These Cosmic Connections

Something really amazing happened this morning. And just when I really needed it, too.

I think I need to back up for a moment to 2011. Eight years ago I was in a transition between one job and the next. It was a scary, exhilarating, audacious, crazy wonderful time for me – rich with possibilities. I was unfettered and open to whatever new opportunities came my way – ready to create a whole ‘nother career for myself. For the first time I went to a counselor – and she helped me discover for myself what it was I needed to do to bring sanity to my life – what I needed to discard, and what I needed to nurture. My financial advisor (of all people!) suggested I meet a local woman named Laura Lavigne – the originator of the Happiness Sprinkling Project – and Laura showed me how to make a vision board for myself. Creativity moved up to the front of my life – photography and writing and music.  The insane stuff – nonsensical edicts (stuff like that scene from Office Space), schedules and bureaucracy, fear and anxiety – got tossed.

And, once I opened my thought to all the infinite possibilities, cool things started happening: I was offered a small salary to work as my church’s Reading Room librarian; I got a contract to proofread and write for an educational publishing company; I made note cards of my photos and started selling them at a little coffee shop; my book, Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist, was bringing in a small amount in royalties every month. I wasn’t making a LOT of income at first – it was more of a symbolic income, really – but it was enough to give me hope that there was something waiting for me beyond the career I’d left behind. And soon I was offered another job, teaching at an alternative high school, that brought my life purpose and great joy for the next seven years – until I retired last June.

Which brings us to today and the amazing thing that happened this morning.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning and went downstairs to feed the cats and check out the news online. The news was disheartening. Greed. Corruption. Dishonesty. Crises. And I felt myself getting discouraged and going to that dark place – asking myself what in the heck we’re doing here, and what’s the purpose of it all, and etc.

Still feeling discouraged, I went to my Facebook notifications and found there was a message waiting for me on my Author and Photographer page from a woman named Floriane. Floriane wrote: “Hi! Just wanted to reach out to you because I purchased a picture of yours in 2011 while stopping on a Greyhoud bus from Vancouver to Seattle. I love it to this day and wanted to say thank you.”

Whoah. I tried to figure out where Floriane might have found one of my photos to purchase, and asked her for more details. She sent me a picture of the photo she purchased and told me she remembered buying it at a coffee shop while she was traveling around on her own for two weeks – moving between Vancouver and Seattle and Portland – before starting an exchange program in Texas. She said the photo is now in Normandie and will soon be in Paris. Like. France. Yes. My little photo note card of Bellingham Bay will soon be in Paris, France.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this was one of the cards I sold at the coffee shop during the months I was transitioning from one career to the next. I’d almost completely forgotten about those note cards and that little coffee shop. But look what that card did for me! It connected me to a woman who lives across the Atlantic, on another continent, 5,000 miles away! I never could have seen THAT one coming.

Cosmic.

What in the heck are we doing here? We’re sharing joy and beauty with each other, that’s what we’re doing. And what’s the purpose of it all? To connect and discover each other, and bring each other hope and love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

Endorsed by Equal Rights Washington

I just discovered that I was endorsed by Equal Rights Washington for the election this week. I didn’t win the election, but this recognition by ERW is bigger for me than winning or losing the race for school board. Finding my name on ERW’s list of endorsements was one of the highlights of my week.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“ERW’s non-partisan endorsement committee uses a specific set of carefully developed criteria in making our endorsements. We back candidates who have a track record of support for LGBTQ equality in a number of areas, and who advocate on behalf of the issues we support, such as trans justice, gender and racial equity, anti-bullying and banning conversion therapy for minors.”

Taking Down the Signs

“Karen…as you deal with the results of the election, please know that you ran an ethical, honest, community-driven, and student-focused race. What a fine woman you are. I am grateful my sons had you for a teacher…and I am glad we are friends. You are an incredible example of what humankind can be.”
–  Kathy

Okay – THAT brought me tears.

Rich won. I could not have run for school board with a nicer person. I guess if there’s one emotion I’m feeling right now it’s relief. I’m so glad it’s over! And I’m so glad I put my name in and had this adventure. I’ve met so many wonderful people on this journey. I feel huge gratitude for the support I’ve felt from my community the last six months. I am truly blessed.

I spent most of the day taking down campaign signs. It was a cleansing; a closure. Almost every sign had some memory associated with it that brought me a smile – new friends met; old friends who stepped forward and asked if they could plant signs in their yards; memories of strangers waving and smiling at me as I hammered stakes into the ground. I found one or two signs that I hadn’t even known were out there! That made me grin. 🙂

Today I’ve put two questions to myself –

If I had to do it over, would I still put my name in the race? Yes. I needed to run for this office. I wouldn’t have met all the amazing people I’ve met if I hadn’t done this. If I hadn’t run I would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to move outside my comfort zone and challenge and stretch myself. I have this sense that there are other reasons I needed to run, too, that I haven’t even realized, yet.

Do I wish I’d won? No. I think I was meant to go down another path. I think there’s something else I’m supposed to do – something that’s tied in with running for this office, but not necessarily with winning. I’m not feeling any kind of disappointment or sadness at all in the election results.

“I love you Karen. Every person you encountered along this journey is a little better because they got a glimpse of you.”
– Linda

Yeah. THAT one made me teary, too.

campaign sign

 

Vague Plans

Vague Plans

I roll out of bed
and onto my feet
I have some vague plans
for today
A direction to head
and a place to start
And that is enough
to get me moving
I push out of the eddy
and get pulled into the flow
my plans change as I go
and I adjust and shift
open to whatever gift
appears on my way
This is what retirement
looks like
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Kayaking on Lake Padden

Kayaking on Lake Padden

A Gift from Preston

A year ago I met a young man named Preston Turell at the local post office. Preston called himself a “hobo” – he was traveling and a long way from home. Preston was about the age of my sons and I found myself seeing him through the eyes of a mom.  He was very sweet to me – he let me take his photo, promised me he would stay safe, and gave me a mother-son hug before he and I parted ways.  I wrote a blog post about him. (I’ll copy and paste the post and picture at the bottom of this post.)

About a month and a half ago I received a cryptic message under my post about Preston from someone telling me that Preston was in Vancouver General Hospital and that it was his last day of life. I didn’t know what to make of it. I tried googling, but found nothing. I deleted the comment because I wasn’t sure if it was random or real.

Then several days ago I received a message from a young woman named Natalie Catherine – Preston’s partner and love. Natalie wrote: “Preston was my partner/common law husband and a truly wonderful human. He passed September 5th and our kids (dogs) and I miss him so much. I remember we found this article you posted in December of last year and he was so touched. I have shared this with his parents and It meant a lot to him. Thank you.”

I replied to Natalie’s message – told her how very sorry I was to hear of Preston’s death.  Later I received a message from Preston’s mom. She sent me a photo of Preston sitting on her lap – Preston looks like he’s about five in the photo. Tears started pouring down my face as I saw Preston’s innocent smile in the picture, and the tenderness of mother to child.

I am connected to Preston’s love now, and to his mother – a gift to me from Preston. Preston has given me a whole new community of people who love each other and care for each other. When I met Preston I didn’t realize he would be gone before a year had passed, and I couldn’t have guessed how much that brief encounter would bring to my life.

Here’s my post from October 8, 2018 :

Stopped at the post office to get my mail and met a new friend. Meet Preston. Preston is originally from Dallas, Texas. He has been traveling around the country for seven years. He calls himself a hobo. He is the same age as my oldest son, and has a red beard like my youngest son, and I felt myself going to that mother place. Preston assures me he calls his mom every day and makes sure to be home for the winter holidays. Preston is very cool. I gave him a lift to his next stop down the road. He promised me he’d stay safe, and reached over to give me a mother-son hug before he left the car.

Preston’s mom gave me permission to use the picture she sent me. It really touched my heart. The second picture is the one I took of Preston that October day in 2018.

 

 

Message to a Trump Supporter and a Friend

Dear friend –

I want to make this clear – before I say what I feel I need to say here – that I am glad we’re friends. I’ve seen what a good mother you are and I’ve enjoyed watching your little one grow. I know your heart is in the right place and you, genuinely, want the best for this country.

But here’s what I need to say – the last presidential election was a difficult one for a lot of us. I cannot say that either one of the major candidates running would have been my first choice. But long before he ran for president – even back when he called himself a Democrat – I was not impressed with the way Donald Trump treated other people. He created a fake university and collected tuition from unsuspecting students. He refused to pay workers. He treated women horribly – we all know about the “pussy” remark. He took delight in “firing” and demeaning people in his ridiculous reality show.

When he was elected president (through help from the Russians) I hoped – I really did – that he would somehow rise to the occasion and become the leader we needed. But nope. He immediately began dismantling our environmental protections. He put our nation at risk by disrespecting our allies – and, in the case of the Kurds, actually abandoning our allies. He’s hired and fired a long list of people who were incompetent and unqualified to hold cabinet positions. He’s lied, continually, to the American people. He’s taken money from our military bases to build a wall that most Americans don’t want, that won’t be effective, and that the legislature voted against. He’s allowed children to be ripped from the arms of their parents and put in cages. He seems to have no interest in serving us. He considers the Constitution “phony” because it keeps him from making money for his resort. I was not impressed with Donald Trump before he ran for president, and my impression of him has not improved since he took office.

I do not believe he is fit to be leading the nation I love.

I have found it useful to listen to people with different perspectives and hear what they have to say – I don’t enjoy being surrounded by people who think exactly the same way I think about stuff – I want to hear other ideas – and so I appreciate that you’ve come on here and shared your thoughts about Donald Trump. I hope you can appreciate my thoughts, as well.

flag

An Ode to Campaign Signs

An Ode to Campaign Signs 

They were the first to the front –
the few, the proud. They stood
sentinel, silently, solemnly solo
pounded into hillsides and lawns,
mud and grass and gravel.
Six months later and their numbers
are down – disappeared into
dumpsters, shredded by county
mowers, confiscated because they
were planted in the wrong place.
Those that remain are bedraggled,
snapped by the wind, duct taped,
mud-splattered, tilted, askew –
but still they stand – the proud
the staunch, the few.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

campaign sign