10 Lessons Learned From My President

Each President of the United States leaves a legacy. As President Barack Obama enters the last week of his tenure in the White House, his legacy is only just beginning to show itself. But I can say with confidence that these 10 lessons are takeaways that will endure:

10. Never lose hope.


9. Reading is essential for opening your mind, expanding your worldview, and giving you the depth and breadth to handle an infinite number of situations.


8. The umbrella is big enough to fit everyone under it.


7. Grit and resilience are keys to success, whatever you do.


6. Kindness and respect never go out of style.


5. Do not be afraid to show your emotions … even if it means crying sometimes.


4. There are different perspectives to most issues … work hard to understand each one.


3. Maintain your sense of humor, even under the most trying of times.


2. Raising your children is one of the most important jobs you will ever have in life. Never lose sight of that.


And since, as the saying goes, behind every great man there is a great woman … and better yet in this case, beside every great man there is a great woman ….

  1. When they go low, you must go high.


Thank you, Mr. President and Mrs. Obama.  You have honored the White House and our country with your grace and vision these past eight years.  You will be missed.  Let us return the favor by continuing to stand up for what is right, and doing it with respect and an openness to truly trying to understand all sides of the issues.  We have more in common than not; it is in our best interests to continue and try to move forward together, no matter how difficult and arduous it may be … while at the same time not letting our guard down and failing to speak out against injustice, inequity, and matters that harm the greater good.

Yes, we can. Yes, we did. And, yes, we will again.

~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Circle 

And so we reach January 1 again … Another year come full circle.                             

 Saying goodbye to 2015. 

With one last look back at the holiday lights, wishing you a year ahead of good health, interesting experiences, and relationships that bring you joy.  Cheers to another year of blogging — and the virtual friendships that the blogosphere creates and fascinating doors it opens to wonders throughout the world.

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “Circle” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: Circle.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Seeking Dreamers, Seeking Peace

Looking across Lake Superior as the moon rises, stars filling the sky, no sound but the wind in the trees, and deer rustling in the woods … it is difficult to imagine the world could be anything but at peace on evenings like this.

Moonrise on a Starry Night on Lake Superior

John Lennon’s song “Imagine” contains timeless words and hope for peace, which is why this video and story of the pianist playing it outside the Bataclan in Paris went viral.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

… You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

(lyrics excerpt from “Imagine” by John Lennon)

It is difficult to imagine ways everyday people like myself can contribute toward world peace in a meaningful way.  All the supportive Facebook posts, changed profile pictures, and tweets of solidarity do little to effect change halfway around the world.  I am not so idealistic to think that a single individual can turn the ugly tide of the extremist movement.

I do believe, though, that an individual can create a ripple of change, promote a glimmer of hope and understanding that touches another individual, or perhaps a few.  And that those few, in turn, can reach out to more, spreading tolerance and a curiosity of other cultures and peoples that drives a desire for learning how we are more alike than not.

Let words and prayers for peace turn into action.  Let the dreamers come together and turn dreams into reality.  Let us not forget the people touched by the tragedies in Beirut, in Baghdad, in Paris ….

~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

Creepy to some …. nature’s circle of life to others.  A tuft of fur, bones picked clean, a dismembered leg, signs of a deer’s death but symbols of sustaining life for others.

Death on Ice
Life and Death on Frozen Lake Superior

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  “Creepy” is this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up (the Family Reunion Edition)

On July 26, 2015, in a small town in Iowa, the descendants of some of the original Benton County homesteaders gathered for the 100th annual Brody Family Reunion.  One of the treasures brought to the reunion by a distant cousin was an almost 100-year old postage stamp quilt, hand-quilted by my great-great grandmother.  At any distance, the quilt is an amazing piece of handiwork.

Hand-quilted postage stamp quilt

With each closer look, one’s appreciation for the love and attention paid to this heirloom only grows.

Hand-quilted postage stamp quilt

What appears at first glance to be a precise, machine-measured covering is a collection of meticulous, individually-embroidered stitches.

Hand-quilted postage stamp quilt

Close up, one can marvel at the slightest variation from each carefully placed stitch – the thousands of tiny segments of thread, woven in and out of the fabric, through the hundreds of postage stamp-sized fabric squares.

Hand-quilted postage stamp quilt

This quilt was just one of many special mementos shared during the reunion weekend, as family members old and new became acquainted or reacquainted again.  Members gathered from all over Iowa, and traveled from as far as California, Washington, Alabama, and Utah, to name a few states.  Babies were cradled in the arms of those approaching their own century mark.  The potluck table was loaded with salads and cupcakes and pies, as the aroma of the roasted pork and ham filled the church hall.  Professions and vocations ran the gamut, as did political beliefs, spanning both ends of the spectrum.

Over 100 years, the family tree grows many branches, each still drawing strength from the original trunk.  That old wide-arching tree, just like the arms-length view of the hand-crafted quilt, have a lot in common as illustrative symbols of the family tree and relation’s ties. They remind us that just like no two branches are quite the same, and each carefully pieced quilt may have some slight variations or imperfections, we have much more in common than we even want to admit at times.

We are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, friends and community members, wanting the best for those we care about, and feeling pain when we lose those we love. We may talk a little different, check a different box in the voting booth, spend our leisure time in different ways, but we are family.  Pull one thread, and you find it’s connected to the rest of the quilt.  Find a calico quilt block in this corner, and sure enough in an opposite corner you might find a similar pattern.  Maybe they don’t match exactly, but they coordinate closely enough to complement each other and complete the pattern that is so pleasing to the eye from afar.  If the quilter used the same fabric for each block, how dull that finished bedcover would be!  It is the diversity of pattern and contrast in color that create the fascinating beauty of the hand-pieced quilt.

Urbana Cemetery - Urbana, Iowa

I prepared a press release for local news outlets, and share it with you here to provide additional background information on the woman behind the quilt and the enduring tradition of the Brody gatherings:

Hugh and Joanna (Osborn) Brody established their homestead in Polk Township, just a couple miles south of Urbana, shortly after the Osborn family moved to the area in 1840.  Joanna Brody was the guest of honor at the annual family reunions, which were held in the Urbana area every summer beginning on August 24, 1916, with 125 family members in attendance.  On July 26, 2015, over 200 descendants of Hugh and Joanna Brody are expected to gather at St. Mary’s Church in Urbana for the 100th Annual Brody Family Reunion. 

The September 6, 1921 edition of The Vinton Eagle published Joanna Brody’s obituary, “Benton’s Oldest Settler is Dead.” She had lived 78 of the last 81 years on the same homesteaded farm, before coming to her final resting place in Kisling Cemetery.  After coming by wagon from Indiana, the Osborn family landed in Center Point.  Hugh Brody married Joanna Osborn in 1843, and they had 11 children.  At the time of Joanna’s death in 1921, she was reported to leave 50 grandchildren, 90 great-grandchildren, and 19 great-great-grandchildren.

Hugh and Joanna Brody and family
Hugh and Joanna Brody and adult children, with my great-great grandmother, Rebecca Jane Brody, sitting at the far right of the front row.
Brody kith and kin from all over the country are again returning to the area, filling the Urbana Inn & Suites for the weekend to reconnect (or to connect for the first time!) and share family history stories, photos and other memorabilia.  A new page will be added to the reunion record book that was purchased in 1917, recording minutes from the business meeting at the reunion, and continuing the tradition of documenting family births, deaths, marriages, as well as special program features of this year’s get-together. 

1939 Brody family reunion
Brody Family Reunion, ca. 1939
The words from that first reunion in 1916 ring as true today as they did 100 years ago, from the “Address of Welcome” delivered by Reverend David Shepherd, son-in-law of matriarch Joanna Brody: 

“Man is a social being and it is meet and proper that there by family reunions of all family relatives from time to time, which has been the case with well-ordered families for ages past and will continue to be as long as time shall remain.  These reunions are calculated to draw the relatives closer together, though each family are doing for themselves. By these reunions we become more interested in one another’s welfare and thereby preserve a spirit of unity and love for the best well-being of all.”

The unity and love of the Brody family lives on. 

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  “Close Up” is this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.