Flashback: Celebration!

Once again, with the busy-ness of the holidays, I forgot to post a Flashback Friday! However, as we look forward to celebrating the New Year, it seems fitting to post a photo (or two) from a previous celebration – 4th of July weekend, 2011. Happy 2012, everyone!

Fireworks photo credit: Mike Beck

Of Photographs, Memories and Hope

As our plane left the ground, I watched our ascent – marveling at the sheer number of blinking lights, like strange red sparks, buzzing around us in the dark sky. I worried for a brief moment that we would collide, but we were well-choreographed by unseen air-traffic controllers. I relaxed. Suddenly, a scene of spectacular beauty appeared, perfectly framed in my window: the lights of Dallas spread out below as far as the eye could see; above them, the blackness of the night sky was pierced only by the blue-white sliver of the crescent moon. I was transfixed.

I thought, fleetingly, of the camera safely packed in the bag wedged under the seat in front of me. But I immediately knew two things. First, I would never be able to get to it in time, and the moment would be lost. Second, even if I did manage it, no photograph could capture what I felt about the expansiveness of the universe as I looked out that little window.

And that moment, dear friends, exactly mirrors my experience as I sit at my computer now to write about the  past year and look forward to the coming one. I cannot begin to capture the wonder, joy and sheer fun of the events comprising 2011, or the quality of hope I am feeling for 2012.

2011 has been a banner year for me: I turned 50, which feels not at all like my younger self imagined it would (thank you, God!). This was the year I fell in love with cities – Philadelphia, Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis. For the first time in my life, I travelled alone and explored with curiosity and excitement but without fear. At home, I renewed my love affair with the eastern Iowa landscape, viewing it with awe from the saddle of my bike (my bottom comfortably cushioned by chamois) both on training rides and RAGBRAI. March and April saw a renaissance of my passion for ideas and translating them to my daily, lived choices – especially as they relate to my vocation. I brushed elbows with activists who are impacting local, national and international communities – and was reminded that to act from my core beliefs is the important part of having core beliefs. I experienced the sheer joy of putting my arms around friends I hadn’t seen in decades. Looking back, I cannot believe the incredible experiences packed into this year!

More importantly, I am astounded by the gifts showered upon me in 2011 – the love of family and friends, the opportunities to learn more about this world we share and about the world inside of me. I learned about the single-minded-ness required to push past physical limits, and (strangely enough) I now understand a fraction of what true athletes experience. I’m learning to keep my heart open in spite of hurts; letting go of shame over what I feel; learning to speak my truth without riding roughshod over others and the truths they hold deeply. I am learning that all kinds of energy can, and likely will, come at me in a given day BUT I can hold my center and respond from my authentic self. Of all the insights from this incredible year, that is the most freeing and empowering one.

Given the fullness of my life, and the giftedness of 2011, it seems almost criminal to hold out my bowl crying, “Please, sir, may I have some more?” And yet, I hold out that bowl with hope, not demand, in my heart. I pray for healing where illness and despair currently reside. I pray for us to be awake in our lives, rather than sleepwalking through them as our modern culture so encourages. I humbly ask for the wisdom to act rightly in my life, and to recognize the incipient gifts in each moment, each challenge, each joy. May 2012 be a year of growth, happiness, and true spirit for each of us.

Happy New Year, friends!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good news: had a wonderful Christmas with my family. Bad news: was not able to maintain self-discipline around my sisters’ baking – haystacks and caramels nearly did me in! Good news: managed to stay on course in spite of the deliciousness surrounding me. Bad news: I am unlikely to meet my goal of being under 200 by January 1. Good news: I’m so close, I know I’ll get there…soon!

Christmas Flashback

I missed Friday, as it was my travel day to New Mexico, so I thought a Christmas Day flashback would be appropriate. As you can see, all six of the Hanson kids made an appearance in this photo. The two youngest, Annie and Matt, had recently styled their own bangs with a pair of scissors and some creative ideas about shape!

Happy Holidays?!

Tis the week before Christmas, and all through my house,

not a present’s done wrapping, I feel like a louse!

The time is speeding by, it soon will be gone, 

with not much to show for it, at Christmas’ dawn.

When what to my wondering mind should occur?

With a to-do list to guide me, this week I’ll endure!


  • Update flash player on work computer in order to stream Christmas music 24/7
  • See Jen Tally to have my mustache removed  hair done
  • Call family members to wish them a Merry Christmas and assure them “pakages are in the mail”
  • Vacuum dining room multiple times to clean up glitter from holiday crafting “experiment” gone wrong; realize you now have a deep red area rug that permanently sparkles
  • Regale friends and co-workers with humorous – or do I mean scary? – stories of Christmases past (such as the time the house filled with toxic fumes and we began Christmas camped out at Perkins; we actually found the bottom of the “bottomless pot” of coffee)
  • Borrow Xanax Meditate on maintaining inner peace at the airport
  • Compare and contrast at least three film adaptations of the Dickens Christmas classic about Scrooge
  • Regale friends and co-workers with touching – or do I mean scary? – stories of Hanson Family Christmas Rituals (such as my mother’s traditional “Wait, I have to go to the bathroom!” exclamation just as we are about to go downstairs to see if Santa Claus came)
  • Schedule at least two more opportunities to listen to John Denver and The Muppets “A Christmas Together” – don’t forget to say out loud how angry you still are that they left Fozzie Bear’s rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” off the CD (it was on the original vinyl album circa 1979)
  • Buy another box of 50 Christmas cards because you are certain the first box of 50 won’t be enough cards NOT to send out this year.
  • Try not to shout at other drivers. Santa or his elves may be watching.
  • Remember to say “Thank You!” and “Merry Christmas” to your sales clerks, postal carrier, the housekeeping staff at the office, and God.
Note: My last couple of posts have been very serious, so I wanted to share something a bit more lighthearted as we head into the long Christmas weekend. Despite the list, above, I’m just about ready for the celebration and time with my family. I want to wish each of you a very, very, merry Christmas. May we all remember to cherish the moments of love and laughter that come our way and to take at least some time out of our hectic rush of celebrations to allow gratitude space to flourish in our hearts. Peace to you and yours, and to this wide, beautiful world we call home.