Guest Bloggers

Guest blogger Lorie Sheffer: Legacy

Wildflowers at Orlando Nature Preserve


(photo: wildflowers at Tibet Butler Nature Preserve near MLC HQ. To some it’s a weed to be scorned and eliminated. To others, a beautiful, flowering gift to make us smile.)

My friend died yesterday. One minute she was having a wonderful time with her family, even smiling happily for a photo, and the next she was gone. She was taken from this world by a crazy freak accident that never should have happened. But it did.
Reading the comments that folks made as the news of her death spread, I saw the same sentiment from every one of the hundreds of people who offered their sympathies to her family. Everyone said she was the kindest, sweetest person they had never met; she was someone who always made them smile; a gentle soul with a kind word for everyone.

I thought of the contrast between her and another person I know. This person is avoided by most who know her. She has a habit of telling lies and actually exhibiting criminal behavior at the expense of those whom she perceives to be weak and easily manipulated.

It struck me: how do we want to be remembered by those we leave behind? Do we want to be the person who brings a smile to everyone’s face or do we want to be the person who brings a knot to everyone’s stomach?

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Guest Bloggers

Guest blogger Lorie Sheffer: Everything

Monarch butterfly


(photo: Lorie Sheffer)

“Just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do something.”

So simple yet so powerful, that statement. Think of how many times we don’t do anything because we can’t do “enough”. We can’t solve the problems of hunger, poverty and sickness. We’ve all seen the TV commercial with the sad and unloved shelter pets, waiting for a home. We know that there are miles of roads littered with trash. Monarch butterflies are disappearing at an alarming rate, and the polar ice caps are rapidly melting.

Several years ago, when my daughter was working for a non-profit organization, I asked her about the private donations they depended on to fund their services. She said that they absolutely did depend on those large donations, but that the bulk of their donations were the accumulated monies of small donors. All of those $5, $10 and $25 donations really did make a huge difference.

When we are searching for a pet, we can all decide to visit a shelter. We can all carry a trash bag with us and clean up when we find along our normal walking route. We can all make a donation, no matter how small, to our local food bank, or volunteer a few hours to help sort and distribute. We can stop spraying weed killer on milkweed- the only plant on which Monarchs will lay their eggs- and incorporate them into our landscape. We can smile and say hello to someone, or hold open a door or let the person with only a few items who is in line behind us move in front of us.

If we all do something, that would mean everything.

Guest Bloggers

Guest blogger Lorie Sheffer: Nuts

Black walnut husk


(photo Lorie Sheffer: Black Walnut husk)

Now that my own two kids are adults, my grandson is in high school (YIKES!) and my father’s health has greatly improved, I finally have time to do what I want. This has not been an option for me since I was 19 years old. Judging from conversations with my friends, this search for adventure is not an uncommon occurrence when we hit midlife.

One of my most recent interests happened by accident while walking the dog. About a month ago I started to slide on walnuts that were starting to drop from the trees. They fall in their husks, and look a bit like greenish ping-pong or if you’re lucky, tennis balls. The husk needs to be removed and the nut cleaned and dried for a period of time to cure the nut inside. Black walnuts are tough nuts to crack; no pun intended, they would break a regular nutcracker. These devils have to be placed on concrete or a rock and pounded with a hammer, or cracked in a vice. But oh, are they worth the effort.

My original intent was to collect enough, approximately a cup and a half of shelled nuts, to bake one of my grandma’s black walnut cakes for Thanksgiving dessert. Presently, I have a milk crate waiting to be hulled and several mesh sacks hanging in the garage to cure. What can I say? Word got out and now people are expecting them from me, the only person brave (gullible?) enough to very literally get their hands dirty. As in stained for weeks on end. What I wonder is why the squirrels who compete with me in my harvest don’t have broken teeth and horribly stained fur.

The bottom line is this: When we have careers to focus on and kids to raise and parents to care for and chores to do and there seems to be no light at the end of the To-Do tunnel, we may find it a bargain to pay $13.00 a pound for these little treats, IF we can find them. When our days are our own, we STILL may rather pay for something that we can get for free, considering the effort involved. All I can say is, there is something relaxing and satisfying and somehow restorative about getting in touch with nature.

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Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Lorie Sheffer: Who says?

A clearing of weeds


(photo: Lorie Sheffer stumbled upon a clearing of ‘weeds’… and MLC is unable, despite trying, to reposition the photo to portrait… any ideas?)

Lorie’s post:

Who decides what is desirable and what is not?

Who decides which flowers are weeds that need to be eradicated and which flowers should be sold at a high price at the garden center?

Who decides which animals get to be our beloved pets and which get to be our beloved dinner? We wouldn’t eat a peacock or a flamingo, but we can’t wait for that Thanksgiving turkey; they are all birds. We think it barbaric that there are countries where dogs, cats and horses are part of the diet, and yet there are countries where our national cow consumption is seen as equally disgusting.

Who sets the standard of beauty? Why was actress Lillian Russell, 200 pounds, considered to be the most celebrated beauty of her time in the early 1900s? Botticelli’s “Venus” and pretty much every female painted by Peter Paul Rubens would be considered overweight by today’s standard of beauty. Will there be a time when we celebrate that first gray hair or bald spot, or that first laugh line, instead of coloring or hair replacement or Botox injections? Will aging be seen as “becoming more attractive”?

Walking through the woods I came to a clearing of “weeds”. I decided they were beautiful. We all have the power to choose our own standards, despite what society dictates.

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Guest Bloggers Life Transition (Dec 2014)

Guest blogger Lorie Sheffer: Acceptance

Acceptance poster message


(photo: From Church School Media Center wall a few days ago)

“Acceptance: The action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.”

We live in a society that sometimes discourages us from accepting ourselves. We’re always supposed to be striving for more, aiming higher, never be satisfied with things the way they are. We should be thinner, richer, have a better job, better grades. Not having a competitive personality is seen as a character flaw.

Last night, while watching the PBS series The Roosevelts, I couldn’t help but think of acceptance. FDR was arguably one of the best Presidents in the history of America, yet he had to hide the fact that he was unable to walk without extreme difficulty and much assistance. To be photographed in his wheelchair, or being carried, or having the public see the extent of his disability would have been perceived as a weakness.

Sometimes there are things that happen to us that leave us with permanent consequences. Polio, in the case of FDR; a spinal cord injury in the case of Christopher Reeve; Parkinson’s in the case of Michael J Fox; traumatic brain injury in the case of Gabby Giffords. While it’s important that people never give up and never stop trying to rehabilitate to the fullest extent they can, it is also important to accept themselves as they are in the moment, and for us to accept them as well. We also need to understand that sometimes, no matter how consistent or diligent the effort, there are folks who are never going to be 100% the way they used to be. That doesn’t make them a lesser person, just as governing from a wheelchair didn’t keep FDR from being a great President.

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