Birthday. Birthday? Birthday!

Here’s to me on my 55th birthday!  I’ve gotten to that part of life when I’m glad to be alive and celebrating another one. Nevermind how the mirror is not working properly–showing me some older woman’s reflection. I know that I’m young on the inside, therefore I refuse to complain overmuchly about how “young people” butcher the English language (didja catch that? “overmuchly”), and aren’t even taught to write in script, and can’t read a regular clock, and who wear the kind of clothes I’ve seen on prostitutes in TV shows. Kids today!

Well I love ’em.  I love the challenge they present just by existing in the world with me.  In the college town where I live, students walking in the street, green solo cups in hand, wearing leprechaun hats and green beads, remind me of my good old days. Including the ones where I learned what I definitely did not ever want to do again.

I love the babies in strollers and remember my own bewildering and bewitching baby, now a bewildering and bewitching teen. I love the kids toddling around at Panera who explore the open space near the fireplace, like the pre-schooler who plopped into the chair next to mine this week and gravely warned me “You can’t get too close to the fire, or it will hurt you.”  I love the kids jaywalking across Main Street in skinny jeans and black Doc Martens.  I think I should get another pair. They still make the same ones I wore 25-ish years ago.  Man, I like those shoes.

I love older young people. They are dealing with huge issues, some I never had to deal with at their age. I love when they share their pain, and I get to listen and love and help a little. I love to find out what music they listen to, too. Too many people say to me how there’s no good music anymore. Not true! Don’t believe anyone who says this. Find a radio station or YouTube channel or live venue in your town and GO!

I love that my grandmother and father were so youthful in their own ways, and how my mother is so young even in her eighties. My mother, who loves the new music at church along with the old.  Who says, “You have to change, or you’re not growing.” (A shout out to my cousins here. They are young-at-heart, and the coolest.)

I love the child I was and my youthful nature. Through all the struggles of life, including dealing with my quirky self, I find myself feeling profoundly grateful. ‘Cause I learned how. How to be grateful for it all. How to struggle through. I learned that life is short. I learned that every single person, at every age, has something to give, a gift so important and just for me.

Thank you, everyone in the world.  You’ve meant everything to me, and I mean it. I need you. We need each other.  Preferably working together toward the common good. Now, go do that. I’m gonna eat cake. ‘Cuz it’s my birthday, and I can.  

♥ ♥ ♥ Peace ♥ ♥ ♥

Mad World

IMG_5359I! Am! So! Damned! Angry! Brussels, bombed. As of this writing, 31 deaths. A lunatic clown running for president. The idiot who rocketed down the “slow lane” past me this morning in his big truck. All parties involved trying to Get Ahead, Get Ahead, Get Ahead–all except the passed over, the bullied, the degraded, dehumanized, dead, injured, and grieving.

I sat down here at my desk to do some work and thought I’d first pray for the people of Brussels.  What else can I do? And I did pray. While I did, I thought of the song “Mad World.”  I heard Seal sing it in the production of “The Passion” on TV the other night. It was an interesting creative choice to have that song sung by Pontius Pilate.  The opening lyrics:

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere

Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you,
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world

by Roland Orzabal

I haven’t any advice or answers to the madness in this world. I’m scared and ticked off, and very, very sad.  I know that, sometimes, I myself contribute to the madness, both actively and passively.  I also know I have a Higher Power who actively breathes Love into the world and continuously pries my heart out of the rock and encourages it to grow in  Love and help others find it, too. This Love really does save me.

I don’t usually roil around in fear and anger. I’ll find my way out of it again this time. It’s not good for me or for the world to make my bed in that dark place.

I pray that you don’t, either.

Magic Beans

Ah, my mother’s 4-bean salad! I could write an ode. Why, I think I will!

Ode To Mom’s Bean Salad

All my life, dear Mother! You’ve made
This tasty melange in its tangy marinade.
A bowl of beans–four types.
(I hear of a recipe of three–yikes!)
The vinegar, it zings! The oil–it clings!
(The bits of onion sting, but in the most delicious way.)
I cannot–I won’t–ever hold back praise
Of this salad made sans mayonnaise.

Thanks, Mom!

Yes, My Eyes Are Glued To My Phone

imageAll these cartoons and snide comments about people using their phones and other devices kind of irritate me. You’ve seen ’em. Like so much other commentary flying around social media, these are smug judgments about how people at dinner tables are immersed in what’s on their devices or taking pics of the beach instead of looking at the actual view.  Some of you reading this probably squirmed at my use of the abbreviated word “pics,” didn’t you?  I know this, because I do that myself sometimes. We humans (or is just Americans?) tend to use something helpful and then run with it.  Vitamin C comes to mind.  Too much supplemental Vitamin C can mess with your kidneys.  So we overuse our phones and forget the other beings in our vicinity.

We are also a judgmental species, a trait that, I guess, stops us from drinking sour-smelling milk and attaching ourselves to people who threaten our security.  (Oh, wait–I do that a lot… But that’s a topic for another post.)

Well I just want to say that I’m writing this post on my phone in a coffee shop right now, people, and I like it.  You may even be reading this on your mobile device. So, take it easy, pooh-poohers of all things strange and wonderful!  Technology isn’t inherently evil. Neither is choosing to use it in public or within groups, IMHO. This morning, I read my meditation, checked email, messaged a lonely friend, and replenished my daughter’s lunch account, all on my phone.  I’m enjoying my quiet time away from home, where there are too many distractions.

You perhaps are now thinking of those folks you know who are always their phones in your presence, even when you’re having a conversation, even when you’re really, really needing them to listen, for God’s sake!

I know; I have been on both sides of that situation. There is definitely a need for device use etiquette. I think the rules are the same as any other social environment: when you’re talking with someone, give them your attention. Look them in the eye. Use some sort of cue to let them know you heard. Respond. And, if you’re bothered by their phone addiction, tell them.  I have a friend who does this in the nicest way, and now I put my phone away when I’m visiting with her and other humans. One exception: I always glance to see if a text or call is from my kid or other family.

We can handle our phones the same way we’d put down the newspaper or book we’re reading. As for the dinner table? Same rules as always: no reading (or gaming or Instagramming) at the table, kids!  (Or at the party. Or in church.). Unless, of course, the entire group is reading/playing/posting together, which is great fun.

So there’s my 2 cents. I had a great time writing the above at my place before the fire in the coffee shop.  BTW, I had a great conversation with my poet friend after that. My phone was across the room in my purse.

Peace and Joy.

There are books on Amazon about device use etiquette. Here’s one that looks good, although I haven’t read it yet: Electronic Etiquette: Cell Phones, Netiquette, Social Media? Oh my…


Still In The Eating Phase

IMG_5046Before the holidays, as you may have read, I started reading “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I haven’t gotten very far; I’m still reading about her eating phase in Italy.  I’ve also been in my own eating phase–eating the last of the Christmas chocolates, eating up time as I hibernate with my bestie Mr. Netflix. Also eating up the good and light-filled spiritual messages that manage to penetrate my January stupor.

It’s OK, though.  I’m OK.  No need to be hard on myself. Just changing gears, as I seem to always be doing, as we all have to do. Some things I happily eat up (not caring so much about others’ opinions, setting boundaries). Some things have been forced down my throat (my husband’s cancer, aging, my child taking Driver’s Ed). And some things I invite right in, despite the harm. (“Hello, Negativity!”  “Hello, Apathy!” “Hello, Overwhelm!” “C’mon in!”)

Do I want to feel terrible?  Sometimes it seems that way.  But I don’t love feeling terrible.  There are too many fantastic things to enjoy, and heaven knows how little time to enjoy them.

I gave a pep talk to my teenager recently about trying a different approach to the same struggles.  I told her about the idea that humans will usually stick to what’s comfortable, that we tend to keep doing things the same way, even if we don’t really like being there, because there’s some kind of psychological benefit we’re getting.       Maybe someone will feel sorry for us.  Maybe we’re afraid of what’s next.  Maybe we need to wrestle with something before we can let it go.

I’m calling this post “Still In The Eating Phase,” because it really is just a phase.  The heartache, frustration, impatience, fear–whatever we feel about our situations–is just a part of the whole of our lives.  We can go ahead and be in the good/bad/ugly of it.  We can decide not to spend too much time there.  Then we can find a way to let it go, even if it’s a little at a time, even through our sobs or our rages.  (Heck, I am the biggest kicker and screamer I know.  God has to sometimes drag me by the ear ’til I finally make the change, the change I asked for.)  I say:

Go for it!  Embrace where you are. Become ready to let it go.

Then, go do what you love.

Feeling my feelings is one of the tools in my healing toolbox.  It’s an ever-growing arsenal.  What phase are you in?  What are your go-to helps?  Comment or Email. You may say something that someone really needs to hear.

An interesting article: “Are You Addicted To Unhappiness?”

To buy the book, click here: Eat Pray Love



RE-Vision: A New Year To Play With

Here’s what I wrote on FaceBook early in this new year:

I usually come up with a personal theme each new year, a guiding thought. This year, it’s “Do what you love.” As I regroup after a hectic holiday season, I think about the 5 a.m. wakeup tomorrow to get my dear daughter up for her first day back to school. Blechhh! I don’t want to leave my cozy holiday cocoon–morning coffee in the glow of Christmas tree lights, pondering the lyrics of seasonal music, the warmth of connecting with so many dear people these past weeks. Going back to the old and usual doesn’t feel much like doing what I love, but isn’t it, really? And, if not, what will I do to change it? So, tomorrow, I’ll make it my good pleasure to wake up with my daughter. It’ll be my joy to sit down at my computer, work on my blog, pay bills, and put in some hours at my job. Do the dishes, plan dinner, solve some personal problems, take down the Christmas tree. All in peace and comfort, and with joy. Until God sends me to do something else. That’ll be something I love, too; I know it.

Ah, so sweet and peaceful was I…

Here’s what my FB post, had I written one then, would read a mere three days later:

Peace and comfort and joy? Yeah, right! Getting my teenager out the door for school after a long holiday vacation is like waiting for molasses to pour out of a measuring cup and into the bowl. The last time I signed her into school late, I wrote in the Reason For Lateness column: “Ask her!”  The Christmas tree’s needles are crunchy and brown and falling off in waves, and why did I feel compelled to put so many dang ornaments on it?!? Our kitchen counters aren’t cleaned off all the way yet, and the laundry is piled high in the bedroom. We need groceries, and my dear mother needs a ride to the dentist. I have work (the kind that pays) to do.  I’m tired!  Next year, I’ll handle Christmas differently…

Uh-huh. Maybe. But, instead of getting on my own case about what’s done and what needs doing, I’m deciding to let it all the heck GO!  And be easy on myself, for heaven’s sake.

In October, I revised my list of goals/visions from last year, labeling it “REVISION.” Here’s a piece of it:


I jotted this on a tiny piece of note paper in about 6 minutes.  A very inspired and inspiring woman encouraged me years ago to write a list of what I wanted down on paper, to create a  vision for my life, in detail. She’d done it and wound up achieving what she’d envisioned.  I didn’t attempt mine until years later. Recently, to my surprise, when I looked over the things on my first one, almost everything had been achieved, acquired, or improved. (Cool, right?)  So I had to write a new one!

Why don’t you try writing a vision list? Here’s what I did:

  • Sat in a coffee shop, alone, having hot coffee and an egg sandwich.
  • Realized how right and good it is for me to eat a decent breakfast.
  • Looked at my FaceBook notifications on my phone.
  • Realized it might be better for me to put the dang phone down and enjoy my food and the atmosphere and the freedom I have to just be there in that cute little coffee shop.
  • Felt cranky because it was too warm for October in my neck of the woods.
  • Felt cranky because I thought I would know by then what I was going to do next with my life.
  • Realized it’s good to be in touch with my feelings, and even better to do something about them.
  • Eventually started to notice what I was thinking about.
  • Put what I was thinking about on paper, using one of my favorite pens. Plus, the paper was from a note pad that one of my favorite peeps gave me.
  • Realized for the zillionth time that, noticing is important, starting with noticing how I’m doing, if I’m hungry, what I’m longing for.
  • Realized I felt extremely grateful.
  • Whispered “Thank You” to God.

FYI: I wrote this second list in October. Now it’s time to write the next one.  Because all but one thing on this list has happened.  Exciting! Top of the next list?  “Do what I love”–my aforementioned theme for this new year. I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting some day about how that’s going.

If you write a vision list for yourself, I’d sure like to know what it was like for you, how you did it, and/or how things are happening in your life as a result. You can comment on this post, or send a message. And, always, I appreciate getting “Likes” on my posts, if you’re so inclined.  Thanks for reading!

BTW:  The talented and kind woman who inspired me to write my first list is Kathy Dempsey. I read her first book, Shed or You’re Dead 31 Unconventional Strategies for Growth & Change, which tells her hard-to-believe personal story and how it inspired her to achieve mucho success inspiring others.  You can get to her web site here.


Eating, Praying & Loving Through The Holidays

The celebrated and movie-fied book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert lived in the dusty back row of my bookshelf for over a year.  I tried reading it once before, but got hung up on this sentence in the introduction:

“Sincere spiritual investigation is, and always has been, an endeavor of methodical discipline.”

I’m not a big fan of the D-word: discipline.  (If you know me, you are probably shaking your head vigorously in agreement. Stop it! 😙)  Anyhow, my spiritual path has been guided more by J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Not all those who wander are lost.”

I’ve started reading Eat Pray Love again, because I had the movie on recently while cleaning out my side of the bedroom 😷 in preparation for Christmas.  I found myself cleaning only during the commercials and sitting on the bed watching when the movie came back on.  So, I decided to read the book as a sort of meditation, a focus, for the month of December.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s story speaks to some Very Big Questions with which I’ve been wrestling for years.  In particular, why am I, a so-called cradle Lutheran, steeped in church tradition and Bible-reading and such–so extremely uncomfortable with the idea that the only path to the Divine (whom I call God) is through a rigid script that goes something like this:   1) Realize you’re a sinner.  2) Repent from all your sin.  3)  Confess your sins to Jesus.?

I mean, what about the person sitting on a rock somewhere in Jabip in the mountains.  What if they don’t know the salvation formula?

I know; I know: Paul said in the book of Romans in the Bible that here’s how you are saved.  Please don’t get your Christian panties in a bunch.  Couldn’t we just entertain the idea that people need to embrace living in Love and then share that Love with everyone?  Wouldn’t living in Love be our salvation?

Okay, I’m not looking for a debate here. I’m a big fan of Jesus. He has shown me the way to heaven, although I’m not talking about where I go when I die; I’m talking about where I’m already a citizen and where I can learn how to act like it.

But I digress.

Two-ish years ago, my husband began a before-mentioned (in another post or two) cancer-curing journey. Three months before that was the surgery on the back of my teenager’s skull to give her brain enough space to hang free. Before that, five emergency trips to the hospital in two months for my mom.

They all got better, thank God!  Except for me.  I got worse.  I’ve spent the last year-ish recovering from the worry and hurry of addressing my loved ones’ needs. (FYI I’d do it all again for them.)  I’ve been learning lots and, in the process, shedding a whole lot of stuff that has weighed me down for years, stuff that had become a habit.  Fear. Worry. Dread. Hopelessness. Guilt. Toxic Shame. Hesitation to act on my own behalf. Caring about what people think about what I’m doing or how I look. Self-Criticism. Wondering endlessly about getting it right spiritually.

That last one is the latest to go.  Worrying about my questions about Jesus’ purpose and plan for me and all people. You see, I noticed that Jesus did something amazing for humanity, yes, and also said that we would do greater things than he did.  There are so many places in the Bible that hang me up, that make the God of the Universe that I know so unrecognizable that I’ve been known to toss the whole notion of God right out the nearest stainglass window.

You see, I see God (aka Love) in people who don’t profess Jesus as their savior.  I’ve seen God in people who do bad things. (Ahem! Like, all of us.)  I saw God in a dog the other day. Really!  Here’s her pic:

Gloria Closeup

And let me say here that I know the hackles of many a Christian will be raised by these notions I’m putting forth. I know that they will point to the Bible and say, “It says right here that…”  But I have a problem with that.  I think that, perhaps, we’ve gotten the Bible a little wrong here and there. I can’t see God excluding anyone, for any reason, from His/Her Love. I can’t. It’s too capricious. God isn’t capricious. The Universe is designed to be good to all, isn’t it, no matter how we act? God The Father & Mother Of The Universe is loving, supportive, perfect, inclusive, forgiving. Right?

Or, perhaps we can lovingly agree to disagree.  And we can pray for each other.

Back to my story. What I’m reading in Eat Pray Love is resonating deeply in me. It’s about emotional and spiritual and geographic journeys.  It’s about leaps of faith. I relate to so much in what I’ve read so far.  Five months ago, I left my job of umpteen years. Didn’t know why at the time, but I needed to.  Since then, I learned that I’d been living with lung-restricting stress from all those family emergencies, and that I needed self care in a way I’d never needed it before.  That realization has brought me to mind-blowing heights of insight and inspiration, and down to my knees as I surrender, one by one, my need to hang on to unhealthy habits of thinking and doing and being.  I know I’m loved by the Lover Of Everyone In The Universe.

Today I see madness in my city, country and all over the world. I’m shocked, as I’m sure you are, at the daily news of bloodshed, political shenanigans, unbridled greed, and…but, wait!  I remember to stop daily, breathe, and I see what I have, where I’ve been, and that Love is with me.  I’m eating good spiritual food. I’m praying for and consciously loving everyone, including the people I see as enemies. I’m terrible at it, sometimes.  I don’t let that stop me, though.  Please don’t let it stop you.


I’m an Amazon Associate.  If you want the book, click here: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia  by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Signs and Symbols, and Paris

Recently I went for a mammogram.  It was my  third medical appointment in two days, an effort to catch up with myself after a couple of challenging years.

(BTW, Click here for info about low cost or free mammograms)

On the way to the appointment, I found myself humming and suddenly feeling grateful to be past those tough times. I simultaneously understood that there’s no guarantee of a trouble-free future…

On the side of the road, I saw a lone fiery red maple tree, branches parallel to the ground as the wind whipped through its leaves.  I understood right then and there that taking myself to these appointments signals to my inner self loud and clear,

You’ve hung in there. You are taking care of yourself. Go, girl!

I connected somehow to the fierce color and strength of that maple tree, holding on to its blazing leaves. Bending as the wind tugged. I spoke out loud in the car, “I know the feeling, maple tree! Hang onto your colorful self!” I was laughing.

Symbols, signs, and certain gestures help me deal with life, in times when I’m full of life and color, and in times I’m navigating dark gray storms.

I often wear this necklace.  It reminds me to stop and breathe for a moment, to take care of my needs, to remember who I am.


I use lots of verbals and visuals to encourage myself.  One time, when I was in the middle of an unpleasant disagreement with a friend, I deliberately wore the shirt she’d given me so that I could “wear her” around with me, reminding me to think of her as a human, with a beating heart.  Rather than as a monster.  Earlier this year, I bought these socks:

beautiful socks

That is one heck of a good message!

I’ve read books (see below) and articles and heard speakers say that what we expose ourselves to, we become. The “garbage in, garbage out” idea. People, objects, music, art, and places have big effects on humans. When  I saw that maple tree, I realized that I’ve absorbed this truth as my very own, and can use it to my advantage.

What symbol, then, can I wear or post for Paris, for the world, for the future of the human race?  FaceBook was full of profile photos bathed in the stripes of the French flag.  I’m touched by the response of the world to the horror that happened there. I’m also touched by the posts that remind us that Baghdad and many other places have also suffered terrorist attacks.  Here’s an extraordinarily loving post from a man who lost his wife in the attack at the Bataclan concert hall:   Antoine Leiris.

As for the symbol I’ll hold up to cheer myself and others on?  I haven’t found one yet. I think it’ll be about renewed commitment to answer the clearer-than-ever call to act when I see a need I can fill from my own basket of skills and resources.  Maybe I’ll find a piece of jewelry to wear or a meme that echoes a scripture I found once, a while ago:

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated.”*

For me, Love needs to be the ultimate goal, even to the point of loving our enemies.  The passage continues:

“Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”**

So be it.

So, be it!

In the meantime, here’s a symbol I can wear for strength and alertness:



*(The Message, Deuteronomy 31:6)
**I prefer not to use masculine-only language for God.  In this case, the message was so good that I quoted it directly from the book, which meant that I had to quote it as is.

To Find Items Alluded To, Mentioned Or Pictured:

Book:  The Power of Positive Thinking

Affirmation Calendar:  I Can Do It® 2016 Calendar: 366 Daily Affirmations

Book:  You Can Heal Your Life

Book:  Gratitude: Inspirations by Melody Beattie

Book:  The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language

BE necklace (bought it a LONG time ago, so may not be available): Delaware Art Museum Gift Store

You’re Beautiful socks:  Blue Q You’re Beautiful dont change Socks Womens Shoe size 5-10

Coffee/Tea Cup Charm:  Dirt Road South


For You, Reader, When You’re Overwhelmed


Today’s not the day for you to entertain overwhelm for more than a minute.

Go ahead; feel a little sorry for yourself and all the things you think you have to do RIGHT NOW.

Now, do the exact opposite of that.

Do nothing.

That’s right. I mean it.

Do nothing.

You might even leave the space you’re in now and go sit somewhere with a nice view.

Then, take a nice, deep breath, just like all the gurus urge. Do it a couple more times.

There, now, listen closely:

You’re ok.

Good things will happen, are happening even now, just for you.

Maybe there are things happening in your life which are causing you distress.

That’s part of life. But I promise you this:

It won’t help you to push the panic button. All that does is make a tough situation worse.

That is why you can work on doing the opposite of what your distress dictates.

You can get quiet for a few moments and get some perspective.

You can slow time down like a supernatural zen ninja Buddha. The rest of the world can wait a minute.

While you’re sitting there breathing, you could do some other simple thing to ease your stress.

You could pray. Hum. Notice colors. Close your eyes. Listen. Write. Feel. Smile. Cry.

It’s ok. It really, really is. Even if you don’t feel ok and circumstances may not be ok now.

There’s an absolutely capable, totally powerful person there inside you, underneath the chaos of the moment, and NOTHING can change that. You have access to that part of yourself whenever you want or need.

Don’t beat yourself up about what you are or aren’t doing right. No one knows exactly what it’s like to be dealing with what you’re dealing with right now.

Please, just take excellent care of yourself, without guilt or hesitation. You are worth it, and others in your life will benefit from it, too. Sit a minute, and start breathing.

I love you.

My Survival Toolbox When Facing An Emotional Meltdown

A great post on a great blog called “Emotional Sobriety: Friends & Lovers.”

Emotional Sobriety Means Healing Mind, Body, and Soul

16111868174_d5d684d63b_zI use the following resources when I feel I have lost my way:

1.  “The Guest House” by Rumi (check out his other writings):

“This being human is a guest house, every morning, a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness. Welcome and entertain them all, even is they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of all its furniture. Still treat each guest honorably, they may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice: meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.  Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

2.  From 10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem (author-Glenn Schiraldi:

“S.C. Hayes reminds us that we all carry burdens–perhaps memories, partially healed wounds, worries, self-doubts, or fears. Rather than trying to ignore, deny, or hide these, you can…

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