How I Starting Blogging!

June  1, 2023

I like to write, always have. Putting my thoughts to paper is not only therapeutic, but it’s just fun.

I never want to get started though, it seems like a chore and I put it off, thinking I have nothing to say that anybody will care about .  But when I finally sit down and get started, I’m in the “flow” and when I’m finished, I’m pretty proud of those words in front of me. Actually it’s not pen-to-paper, cause I use my laptop!  Feels the same, though.

Quite a few years ago, while visiting one of my grown sons,  I read a little fun thing I wrote that day, cause it was a memory to him, too.

I was shocked at his response.  “That just makes me so mad!”

ME:  “What, mad, why?”

HIM: “Cause you always write this amazing stuff and nobody ever gets to read it! Just makes me mad.”

ME:  “What? What am I supposed to do with it, start a blog or something. I’d have no idea how to do that!”  I said it a bit sarcastically, not really meaning it.

Well, wouldn’t you know, one of my grandsons was listening and he knew exactly how to start a blog!

“I can show you, Gramma! I know how to do it.”  How can a gramma say no to that!  So we were off to the family compute, and in about an hour he had me all set up on a free site:, and I was off and running.  A few years later I switched to WordPress because it gave me more options.

 So I thought I’d share that first article, a bit of free verse I wrote while cleaning out overcrowded closets.   Thoughts  I didn’t think would interest anyone!  And who would have thought I would eventually write and publish a book!

The real message here is to pursue what you are passionate about, what gives you joy in the doing of it. You never know  where it will take you!


Enjoy this trek down memory lane:

August, 2018

Skittering, shuffling, scampering, out of breath I am.

Books and papers and recipes,

Photos and letters and souvenirs.


Spilling over. Cramped and crowded I am.

This stuff of forty years, tucked away, stored, forgotten.

I have become not the boss of my house.

Declutter I must.

Out with forgotten books we haven’t read in ten years.

But not this torn one, this one I read as a new mom.

Out with these receipts, yellowed with age, hard to read.

But not this one, Jonathan’s first ten-speed bike.

These recipes can go, how did there get to be so many?

But I’ll keep these with my pencil notes at the bottom,

When I was only just learning to cook.

Learning to be a mom, learning to be a wife.

But, oh, the photos and souvenirs and  mementoes!

These boxes hold the history of our lives.

Remember this vacation, how small the boys were then.

Broken arms, first days as school, proud drawings.

And then I find it, fallen here to the bottom of the box.

The necklaces from the neighbor’s rummage sale.

Bought with my sons’ own dimes and nickels.

Laid on my plate at supper to surprise me.

I lift them from the box and hold them to my chest.

And I know, this stuff, all this stuff

Is not just junk as I thought.

No, never junk.

Each thing a gift to carry us back through days and years

And weeks of our lives together. Reminding us

Of babies born, of birthdays and anniversaries.

Of illness, and healing.

Of jobs lost, and companies on strike.

Of new cars, and bunk beds, and vacations.

Of children grown and leaving.

And of deaths.

I save out these few things, ones that warm my heart.

And back they go, into their box, onto the shelf.

One shelf for them now. Not ten.

Nine shelves left, empty, open, waiting.

I will fill them again, soon.

With memories of today, of this year, and next.

With mementoes of my new adventures.

Now that I am seventy-five.

Why I Wrote A Book

May 1, 2023

In my last post I told about writing a book on my life when I was a young, senseless, lost, girl (50 years ago) and what it took to wake me up. What it took for me to change.  

Most people think I wanted to write this book to chronicle a journey out of addiction. There was some of that, of course, but that wasn’t what propelled me to expose myself in such a dramatic and awful way. There are plenty of stories of  recovery from addiction and abuse. Lots of them. Literally hundreds, maybe thousands. I didn’t think the world needed another “recovery” story.

My initial motives were quite different!

In the first 10 years or so of my being a “nice person,” I was often invited to speak to youth groups, school assemblies, and some  adult retreats of one sort or another. It was embarrassing to share my story. It was much more difficult to field responses from people who were intrigued by stories of crimes committed, arrests endured, jail, prison, and all those sorts of things.

“How many police cars drove up onto your lawn?”

“Did they use handcuffs on you?”

“Weren’t you scared in jail or prison? How bad was it?”

Really? That’s what you got out of this talk? That’s all you got? Not that you’d never go down my path? Not that you’d avoid the stupid decisions I made? None of that? Only curious about the stuff movies are made of? Really!

Over the years, as I listened to people young and old, I caught a tiny glimpse of what I came to call “the glamorization of evil.”  How movies like The Godfather and a host of others have made us root for the criminal. That criminals and bad people have power and respect. 

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I love those movies if they are not too graphic and there is still something I love about The Godfather and its famous one-liners. And of course, there’s Marlon Brando!

But underneath it all, I kept thinking somebody needs to write a book about the underbelly of street and criminal life. The dirty, stinking carpets that reek of beer.  The throwing up in gas station bathrooms. The hopelessness of poverty in the days before food stamps, day care, and government vouchers. Somebody needs to tell about the ugly side.

Somebody needs to tell about being manipulated – and then becoming the manipulator. About being used – and then becoming a selfish user of good intentioned. Somebody needs to tell about that!

So after so many years I decided that maybe that should be me.  I could do it.

That’s why I wrote the book. Not to tell the story of how great I am to have turned my life around. Not that at all, because I think the greatest stories are of those of you who have lived a good and respectful life. Those of you who have made good decisions all of your lives, good decisions in the face of all the stuff out there enticing you into cheap and quick “deals”.  You are the heroes. Not me. 

I wrote the book to tell the REAL story, the story that I am embarrassed and ashamed about still now, 50 years later.

This is what it’s really like underneath the TV and movie stories. This is what it’s really like. I wrote the book to tell the horribleness of it, hoping others will run the other way.

And I wrote the book to tell what it’s like to come out alive on the other side whole and happy, hoping it will challenge others to also run the other way.

That’s why I wrote a book.

  Fresh Thoughts

April 5, 2023

So, I think I started this blog about 5 years ago. In all my enthusiasm for writing things for people to read, I thought I’d have something to post every week! Silly me! That didn’t happen!

If you’ve only followed me a short while, you may want to go to the menu and read the “about me” article.  That will give you the backstory to understand where I am now, 5 years later. A few mere months away frombeing 80!

When I wrote the “about me” article, I thought I’d come to a place of being comfortable in this world I’m planted in and it would be all peace after that. No more hills to climb.  That the new place I found myself in would lead to new revelations about the order of things and those revelations would lead to more peace and happiness and joy. And I’d write about all my musings and understandings.

Well, that didn’t happen, and my blogging slowed down, not because of any disaster. I didn’t battle anear-fatal disease, and no family member died before their time. Nothing like that!

Certainly nothing like that! I just didn’t have any huge, big revelations and successes to blog about.  The stuff we like to brag about! 

And I didn’t know what to “brag” about.  I had started looking deeper into what I believed and held as truths.  Things I held as undeniable truths. And it even became exciting to look at my Christian faith, held for so many years,  a faith that brought life and change  tomy 30s and on. I was on a sort of new soul-searching spiritual journey. Nothing that I could blog about because it was confusing even to me.

I started to learn that I really didn’t know a lot of things for absolute sure. I only had opinions that I could only prove with other opinions or interpretations.

I now can hold two “things” as true at the same time. Two opposite things.  That may sound strange, but actually it is wonderfully good to NOT have to know so much for sure. Especially on things that I have no influence over. I relaxed.

All that said, it certainly made writing a weekly blog for other people rather difficult. I just didn’t know what to say.

So I turned to writing a book. I’d dabbled in it for a few years, but I finally got inspired or motivated to take it seriously and actually WRITE A BOOK FOR PUBLICATION.  It is a more arduous task than I ever imagined and it took more than 5 years,  but I did it.  

It is the story of me in my 20s, believing my dreams of being a mommy, staying home and making cookies, doing laundry, cuddling babies, and reading stories to them.  I almost had it, but then it was shattered by a man, and later by my own self. It gets pretty low before it gets better.  I managed to write it first-person, in my own words, and with no bad language and no graphic sex, no descriptive sex and all.  It is a clean book.  A hard story to read at times, but it ends really well, in case you wouldn’t guess.  It is a triumphant story, I think, because here I am with a home and family andlearning the sacrifice that let my dreams come true.

Writing it took some hard emotion. I’d worked hard to be a very different person and now I was going back and trying to feel all that crappy stuff again, putting it out there for people to see and to know. One day I had such a hard time remembering what it felt like to have to hide out in alleys that I actually had to go outside and sit for awhile by the garbage cans at the end of my yard before I could write about those other alleys.

Writing a book is only a small part, I was soon to find. After going away by myself to rewrite it a few times,remembering more, feeling more, it was finally finished and I felt so proud of myself.

Until I tried to navigate the publishing and media/advertising/ebook world. It is truly beyond my understanding.  Well, I guess I could figure it out if I wanted to, but actually I’d rather go have coffee with my best friend, or go gather wild flowers while on a hike. Or sit with tea and read a really good book! Anything but sit and navigate that book-selling world. I like to write, but I don’t like having to market what I’ve written.  I don’t like marketing myself.

I chose not to and so hired a company to do all of thatfor me and … lo and behold, the book is now on Dorrance, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble websites!

The title is “But I Can Learn”  by Clair

(I changed my name a bit to give myself some anonymity.)

I think, maybe in my next blog I’ll write about some reasons why I decided to write about such a horrible time in my life. Why I am so willing to put it out there and what I hope to accomplish (not riches, not fame, not popularity, none of those).

I’m writing this blog now, Easter week, my favorite holiday.  Easter is about reformation and victory over death and all that.  It’s a time to rejoice, color eggs, watch spring flowers emerge, and wear pretty clothes and hats.

Go have some fun!

“I can’t wait to be an old lady!”

February 28th, 2023

This is what I said all the years of my growing up! I had several elderly aunts that I was inspired by.  They didn’t mean to be inspiring, they just were. Incredibly funny, they seemed to love life and live it fully. Getting together, these sisters told stories of growing up in the depression, and they turned life’s struggles into stories that captivated me. They laughed a lot! 

I so admired their shining, silvery, white hair. To my little girl eyes, it looked like a crown or halo. Their styles were not modern, just this soft white sparkly-shiny hair that framed their faces. I couldn’t wait to have the funny, carefree life they had – and to have a fluffy white crown of glory around my own face! 

I still feel much the same way as I now approach my 80th birthday! Except there are some things that come with aging that I didn’t know till I got here. 

We lose hair where we want it and grow a few stubbly ones where we don’t want them! Wrinkles abound, and we often are surprised by the stranger looking back at us in a mirror. Or in photos! 

We don’t focus as well anymore and multi-tasking becomes a chore, if we can even do it at all! 

We tire more easily and no amount of strong coffee or self-talk gets us energized. 

The first few years of all that are a bit hard. In fact some people never get over the shock and continually fight it, using up time and energy. 

Initially, maybe for the first year, I tried to forestall what was happening to me, but then the amount of work and money I was putting into it didn’t seem to be worth the tiny bits of results I saw. 

Remembering those precious aunts, I began to embrace this stage of my life – just as I had embraced motherhood, had embraced empty nestedness, had embraced retirement.  

There’s a lot to be said for this. This being content.  The younger me fought to make an impact and to make everything better in the world.  And the world didn’t get better! 

When I stopped fighting aging, I noticed a whole bunch of benefits!  I no longer need to chase those ads for the newest and latest miracle cures of aging. I no longer have to struggle opening doors when I have an armload of packages because some younger person loves to do it for me.  I am often now offered a better place in line at the grocery, and cars in the parking lot wait for me to cross.  I find people caring for me in little subtle ways that never happened before. It feels pretty darn good. 

There are tweezers and scissors that deal with those pesky hairs that pop up where they shouldn’t, and Vaseline makes the wayward eyebrow hairs lay flat as they are meant to.  Easy solutions, right at hand, have given me freedom to just go do something else.  

If you follow me at all, you know that there are wonderful “something elses”.  I love to challenge myself with vigorous hikes. Last summer I went camping alone along the Allegany River, in bear country. Had to hike in to my campsite, lugging all my gear. Sure, I have to stop for 5 minute rests if I’m on a really long strenuous hike, and that’s ok.   

I enjoy my life, even though my hair hasn’t grown  into that beautiful white crown I so admired!  Doesn’t matter. 

Because somewhere along the way I have learned some really important things about happiness and relationships and contentment. And maybe about what does really make a difference. 

The older me just wants to help younger folks make the world better.  Or not, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll just enjoy being older and taking naps and reading. Maybe I’ll just tend my garden, have people over for dinner, cook yummy stuff. Write blog articles about what I’ve learned or am trying to learn.  I love that I don’t have to have an excuse for a nap. 

I have learned to enjoy being alone and being quiet. Enjoying all the things nature has to offer. And I notice what other people have to offer – happy people or hurting people. I now find them all interesting because,  maybe most important of all, I now know that I don’t have to fix everything that is broken. 

Not everything needs to be fixed or changed, and I’m ok with that now. 

I love being 80!   

And you will too! 


I love writing. Of any kind. You know I do.
But the last few years flattened me in some ways and I wanted to write but felt I didn’t
really have anything to say worth someone else’s time. I had lots of good paragraph, all
looking to become articles. But nothing that I felt excited enough about to take time to
just sit in front of this blank screen and make them come to life. I was pre-occupied with
shaping my own life in this new world of a pandemic, which caused rifts between friends
over politics, over church decisions, over masking and vaccines and the tons of other
Even though I absent myself from discussions and arguing our points of view, it has still
changed my friendships. I sort of have a rule that we don’t talk politics and we don’t talk
covid while we are together.
Not why we gather anymore. I used to love discussing points of view with people who
have a very different perspective that I do. Iron sharpens iron, as the saying goes. My
thoughts were expanded and refined then.
Now it seems that, as much as I love the same people, a switch has been thrown and
anger and defensiveness weave their way through talking. There is no longer a
learning from each other, but a drive to be “right” and to prove it. I have listened to
people with previously soft words become instantly angry and defensive. People I have
never in twenty years heard say a negative or angry thing. People now looking for a
fight, that’s how it feels.
So I stick to the “no politics and no covid” rule because I love these people and want to
keep in relationship with them. We have too much history together to throw it all away
now, as I’ve seen so many others do. Severing relationship over this stuff. That’s not
for me.
Because I think, as polarized as everyone seems now, we all really want the same
things. At the bottom line anyway. At our core. Everyone wants to feel safe, to feel
secure, to be loved, and have good jobs. To feed our families and pay the mortgage with ease. Each “side” wants the same things. But we do disagree on what will get us
those things and what puts them at risk. On what path will bring that security we so
desperately are afraid we will lose.
Both “sides” are fighting for their lives, their way of life. And everyone seems afraid. And
fear makes us defend what we think will bring us safety. So we all want the same
things, we just disagree on how to get those things.
That’s a long explanation about how I’ve come out of some of my “writer’s block” for
blogging these past few years. I did however finish the book chronicling my trek from
being a really bad person to a pretty nice one. It was not an easy story to write, being
that vulnerable, but I finally finished several re-dos and additions. I have now forwarded
to a person who can format it correctly for Amazon Kindle.
So, after two or so years of barely posting anything to, I am ready to talk
about stuff again.
About my ever-new adventures and challenges, about losses and grieving, about
seeking to be really healthy at 79 without giving up those chocolate chip cookies and
mac and cheese!
PS: Next month I’m off to camp alone in BEAR country for 4 full nights – stretching my
skills and comfort levels by staying safe and living as minimally as I can!


I love to write.   Articles, teachings, even sermons on occasion.  But these past two years have been hard for all of us and I couldn’t think of  anything to write about that would have purpose and meaning.

I had started writing a book a few years back, a memoir actually, about a period of my life fifty years ago when I was a young gal.  Years that defined me and others around me, changed us forever. I had hit several stumbling blocks in the writing, so I had put the book aside to write blog articles and other stuff.

So for the past two years I pick up the book again, for some reason, highly motivated to finish it, partly because the things I’d learned from those difficult years seemed especially meaningful now.   And then it seemed I couldn’t write anything else till until the darn book was done!  

The Adventure begins now because the book has been edited, scrutinized by a professional and is ready to be put on Amazon or whatever other self-publishing company I choose. I tried traditional paths of publishing, finding an agent, and all that, but have decided to self-publish so that I have a voice in what happens to this most intimate and vulnerable telling of a part of my life.

All that is to say why you haven’t seen hardly anything from me on  But I have the writing bug again, have things to talk about once again and this feels pretty good.

And I’m back to having Adventures! I wanted to try camping by myself, alone in the woods in a tent. Not just a cabin where I can lock the door, but out there in a tent where I have few, if any, protections. And to not be scared to death all night long!

So I did it last week. Bought my tent from Reactive. What happens when a person is sick in bed for a month? They play on their phone and find neat stuff to go have adventures with!  So I found this tent that you just unroll, lay out the posts, grab the big plastic knob at the top and yank it up and there you are! A tent all ready to crawl into.  Wondered how it’d really work and I was super pleased that my tent did just as the video showed! Amazing!

So I took off for my trial, practice run of “sleep-in-the-woods-by-myself”.  I wanted to see how survivalist I could be so I took minimal equipment and cooked all my meals on an open fire. Even took along an old percolator coffee maker!  Well, it was fun, but it was a lot of work. Takes about a half hour to get the fire going in the morning and the water boiling before there’s any chance I might have coffee!

My “wrapped in aluminum foil” meals were nutritious, but oh, so bland! I have some learning to do here.  

The best part is that I didn’t get scared even once.  But I was cold and bored and hungry and tired – the funnest, best thing is that I did this thing that challenged me and I didn’t give up and come home early. I stuck it out the whole time I’d planned.

Will I do it again? You betcha! Only I will find some recipes to make my food tastier, and I’ll settle for instant coffee in the morning.

My next Adventure Challenge is a road trip in my car by myself. I’m gonna head west, stay off the main roads, check out little towns, local restaurants, whatever. People ask me where I’m going ?  “I don’t know!”  And when they ask how long I’ll be gone,  “I don’t know!”

I’m just going to explore around and see what I can find. I’ll stay off the major highways because I’ve already seen what’s there.  I’ll stay in motels and eat at restaurants, thankfully I can afford to do that for a time. Not for too long though!  I’ll see new places and things and people, and have stories to cherish!  When I get bored, I’ll come home!

The end of July I will be 79 years old. Wondering how many more years I have to be perky, energetic, and have stuff to say and places to go and things to do! Wondering about that.

But then I remember that everyone is on the same kind of timing. If I were 20 I still would not be sure I had a whole lot more years to do all the things I wanted.

Each of us has only today. Maybe today. How do I want to live the rest of my life? It’s a good question we all can ask ourselves regardless of how old we are. Regardless of anything. If this is the last summer I will be healthy and alive, how do I want to live it?

I’m going to have fun adventures. Some alone, some with others.  I’m going to have a life that gives me stuff to write about!


Every fall I go away for an extended time alone in a cabin in the woods and I’m off to do so again in a few days. I’ve chronicled it in previous posts.  I choose state park cabins because they are fairly primitive: no TV, no internet, heat by wood stove. There are lots of trails, which I love because I do some of my best restful pondering while hiking.  I am totally alone for at least four full days! Even my phone is out of reach of a tower. Often I am the only cabiner in the park, so I need to be extra careful hiking. If I fall and sprain an ankle or break a leg, I have would have to crawl out! It is an exhilarating adventure that I look forward to every year.

However, I have learned that I have a pattern of “it’s wonderful” to “it’s awful”. The first day I’m just getting settled, putting all my journaling and art stuff where I want it, laying out a jigsaw puzzle, getting a fire started and food organized. I peruse the trail map and outline each day’s hiking, hoping to do at least three each day.

Day two, I hike and write and draw and keep my fire going so I don’t freeze and generally enjoy the solitude, the absolute quiet. I do all the things I wish I had time for at home, and generally feel really good.

Somewhere in day three, boredom sets in. Unbearable boredom. I’ve done everything I wanted to, done three hikes, read, napped, all of it. And it’s only 2:00! The long afternoon and evening stretch before me and nothing, absolutely nothing, sounds like fun! I am so bored! I fuss around a bit and then notice that it’s now only 2:30! Those long silent hours I craved are now looming before me like a monster. I suffer through the next day or so. It is suffering because I almost become brain dead and just want to sit and do nothing. I can’t sleep. It is truly awful!

But then the miracle happens on the next day and my brain has divested itself of all the distractions that clutter my life and I come alive again. More alive than before I embarked on this journey! I am full of energy and ideas and feel inspired to do a ton of things. Mostly I love the new ideas and inspirations that come flooding over me. It is truly wonderful!

I’m thinking maybe I don’t need to always go away into the woods to find this place in my soul.  I’ve become aware of how often, at home, my days are cluttered with distractions that hinder creativity. That hinder peace in my soul. 

We seem to live in a culture that does not allow for boredom and so we avoid it at all cost.  And so I wonder, if I had days at home set apart from chatter and internet and television and fussing about my house or yard, could I bring some of the peace and turmoil from the cabin into my regular life? What would happen?

Would I get those amazing inspirations more often? If I couldn’t pick up my phone, or check email or Facebook and Instagram, couldn’t  turn on my laptop, what would happen? If I stopped fussing with my yard and house, what would happen? How many things on my “to do” list really need to be done today? If I let myself be bored for a while at home, what would happen?

It is a struggle because I am by nature and “doer”, one who gets things done and is super organized. But age and past illnesses are forcing me to take pause and think differently. About what matters and what brings me joy and excitement and what I really want to do with the remaining good years of my expiring life. 

What would happen if we all did it?  I’m gonna try it! Because becoming bored makes those things clear. Let’s go be bored today!          


I have just turned 78!! Getting older never bothered me much, but as my body is catching up to the numbers, the last few years have given me pause to think about what I want to do with my remaining “perky” years. Someday travel will be too exhausting, it almost is now sometimes. Someday my kids will take the car keys! I like a nap several days a week now, and I know that someday I’ll need them every day.

I may very will live to 100, but I’m thinking of the next 5 years or so when I have energy and strength, and the will to take on adventures. I still do extra-rugged hikes, I can climb over big slippery rocks and go up the 100 stair steps some trails have. But it’s a stretch and I don’t like that.

This year has been tough for all of us. Shut-downs and staying at home affected everyone, but this past year I also lost my mother (she was 98), and lost some relationships that were important to me, relationships that were sometimes hard but held the promise of becoming really good. But that hope, that promise, was lost and I knew the relationship would never be really good. I also lost some relationships that I thought were really good, easy even. And those seem to be gone in a flash with one disagreement. I often wonder about the stress that hovers over us like a threatening black cloud. There seems to be very little any more that we know “for sure” and we grab for control somewhere, anywhere. And letting go is never easy.

It took me awhile to “bounce back” from all of that, to trod through anger, through wanting to run away and live alone in the woods somewhere. To not be tired of trying! To be me again. 

I am learning this year to be gentle with myself and whatever yucky place I am in. To know that I won’t stay there. At the time it seems that it will never end. But continuing to do all the things I know are good for me does bring the yucky stuff to an end in my heart. It may still be yucky, but it doesn’t stick to me. 

Because this year I’ve finally learned to live within the circle of my influence, in my wheelhouse as some would call it. If I have no choice, if there truly is nothing I can do to change the yucky, or if it’s really none of my business, then I try to “let it go.” I have that song from Frozen on my phone and I play it often when I am in the car. I even sing along if I am alone!

I’ve been absent from writing this blog for a while, partly because I was plodding through finishing a book. I felt bad about taking so long to finish it, often feeling lazy. Until I realized that writing, or art, or anything that helps us march through life in a good mood, these all stem from some creative part within us. And creativity cannot be called up because we are “supposed to” get something done. Creativity has to be fed. And rested. Sometimes we need to stop with the deadlines we put on ourselves and go find that spark again. Feed our souls. But then that can get us in a rut. There is a line, I think, between taking a rest to feed myself but then, if I rest too long, I become lazy and lethargic and cannot finding anything I want to do.

For me, while I love writing and the challenge of finding the right words and sentences is exhilarating, I never, ever want to do it. If I waited until I wanted to sit here at my laptop and put words to screen, I would never do it.  There comes the day, after resting and playing, that I must make myself be disciplined and just do it anyway. And quickly the joy then comes in the doing and words move easily onto the page.  That is one of my big take-aways of the past year.

So first, I rest and play. Pull out the Legos and build stuff. Go for a walk. Bake bread or cookies.  Draw silly stuff, maybe just put a bunch of colors on a page.  Anything to find inspiration, some spark that excites me, that pushes me out of bed each morning.

Then, and only then, I tackle the thing again. With renewed energy. With renewed creativeness.

And this feels really, really good! And I am glad!


OK, here’s what I’m thinking, as I’m way past midlife. At almost 78, I guess I’m an endlife girl!

I used to see life as a series of many stages or phases, 1, 2, 3, etc; but now I’m thinking maybe not so much. Maybe only two.  First we build and explore in order to survive in a culture that teaches us to show off.  A culture that teaches us that what matters, what counts toward our worthiness, is what can be seen…either in a picture, an award, a line on a resume, or a paycheck.  Or whatever. That it must be seen somewhere, and acknowledged somewhere.  Phase 1 we climb and conquer and show the world. And we survive battles.  Or, if we don’t, we get depressed and cry and go searching for a new hill to climb and plant our flag at the top and say: “Hurrah! I did it! Look at me everybody!”

I used to look at older women and wonder where all their ambition went, why they didn’t pursue the prettiest houses, or clothes or decorate every room in the house for every holiday and cook 6 course meals. I thought they were lazy, or slowing down and vowed to my ownself that I would never be like that.

Well, now I know that phase 2 comes along and some of those things are thrown aside not because we are lazy but because our heart yearns for something else.

Phase 2 is more mystical, more about discovering our soul, what feeds it and causes us to grow inside. We find the purest joy in doing some things, and we give a lot of energy to them even if no one ever knows or sees them. The need for affirmation we have in Phase 1 is gone and we no longer chase after it.  We start enjoying sunrises and flowers and pets and everything we see, just because they are beautiful. We sit back and let the beauty of them invade us and grow gratitude in us…just us alone.  If they get shared, that’s ok, but it’s not why we are doing it.  And we also begin to wonder and notice what brings real joy to those around us.

In Phase 1 we do things for affirmation and we care a lot about what other people think. In Phase 2 we do them just because …well, just because, and we don’t care what people think.

I love to write, I have to write. It’s nice when others appreciate it, but that’s a passing thought. I write because it makes me feel so good to look at a page and be proud of it for my ownself.

I love to draw, and I’m not very good at it, but I draw because it always makes me giggle when I’m done.  Don’t ever have to show anyone, I just like drawing.

It may be hard to embrace Phase 2 because we are usually forced into it by retirement or illness or loss or age.   Maybe it’s so hard because now our heart longs to discover the hearts of others. What makes those close to us want to sing, to dance. 

It’s way easier to flow into Phase 2 when you are old, if you start in Phase 1. Enjoy a few solitary things for yourself and try not showing them to anyone.  Why wait  till you are over 70 before you start enjoying the “alone” things in life. Phase 2 can overlap Phase 1, and then it becomes the best!


I have a very long dining room table. It sits 16 people before the leaf is added! I treasure the many  family dinners here, crowding in, bumping shoulders. My grand-daughter chooses the linens and plates and tablecloth. We line the silver and glassware along the table Martha Stewart style. 

It broke my heart to give it all up this year. The table has sat as idle as have people groups across the country. In my last article I pondered how to not be robbed of these “feed-my-soul” times with my large family and yet keep myself (age 77) and others safe.

We each are responsible for our own safety and we are responsible for finding a balance between physical health and soul health for ourselves. It requires a bit of dreaming, lots of letting go of how it was, and a healthy dose of risk-adventure taking. What feeds my soul may freak yours out. Since we are ok with that, I thought, in light of my last article, you may like to hear how I decided to have this holiday season.  Not so much philosophic wandering in this story, just “here’s how I found joy” in planning Thanksgiving Dinner.

We have an extra-large garage in our lot across the street from our live-in house. Mostly storage, with a nice corner for my treadmill. A long workbench lines the back wall. Enough space to accommodate tables spaced pretty far apart. Maybe not six feet, but better that butt-to-butt at the table in the house.

Covered the workbench with some festive Christmas tablecloths!  Positioned our four banquet tables into a loose square with walking distance between, and placed chairs only on the outside border so we could all see each other. Decorated everything with lots of small pumpkins and gourds and candles. I didn’t have four matching tablecloths but somehow that didn’t matter this year.

Placed food on the workbench, gave each person their own serving spoon.  Unseasonably warm weather gave us sunshine, and a fire pit in the driveway made that old unheated garage comfortable!

Back to the real house for pie and games, and puzzles and laying around. I didn’t worry about six feet of social distance because I had decided to be happy with two feet and to accept the risk. The reward would be worth the risk to me.

I would not advocate this for everyone. I am only navigating my own way to keep peace and joy in my life. To not give in to negative thoughts or complaining or depression.  It was a wonderful day that I will always treasure.

Now on to Christmas.  We live in northern Indiana, so chances of the garage being useable is almost zero.  We either gather in the house or not at all. In my heart, the not-at-all is out of the question! 

So I’m putting that long dining room table to a new use. Setting up three electric griddles, one at each end, one in the center. Adding an assortment of cheeses and breads and letting everyone make their own grilled cheese sandwich.  A big pot of homemade tomato soup on the stove in the kitchen will round it out.

I think my gang will turn this into a contest to see who makes the best grilled cheese, because they jump on every opportunity to have a contest. We have even had special trophies made for winners to take home.

This is a far cry from my dreamy Christmases, but in my heart this year I long for ease and comfort and lounging around and talking and just being. This Christmas seems more perfect than any I have ever done.  I have found joy. I have created joy in the midst of Chaos and I’m feeling pretty darn proud of myself because I am more that OK now.

May you find joy and peace this holiday in however you choose to do it.


I am not at rest, not at ease. My mind churns over and over, looking to make a decision, to decide, to then be at rest.  But I am not at rest, and I wonder how it can not be so?

The Pandemic looms over us as the holidays approach. Something in our hearts propels us toward gathering. How can we not come together, share turkey and mashed potatoes, play games, draw names for Christmas gifts, drink wine, and look around the room at happy faces on people we love more than anything in the world? How can we not?

But then I ask myself, am I being foolish, defying the odds? I am 77 after all!  So will we be filled with remorse and regret and guilt if a loved one becomes gravely ill? Will we beat ourselves up and say “it wasn’t worth it?”

We cannot know for certain the best and rightest choices to make. Because we don’t have enough good and trustworthy and “for sure” facts. We just don’t.

I think the length of time we have been in such turmoil has exhausted us. There is no real, for sure, end in sight and that exhausts us. Isolation and separation exhausts us when we don’t now for real and certain that it is absolutely necessary.

Do we hunker down for a year? Stay in our own little houses, seeing no one? For another year or more?

Do we do our own grocery shopping, masked up, fearfully watching everyone to be certain we are a full six feet apart? Quickly darting around a corner if they come too close? We come home exhausted and afraid.

Or do we live our ordinary lives with some cautions in place? Some that are not too invasive, too stealing away of joy? But some that still afford us some level of protection?

Do we cancel Family Holiday Gathering to be safe for certain or do we draw together with some wise cautions in place so that our hearts can be full? And what cautions are those?

We want to know for certain that we are making the right wise and good choices. We don’t want to be wrong about this because the price we will pay for that wrongness may be very high.

We want control and certainty and no matter what we do we can’t have it. Can’t get it no matter how much news we listen to. No matter how many web sites we follow. We fear they have their own agendas and we don’t trust them beyond the few hours after we’ve listened to them – them, the experts. Because they really don’t know either.

So how can we not be at unrest, doubting everyone, second guessing ourselves, trusting no one? How can we not?

I have decided to be at peace with my unrest. I will just have to sit with it because I can’t make it go away. I have tried to find peace in all this about family holidays and I just can’t. But then, how could I? How could any of us?

But there are some things I know for sure.

I will stop berating myself for being unrestful.

I will not give up being with family. Not sure what that can look like for the holidays, but in my gut it just feels wrong for me to cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas at my house with my grown children, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren. That feels wrong to me.

I will take some precautions to keep us all safe and then I will stop being afraid.

Can I stop feeling unrestful about this? Can I stop doubting my decisions? Probably not.

But I can accept that this is the world right now. A world in upheaval. A world in which I have no control.

But I will be ok! 

To Write or Not? (When I don’t feel like it)

Only way out of the dark cave is to crawl on one’s belly, army style, exerting all one’s strength to push  forward. This is me, finally exiting Wolf Cave, McCormick Creek State Park, Indiana,  June 2020

First, a bit of clarification might be useful about my article on the strength of my Aunt Marian. I certainly am not implying that any woman must stay with a drunk or abusive husband. I do not admire her because she did that. I have no idea how she decided that she would not kick him out. Whether she loved him in some unhealthy way, or that the circumstances of 1930-1945, the circumstances of Poverty, of The Great Depression, of WW2, made it impossible to leave. Or whether it was the culture of the day, the days of women having few economic choices. I don’t know.

What I do applaud her for is not the choice she made, but that she lived out her desperate circumstances without becoming a victim and without becoming a negative, complainy, crabby person. I do know she was embarrassed and angry sometimes, because on occasion,  when the police called to tell her he was laying drunk somewhere, that she could come to get him…I do know that she sometimes said, “Aww, you guys can keep him till he sobers up.”  And I do know that on some occasions when he  lay drunk on her floor in the dining room, she took his picture to show him how disgusting he looked. And I do know that once she cut off his tie (yes, he usually wore a suit and tie to the tavern!)  while he was passed out so that he’d wonder how that happened. I don’t think she ever did tell him and he wondered about it all the rest of his life.

Telling these stories, I don’t know how she did it, but they were funny and she snickered a little. She told them in a way that said “Oh, listen to the funny think I did.”  Never, in all my years of knowing her, did I ever find an angry, pitiful, vengeful, or mean tone to her voice or look on her face.  Her eyes sparkled. She always seemed proud of herself. She always seemed to be having fun every day no matter what was happening.  

I want to be that strong and cheerful.  Until I was almost thirty, I was not. Life had dealt me numerous devastating blows and I was reduced to feeling helpless, self-pitying and manipulative. I lashed out at the world with a vengeance.  Until I didn’t. Until I climbed out of that hole.

For almost 50 years now, I have been that strong “Aunt Marian”. Life was not easy, but I did not wallow or dive into misery.  I jokingly told people, “Well, I guess I have 3 choices…I can be depressed,  I can be on drugs, or I can be happy. I think I’ll choose happy!”

I have been a real “pull myself up by my bootstraps” kind of person, pursuing joy and life no matter what. Sure I complained sometimes, got crabby often, but I didn’t stay there. I always found joy in the positive things I did have. I loved my life, hassles and all!

But I can’t seem to get there now, and that’s probably why I started remembering my Auntie stories.  I’m not depressed (I don’t think), and I don’t pity myself, and I’m not complaining.  But there is something about this pandemic that has thrown me.  I’ll be 77 the end of July and have high blood pressure, so I’m careful about where I go and who I am around.  My choice of activities is limited. My freedom to be spontaneous is limited. I’m tired all the time, which is not like me…a sporty, peppy person.  I feel like I’ve lost part of me.

On the surface I am ok, doing a really good job keeping positive and cheerful and busy. But there is a river running underneath that has robbed me of inspiration and motivation.  I keep motivated because it’s the right thing to do, but I don’t feel it, and that’s new for me.

Goodness knows, I’ve battled and overcome way worse. I have tattoos to celebrate my victories. And I will find the light at the end of this tunnel. And sport a new tattoo to declare it!

But I’m thinking maybe all of us are overwhelmed with trying to figure out what life is all about now – again. And maybe what we need is some good stories. Some fun times.  I’m a pretty introspective person and tend to write pretty serious articles, and maybe now is not the time for that. Maybe I’m just gonna write more funny Aunt Marian stories, and about my Aunt Glada and Aunt Helen, too. And stories of some fun things I’m doing or finding someplace. I need some good stories and some silly fun activities. Some fun, pointless activities.

I’m gonna do that and stop trying to figure all this out. Understanding  and figuring can take a break for a while. 

Only way out of the dark cave is to crawl on one’s belly, army style, exerting all one’s strength to push  forward.

This Was My Aunt Marion

In my last article I promised to write short bios of the strong ladies in my family, the history I have listening and observing them as I grew up: here’s the first.

This was my Aunt Marian. We always called her that. Never simply ‘Marian’. Had to be ‘Aunt’. It was that way in my mother’s family. Always ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ before their given name. It was respect.
Marian Lullabell, born in 1905. It’s sort of a funny middle name. It suited her though, as she was my funniest aunt. My heart laughs a little every time I remember her.
She was the second child in a family of six. Even though the Great Depression hadn’t hit the country, she still grew up in real poverty. I’m not sure why. Stories abound about my grandfather’s poor heart, but those get mixed in with the Depression, and as none of them are alive now, there’s no one to ask. Wouldn’t matter. When they were alive they all had different stories to tell and bantered back and forth with each other as to whose version was the “truth”.
At any rate, the young girl Marian grew up really, really, poor. There were no frivolities to be had. One year she wanted so much to go to a costume party, but knew there was no money for a costume. Not to be thwarted, she got creative. Made her outfit from old newspapers, tearing them into strips to create the dress she is wearing in this picture. She won first prize!
And then…when she was about 19 or 20 she met Bill. He had a good job, “with the railroad”. That was a big deal in those days. An enviable job.
Christmas 1905 he gave her a diamond ring and they planned a spring wedding. Bought the house next to his parents in South Whitley. But, really! A diamond ring! And a house! And a good job with “the railroad”. Life was perfect, full of promises!
More perfect with their first baby, still good with the second baby. It was 1930 then, one year into the Depression. They didn’t feel it too much in their little town of barely 1000 people, not yet.
And then they did. The railroad laid off almost everyone. Bill was home, no job, no money.
Searching for another was pointless, fruitless. No one had a job, no one was hiring, everyone stood in long lines for government food and anything else welfare could offer. This proud man, who just a few years before had put a real diamond ring on his girl’s finger, now was a welfare man, on “the government”. Hours every day with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

Except the one place in town all the men gathered. The tavern. Every night they swaggered
home feeling really good and important.
I don’t know how she did it, but Marian kept her little family warm, fed.
The Depression ended many years later. The drinking didn’t. Bill lived until the 1980s and, to my knowledge was never sober one day.
This is not meant to be a story about Bill. But of my Aunt Marian, who married a dashing young man, full of promise, full of the future. A man who gave her a diamond ring. My Aunt Marian, a young girl whom I imagine was full of hope and carried dreams with her to bed every night. A girl who married her knight.
I cannot imagine the heartache, the death of those dreams. To be married to a man who was not sober for somewhere between 40-50 years. It never ended. Did she wonder often if it would change? I think so, cause she often told stories with humor, stories of the times she didn’t let Bill in the house, of once when she left him passed out on the floor, cut off his tie, and then took his picture! To show to him in the morning. Maybe she thought he might wake up and change. He never did. I never heard her complain. She approached life with an enviable nonchalance.
Kept her house and her family intact. Kept herself intact. Served Sunday dinner every week to the bigger brother-and-sister families, around her large dining room table. If she was
embarrassed by Bill, I never knew. It never showed.
What amazes me, is how she could be so cheerful all those years. How she could tell those
funny stories. They weren’t funny, really, just the way she told them made them seem so.
My Aunt Marian. This was her life: growing up in poverty, losing dreams, making do, loving,
laughing, serving. Because somewhere, sometime in her life she must have decided to see life from that perspective. She chose to be cheerful. I want to be like my Aunt Marian!


We think we live in a time of crisis and maybe we do. But we’re not the first. Americans have
been here before. Not exactly like this, but we have been afraid before.
We’ve faced unknown futures, unknown tomorrows. But we survived. I don’t know how we
did, but we found joy in our days and we moved on.
In every crisis of the past, American women carved some kind of fulfillment out of the days and weeks and years. They lay their heads on their pillows each night without wine or TV or cell phones with Facebook or games to distract and comfort them. And they declared the day to be good. And wondered what crisis the next day would bring and if they could do it all over again.
And again. And they knew they would.
They did not say, “I am strong!” They just were.
They did not say, “I can do this!” They just got out of bed every day and did it.
I am from a family of strong women. They stared poverty in the face and made each day worth living. They made little parties in their living rooms during the Great Depression. They watched their men get on buses and trains, off to army camps. Not knowing if those men would ever come home to sit at the kitchen table to have coffee with them again. That was WW2.
In the next few weeks I will give to you a few stories, short bios of these women. The stories I heard growing up. Stories told of “the way it was”. Just the way it was. As a young girl, I loved sitting around with my elderly aunts as they reminisced about their younger days.
I had to pay attention, to sift through their laughter to find the underneath story, to hear of
hunger, of poverty, of absent husbands, of drunken husbands.
I wanted to be like those women. These older ladies with their shiny silver hair and sparkly
eyes. Never a frown. Never complaining. Holding families together.
How did they do it? I’m not sure. But they stuck together, not just my aunties, but all women.
They never heard of ‘community.’ But they had it! They really had it!
Not sure where I’m going with this, but am compelled to tell their stories.
Maybe we can put them all together and become problem solvers, not complainers.
Maybe we can find joy in living life well in the midst of sacrifice.
Maybe we can do this in the midst of crisis, whatever that crisis may look like to us.
Because in my own almost 77 years of life I’ve found that there will always be crisis. After this one, there will be another.
So it’s not about the crisis, it’s about me! About how I meet the challenge of crisis with my soul (and my humor) intact.

When I was 21

When I was 21…oh, forget my 20s…I was a mess!

When I was 31 I was raising my children, learning to cook and make a home. Things I knew nothing about!  So I read books (a ton of books!) and talked to older and wiser women to see how they did life. I followed directions and plans, keeping everything in order. Kept my life in order. Pursued a spiritual connection through order and obedience with only a little fun thrown in. Very little fun. I played well with my own children. I didn’t know how to play by myself. My dream was to form a wonderful, secure family that loved and treasured me as much as I did them.

When I was 41 I found the part of me that did not need to fit in with others and be like them, follow their plan for order. I grew an antenna for when things weren’t right and I wanted to fix them – and me. I didn’t know how to do that, exactly, so I pursued self-help books, took classes, and began writing – a lot! I wasn’t comfortable speaking out, but I did do it. I did it quietly and gently so as not to ruffle any feathers. My dream was to make an impact for good and righteousness wherever I was.

When I was 51 My children were grown, my job became full-time helping people. I studied patterns of behavior and charted what I learned. I developed a love for taking huge amounts of material and condensing it down into something easy to teach and remember. I began to love word pictures. And my dream was to pass on what I had learned, pass it on for others to learn.

When I was 61 I had survived a year-long life-threatening illness that changed the direction of my life. I began to question not what I could accomplish but what I really wanted. And I found that I had no idea! I began exploring my world and embarked on a quest to try a bunch of new things and see if I liked them. I found many I didn’t and I had to quit. Remarkably, I didn’t feel guilty about quitting anything I’d volunteered for. These were years of exploration. I wanted to find where I could be useful because I loved it, not because I was needed. My dream was to help others find their happiness without giving up my own. 

In my 70s I began to lose friends and family. Some by their choice, some by my own. And one by an early death. Now I not only wanted to find how I wanted to live the rest of my life, I needed to find peace within my own self – even in the midst of everyone else’s chaos (or even my own). My dream was to be really happy with my own self, even when other people weren’t happy their selves or with me. 

It’s good I think, to take stock of ourselves, of our lives every now and then. The thing is, I think too often the looking back is discouraging because we haven’t accomplished what we thought we could. Looking back can feel like defeat.

But it’s not! Each stage of our lives, each dream that we’ve had, builds our character, teaches us things, enlightens us, moves us forward into areas we could never have gone without the preceding years and dreams. We have to try stuff in order to learn and move forward. It’s not a waste if it didn’t turn out the way we wanted. 

My early years of devoting myself to building a home taught me the value of order. They also  brought to me the security I had longed for my entire life, so that I could move forward. 

The next years of becoming aware when something “wasn’t right” helped me to stop blaming myself for everything. These years helped me to have a voice of my own.  I became confident.

From those years, I found my love of putting words to my thoughts, of finding ways to say things in a way that maybe could encourage others. I found a talent.

Those years helped me wade through the year of illness that cost me my health, my job, my church, and many of my friends.  I survived it without being bitter or angry, although I was devastated and incredibly sad and did grieve the losses. But I also became strong.

And now, as I approach 77, I value my whole life and each of those past stages. I know that, although most of my dreams didn’t come true, that wasn’t the point. I can have dreams, chase them even. But when a dream becomes a roadblock to the present and future, keeping me from new things, when I’m stuck…then I have to know it is time to give up the dream. Because some dreams were meant to only move us forward, to prepare us for the next years coming. It’s not about “success”, it’s about growing.

Finally, I get it. “Being” is more important to me that “doing”, something I never understood. Something I rallied against!

Now I want to live each year to the fullest, playing, laughing, reading, serving, giving, sacrificing, changing… things I can be happy doing.  And loving, above all loving!  



A child I must still be.

I have stuffed animals on my bed. Lots of stuffed animals!

It started with big curly-haired lamb on the clearance shelf at Kroger the week after Easter.

White he was, huge black eyes staring at me. 

Pitiful eyes they were, lonely.

That lamb, begging to be taken home. So I did!

Set him on my bed. Between four white pillows and 3 big, white, fluffy, down comforters.

He belonged there, made the room. Made me smile.

I saw the monkey next, tossed across a basket at Pier 1. Long skinny arms and legs.

Legs with huge oversized feet, puffy feet. Out of proportion they were!

He was cheerful apple green – lime mixed. Funny face.

Easy to pose, those floppy arms and legs to express myself.  

Stretched out, limbs flung wide if I was tired. One long arm resting on Lamb if I was especially friendly that day.  

One by one they came. Small grey bunny, ears reaching to his feet.

Then another floppy one, polar bear, just because he had soft white fur and I could pose him too.

In November my menagerie declared themselves done with the bed. Led astray they were by the new large, very large, baby elephant sitting under our bedroom  Christmas tree. 

And I’ve learned a thing! These stuffed animals.  They have a gift to make humans laugh. Or smile. Giggle even.  One just can’t be crabby looking at them.

They just sit there, do nothing. Nothing at all except being what they were made to be.

Stuffed animals on a bed striking crazy poses. Expressing how their people feel.

That’s their job and they do it well.  My menagerie.

Made me ponder my own  “being” job. Aside from doing. Just being.

Could we over-thinking humans wear joy and acceptance on our faces? On our selves? 

Our very presence lighting  up a room? I’m thinking it starts here. Before we speak. Or do.  

Maybe our real job is to have hearts full of joy. Free of performing. People smile just looking at us!

I want to be that person, that person who brings a smile to someone’s heart when they walk into a room and see me!   I want to see them smile before I say or do anything. That’s what the Green Monkey taught me!


September 25, 2018

Skittering, shuffling, scampering, out of breath I am.

Books and papers and recipes,

photos and letters and souvenirs.


Spilling over. Cramped and crowded I am,

this stuff of forty years, tucked away, stored, forgotten.

I have become not the boss of my house.

Declutter I must!

Out with forgotten books we haven’t read in ten years.

But not this one, this one I read as a new mom.

Out with these receipts, yellowed with age, hard to read.

But not this one, Jonathan’s first ten-speed bike.

These recipes can go, how did there get to be so many?

But I’ll keep these with my pencil notes at the bottom,

when I was only just learning to cook,

learning to be a mom, learning to be a wife.

But oh, the photos and souvenirs and mementoes!

These boxes hold the history of our lives.

Remember this vacation, how small the boys were then?

Broken arms, first days at school, proud drawings.

And then I find it, fallen here to the bottom of the box,

the necklaces from the neighbor’s rummage sale.

Bought with my sons’ own dimes and nickles,

laid on my plate at supper to surprise me.

I lift them from the box and hold them to my chest.

And I know, this stuff, all this stuff

is not just junk as I thought,

no, never junk!

Each thing a gift to carry us back through days and years

and weeks of our lives together, reminding us

of babies born, of birthdays and anniversaries,

of illness and healing.

Of jobs lost, and companies on strike.

Of new cars, and bunk beds, and vacations.

Of children grown and leaving.

And of deaths.

I save out these few things, ones that warm my heart.

And back they go, into their box, onto the shelf.

One shelf for them now. Not ten.

Nine shelves left, empty, open, waiting.

I will fill them again, soon.

With memories of today, of this year, and next.

With mementoes of my new adventures,

now that I am 75!


October 1, 2018

I have an awesome view out my back window. Yard and garden beds. Flowers and butterflies. And woods. With trees, lots of them.

They are thinking of changing color and dropping their leaves. Not doing it yet, just getting ready to. They phase into it, this dying, a little at a time. Not all at once, suddenly. But slowly.

Kinda like me. No, I’m not about to die, I don’t mean that! But certain seasons of my life are dying and I don’t like that. I cling to the old, cherishing it, reliving it.

That gets to be pretty hard work, maintaining a familiar old lifestyle, while living in the new, the now. The now of retired husband at home. The now of family grown up, gone with their active lives. And me. The me who now loves afternoon naps. And needs quiet times. It’s not just everything else changing, I’m changing too

So, I’m thinking about those trees. How if they were afraid to give up this season’s leaves, what would happen. I get this silly picture of them clutching their leaves, frantic to keep what they have. What if they could? What if they could keep those old leaves all winter? What would that be like?

They’d stay green-leafed, of course. That would be nice. But what about spring’s leaves? The next-coming season. Would they wither and die because there’s no room for them? Or would they push forth anyway and make the tree be ugly and crowded. And light surely couldn’t reach all those bunched-up leaves, so they’d just be small and ordinary and be, well, just “there”.

Silly pictures, I know, come to me as I sit with my tea and ponder.

So I think, I’m not going to clutch onto one beautiful season. I’ll find beauty in letting go. Most leaves turn an awesome color and burst forth in vibrancy, displaying for all to see that they are ending one season. Dying. They seem proud, I’m thinking. I can do that too.

I’ll take time to let the old just pass by slowly, as it should. I’ll not rush it, but enjoy each day/ leaf as it passes. This time of changing will not just be about dying, giving up, grieving. I will make it about restoring and feeding my soul so that I am ready for the new.

So that my next season will be full of beauty and love and excitement and adventure and learning and loving.

Easier to write about than do, I know. I think I’ll take a walk in my woods and pick up some fallen brown leaves. I’ll paste them in a little blank book, and label what I’m letting go of.

I’ll gather another leaf later, one that is just changing color and write about how my life is different now, how I am changing in my heart/ soul.

And later still, I’ll take a picture of some that are hanging on, not yet fallen, and past that in my book and fess up to the things that I just don’t want to let go of.

And then I will close the book, give it a pat. Stand up and embrace this fall season of my life. I will burst forth into vibrant color! Into the gloriousness of letting go!


October 7, 2018

I am often taken with a few key words everybody’s using. A fan of words, I’m always interested in what people mean when they use a certain term. Does it mean to them what it means to me? Are they using that word because its popular right now and if asked to define it, they’d have a hard time? I wonder often about words.

Like “diversity”. Often used. Paired with “racial”. Maybe with “sexual” or “religious”. Stops there.

So here’s a little free verse thing I wrote one day, while pondering people like myself. Us who are outside the Big Three!

Diversity, diversity! all day long I hear the word,


Accept people of another color, of another faith,

Make no note of sexual differences,

Find value in everyone.

Celebrate them for all to see.

Be proud!

But what about me?

Does your diversity include me,

White woman, 75 years old,

now on the fringe of younger populations?

Can you value me

and celebrate age for all to see,

or does my grey hair tell you not to bother?

Does my wrinkly skin turn you away ,

tell you I have nothing of value anymore?

And not to be proud!

But what about me?

Does your diversity include me,

A person who’s not good at small talk?

Likes relevant discussions with a few

instead of the expected crowd?

Can you value me, and look for me,

Or does my awkwardness tell you not to bother?

Does my quietness turn you away?

Trendy diversity is proud to look beyond skin color.

True diversity does not define itself… just IS.

Doesn’t need to look beyond differences

doesn’t see differences…

Sees people and stories and wisdom

and history and lessons to learn.

True diversity is humble,

Loves and values and respects

in an instant – without being told.

It is real

and doesn’t shout itself from rooftops.

It just IS!

That’s a bit heavy, so just for fun, here’s a super recipe I tried this week. I love to cook, and I love to try new things, so I’m all about squashes now. Always been a fan of zucchini, but I stopped there. Until I found a few I had to try because the pictures looked awesome. I promise you’ll love this, and you don’t even have to pre-bake the squash…just don’t feel you have to say what it is!

Butternut Squash Baked Pasta oven to 350, serves 4

saute till golden and soft: 4 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 lg. fine chop onion

then add, cook to fragrant: 3 thin slice garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

add, toss to combine: peeled, 1/4″ pieces butternut squash, about 6 cups

then add, bring to boil: 4 c. chicken or beef broth

Reduce heat and simmer till squash is tender, then set aside to cool slightly.

Process till smooth, adding: 1 c. parmesan cheese

mix with 1 lb. cooked pasta, like rigatoni or bowtie, etc.

Pour into approximate 9×13 baking dish and top with handfuls of dried bread crumbs.

Add about 1 c. torn fresh basil leaves, sprinkle on some more parm, and bake till toasty and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. (from BonAppetit)

So amazingly yummy. I overate!

See ya’ next week!


October 15, 2018

Last week I was overwhelmed, over committed, and crabby. Its been a crazy busy summer. We’ve traveled a lot, bought a property, tore down a house, and hosted a wedding, among other things I can’t even remember. And of course, all the disagreements that come along with.

So about a month ago I decided to put some fun into my life, and I picked out some things and enthusiastically signed myself up for them. And now I am way over committed! Me, a person who needs a lot of alone, quiet, reflective time!

I signed up for the Master Gardner class through Purdue. A friend had a blast when she did it and I wanted to have a blast too, so I signed up. But my class is different from hers and I have tons of studying and a huge, humongous textbook about 8 inches thick. The class lasts till the middle of December and then we take a test. A test! To be a Master Gardner and do all their fun stuff, I have to pass a test! On all this 8 inches tall stack of technical stuff. Not my fun thing. I started freaking out about the test. A few ladies in my class said, “Me, I’m not taking the test. I’m just here to learn about my own gardens.” “Wow,” I thought, “that’s good”. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the test! I HAVE to pass that test!

I also had agreed to teach a class at a half-way house, a class about anger. I’ve taught that a hundred times, to a hundred different kinds of people, but like to tweak it for each group. I found myself now taking two days each week just to get prepped. It had to be stellar! Just what they needed! Perfect!

Then there are the other things that already filled my week. Things I love doing. There was nothing to give up. I want to do it all!

I want to take naps and cut flowers from my garden and read books and play games with my grandchildren, have lunch with my daughters-in-law. Visit my mom in her nursing home, cook yummy stuff and have long walks with my husband.

But – I must do all my homework each week and have a perfect-score Master Gardner test in December!

But – I must be an amazingly gifted teacher each week for the half-way house!

But – I must wow all of you with my Monday articles on my web page!

All last week I was crabby. Tried to be happy in the midst of this chaos, just couldn’t.

And, come Friday morning I was going out of town with a girlfriend for 2 days and I knew I couldn’t afford the time. And…I had to pack!

So I didn’t pack, I threw my jammies in my ever-ready overnight bag and decided to just wear the same clothes both days. Too tired to care. Woke up at 4:30am stressed about what studying I wouldn’t get done.

Met my friend at her house. She drove her big comfy SUV, so I just sat back to be a passenger and not be in charge of anything. And spilled out my crabbies and frustrations for an hour. Promised I wouldn’t do it all day. One hour only. And then I stopped.

I could stop because she was my wonderful old long term friend who knew me well. She got off the main highways and drove the country roads on our way to Saugatuck, Michigan. I love country roads. One can’t be crabby while looking at trees and farms and passing through towns with lovely old houses. One just can’t.

We stopped for lunch at Firehouse in Douglas. Oh! It was so my kind of place! Yummiest homemade soup. With tasting samples. A chili made with shreds of roast beef instead of ground beef. A butternut squash soup perfectly seasoned. And the sandwiches were so amazing I actually ate my entire one.

We spent hours browsing the shops in Saugatuck, wandering through things we’d never seen, stuff we’d never buy but loved the creativity of it. We laughed and teased each other and remembered all the other trips we’d taken together. We found a restaurant overlooking the lake and ate expensive fish dinners.

We stayed overnight in a Best Western motel with a beautiful room. Curled up in our jammies, each in our own bed. We stretched out, watched Law and Order and crocheted blankets we were each working on.

And I became heavy with sleep, listening to this friend talk about her family and her job and just her ordinary stuff. My body relaxed, my brain stopped fixating on stuff. My friend of twenty years.

My friend to be comfortable with and not be perfect for. A friend who will let me wear my jammies to the breakfast buffet. A friend who will wear hers too.

My friend who’s part of my history. We’ve seen each other through deaths and illnesses and betrayals.

But we also have a history of travel and playing together. We hadn’t done that in a long time.

This weekend I discovered a new truth. When one is stressed with one’s life, when one is over committed, take a break. Not a little break. A long break. A break away with a long time trusted friend who expects nothing from you but your presence.

These days it is easy to keep up friendships through social media and I do love that a lot.

But there’s nothing like spending some good time with an old friend to refresh and nourish a tattered soul.

Today I was able to think clearly about my priorities and decide that I don’t have to pass the Master Gardner test. I want to be like those ladies who are having fun and just want to learn about their own gardens, and so I shall.

I’m going to enjoy the girls in my half-way class because, after all, the greatest gift I can give them is my joy overflowing. That drug addicts do recover long term, that my 50 years of being clean and happy can give them hope.

Today I wore a pretty dress and picked flowers from my garden, and drank blueberry tea. And I am not crabby anymore!

PS: I bought these little giraffe people in a shop that sells stuff made by villagers in Africa.


October 22, 2018

Awhile back my husband and I had a fight, sort of. We like to build fires in our fire pit, sit on the benches and have coffee some chilly mornings. He collects old logs and cuts up wood so that we always have a ready supply. One of his fave things.

Off to the side, not next to his wood saves, was an old chunk of log, a leftover piece from sometime long ago. It struck my imagination every time I walked past it and I just knew there was something interesting I’d do with it someday. Someday. But it’d been there for years.

So, on one particular morning I, in my woolly robe, over sized slippers, coffee and journal in hand, join him around the fire, only to see The Log in the fire. It quickly becomes My Log, then My Favorite Log. The Something I was saving for the Great Thing I was going to do with it! It’s importance to me grew with each moment I expressed my shock. Well, expressed my mad.

His only response was, “What! What’s the big deal? That thing’s been sitting there for years.” He did pull it out of the fire, though.

Well, I liked that log and couldn’t seem to get over the hump of being shocked, hurt, and angry.

Fussing and fuming wasn’t helping me, even hours later. I needed to redeem this and refocus . Tell myself a new story.

I sat with paper and pen and pondered why I liked that stupid old log anyway. Maybe I should write a bit of free verse. Here it is.


Why do I like you?

Just a chuck of old wood,

once a tree, now nothing.

Knobby, chopped up parts

sticking out, jutting,


Why do I like you?

You are like no other.

Once a tree, gracing my yard,


Then old, then discarded.

Arms and legs firewood

till there was only you,

your core.

No taller than my knees.

Falling bark, wrinkled skin.

No longer tall, proud, powerful.

Some call you ugly, useless,

never beautiful again.

Here – sit there now, hold these flowers

and let the rawness of you –

present the beauty of them.

And reading my poem made me laugh and I was happy again.

Creating something new can chase away our crabbies and show us beauty again and we can laugh even at ourselves.


October 28, 2018

Last year about this time, I decided to rent a cabin at a state park and go there for several days to be alone and think through some things that were troubling me deeply.

At home I am easily distracted, so going someplace where there were no household chores and no TV seemed like a good place to start.

It was wonderful and terrible at the same time! Terrible because I got so absolutely bored to death I could scream. And wonderful because I found a creative side of me that went beyond what I was already doing! Terrible because I had no phone and no internet and couldn’t send pictures or texts to anyone to show off what I was doing. Yet wonderful because I learned the joy of experiencing something just for myself alone! Terrible because I got lost on trails, wondered what would happen if I fell, and once feared I wouldn’t get back to the cabin before the moon came out! Then wonderful when I found the right trail and saw my cabin before dark! I had only a wood burning stove for heat and kept the fire going day and night and was pretty proud of myself for that!

The really terrible part was being afraid at night. With no phone, no other cabin renters around, no people anywhere, my lamp the only one for a mile…it was pretty scary. If someone came on my porch and knocked I certainly couldn’t open the door even if they said they were the police. I thought about someone breaking in. What would happen if they did? I guess I’d be dead pretty quickly and it would all be over and I wouldn’t be scared anymore. So why waste time being scared when there’s nothing I can do about it, I wondered? It was still scary after that, but not as bad.

I came home feeling so victorious! I found some strength I had forgotten I had and I kept saying to my own self, “I did it!!”

So I’m off this week to do it again. No deep thoughts I’m needing to work through this time. I’m just hoping to explore new creative places of me, places I haven’t gone. I’ve never painted on a canvas, so I’m going to do that. I’m not artistic in that way at all, and even when I draw or color it’s a stretch for me. Not my talent, so it requires a level of concentration that is almost like meditating. Maybe I’ll get some Sculpy and mold and carve some things. Challenges! I want to challenge myself on dangerous trails and on paper. Gulp!


On October 1st, my article was about learning something as I watched the trees let go of their leaves. I said I would gather a few and paste them in a little book and label them for stuff I was letting go of. (1st of 3 leaf to-dos)

Here they are: The first page is pictured above, but the next two pages had four leaves. one for the dishes I have to give away cause I have way too many, another for books spilling over everywhere. One for mementos that I can’t remember what for, and the last for the bazillion recipes I haven’t made but save just in case.

How are you doing? If you want to share your ideas with me or ask a question, or comment – use the contact tab on the bottom. I respond to everything!


November 5, 2018

Just back from my “alone-in a-cabin-survival-girl-in-the-woods-for-days” adventure and have stuff to say about that but want to think about it a bit first.

But I did spend some time thinking about silliness and how much I love it and how little of it I do. So I sat on the couch up there in the woods, cup of tea in hand. With my favorite mug from a best friend. A delicate white mug that has “courage” in black letters on it. She knows they are my fave colors. And I wrote a silly little free verse. And laughed. All by myself up there. In the woods.

So here it is:


I did not make the bed this morning.

Only fluffed up the pillows.

Thinking as I left the room,

“It looks inviting, I’ll nap this afternoon.”

I did not wash the breakfast dishes.

Soaked them in the sink instead.

Watched a mother deer and babe.

Phoned my own grown child, “have a great day!”

I did not sweep the floors.

Left the leaves and crumbs from yesterday.

Be the tokens of our day.

So I smiled at the memories.

Tonight I gathered puffy quilts under my chin.

Snug in my bed I was.

Cherished each moment of the day.

“Tomorrow, there is always tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow I will wash the dishes.”

More about my “trip” next week.

PS: those of you who know me will recognize the humor, as I am often teased for being too organized!

The Cabin In The Woods

November 11, 2018

Halloween night I took off to my yearly “be-alone-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods” excursion. I take a survivor-girl attitude to this event. Isolated, no phone, no internet. If I fall while on a hike, I must crawl myself out to a far distant highway so somebody can find me. I survive boredom. I conquer fear. I keep warm only with a wood burning stove.

That was last year.

This year, I left during a month of craziness woven with conflict and schedules. That kind of stuff. I just kept hanging on because, “I’m going to the cabin in a few weeks. It’ll all be ok then.”

I thought magic would happen when I walked through that wood door. That I’d go from stressed to relaxed. It didn’t happen and it took me days to just settle my brain. Settle into quiet.

Lesson #1 Living life calmly and on purpose has to be done every day, all the time.

Then there was my eagerness to survive in the mini-wilderness alone. That didn’t happen either. Every cabin was rented, the campground was full, and people were hiking every trail. I didn’t get to be proud of myself surviving bitter cold while hiking around the lake. The temperature was mild, no hat or scarf was necessary.

Lesson #2 I need new mountains of challenge and risk to climb. I like those. I didn’t know that about myself. I’ll factor it in for future trips. Maybe I’ll even factor it into my life. Acceptable risk, that is.

Last year I was crazy with boredom, so I took along lots of stuff to do this time. Lots and lots. So much that I couldn’t decide what to do first.

Lesson #3 Boredom is good because it forces me to be creative and find something new to do. Or not do, as sitting and thinking and writing is ok, too.

The first day it rained all day. Pouring down rain. I just camped out on the sofa with a good book. A really good book recommended by a reader. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. Bold and colorful picture on front cover of a well-worn hiking boot. Read it in one day. I wanted to be there, not here. With people.

Lesson #4 Don’t read about conquering the Pacific Coast Trail, for three months alone and with bloody feet. Not when cabin-bound by rain and surrounded by people. Save that book for later.

But I think the biggest lesson I learned was that I can’t recreate super experiences. Each day is its own. It’s new.

And I’m new. I’m not the same as I was a year ago, nor am I really exactly as I was yesterday. And yay for that! Today is a new day, with new challenges, with new highs and lows, with new insights, with new things to, new experiences to have. With new people and new conversations. New mountains.

I’ll draw on my experience of yesterday, sure, but I won’t carry it with me into today or tomorrow. That backpack is way too heavy already.

Holiday Traditions

Photo by Mat Brown on

November 20, 2018

One of my favorite movies is “Fiddler On The Roof”. Tradition! Tevye’s life is built on it. His entire Jewish community is built on it. Two of his daughters challenge Tradition by choosing who they will marry and Tevye wavers back and forth. Should he give his blessing or no? He chooses to let go of a tradition because he loves his daughters. It is hard, but he does it.

The third daughter makes a choice that he cannot bless. He cannot even have relationship with her if she chooses to go down that path. A path that flies in the face of Tradition! A path that rejects his Jewish faith.

His response is “No! No! If I bend that far, I’ll break!”

Every holiday season I am challenged to ponder my traditions, the traditions of my family. The ones I have put in place over the years. My family is not challenging them this year, and in past years when they have, it has always been pretty easy for me to be flexible. To change. The day may come when it won’t be so easy. They are older and have busy lives. I am older and get tired.

And some Traditions get old and maybe boring after we’ve done them so long. Do we keep doing it because routine has become Tradition!? Maybe. And maybe I don’t want that. Maybe I can be the one to challenge some of my traditions!

Here’s a little thing. Every Thanksgiving I put paper and pencil at everyone’s place. They write what they are most thankful for this year. I’ve saved all those slips! But, it’s become pretty repetitive over the years. We’ve kinda gotten into saying the same things and it takes a long time for eighteen people to read their list.

So this year I’m not doing that. I’m gonna shake it up a bit by taping a big sheet of white paper on the wall in the family room where we gather. Let everyone pick their favorite color crayon and write or draw what has been special about this year. Maybe changing the format will make it fun again and will prompt new responses! I bet it will.

But a bigger question always plagues me. Is there a tradition that, like Tevye, I cannot, will not bend for? That if I do I will break? I can’t think of one, but every year I wonder about this.

More About Traditions

November 28, 2018

I’m still pondering Tradition. Some of ours have been repeated for so many years now I wondered if they’d become boring and old and over-used to the point of non-usefulness. So for Thanksgiving I changed things around a bit, to keep things alive and interesting. So I thought!

And I learned a few things then about Tradition. I think now, that while some may appear “boring”, or overused, they are not. They are just familiar. And a wonderful thread that holds us together. Not all threads have to be shining silver and glittery. Some can be strong muslin threads that give body and strength and are everlasting. Familiar.

For Christmas I may tweak a few Traditions, but I will hold onto the familiar. There’s comfort in knowing what to expect, there’s comfort in doing the same things every time you come to Gramma’s house. Sometimes there’s comfort even in the complaining about it. Sometimes that’s just part of being a big family together.

So I will continue to be a strong muslin thread. And leave the shining and sparkling and new for decorations and gifts and wrappings. Not for Tradition. Tradition by definition is old. And familiar. And holds us together.

I’m thinking now, I like that a lot. Surprised me!

Discovering New Roads

December 4, 2018

“Bored” seems to be a bad word nowadays. Something to avoid. Bored at a red light, a commercial, a line at the grocery store, or during a meal? Reach for our phone. Or newspaper or magazine. Or the TV remote. Kids reach for an IPad or other device.

As though our minds must be engaged with activity every moment. I wonder what we are running away from, why we need to be distracted. What are we afraid will happen if we have time to think and feel.

Boredom that we try to run away from hurts! Our heart races and our eyes dart back and forth, wondering where to focus. It can make us think we are a little depressed, or maybe just lazy.

But boredom embraced is wonderful! If I let my mind settle and just be bored sometimes, I discover many new things. New things in the world. New things about myself. About my friends.

I didn’t know drawing something I was looking at could make me feel so happy. I didn’t know I was even a little bit good at it. I’m certainly no artist, but I’m not embarrassed if someone sees my pictures. I have a little handheld sketchbook and every day I draw something. Maybe just that Santa on my bookcase. But something. And when its finished, I feel silly and excited and giggle a little to myself. I didn’t know that when I was too busy to be bored.

Hiking through the woods makes me feel strong and tough. I only discovered it when there was nothing else to do.

If I say “no” to all the usual ways I occupy myself with like errands, dishes, laundry, meetings, volunteering, and even TV and FreeCell, what then? What if I gave them up for one day a week, or one afternoon, or even one hour. And I just sat. Still.

I’ve allowed myself to put aside busyness and just sit. Sit for a time on the couch and stare out the window

until I think of something new to do. Or to write. Or to think about. Or to rest.

Who knows where our minds will wander if we let them. What will come to live in those empty places? What new roads will we travel?

I know.


Fresh Insights To Problems.

And maybe even some Original Thoughts of our own. Gosh! Go be bored this week!

(CREDIT: I drew the picture from a “Curly Girl Design” greeting card. The words are mine.)


December 10, 2018

I didn’t want to sit and be still.

I’d rather do the laundry,

Make the bed,

Wash the dishes.

I didn’t want to think and ponder.

I’d rather mop the floors,

Shop for groceries and gifts,

Bake bread.

I didn’t want to write and draw.

I’d rather hang garland,

Decorate the tree,

String outdoor lights.

When all was done, then, then,

I’d sit, be still, ponder.

Then I would have thoughts to write about,

Things to say.

About laundry and dishes?

Errands run?

About checklists completed,

And how efficient I am?

No! No! Not that!

Today I will do one load of laundry,

Soak the dishes.

One hour to decorate, not seven,

Just one batch of cookies, not six different ones.

Only those quick things,

Because today I will sit and be still.

I will ponder life and

Listen to my heart.

See the beauty out my window

In the woods, across the field.

And treasure the gentleness of deer,

And evergreen trees dusted with frost.

I will treasure my Christmas tree,

Tiny blue lights, no ornaments yet.

I will see the beauty of things undone,

The simplicity of only lights.

And today I will be truly alive!

My New Adventure

December 28, 2018

I have an ache in my heart. Its been there a long time.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to go to ballet class. I wanted to be a ballerina!

A beautiful ballerina who wore a fluffy pink dress and moved with grace and looked elegant.

But someone told me I couldn’t. That I’d never measure up, I was uncoordinated and clumsy!

Ballet instructors are strict and uncompromising! They will yell at you and you will be embarrassed! You’ll get kicked out of class and they will laugh at you!

So I took books out of the library, about ballet. First position, second position, beautiful photos of delicate young girls. Their hair twisted into a knot at the back of their necks, heads held high, eyes looking into the distance as though entranced.

A book, however, could only take me so far, and soon the dream was lost in the routine of growing up and becoming responsible. Lost as I pondered bigger questions and tackled greater problems than being told I could never dance.

Many years now I have been a Gramma and have taken children to see the Nutcracker Ballet every Christmas. And every year, as beauty unfolds on stage, the dream sparks anew, my heart yearns, and I wish again that I could do THAT! I want to do THAT!

And so now, though I am 75 and will never be a ballerina on stage, I ordered a book from Barnes and Noble on beginning ballet. And found a Dance Studio willing to dream with me. Next week I have my first lesson, a private lesson just for me. Just for me so that I can dance in my own living room.

Just for me, I will dance when I want. I shall not hide. I will wear a flouncy pink ballet skirt and I will be beautiful. And in my heart I will be a ballerina! And my heart will no longer ache.

New Year’s Resolutions?

January 8, 2019

I’m a pretty goal-oriented, purpose-driven person, so I sorta make resolutions all during the year and usually keep them. So putting resolutions to work each January is something I’ve hardly ever done.

Some years I did put one word down on paper though, as something I wanted to pursue, like “love”. I would strive to be intentionally, consciously more loving. And show it in real ways!

Another year I chose “tolerance”, so that I could remember to be patient and not get annoyed at the everyday bad-manners kinds of things people do.

This year I’m not focusing on the parts of me that need to be better, even though there are lots of those. I’m celebrating my successes, what I’ve accomplished or even just-gotten-better at during 2018.

So here’s the beginning of my list.

This has been a year of deepening friendships. I’ve made a few new ones, but mostly I’ve spent more time with people I love and cherish and admire. I’ve learned that being together doesn’t have to have a purpose. I don’t have to scatter nuggets of wisdom every time. Nor do I have to solve problems. I don’t have to make the bed before they come for morning coffee. The floors don’t need to be swept before friends come for dinner. The people I’ve gathered are just…well, friends. I like them…genuinely like them! I’ve learned to just chat.

Because I don’t have to be on guard around them. This is the year I’ve taken my bullet-proof vest off and set it aside. Without it I’m vulnerable. And delicate. And strong. And without it I am free of its burdensome weight on my shoulders and this feels marvelous!

My Next Non-Resolution

January 17, 2019

Last week I shared my thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions, and that I am doing something different…a new thing to start this year!

Instead of focusing on what I haven’t done, where I’ve “failed”, making resolutions to do better… I’m making a list of what I have done, where I’ve succeeded, and what I’m pretty happy with. Last week I wrote about my bullet-proof vest. Scroll down to read it.

My next “success” story is about hassles and problems. Every-day ones I’m pretty good at not getting all tangled up in. Some big ones still get to me.

Like what if my husband was in an accident and in a wheel chair and required my full-time care. Forever. Yet was unaware of himself enough to communicate! What if that was the rest of my life! My whole life? Forever and ever? When he was late coming home from a bicycle ride on busy city streets…well, I would be afraid and would think “What if that happens! I couldn’t take it!” Of course I could, but it was still scary and scary can turn into angry and angry can turn into unreasonableness.

Or like when, one day, at holiday time, there was a family conflict about something and I said what I wanted. Really wanted. A few others disagreed. Just disagreed. No threats and no arguing. And no conclusion.As the day drew near, for that holiday dinner at my house, I began to wonder if the disagreeing people would even come. What if they boycotted my holiday dinner! After all, no one had sa id, “That’s ok, I understand how you feel, it’s fine.”

The morning of, my heart ached and I tried to comfort myself with, “Never mind…it’ll be OK!”

“But wait! What if it’s not OK! It might not be OK!” And in an instant, just sitting on my couch, my heart knew, “IT might not be OK, but I will be OK! I will be OK!”

I’ve reached this place in my life where I no longer fear what can happen. Because I know, really know deep in my soul, that no matter what happens, no matter the crisis or if I am alone, I will be OK. And this, too, again, feels marvelous! PS: everybody did come to holiday dinner!

I need a re-start button.

January 26, 2019

I need a re-start button.

My phone has one, so does my laptop.

When they get all crazy

I push a button…and boom!

For a breath-taking moment

The screens go black and silent

Before they come alive again.

Alive again! No static, no rebellion, no laziness.

They act smart, no longer confused.

If I had a re-start button

I could push it when I’m rushing about,

Annoyed, crabby, joyless.

I could push a button and in an instant

Those would go away and I’d be calm.

It’d be good if I had a re-start button.

If I pushed that button the “screen” of me

Would become black and silent.

It would take my breath away, that alone emptiness.

And then I’d come alive again, bright and beautiful,

kind, calm, intentional, frenzied thoughts wiped clean.

All the good working parts of me would be in order.

I’d be alive again,

If only I had a re-start button!

Just Wondering!

March 7, 2019

How do I want to live my life? The rest of my life as I am approaching my 76th year? The answer I give, that books and magazines give is: “with joy and purpose, giving to myself and others.”

I’ve pondered what that exactly means in my real world, in the day I have before me. The one day I have right now. So I got up one morning and started to make a list for myself.

I want to eat enough good food to be healthy without spending much time thinking about it. Spinach salads, broccoli and tomatoes and beets. But also mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and yummy chocolate desserts.

I want to exercise enough to maintain a healthy heart rate, to keep limber, to not become creaky and demented. Just enough to ward off those monsters. I’ll get on the treadmill, do lunges and kettle ball and jumping jacks. Just enough so that I can go for long vigorous walks in the woods and take deep breaths of brisk, fresh air. And see the beauty around me. Hear the birds and see unidentifiable paw prints and wonder what big thing walked the path just before I did.

I want to write and draw the beauty I see even though I am no artist and rarely show my work to anyone. It just feels so darn good to do it. While writing or drawing I can’t think of anything else. I am focused on the one task before me and that’s a good place to be.

I want to have friends I can have coffee with while we talk serious things. I can look into their eyes as they share their excitement…or their pain. Friends who can see the pain in my heart and call it out of me. Challenge me to resolve it. Maybe have an idea I can try because it worked for them. Friends who treasure my heart and want to hear what I think.

And I want to stop arguing or cajoling other people into “meaningful” conversations. So that I can honor the choices they have made for their own lives and happiness.

I want to travel and see new places and new peoples, live in their culture a bit. Glimpsing the glitzy, opulent lives of the wealthy so that I can see what gives them peace and where they find rest and how they feel in a world so torn and at odds with itself. And I want to sit and talk with outcasts, people on the fringes, people who do not have opulence around them and don’t know what it means or how to spell it. What gets them out of bed every day besides a hungry tummy? I want to hear about these things.

I want to read good books that make me laugh or cry.

I want to give something of myself to each of my grandchildren (and the great-grands), something that will be lasting, that will become part of who they are. Something besides money or heirlooms or dishes or silver, so that the treasured parts of me will be a part of them.

I want to do frivolous things on purpose, because I want to. Not just because someone says, “Hey, lets..!”

I want to be an influencer so that every person, every place will be a bit better when I leave, just because I was there. Not because I said a super wise thing, or because I was spectacular, but just because I was there. They don’t even have to know it. Or say it.

I can’t do all of these things in one day, of course, but I can do some. So that at the end of each day, I will sit on my couch with a book, something good on my TV in the background, a puzzle to work during commercials, a cup of tea in my favorite mug, maybe a glass of wine.

And I will rest in the knowledge of my day well lived.

Funky Moods and Puzzle Pieces

Photo by Pixabay on

May 22, 2019

I got myself into this mini-funk the past few months, not depressed…just disinterested in general.

Every one thing was good, each piece of life was, but I didn’t know what to do with the pieces.

They didn’t connect into some one bigger thing.

Like jigsaw puzzle pieces scattered all over the table! 1000 pieces I need, must, put together to show myself, to show the world…I don’t know what, but something great, or at least noteworthy. I must be making…something!

But I didn’t have a box lid with a picture to show what I’m aiming for. How and where each piece goes, how they all are supposed to fit together to make that beautiful, meaningful something.

Lately it struck me, while sitting in my yard on the swing, pondering this.

I don’t have to have a big picture on a puzzle box. Sometimes its ok to enjoy each piece for the beauty of itself…the greens and blues and yellows…magnificent! Not everything has a lesson in it and not everything has to be done to fit the spaces in my picture, or even someone else’s picture.

Sometimes gardening or meeting with friends or volunteering or cooking are pieces of the puzzle. Working on getting my book published is one piece of the puzzle. Now I’ve learnt to enjoy the process, have fun doing each one, and then put that piece down and move on to another one. One thing at a time, on purpose. That’s just the stage of life I’m in now. Cultivate and enjoy instead of strive and build and accomplish, maybe.

I got bogged down wanting each puzzle-piece of life to make a big beautiful picture I could be proud of! They don’t. And they don’t have to fit together and be heading somewhere.

I have 896 puzzle pieces left. I’m going to spend the next days and years picking up each piece and enjoying it for what it has to give and then I shall put it down and pick up another. And not care where it all leads.

I think I’m out of my funky mood because now I know life is not a jigsaw puzzle to be completed!

Introduce Yourself (Another Example)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

My First Blog Post

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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