Tag Archives: Doing Life Together

Life Lessons Learned from my Parents

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This article first appeared on Doing Life Together.

Mom and Dad

My parents on their wedding day, 1951.

Mom passed away in 2004, Dad in 2013. I miss them every day.

In this season between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I would like to honor my parents by enumerating the ways they made me what I am.

My parents taught me:

To work hard. Whatever chores they assigned me, I was expected to do them well, without complaining, and be happy that I was contributing to my family. (I often disappointed them by not complying with the no complaining and happiness stipulations.) My father worked long hours and sometimes worked a second job to support our family. He worked so hard at his baking job that he eventually became a partner in the business.

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The Day Milo Went AWOL . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

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The Day Milo Went AWOL . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

An oldy, but a goody. Un-smiley face graphic by Kaz Vorpal.

Doing Life Together

California King Snake California King Snake

As I was readying to leave for work one day fifteen years ago, my daughter Erin, then fifteen years old and the last of our children to leave for school in the morning, breathlessly announced, “There’s a snake in my pants!”

Now, in some homes, a statement like that might be alarming. However, in our house, it was pretty typical.

Firstly, my kids tended to keep their clothes on the floor. Secondly, although we live in Arizona, we are surrounded on all sides by the greater Phoenix metropolitan area—unlikely a wild reptile wriggled in from the desert. It would probably be one of our resident serpents.

You see, my husband, Greg, an elementary school teacher, collected critters.

So my very logical response to Erin was “Who is it?”

“One of the black and white ones.”

Boy, was I ticked. I had recently flown to New Jersey to…

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Heart Failure . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck  

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Heart Failure . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck   

Some of you know that I am a contributor to Doing Life Together along with some other members of my critique group, Tuesday’s Children. This was my most-read post on DLT in 2015:

Doing Life Together

Source: hestia 0527 on www.craftsy.com Source: hestia 0527 on http://www.craftsy.com

Years ago, my pastor’s wife started a sewing circle to make a quilt that, when auctioned off, would raise money for our financially struggling church. The emphasis was on stitching with excellence, but a special camaraderie formed around the quilting frame. People spoke freely, laughed with abandon. We grew into a tight-knit group. Once, a woman confessed it was her birthday, and she told her husband she wanted to celebrate her special day by coming to our quilting session.

We auctioned off the first quilt at our annual fall festival. A professional auctioneer donated his services, and the quilt netted several hundred dollars.

The sewing circle made plans for a whole-cloth quilt. Instead of a pieced or appliquéd design, the quilting stitches themselves would be the artistic focus of the quilt. The pastor’s wife carefully penciled the intricate design on the new quilt top, and we…

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I Resolve . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

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I Resolve . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Doing Life Together

Many years ago I gave up on writing New Year’s resolutions. It seemed to me like an exercise in futility—by February I’d forgotten whatever good intentions I had the month before.

It also seemed incorrect to call it a New Year’s resolution, since I was making the same ones year after year.

The Encarta Dictionary has 13 definitions for the word resolution.  I would like to look at the concept of the New Year’s Resolution in light of 9 of them.

  1.  Process of resolving—the process of resolving something such as a problem or dispute. We make resolutions in response to problems. We see something in ourselves that needs changing.
  2. Decision—a firm decision to do something. This is my conundrum. If you make a firm decision to do something, you do it. I forget about it.
  3. Determination—firmness of mind or purpose. This is another thing I’m wishy-washy about. I’m only…

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Smarty Dance . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck  

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Smarty Dance . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck   

The brain-dance connection.

Doing Life Together

folk dancersWhen I was a music education major at Duquesne University in the early 1970s, I took a course called Eurythmics, which used rhythmic physical movements to teach musical concepts. One facet of the course was learning folk dances from around the world. Subsequently, folk dancing is one of my most pleasant memories of my college years.

Several years ago I wanted to experience that joy again. A Google search led me to the Phoenix International Folk Dancers, a group of people who meet weekly to dance and promote folk dancing.

When I first joined the group, I found the dances difficult and physically demanding. I couldn’t execute the moves gracefully. I couldn’t keep up with the other dancers. Looking around, I noticed that most of the dancers were my age and older—some well into their 80s and 90s. And it hit me—these were people who had been dancing since they were young…

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Landing in Paradise . . . by Andrea R. Huelsenbeck

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Landing in Paradise . . . by Andrea R. Huelsenbeck

Does anyone remember the Maui Writer’s Conference?

Doing Life Together

Maui 5

A green, rocky jewel surrounded by sparkling blue was my first glimpse. As we flew closer, my heart pounded. My dream was coming true.

About 2 weeks after my mother passed away in 2004, I attended the famous Maui Writers Conference. My trip was planned long before the stroke that took my mother’s life. Part of me felt guilty for doing something so self-serving when I was still in mourning. Another part of me was ready to work—and to be blessed by beauty.

The Maui Airport was very open—meaning that there was no window glass. The breeze was free to blow right through the building. How exotic! I boarded a shuttle bus that would take me to pick up my rental car.

I had reserved the least expensive compact car. The agent cheerfully asked me if I would like to upgrade to a Mustang convertible for just $10 a day more…

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Preserving Family Stories . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

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Preserving Family Stories . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Doing Life Together

Why does Vivian’s house have a false alarm?

The autumn our daughter Carly was two and a half, we admired the fallen leaves together. “But, Mommy,” she asked, looking up at bare branches, “how do the leaves get back on the trees?”

Our old house in New Jersey had a smoke alarm in every room. The one in our son Matt’s bedroom was directly over his crib. He loved that smoke alarm. A little red light on it blinked once a minute to show the alarm was operational. As an infant, Matt lay on his back, watching for the red light, gleefully waving his arms and legs every time it blinked.

In our old neighborhood, people invited trick-or-treating families into their homes on Halloween. Most children headed straight for the treat bowl. Two-year-old Matt walked right past it, located the home’s interior hallway, and checked for a smoke alarm. Then…

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