Valentine’s Day Love

            Happy Valentines Day! Or, if you prefer, Happy Gal or Palentines Day. After all, a day stoked with chocolate, roses and sentiments of love and appreciation shouldn’t be limited to only those who are living in Coupledom. The rest of us deserve some pampering too.

            So, let’s treat ourselves with the same tenderness and appreciation as we would give another whom we loved and cherished. All that good stuff shouldn’t be reserved only for a partner. Why not make this a day for radical self-love?

            Self-love is defined as “an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue; proper regards for and attention to one’s own happiness or well-being”. Some believe that it sounds selfish to love and appreciate yourself, and to put your attention on your own well-being. But how many unhappy people who don’t believe they are worthy of love are able to love and appreciate others? It’s true that you can’t give what you don’t have. Self-love is the most powerful form of love and is encoded inside of each of us, we just need to connect with it. Then, and only then, can we let authentic love flow through us and out into the world to others. 

            And this Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate your own goodness, worthiness and pure lovability. Buy yourself a box of chocolate if you’d like. And don’t even think about waiting a day or so when they are all half price. Splurge! You deserve it.  If you don’t want to take yourself out to a nice dinner tonight, then prepare one at home, or grab some take out from one of your favorite eateries. Take a walk in a setting that makes you feel connected to the natural world, or that refreshes you. Take a salt or bubble bath, read a favorite author or poet, listen and dance to some of your favorite music. There are no limitations, and the only rule is that you do things for yourself that you enjoy, that will make you feel uplifted and loved from the inside out. 

            You are the person with whom you spend the most time in life, so you are also the person whose voice you hear the most. What does that voice say to you? Is it positive? Supportive? Does it comfort and care for you? Do you talk more appreciatively and positively to your friends than you do yourself? If so, it’s time to “autocorrect” anything you say to yourself that isn’t loving and kind.

            Does what other’s think of you bear more weight on your confidence, courage and worth than your own thoughts? That’s called People Pleasing and it’s a waste of time. Even if you could control someone else, what others think of you is none of your business and likely has much more to do with their relationship with themselves than with you.

            A mentor once told me that there are only two people we need to please in life. Those two people are the eight-year-old version of yourself and the 80-year-old version of yourself. If both of those people are happy with the way you are living, then you’re doing a great job of living a good life.

            So, Happy Valentine’s Day and give yourself some love. You deserve it!

Posted in As I see it, Finding my way, Health and Well Being, Spirituality, Transitions | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Life According to Boone

At this stage of my life, I have no desire to compete with or compare to another, but rather to focus on being my best self. To be all I can possibly be and live fully and freely while boldly perusing personal growth.

            Through the years I have gathered wise and diverse mentors and masters for all aspects of my life. Whether for mental, emotional, physical or spiritual growth I have been blessed with strong teachers and teachings.

            But my greatest, most trusted and enlightened guru on how to live a “best life” is my dog, Boone. Boone appears to have mastered this bumpy ride called “life” like a pro. In case you, or someone you know, might benefit here are some of his techniques for living well: 

            First, be happy no matter who shows up. Don’t let another’s darkness throw shade on your light. Boone greets everyone with joy and friendliness. Being a grumpy dog has never resulted in more treats or tummy rubs, so Boone always welcomes people with an open heart. He also greets most other animals the same way. Except for squirrels. Boone doesn’t care for squirrels and never hesitates to show his disdain – loudly. 

            Which leads to Boone’s second suggestion for a happy life: There will be those with whom you don’t vibe in life. There are some who just aren’t going to click. Bark at them, if you must, but then forgive them and move on.

            Being quick to forgive is another of Boone’s suggestions for a good life. Boone will seemingly forgive anyone anything. He forgives not for the other person or to condon what has been done, but rather it is so he can continue living in peace without holding onto a grudge or harboring resentment. Those things can get heavy and holding onto past hurts – real or imagined – only takes up space he can use to think about fun walks or treats. When necessary, he lets me know I have behaved in a less than acceptable manner.  He is not above informing me he does not approve when I forget his favorite treat or don’t walk him at the usual time, but that communicated, he peacefully returns to his nap.

            And napping is one of Boone’s favorite things and is crucial for a long and happy life. He believes that there are times in life when taking a nap is the best, and most productive, thing you can do. It helps break the energy of a day that may not be unfolding as we wish. It allows our bodies to rest and our brains time to quietly ponder whatever we’re trying to figure out. Chances are when we awake, a solution is waiting for us and we’re ready to take on any challenge. 

            Along with naps a daily walk outdoors is one of Boone’s tops suggestions for an excellent mood elevator. The fresh air lifts our spirits and helps us connect with the healing properties surrounding us in the natural world. We also have opportunities to smell a lot of things. This is often more significant for Boone than for me, but he has taught me the world can be a fragrant place. When we are present, we get a whiff of life’s sweetness and can appreciate everything a little more. 

            Boone’s best tip for a life well lived is to not be afraid or even hesitant to ask for what you want. He feels no shame or weakness in expressing, sometimes even demanding, his preferences. He has no embarrassment about the wanting or the asking. He lives with a rather daft human so maybe he understands clarity and directness is mandatory. However, once his wishes have been made clear, he accepts whatever he gets as being exactly what he needs.

            So, in summary, what are the basic keys to living a good life? Love first, forgive everything, take a nap when you need one, and be so present you recognize the sweetness of every moment of your life.

            In other words, be like Boone.

Posted in As I see it, Finding my way, Health and Well Being, Help and helpers, Just for fun, Spirituality, Transitions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Living in the In Between

I love fall! Of course, you don’t hear many people professing a dislike of this season. Even those of us who know the bitter north winds of winter, along with ice and snow making passage precarious, is breathing down our necks, we still love this time of transition. Only the deep curmudgeons among us could feel animosity for autumn.

Maybe it’s the fact we do know winter is coming that makes fall so special. Knowing this season is fleeting I want to stay here and be present as long as possible. I want to enjoy early morning walks with my dog, Boone, when I can feel the chill of night still brushing against my bare face. I wish to remain longer feeling the warm sunshine on my back in the afternoon which gives way to a crisp evening perfect for pulling on a jacket and enjoying bonfires. These are the days when those of us in the middle of this country can easily run through all four seasons of clothing in a day. Morning sweatshirts and jackets give way to shorts and t-shirts by midday only to swing back to long pants and shoes that don’t expose our toes by evening.

But, despite the wardrobe changes, I wish I could linger longer here in this time of In Between. If we’re paying attention, fall reconnects us with the rhythm of the earth. It reminds us of the value of releasing the old, that which no longer feeds us, that which no longer urges us to stretch and reach for more but rather to make space for the new. That, of course, requires living with emptiness for a while as those new things, people and experiences make their way to us, but nature this time of year is perfect demonstration of the beauty found in accepting that letting go. 

This season also reminds us of the abundance of nature that is always surrounding us. Fall harvest is in full swing and country contrails of dust rise behind big trucks making their way from field to elevator and back again gathering and delivering the bounty from our fields.  These fields may be brown with ripe grains and stubble, but the pastures and woods are vibrantly alive with the deep reds of the sumac, bronze of the big blue stem and the varied oranges, yellows and reds of the leaves on the hardwood trees lining the hills and creeks.

This is a time of glorious celebration not just of the bounty of the earth but also of having made it through the brutal heat of summer. And knowing fully well we will soon be facing bone chilling cold, I wish to revel in awareness of every moment of the beauty and sensory delights of this season. 

But, there is also work to do. Since that winter blast of cold is inevitable this is also the time to prepare for whatever that might mean for us this year. It’s time to cut and gather wood, do any weatherproofing needed and to finish fall clean up around the homestead. And we’re not the only ones preparing. To Boone’s chagrin, squirrels are busier than ever gathering acorns that have dropped from the pin oak at the end of my front walk. Hummingbirds have stopped showing up at their feeders and it won’t be long until migrating geese take their place to feast on errant after-harvest grain in the fields.

For now, though, I’m happy to be right here – in the In Between. 

Posted in As I see it, Farm Report, Finding my way, Health and Well Being, Lessons from the Land, Nature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

So, this is 70…

            I’ve only been 70 a few days now but I thought it would feel older. It still sounds old, but when my age odometer turned over to that number, it didn’t feel as much so as I assumed it would. 

            Oh sure, my body shows some wear and tear and there are times I have aches and pains in places I never knew existed before. I no longer have any interest in high adrenaline sports now that I get enough of a rush from simply descending a staircase wearing my multifocal glasses. But even if you don’t consider Senior Discounts enough of an advantage, there are a lot of other benefits to being 70.

            Of course, health is the key to how much enjoyment we might find at this or any age. Despite having moved through several surgeries in the last year, I gratefully remain in good health. And, at 70, I intend to do all I can to keep my health robust. That’s one of the things about being a septuagenarian, there is no denying that my time lived is much longer than my time left, and taking care of the machine is paramount to taking best advantage of whatever is ahead. That makes what is ahead even sweeter and more precious, and serves as a reminder to enjoy this crazy ride as much as possible.

            Friends – usually younger friends – like to tell me that, “age is just a number.” That’s true. It is. But, 70 is a really big number. Some offer support by saying that “seventy is the new 50”, and I appreciate that, but I like 70 to just be 70. I don’t want to deny a single year of my life experience because every one of those years got me here and I’m really happy right here.  In fact, life is becoming more fun all the time. Heightening the fun factor is learning that “No” is a complete sentence. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want or choose to do. So, if you were considering asking me to help you move, the answer is a hard “No”.

            But age is also softening me. There’s a balance between being pulled inward as well as outward. With more emphasis on being rather than doing, I turn inward for self-reflection and find myself leaning more into my intuition, a much more accurate gauge of the quality of life than salary or title ever provided. I feel myself constantly dropping deeper into meditation and silence in order to hear what my 70-year-old self wants me to know. And I am learning to allow myself to be pulled outward more too. I still crave solitude but am also being called to participate more boldly in my life, to more frequently step out of my comfort zone, to speak up and out with greater authenticity and to write and share more of my self with less fear. At this age I’m much less concerned about what someone else thinks of or says about me than on how my words, behavior, response and energy make us both feel.

Compassion is a great gift of age. The years seem to have expanded my capacity for forgiveness, for myself as well as others. Living this long requires making some mistakes, miscues and complete misses along the way, which offer lessons to deeper understanding of the foibles inherent in our human lives. I’m still a cranky curmudgeon, but I’m working on that. However, if I decide to not put the effort into trying to change that or anything else in my life, then I am satisfied learning to simply accept, maybe even celebrate, those things. It is, after all, our quirks, irks and even berserks that make us supremely unique and who we truly are.

In these, and many more ways, I am getting to know myself better and more fully. And no one knows me better than I do. I’ve spent every day of the last 70 years with myself, so I know myself pretty well. But I also know within each of us there is always more to discover. And isn’t that why we are here? Isn’t that why we experience the gift of age – to go, to grow and to glow?

So, bring on the rest of this life! The time I have left may be short, but its depth is unlimited. My pace may be slower, but that just means I no longer have to stop to smell the roses. I now smell them all along the path.

Posted in Aging, As I see it, Finding my way, Health and Well Being, Spirituality, Transitions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Surrender, Dorothy!

            You may prefer to label it faith, belief, trust, or hope, but I grew up on a Kansas farm, with a plethora of Wizard of Oz references, so for the last year I have been participating in a Practice of Surrender. I believe the seeds of that practice may finally be blooming. That may be overstating my progress some, but letting go of my personal preferences, agendas and how I think my life should look, unfold, be is becoming more natural to me.

            My practice began in earnest last January when a cardiologist informed me a faulty heart valve had moved from “moderate” to “severe” and needed replacing sooner rather than later. At that time, I was told the new valve would have to be achieved through open heart surgery. Oh, how I wanted to fight that. Fight? Hell, I wanted to wrestle it to the ground and change it. Right now!! But I couldn’t. There was nothing I could do. Nothing – except surrender.

            In June I learned that the valve might be replaced via the Trans Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure. Time and a lot more tests would tell. I so wanted to push the river on every test result, every doctor consultation, every diagnosis. I wanted answers. Now! But, again, there was nothing I could do – except surrender.

            It was ironic that I wanted nothing more than to change what was happening NOW, but surrender required me to let go of it all. To release every idea of how this would unfold and trust that somehow it would all be okay. That I would be okay. Surrender requires that kind of deep trust. To fully surrender how you think, or hope, or plan your life to be requires you to have at least a few tendrils of belief that life is for you, that what unfolds, no matter how it may appear in that moment, is doing so in your favor. I admit, twenty or thirty years ago I wouldn’t have likely been able to accept that Life is for me, but with some additional decades of experience I can look back and clearly see how even the things I thought were catastrophic pushed or pulled me forward, stretched my mind and heart, and if not perfectly, at least adequately, prepared me for what was ahead. 

            So, when I knew I was facing heart surgery and was not in control of much of any of what would be ahead, I started to work on expanding and deepening my trust – my trust in Good, in God, in Spirit, Source, Mabel. Call it whatever works for you. I now call that force that brings me unexpected joy, connection and magic, Life. And, to the best of my ability, I am practicing trusting the process of and allowing Life to lead. I now delight in reminding myself to let go and let it flow. A warm, calm spreads through my heart and center when I am able to do that – to let go and let Life flow.

I struggled so much with wishing and wanting to change what was happening around the heart valve NOW, but it wasn’t until I started committing myself to practicing surrender that I began to feel the expectations, agendas and needs slip away and I could truly feel connected to the present. Surrender can only happen in the present. When you let go of how you think your life should be and simply accept whatever shows up as yours to do to the best of your ability, you are naturally and fully functioning in the present. And when you are in surrender be prepared for some amazing developments because Life has a lot more resources and experience than any of us do. I’m learning that it is in surrender where the real magic happens. That is where the synchronicities, signs, instinctual nudges and inner peace increase. It’s likely those things have always been here, but I was so busy focusing on how I wanted things to go that I missed many of the signs that everything was being created so much better than I could imagine.

Life has been going on for eons with no real guidance or help from any of us. Life is flow and power. Even when I thought I was in control of this short lifetime, I wasn’t. I never was. I cannot think of anything worth having that I had any control over the getting. In fact, whenever I tried to control an outcome or even the unfolding, it usually turned out rather abysmally.

            Despite the movies where white flags are waved denoting surrender, it is not an indication of weakness. Surrender is not giving up. It is not quitting. And it is not cowardly or even easy. Surrender requires bravely committing to knowing you are worthy, important, and valuable, and that the Universe truly is conspiring on your behalf. The best payout for practicing surrender has been that when I can let go and release my personal preferences and ideas of what should happen, trusting Life to bring me what I most need, I feel a deep inner peace. Calm and well-being flow through me and I am more receptive to all the good and miracles that are happening all around me. 

            And, I still need that flow of calming energy and feelings of being supported. My heart surgery was an amazing success. I’ve been touted as a “medical miracle”, but other challenges are on the horizon. I now need to have a large lump removed from my right arm and both shoulders replaced. So, how am I going to move through all of that? You guessed it. Surrender. I don’t know why these things are mine to do, but they are, and I know that Life will bring the best medical personnel, helpers and all the support required to move through each step with as much grace as I can muster.

            Even if I’m wrong about this, I’m still going to believe it. For one thing, believing is more fun than not. It also seems as though there’s nothing to lose in practicing surrender. If I don’t surrender, I’m often disappointed because things don’t materialize as I had hoped or tried to manipulate. On the other hand, if down the road, I realize a practice of surrender is a crock, I’ll also be disappointed. However, until it is determined by me to be a crock, I’m going to do my best to surrender and embrace the wonder, peace and miracles of Life.    

            So, yes, indeed, “Surrender Dorothy”!

Posted in As I see it, Finding my way, Health and Well Being, Spirituality, Transitions | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

What am I planting?

I should be use to it by now. After living back on this farm for the last dozen years, it shouldn’t surprise me when at each turn of season something beautiful blooms here.  And yet, it still delights me when I look out the north window and see the surprise lilies standing tall and proud on their spindly stems or the snowball blooms as big as softballs on the hydrangeas along the east side of the shed.

Most of the blooms here were planted and lovingly tended by my mother.  Mom not only had a green thumb, but all her other digits knew how to plant and grow beautiful things as well. I run a plant hospice so it’s obvious nurturing and tending plants is not always an inherited gene. 

But my mother found great joy working in and always expanding her flowerbeds and garden. She loved beauty and creating more of it, and she knew the names of every tree, flower and weed. As a kid, whenever we’d go on drives, Mom would happily share this knowledge, pointing out and naming every piece of flora that blurred by my back window. I rarely listened, and found her constant attempts to teach me about the natural world annoying. As I said, I was a kid. Now I’m an adult, my mother is gone and I realize what I missed by not paying attention. But isn’t that one of our grand lessons in living? Pay attention. NOW!

And I am now paying attention and I deeply appreciate all that my mother has left behind. There are the purple, white and – Mom’s favorite – yellow irises along the east woods and bunched along the road.  There are peonies by the back steps and in the flowerbed on the hill. Their large pink and white blooms were always picked for bouquets to put on family graves at Memorial Day.  

There are tulips and lilies and – well, this is one of those times I wish I had paid more attention to my mother so I could call each plant by its proper name. But they are all beautiful and always remind me of her. Sometimes I feel as though I catch a glimpse of her bent over one of her flowerbeds, cursing me for not doing better at tending the beauty she left behind, and no doubt grumbling a little as she pulls the weeds I refuse to.

I believe my mother also shows up to water the houseplants she left behind. Two of her African violets continue to bloom and, so far, I’ve kept alive a fern and a few other plants for which I, of course, don’t know the names. It is a miracle any of them are still living since I often don’t notice they could use a good watering until I see them laying over the sides of their pots enviously eyeing the cat’s water bowls.

Reminders and remnants of my mother are everywhere here. My father is still here too. They built this house, created this farm and left behind unlimited love in their labor.  And in many ways they remain vibrantly alive here through what they left behind, from their workmanship to the passions they enjoyed in rare moments of not working. 

But even if my face leaks a little at remembering sweet memories of times gone by, clumps of beautiful and colorful flowers scattered around the grounds delight and cheer me. They also make me wonder what I have planted that others may notice and remember my having passed through.

Since I’ve already established my gardening and growing ineptitude it won’t likely be in the form of vegetation. But maybe there are other forms of blooms and beauty that I can leave behind. Maybe the seeds of hope and humor, enthusiasm and encouragement, love and laughter will grow into something bigger, more beautiful and enduring.

Living on this farm that raised me, has made me aware that every season offers memories that emerge and bloom connecting the past, present and future. Some days it can feel like dancing with ghosts. But who knew that when you dance with ghosts you can laugh and cry at the same time.

Posted in As I see it, Farm Report, Finding my way, Lessons from the Land, Nature, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A message from The Team

When I’m writing, or working on any creative project, and it’s going well I frequently disappear and something other than my intentional, thinking mind begins to flow. I attribute all my good ideas to this flow, that I call The Team.  All my bad ideas are still mine. But I would have shared many more of those bad ideas without The Team coming to my rescue with a good idea, the perfect turn of phrase, or a punch ending I could have never conceived by myself. 

When The Team shows up my job is just to follow along, which I do with varying degrees of success. Sometimes I’ll feel The Team wanting me to write when I’m doing something else. If I try to ignore the urge, I soon feel a yelling in my head, “Aren’t you going to write this down?!” That’s when I scurry to my computer and open to allow The Team. 

And that’s what happened a couple weeks ago when I was drawn to pick up my pen and notebook and The Team was ready to begin. But, my first question was:

WHERE do we begin?

At the beginning.

Which is….?

Now. Now is the only place we can ever begin. It’s all we have, so the most perfect timing is always Now.

So, let’s begin…now.

I may or may not stay on a specific topic. Like your life, our conversations are unpredictable and may stubbornly wander all over.

But, I know you love that. You love wandering, surprising, interesting conversations. You truly love everything about a good conversation, don’t you?

Even the difficult ones.

I do. It’s really the biggest reason I have to spend time with other people. I want to hear, to know, their stories. It’s when I love and appreciate them the most, and it’s when I find it easiest to tolerate them.

Yes. You are definitely here to communicate.  You are a storyteller. You will be our scribe. But you will rediscover your passion, your calling in writing, in telling stories in the process.

You’ve noticed it lately, haven’t you? 

How good it feels to write? To lose yourself in the writing again? How you feel uplifted, happy, connected when you know you are writing from your heart? There has even been bliss lately, hasn’t there?

Yes! It has felt like coming home. I want to continue reconnecting to my Writer Self and to you! I know it now as Joy Fuel.

Yes! That’s the alignment you study when you listen. That’s resonance with your Soul. With your Soul Path. And it really is a path. Even if you wander off of it, you will always have opportunities to rejoin it. You are never really lost. You are either on your path or on a longer path. You can trust that. You can know that.

You’ve followed your path well throughout your life. 

You have not followed convention. You have created a fun, interesting, unique life. It hasn’t always been easy. There have been some ups and downs, some roads closed and bridges out. But you kept going.

And you grew. You became stronger, more flexible, more understanding of the transience of life. 

But don’t see any of those challenges as being “tests”. Those challenges weren’t exams you had to try to pass. Those were opportunities to flex.

And you did.

Every time.

I’m trying to take in that I’ve actually done well for myself. Thank you!

You’re doing it yourself. We’re here. But we’ve always been here. We have always wanted to reach you on this level, but you weren’t ready to let us in yet. You’d let us in a little ways, but with the rush of “good” you became scared and backed away. You do that with people too. But we see you changing that and feel you ready to let good in.

I know I do that, and I am trying to shift it.  I really do want to let both good and people in. Well, some people – a few good people, anyway. 

Good! Seeing, recognizing is the first step. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but you truly do have to KNOW you are worthy of being loved. It’s a lie to believe anything else.

Here’s the truth: you can’t know squat about love if you don’t know yourself as love. Yes, “as love.” Until you see, feel and experience yourself as love, you aren’t fully you yet. Because you ARE love.

Love of self isn’t about being loved. It is about being love. When you are love – when you are randomly appreciating the magic of evening light, the morning lilt of bird song, the crinkle of your best friend’s eyes when they smile, you are being who and what you genuinely are. You are being your truth because you are your Soul’s best version of you.

We love that you call it your “Joy Fuel”. That’s good. Being Love is like the gas in your car, isn’t it?  You can make the exterior of the vehicle sparkle, but until you put gas in it, you can only get so far.

Fill yourself up and then see the places you can go!!

Dive deep. Find your center. Your heart space. 

Be there. Be fearless. Swim around in it. Splash it everywhere. Drink all you can hold. Wash yourself clean of any lingering doubts, regrets, mistakes, foibles, disappointments – all of it. Be Love.

Then, when you’re ready, start back with your pockets full of YOU.

Posted in Art of Conversation, As I see it, Finding my way, Health and Well Being, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beating the Heat

As I write this the heat index has reached 110 degrees. That’s hot! In fact, Satan called and wants his weather back. It’s so hot my books are trying to get out of their jackets, and you could not only fry an egg on the sidewalk, but you could also fry the person frying the egg.

I don’t have a particular fondness for winter once it is here, but when the weather is this hot I begin to wax nostalgic for the bite of a cold, northerly wind. Of course, when December rolls around, the heat of July looks pretty good, proving just how difficult I am to please. But I have discovered a positive side effect of this heat. I’m getting a little more aerobic exercise dashing from the air-conditioned comfort of my house to the air-conditioned comfort of my car. And I swear as I walk across a paved parking lot I can feel the fat on my body melting away. Of course, I can feel the bottoms of my shoes doing the same thing. 

It makes me wish I worked in a locker plant or ice house. I don’t really want to work there. I just want to stand around in the sub-zero freezers.

I have tried everything to keep cool. Filling my pockets with ice worked for awhile, but after it melted I had large, conspicuous wet spots to try to explain. One friend was so bold as to bring up the benefits of wearing adult diapers in that situation. It is a pretty strange conversation between two adults with no children when one can casually slip a reference to diapers into it. At that point you are probably less than two minutes away from swapping knock-knock jokes.

I tried carrying frozen foods in my clothes for awhile, but that didn’t work so well. As the veggies thawed they left a whole new category of odd things I had to attempt to explain. One benefit of the frozen food solution was that on a really hot day, if I was outside most of the morning, by noon my lunch was defrosted and simmering in my shorts.

My animals also are looking for creative solutions to this heat. Whenever I open the refrigerator they race to press their faces into the crack of cool that comes rushing out. We all stand there, smiling our species’ unique smiles, our faces glowing with relief. At that moment we are one, my animals and I, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The moment is bittersweet though, because we know it must end. The door will eventually have to be closed.

One of the best escapes from this heat is going to an air-conditioned museum, although it may be difficult to focus on the art after frying your brain in 100-degree-plus heat indices on the way in from the parking lot.

This is your brain:

“The Impressionist artists are my favorites.”

This is your brain in the Kansas heat:

“Would you please rub that Slushee all over me?”


Posted in As I see it, Health and Well Being, Just for fun, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

What do you know for sure?

When my friend Angela recently asked me “What do you know for sure?” the Smart Ass in me joyfully began rattling off a stream of consciousness list that was easily observable, barely debatable and ultimately tossed out on the technicality that none were “for sure”.         

 “The sky is blue. The grass is green,” I gleefully offered. But then, with a grimace of realization, Smart Ass added, “And neither of those are always true.” 

As I searched for tidbits of wisdom I was certain I had accumulated through a few decades of living well, I found little of import to share. The few items that did surface didn’t fit the criteria of being “for sure” either.

So that’s the first thing on my list: I know for sure there are few things that I know for sure. Those decades well-lived have indeed taught me that everything can, and likely will, change.  Even what we believe, or know, or think we know will change with new information, with growth, with living. We change, it’s part of the human experience, and so everything around us changes, or appears to as it reflects our own evolution.

But the question, “What do I know for sure?” has stuck with me. Maybe it is an indication of age calling me to keep unearthing possible answers, to stake my claim on what I know. I will attempt to do so, however, in the interest of the above comment regarding change, as always, I reserve the right to move my stake.

First of all, I know that we all want similar things. Except for a few…well, misdirected or highly damaged assholes…we all want to love and be loved, to be happy and to feel safe. And we like to give attention to, as well as to receive attention from, the people we love. We like to feel heard. To be seen. To be known. I think that’s a “for sure”. 

Another “for sure” is that it’s impossible to love someone else if you haven’t learned to love yourself. That sounds trite these days. We hear a lot about self-love, but that’s because it’s that important. We honestly cannot love another if we don’t first love ourselves. Love and forgive yourself. NOW. And then keep doing it. It’ll make a difference. That’s for sure.

Animals are good models for how to live without guilt, shame or a lack of forgiveness for self or others. My animals are completely comfortable asking for, often demanding, what they want and then assuming whatever they get is what they need. And an animal can help fill a void left by people who promise us love, but slip away before we can remind them of it. People are rarely able to fill the void left by a beloved animal. And that says all I know for sure about both people and animals.

Since this list stems from years of living, I openly admit that these days my “feels like” age fluctuates between my Forties to Dead. On good days I can still lean down to pick up the keys I dropped without feeling as though I’m causing internal bleeding. On other days, dropping my keys means I apparently didn’t really need them.

Also in that same “looking in the mirror and saying ‘how did this happen?’” category, I know for sure that our bodies hang on to past grievances, hurts and ignores from our youth in order to exact paybacks later in life. Everything we didn’t take care of when we were young, everything we did that we shouldn’t have, and every abuse we entertained will come back to haunt us. That little toe you rearranged your bed with after a long night out in your twenties? It has lain dormant all these years waiting to get revenge. Which it will do some day when you’re going on an innocent walk and step down on a rock or stick. You’ll feel it and the memory of that night will come rushing back and linger for several days along with a distinct limp. Every bruise, sprain, broken or worn part will show up at some point. It might be when you first stand in the morning, rise from a sitting position or wearily eye a long staircase. Our body never forgets. I wish someone had told me that while I was young. Although it’s possible someone tried, but I had the music turned up too loud to hear them. 

Hearing is an ironic twist to what I know for sure in that just when we have the time to listen to our loved ones telling us of their dreams or demons, we can’t hear a word they say. Which sometimes isn’t a bad thing, since we also can’t always remember their names.

Another item on my rather short list of “What I Know for Sure” is I believe miracles happen and magic exists. I do. I’ve benefited from and witnessed both. I have no doubt magic and miracles are all around us. The key is to keep our eyes and hearts open – open to possibility, to connection, to dreams and dreaming. 

Trying to answer my friend’s question, “What do you know for sure?” has led me to the realization that really the only thing I know for sure is that I don’t know anything – for sure. 

And maybe that’s not only okay, but also perfect. 

Posted in Aging, As I see it, Finding my way, Health and Well Being, Transitions | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lessons Learned

Maybe it’s a thankfulness hangover from Thanksgiving, but I’m feeling particularly grateful for the lessons my parents, teachers and Spiritual leaders taught me as a young sprout.

The adults in my life were, for the most part, all on the same page. They carefully and clearly taught, as well as modeled, values like “do unto others”, all rights come with responsibilities, and those responsibilities stretch way beyond myself or even my immediate family. I was taught it was a function of our shared humanity to look out for each other, to do whatever we could to keep each other safe, and to do our best to do no harm.  It was a lesson of “we’re all in this together”.     

As I witness the number of Covid-19 infections soar ever higher and watched as families still gathered in large numbers over the recent holiday, I wonder if what I thought was an ordinary upbringing of shared values, was instead something rare and extraordinary. At the time, I assumed everyone was receiving similar messages of how to function as a contributing member of society, but now I’m not so sure everyone got the memo.

I was taught there was an honoring of the others with whom we are sharing this earth space.  Whether those teachings came through home, school or church it was clear we had a responsibility to cooperate with each other, as active participants in the advancement of humankind for the common good of all.    

Behaviors such as wearing a mask, not gathering in numbers and maintaining safe distance are such simple and easy things to do and these practices could actually save lives. They might save the life of someone you love, or even your life, or mine. Now, that might not matter to you. I understand if it doesn’t. But my life matters to me – a lot. And, honestly, your life matters to me too. That’s why I wear a mask, keep a safe distance from others and follow other guidance for how to live responsibly and safely while helping others do the same.

It has never been more important that we understand although personal freedom is a right, I hope your parents, teachers and clergy also taught you, that professing your rights without acknowledging your responsibilities is a reflection of an immature stance of selfishness, ignorance and potential harm.

We are so close to crawling out of this time of isolation and unimaginable loss. We are so close! But we will only find success and true freedom if we move through the next several months with a clear mindset and intention that whatever we can do to help each other navigate this, we will do. 

 It’s time we demonstrated we learned those valuable lessons from our childhood and, as adults, that we have the integrity to live them.

Posted in As I see it, Finding my way, Health and Well Being, Help and helpers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments