the room.

Is that the secret? To be loved–really loved–give it freely first. There is no guarantee we will not be hurt or disappointed, no guarantee it will be returned but that is missing the point. Real love is an unselfish act, sharing without motive for return, cherishing others regardless of their quirks and flaws. I watched how disagreements my parents may have had with others dissipated because they shined a brighter light of love in the foreground. Light is more powerful than the dark and love the most irresistible force of all.

On Aunts and Aunties

On Aunts and Aunties


Submitted by admin on Sat, 02/01/2014 – 13:35

It has been a while since I have posted anything in my parenthood series; being pregnant and having a new baby just hasn’t left time. Now that I have a daughter of my own I have a hundred fresh thoughts to write about. This morning as I put her in a pretty pink dress given when I was born, I felt so grateful for the women I call aunties. This in in honor of them. I snapped the photo above showing a dress sent by my mom’s girlhood friend, Edna. Although not related by blood, she was one of my aunties.

The difference between an aunt and an auntie, you ask? And what have they to do with parenthood? Friends, allow me to b’splain an auntie’s special role, distinct from and complimentary to mothers.

The label of auntie first came into my lexicon when my nephew Daniel started calling me this. What began as humor stuck. I was young and the word seemed more befitting a lady from a different era. Perhaps for this reason it caught on and I’d like to think eventually became a term of endearment among my nieces and nephews. Therein lies the difference. An aunt is simply the sister of your parent, perhaps also the mother of your cousins. She’s a grownup and when the kids are in a back room causing trouble, she’s in the living room talking and snacking. An auntie is in there with you. An auntie has tea parties and sleepovers. You know she adores you. She spoils you but also doesn’t take any crap. She has a genuine interest in you, and she’s someone you can talk to in a way you can’t with your mother. She may or may not be related.

At least that’s the kind of auntie I wanted to be. Truth is, I always got waaaay more out of the job than I ever put in. I’ve said many times that it takes such a small amount of effort to get so much back. Here’s the selfish truth too. I wanted to be an auntie precisely because I wasn’t a mother. I wanted to somehow matter. I knew being a parent was much harder, but maybe I could supplement their role and still make a difference. Now that I am a mom, I appreciate aunties precisely because I can’t be one for my girl.

So this morning, I was thinking of all the aunties in my life. Edna, who gave my mom that gorgeous dress, was always dear to me. She lived in a big historic home in Reno and I loved everything about the place: the woodwork, the wrought iron fence and the fancy staircase. She may have been responsible for my early love of old homes. Whenever we visited, she showed us her doll collection, we had tea parties with dainty pastries, and girls-only shopping trips. She went out of her way to make it a special experience for me, and she hit the mark.

My aunt Arline was another auntie. Her daughter was my age and I cannot count the number of sleepovers at her house. She took us to do fun things, talked to me like I mattered, and most of all, she made me feel loved in her home. I never felt like the pain in the rear that I probably was. I was kind of an odd duck (okay still am) but felt like I belonged fine there. Great aunt Peggy was another. We visited her in California whenever we passed through and she always had something for me, including a lovely piece of jewelry that was hers when she was a girl. She taught me how an auntie can make a girl feel special.

There were also the mothers of friends. Stacie’s mom Brenda comes to mind as someone who had a big impact. I remember entire summers at her house baking cinnamon rolls, playing games on the computer, and her talking with us, never down. She remains one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever known.

When my daughter was born, so many women have volunteered their services in the auntie role, including my nieces. Funny how things come full circle. Truly this little girl has no concept of how loved she is, but someday she will. The outfits, handmade blankets and other gifts were not just for practicality–although they are all certainly useful. They are reminders that she will never be alone in this world. If it takes a village, she was born into a community of strong, compassionate, and fun women who will always have her back. I have a feeling someday she’ll go through things that I saved for her–given by aunties at her birth and will realize just how lucky she is.

60 Quotes for 60 Years

60 Quotes for 60 Years


Submitted by admin on Wed, 12/12/2012 – 07:24

Essential Elements of Happiness by Gaye and Hartley Anderson (On their 60th Wedding Anniversary)

The date 12.12.12 was the last repeating date we would see, and also happened to be my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. So to honor them I compiled 60 quotes from my parents, one for every year since their amazing partnership began in 1952. These were mostly pulled from their story Every Essential Element. Enjoy!

  1. “I never had the luxury of saying it couldn’t be done.”
    2. “Do something, even if it’s wrong.”
    3. “Don’t get emotionally attached to the inventory.”
    4. “This too shall pass” (Full quote by Og Mandino: “For all worldly things shall indeed pass. When I am heavy with heart ache I shall console myself that this too shall pass; when I am puffed with success I shall warn myself that this too shall pass, When I am strangled in poverty I shall tell myself that this too shall pass; when I am burdened with wealth I shall tell myself that this too shall pass.”)
    5. “I wouldn’t trade all my single days combined for even one married day.”
    6. “We have plenty for today. Tomorrow will take care of tomorrow. So today, focus on today.”
    7. “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”
    8. “Visualize your parking spaces.” (This was a metaphor for visualizing then going out looking for success, not just parking. This is how lucky people behave.)
    9. “If you don’t ask you don’t get.”
    10. “Grow your kids through your business and someday your kids will grow the business.”
    11. “Men, 80 percent of life is just showing up. By getting out of bed, we’ve got an 80 percent chance of catching fish. Remember I told you that.”
    12. “You can’t steer a parked car.”
    13. A good deal with a bad guy is a bad deal.”
    14. “I’m retired. Because if being retired means you get to do what you want I retired at 39, the year I started in business.”
    15. “If you want to catch fish, you’ve got to go out when they are biting.”
    16. “I’m not asking your permission, I am telling you I have already done it.”
    17. “Don’t listen to more educated people who think your idea is crazy.”
    18. “Don’t share your big plans with just anyone. They mean well, but they really want to tell you all the reasons you can’t.”
    19. “Just the way I like it.” Hartley always said this when someone apologized for a meal they thought did not turn out right.
    20. “If you’re going to be crazy, be crazy about the right things”
    21. “My weight is hereditary. It’s all that Danish cooking.”
    22. “Make happy products. In other words, we should be positive while we work so the products we make go out the door full of good energy. Our work should make people’s lives better and hostile energy could mar the result.”
    23. A picture is worth a thousand words—every business needs a great demonstration.
    24. “We all matter. Every single day, just not everyone realizes it.”
    25. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble. It empties today of its strength.” (Gaye quoting Corrie Ten Boom)
    26. When they were in a bind once and his son wondered why he was so calm Hartley said, ‘It’s like this. We’re out there busting our butts, and you know why? Because this business is what we are supposed to be doing. Name one time we needed help and it didn’t come.” Gaye later said, “This was how Hartley calculated our risks. He wasn’t fearless; he just didn’t believe we were on our own.”
    27. “If you want to get a job, don’t say, ‘I’ll do anything.’ Be specific about what you want and it will make you more desirable.”
    28. “Losing by default—out of fear—is a worse mistake than taking a risk.”
    29. “When you’re in a fix, be a Boy Scout and ask ‘What are our resources?’”
    30. “People will stand around heckling what you’re doing without offering to help. But they should stand clear. When your wheels take hold they might get splattered with mud.”
    31. “Life is too short to waste it worrying over money.”
    32. “If you’re throwing a party, invite everyone or no one. Never leave someone out.”
    33. In reference to a kid in his Boy Scout troop who was different, Hartley said, “If any of you have a problem with him, you’re going to have a much bigger problem with me.”
    34. “No one is a ‘non-member.’ We’re all members of the human race.”
    35. “When you face your biggest fear, you are never the same person.” Hartley once said to a young man, “You are going to make a choice right now that can define your character. Do you want to be the kind of guy who shrinks away or one who faces what scares you? I’m not saying you shouldn’t be afraid because that’s called stupidity. But courage is being scared out of your gourd and going for it anyway. You absolutely can do this. I promise. You will not fall. It comes down to this; you can either overcome your fear tonight or walk away wondering for the rest of your life how things might be different if you had.”
    36. “Your kids are capable of more than you might think. Show them and then say, ‘Now it’s your turn.’”
    37. “The body is electric and minerals conduct that electricity. A little sea water or Great Salt Lake water will conduct that electricity.”
    38. “Sea water and blood plasma are almost identical in mineral content. If you have a deficiency this can be a perfect source of whatever your body needs.”
    39. “Eat a good breakfast. Make sure your kids do too.”
    40. “If you want to make people feel welcome, feed them.” (Quoting Grandma Anderson)
    41. “Freedom isn’t free.”
    42. “Say what is in your heart now. You never know when someone might be gone.”
    43. Regarding a lawsuit they decided to drop, Hartley said, “I see plain as day how we’re right in this. They are greedy, arrogant cheats. They kick below the belt, and I’ve got a mind to not let ‘em get away with it. But if we get sucked in, we’re no better. Revenge is a counterfeit for justice, and it can destroy what’s good. If we let that happen, then evil wins. I think what we have is too important to get taken off course.”
    44. “Rich people are just like everybody else. The ones that got there by working hard are generally good people. The climbers are the ones to watch out for…After learning that, I decided then that I’d never feel inferior to anybody again. And if I ever made it in life, I’d never act superior either.”
    45. To his sons about accepting someone from a different culture, Hartley said, “He will learn some things from us while he is here, but if we went to his culture, we would probably learn even more from them.”
    46. Hartley said to his grandsons before a fishing trip, “If I die while we are fishing just lay my body in the shade, catch your limit and then haul me back.”
    47. “Death is a natural part of life so learn to get comfortable talking about it while you still have time.” Hartley’s grandmother died on the day he was born and his parents used to say, “Some’s comin’ and some’s goin’ all the time.”
    48. “How to do something hard? You just get up there and do it. You’ll be surprised what you’re capable of when the time comes.”
    49. “Most people miss the easy pickings because they won’t get their butts off the couch. Give serendipity a chance.”
    50. “Right sometimes means right now.”
    51. To his sons, Hartley said, “I’m not going to make you do anything. I just might make you wish you had.”
    52. Note, this quote is of a full passage to provide context: “Hartley and Matthew sat on the pebbled lake shore with poles asleep in the water. A shiny black beetle inched its way on the ground in front of them. Matthew saw it coming toward his sneaker. He picked up his foot and mashed the bug into the dirt. Hartley looked at the crushed remains and then looked at Matthew. ‘Now bring it back’ was Hartley’s impossible challenge.”
    53. “Keep searching until you find your purpose. Then go for it!”
    54. “If you ever get down to just a dime, pray.”
    55. “When you’re in business, you’re in politics.”
    56. “Our relationships are the only thing we will take into the next life.”
    57. “Institutions best prepare you for somebody else’s idea of success.”
    58. “If you want freedom, work for yourself.”
    59. “If you want wealth, share what you have.
    60. “Take your kids fishing.”