Archives for : May2018

A Simple Haircut Leads to an Inspiring Reminder

Guest Perspective – A Simple Haircut Leads to an Inspiring Reminder . . . By Duane Sheppard

Our guest blogger this week is my late husband, who was a columnist for the St. Cloud Times for 8 years –  This is a Memorial Day column he wrote a dozen years ago  . . . Sharon Sheppard

The most inspiring haircut I’ve ever had was by an elderly barber with a thick foreign accent in a one-chair shop on London Road in Duluth.

It was a busy day three decades ago, before appointments were required for hair care.

By the time my turn finally came, I had overheard some fascinating conversations between this barber and each of his customers.  After telling him how I wanted my hair cut, I asked where he was from.

“Russia,” he replied, rolling the r.

I was curious about this mysterious land behind the Iron Curtain, never having had the chance to talk personally with a Russian before.

“Tell me,” I asked, “what was it like when you lived in Russia?”

The barber launched into the eloquent description of his Jewish village and the wonderful, peace-loving people who lived there.

Then, like an unexpected crack of thunder, a loud, sneering voice called out, “Isaac, if Russia is such a good place. Why don’t you just go back there?”

Without hesitation he explained that the czar’s secret police were abusive, and with the political unrest, chaos, and oppression, it was no longer safe for him to live there.

He went on to describe his escape.  He told about sailing past the Statue of Liberty and kissing the ground when he got off the boat.

The shop reverberated with his next words: “Then I jumped to my feet and said, ‘I’m free!  I’m free!  I’m a free man!”

He paused, and with a raspy whisper that everyone heard, “And I still get goose bumps up and down my back everytime I think of that day!

He went on to tell wat it was like in America to become a citizen and be able to earn a living, raise a family, and help his sons through college.

One became a doctor, another a lawyer, and another died on the beach at Normandy.

While I was teaching in Minsk, White Russia, a while back, my translator, a mother of two young children, indicated that she and her husband were each working three jobs just to try to make ends meet in that troubled economy just after the fall of communism.

“But,” she said with a glow on her face, “now we are free!”

In stark contrast, I sitting with my young grandchildren in Hester Park last Fourth of July, waiting for the fireworks to begin.

The municipal band had just finished playing “Stars and stripes Forever” when a young man walked past, a little unsteady on his feet.  He was dressed in black, his limbs were covered with tattoos, and several parts of his body were pierced.

“America sucks!” he called out to no one in particular.

Granted, there a lot of things about America that need fixing.  But what this young man doesn’t realize is that thousands of men and women have died to protect his right to express that sentiment or any other strongly-felt notion he pleases—publicly and vehemently.

During the 1960s, some draft dodgers and other disenchanted people were saying, “Nothing is worth dying for.”

But I would suggest that if we come to the place where nothing is worthy dying for, then perhaps there is nothing worth living for.

It’s easy to take freedom for granted if it has never cost us anything.

As we approach Memorial Day, let’s thank God and thank a veteran for the everyday freedoms most of us take for granted.

 

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning…Spring Culling – Mary Zigan

 

Since the end of February I have been clothes culling. Spring is the time of year to take a critical look at our wardrobe, be honestly brutal and admit: “If we don’t love the item, or it doesn’t fit, or is outdated, it needs to go!” Gathering, sorting and disposing of items that are taking up precious space in the closet is freeing. Capsule wardrobes are the “in” thing. Less has always been more!

 

So let’s get started:

 

  1. Take everything out of your closet. Yes…everything. Look at your closet completely empty. Does it need a fresh coat of paint, the mop boards dusted, or more racks for shoes or clothes to make better use of the space?
  2. Go through your pile of clothes one by one, that you have removed from the closet. Do you have orphan pieces that don’t work with anything else? Are you really ever going to ever wear these item? Be brutal. Aim to get rid of half the things you own and only put back in, what you absolutely love and feel great wearing.
  3. Purchase all matching slim-line hangers for an organized look that makes you feel happy when you open the closet door.

 

Happy Spring Cleaning! It is the oxygen for our soul!

Being a Mom: The Hardest & Best Job I Ever Had

Being a Mom:  The hardest & best job I ever had   by Sharon Sheppard

I wouldn’t say that the day my two toddlers papered the walls of their room with Vaseline and Kleenex was my hardest day—not even close.  It was frustrating, right along with the day I caught Jonathan drinking out of the toilet using his shoe as a ladle.

But neither of those days came close to being as scary as the day I opened the refrigerator without checking to see if the toddlers were within hearing distance.  (Whenever they heard the refrigerator door open, they came running, and four hands grabbed anything within their reach quicker than I could pull them away and close the door.)

On this particular day, Jonathan grabbed a bottle of codeine cough syrup (this was before the days of child-proof lids) and before I could snatch it out of his hand, he had gulped down a huge swig. I called clinic and the nurse said, “He will sleep for a long time . . .” which sounded pretty good to me until she added:  “You’ll need to wake him every thirty minutes to be sure he hasn’t gone into a coma.”

A coma!  I gulped.  My toddler might go into a coma?  Panic!  And it was all my fault!  I felt like such a failure.

They were born 13 ½ months apart (what were we thinking???) and walked early:  Jonathan at 10 ½ months and Caroline at 9 months.  So we had two babies toddling around, getting into no end of mischief.

For a while my life consisted of cleaning up their messes.  As I was dealing with their latest disaster, the two of them were in the next room working as a team to create another.  One day when I was frantically dashing around getting ready for the in-laws to come from out of town, I had cleaned the kitchen and gone to take out the trash.  When I came in to get the second bag of trash, they had gotten into it and strewn the contents all over my newly cleaned kitchen floor: orange peels, coffee grounds–the works.

One day when we were playing our version of hiding an object and searching for it, 2 ½- year-old Jonathan came up with his own idea of something to hide.  “Where’s ant, Mama?” he asked.  Caroline and I looked everywhere but couldn’t find an ant . . .

Then he stuck out his tongue and there it was.

“Here’s ant, Mama,” he proudly announced.

What a clever hiding place!

I savor treasured memories of cute and clever sayings, homemade Mother’s Day cards, bouquets of wildflowers picked from the woods, lots of hugs, sloppy kisses, and “I love you Mamas.”

But those days didn’t last forever.  Adolescence was no picnic, but I’m delighted with the tender, loving adults they have become.  The two of them are still fun and funny, responsible, and very loving.

I am blessed beyond all measure to have them as friends.  Best friends!

With many thanks to them, and with much gratitude to my own loving mother who modeled all things good . . .

and

Best Wishes to Moms everywhere, Young and Old

Enjoy the Journey!