In January


As I write this morning, small pellets of ice or sleet or some kind of freezing rain tap at our windows. It’s an hour or so before sunrise, but when I peek out by porch light, I can see a couple inches more than a dusting of snow. And the wind blows.

It’s January, and I’m almost always cold.

Funny thing is, the best way I’ve come across to feel cozier in this long month of dark and cold – is to get outside.


It’s hard, I know.

It’s exhausting just getting dressed. All those layers. Bundling up. Hat head. Clunky boots.

Brushing off the car. Hauling in the groceries. Pumping gas. Feeling something close to what must be dread at the anticipation of walking from warm house to cold car.

Doing anything regular feels harder, and there’s always a quick intake of breath with the first step outdoors and then the reactive thought … man, it’s some kind of nasty cold out here!

But the first step is important … because it leads to the next and the next and I’m outdoors and breathing in the cold air and it feels a little bit like I just woke up from some sort of full body slumber.

After a bit of a walk, I feel energized. Awake. And very grateful for the cozy warmth I walk back into when I’m done.

Grab a friend and go for a quick 15 minute walk.

It’s like peppermint for the soul.


Towards a More Positive Pace


My Fitbit is old and cracked. When I do remember to wear it, I use it to count my steps and sometimes, my heart rate.

It occurred to me this morning I’d be more interested in the pace of my steps than the number of them.

Every Saturday, my pace slows. I’m more intentional. Even choosy. I have the wide open air of fewer obligations in which to make my decisions and walk my walk.

But flip the calendar page a single day and my pace quickens and probably my heart rate does too. No amount of list making or organization in the world gives me more than 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week.

Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve written lists in notebooks and planners. I’ve cleared clutter and created systems. All of these attempts are positive or important somehow to my sanity – and perhaps I’d be far worse off without them.

Still, life often feels like I want or need to be in two places at once and every single thing on the list is mutually crucial. Making one choice precludes another. If A, then B. All of the above sometimes feels like the only answer.

The pace quickens.

Stress provides a running commentary: Do it now. Don’t forget. Be sure to. And on and on and on.

I’m learning, however, that stress is a liar.

Stress tells me, “Do it all, and do it now,” but reality is different than stress-speak. The list needs doing in its time, yes, but the time isn’t all for one, one for all.

So how do I slow down in a hurry up world?

Well, today, I’ve been chopping garlic – a task which needs doing in order to get dinner on the table, but also a task with a needfully slow pace. Chop. Peel. Slice. Dice. There’s rhythm in the knife on wood. A pungent aroma. I’m zesting and squeezing an orange. More delightful smells. And then I add a satisfying grind or two of kosher salt.

Dinner’s on it’s way after a sensory symphony.

Slow and gentle living. Appreciative, even.

My tasks are either as pleasant or unpleasant as I care to make them. I can walk slowly and calmly or at a frantic, demanding, do-it-now pace. I can be more positive.

So what’s next in your day?

I’m off to fold clothing, warm from the dryer.

And won’t that be grand?


Dressing for Success

dsc_0355-2I woke to a dreary day.

Rain, some of it freezing, darkened the sky, and it was hard to find a bright spot.


Making a decision to dress for success, I dug deep in my drawer for my golden yellow corduroys. Winter white sweater and scarf. Sunflower earrings.

I’ll make my own sunshine, I thought, and slipped on the final touch: Mel’s bracelet.

A gift from a thoughtful and loving friend, this bracelet brightens my every day – rain or shine. Of course, it’s a tangible sign of friendship … but there’s more than that, because wearing this bracelet is symbolic of hope.

No one among us is untouched by cancer. And Mel’s bracelet reminds us to gather in a circle – one bright, beautiful, colorful bead at a time – to fight it.

If you visit the Friends of Mel Foundation website, you’ll learn about the spirit of Mel Simmons, a woman with a light shining bright as the sun. So vibrant. So loved by many. So determined to beat breast cancer.

Her story is inspiring. And so is the Foundation’s mission to support, empower, and educate people touched by cancer. A Friends of Mel bracelet honors Mel Simmons and her big, bright, and beautiful light.

So … today, I dressed for success because I made my own sunshine and chased away the clouds.

Someday soon I hope it means I helped chase away cancer too.

You can order Mel’s Bracelet in support of the Friends of Mel Foundation here.  

What an amazing Valentine’s Day gift this would be!



My husband tells me I am the most stubborn person he knows.

In a good way. (Most of the time.)

He’s wrong though, because the most stubborn person around was my grandmother.

In good ways, mostly, but like everyone else, Nana had sticking points which went unappreciated by those around her from time to time.

What I loved most about her stubborn streak was her steadfast and unwavering position on aging. She simply wasn’t. Wouldn’t. And many ways, even into her nineties, didn’t.

I’m a little embarrassed, frankly, with the trepidation I sometimes experience about growing older. After a few health scares in 2016, and a political season of unrest, I’m aware to the point of anxiety.

I feel afraid.

I’m fearful of the future. Our future.

Is this living?

Nana grew up in the Depression. She raised her children and then pursued a Master’s Degree in her forties. She taught Jr. High School until retiring, and discovered an acting career in local theater in her seventies and eighties. At ninety, she was still living alone and driving.

Nana certainly had her share of hardship and heartache. She witnessed decades of political shift from right to left and back again. She knew what it was to bide her time and wait for the pendulum to reach its pinnacle and return its swing in the opposite direction.

There were times, maybe, when she should’ve held her tongue. Other times, I know she couldn’t, shouldn’t, didn’t.

She was brash and witty. Direct and sarcastic. Intelligent. Confident. And sometimes coy.

She was unafraid to speak and never waited until spoken to.

As I contemplate the week ahead, as I fear the four years ahead, and as I worry about my own aging ahead … my grandmother’s legacy stays nearby. Inspiring me. Reassuring me. Guiding me to speak, to act, to live.

It’s time to contemplate my own legacy.

I will attend our state’s local Women’s March next Saturday in my grandmother’s honor.



In this weekend of living, there’s cookies to bake for co-workers who’ve helped me out. There’s the usual cleaning and laundry, the new book idea I’d like to get organized, and the bills to review.

I’d like to experiment with some bread baking, change the sheets, and deal with some of that junk in the cave we call a basement. At some point, I’ll need to work through all the paperwork I brought home, plan for next week, and order that photography equipment.

Of course, there’s always the photographs I’d like to take.

And if the storm holds off, we’ll be able to go out to dinner as a family.  Have some fun, face-to-face, and conversation too.

So it’ll be a busy weekend, and somewhere in between, I’d like to find some time to exercise, read a little, knit a bit — and nap.

Obviously, my list is lofty.

Eventually, I’ll pare it down to manageable and in the end, maybe the necessary will get done.

What’s even more important to me, however, is the unnecessary — because it’s all that stuff that feeds me and my soul, that nourishes my body and mind in a wholesome, heart beating way.

I thrive because of the unnecessary.

So when I’m looking through the list, it’s the unnecessary I’ll prioritize. The family and the photographs, the bread baking, writing, and napping. The reading. The cookies.

The love.

Whatever’s necessary will have wait.



Seven Ways to Write


It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten.

I’ve forgotten how quiet my usually ever-racing mind can become  when finally given the opportunity to speak.

I’ve forgotten what it’s like to stare at an empty screen. Without writing on a regular basis, I’ve forgotten how the cursor blinks. And blinks. It’s annoying, all that blinking.

And I listen for the rush of all those words I wanted to write back a only few days ago when time wasn’t my own. At the ready only a few days ago, all those words tired of waiting around for me to find the time – to make the time – and moved on. So now all I hear is … silence.

So starved for attention, any of the words I’ve tried on at first didn’t really fit right anymore.

But I’m not worried.

Because even after all this time of irregular writing,  I remember.

Here’s what I remember about finding my writer’s voice when it’s – temporarily – lost:

  • Just Start: Start somewhere or anywhere, doesn’t matter. Just start. Write and write and write because even if what you write is mostly unusable, you may just find a word or two of truth somewhere among the riff raff you can develop more fully next time you write.
  • Set a Timer: I can do anything for 15 minutes and so can you. You’ll be surprised how quickly the time passes, and you’ll be left wanting more.
  • Find a Prompt: A prompt can be a word, an image, a quote. Pick a theme of interest to you: kindness, courage, fear … and explore it.
  • Make a List: Lists are great sources for a writing jump-start. Animals you’ve loved. Things that make you feel squeamish. Favorite foods. Friends from childhood.
  • People: Describe who helped you when your car broke down. What do you remember about the woman two tables over at the coffee shop. Your toddler. The best friend you could call in the middle of the night. Recall an overhead conversation in line at the grocery store.
  • Places: A setting from your life is pure visual inspiration. Close your eyes and see it. A family dinner. A drive.  A remembered football game. Your last hike. One treasured scene from your last vacation.
  • Memories: Make it specific and small. Firsts. Lasts. Onlys. Those memories once-upon-a-times are made of.

Do you have a strategy for finding your writer’s voice? Please … please share!