Sunday, December 10, 2023

December 10--Rainbow!!!

Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars. Every place is the center of the world.  --John Burroughs

    I'm feeling a bit melancholy as this is our last full day here in Negril. 
    Yesterday's highlight was a glorious rainbow appearing in the sky as we boarded the catamaran for the afternoon/sunset cruise. As the ship's captain stated, "Humans can't make those, only the Father." It ended up being a fairly calm cruise, as there weren't that many people and they were well-behaved. The best part, for me, was the slide. I went off twice and managed to not belly-flop like I did two years ago. 
    The other fun thing of the day was another trip on the hydrobike. Laura and I went out on bikes with Lanie joining us in a kayak. We went out before the water got choppy and had a fun and successful adventure. We had plenty of beach time before a shower chased us inside. 
    But wait, there's more. Lanie and I completed our martini quest--there are 25 martinis on the menu and between the two of us, we tried them all over the course of the week. Her favorite is chocolate, mine is ??? They even make one that tastes like Girl-Scout-Thin-Mint cookies. Thanks to bartenders Hakeem, Judeen and Davion for making this week so much fun!
    One more day in paradise,

The completed martini menu

Saturday, December 9, 2023

December 9--Happy Feet

I urge you to please notice when you are happy and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."  --Kurt Vonnegut

    Besides the usual pickleball, lap-swim and beach time, I enjoyed two unique events yesterday. The first was a half-hour reflexology session at the spa which was heaven for my feet, body and spirit. While that was going on, it started raining. It poured most of the afternoon, which I spent with a good book in the hammock on our balcony. So no beach, no problem! Nice!
    Time to go find some coffee,
Our very sweaty crew

Friday, December 8, 2023

December 8--Living in Gratitude

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  --John F. Kennedy

    I start with these words by Brian McLaren about the wonder and awe of our created universe (which includes us):

Genesis describes the “very goodness” that comes at the end of a long process of creation…. That harmonious whole is so good that the Creator takes a day off, as it were, just to enjoy it. That day of restful enjoyment tells us that the purpose of existence isn’t money or power or fame or security or anything less than this: to participate in the goodness and beauty and aliveness of creation.

    I participated yesterday starting with a sweaty, fun hour of pickleball, followed by a cooling swim in the lap pool. I beaded a second ankle bracelet and then headed to the beach. The wind was strong and the waves were bigger than I have ever seen them in my three times here. Getting knocked around in the water wasn't much fun, so I retreated to our room and dozed in the hammock. Note that there is a palm with 8' long leaves right next to our 2nd floor balcony, along with lots of other vegetation. We watched an especially lovely sunset, then started the Hanukkah celebration with a candle-lit ceremony on the beach. Dinner was at Feathers, the "dress-up," reservations-required spot here at the resort. Yummy. 
    Time for more participation in the goodness and beauty and aliveness of creation!

Our bunch at sunset, dressed up for dinner...

Thursday, December 7, 2023

December 7--Music and Fire

Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life.  --Marcus Aurelius

    Happy birthday to my FIL! 
    Another day in paradise... I was sunbathing when a big cloud covered us and it started to drizzle. It amounted to about 14 drops over two minutes, then the rest of the day was brilliantly sunny. 
    Wednesday night at the resort features the award-winning steel drum band. Their performance is so high energy--all the performers have to be quite young to handle such a workout. They are quite gymnastic. The band was followed by a bonfire on the beach, complete with a fine guitar player/singer. The bonfire was mesmerizing--sparks like fireworks floating up into the starry, starry night. Yes, I slept well. 
    Onward to pickleball!

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

December 6--Starfish

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.  --Eckhart Tolle

    I am enjoying a perfect Jamaican vacation--how much gooder can it get!?!?!? 😀😀😀
    Yesterday's adventure was the glass-bottom boat tour where they take guests out to the coral reef to see loads of coral, fish and assorted vegetation. We were able to hold a live starfish. The guide is a hoot. Of course, the weather was perfect. 
    Our organizer Laura got us set up with a table and chairs near our lounges on the beach, and we fought sand gravity enough to get in a game of cards. I expect we will do more of that in days to come. Sand gravity--it accumulates on a person--the lack of interest in moving once one is lying on a lounge or floating in the ocean. 
    The resort is playing Christmas music in various areas. Wait, it can't be Christmas--it's 90 degrees! December as I have known it has vanished from my mind!
    Lanie and I had supper last night with a lovely couple from Alberta, Canada. We met them at the martini bar and we hit it off right away. We also hung out on the beach with a lovely young couple who are hunting/fishing guides in Maine. The extreme northeast U.S. is a bucket list trip for 2024, so this is a super local connection to make. 
    More and more abundance flowing!

They are very solid and spiny.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

December 5--I'm a Dork

We already have everything we need.  --Pema Chodron

    Yes, but I can still be a weenie sometimes. Yesterday for instance. My friend and I went to try out the water bikes, but only one was working. So I went out. It was a brief adventure. I was too nervous, and I'm not sure why because if I had fallen over, someone would have rescued me, and I can swim. There was NO danger. However, I almost traveled into the roped-off swim area, till I realized I could pedal backwards. Alas, my stint on the hydrobike was so short, no photos were taken. You'll have to take my word for it. 
    Otherwise the day included a lap swim, loads of beach time, and a lovely invitation-only dinner for the "repeaters"--those folks who had been at this resort before. 
    More adventure today,

Monday, December 4, 2023

December 4--More of the Glorious Same

I have often done the little I could to correct the stale trick of taking things for granted: all the more because it is not even taking them for granted. It is taking them without gratitude; that is, emphatically as not granted. --G. K. Chesterton

    I'm not one who is generally down on Mondays, and today I am not taking for granted that I have another day in paradise. Monday at a resort in Jamaica is very high up on the good potentials list!
    Yesterday I went with some buds to a pickleball clinic. I confessed to being one who had played more than five times, which led to some interesting and useful drills. The man I was paired with (the instructor separated couples) is from Liverpool. (I was there in October.) I enjoy playing outdoors but it does get quite hot. 
    The rest of the day was a repeat--lap-swim beach ocean shower sunset martinis dinner -- heaven! We spent probably a half-hour trying to find the Chiefs game on the big TV in the sports center. No luck. Then one of our gang checked the TV in their room, and there it was. So we stayed up late to watch the Chiefs lose. 
    Swim time!
Sunday evening's view

Sunday, December 3, 2023

December 3--Me in a Marathon? NO!

Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.  --Voltaire

    We followed yesterday's agenda: pickleball, lap swim, laze on the beach, eat, drink and be merry!!! It was quite sunny and hot playing pickleball so we only played one game, but it was a 12-10 finish. I swam then headed to the beach. There is a marathon here today. One of the workers asked me if I was running in it, which I took as a compliment.
    The water temperatures, both ocean and lap pool, are perfect. After beach time, we retreated to our rooms, showered, then returned to the beach for another beautiful sunset. Lanie and I went to the martini bar, where we discussed the possibility of trying all 30 (15 each) in the course of our stay. It's doable, and we have a good start. 😉😉 We had a fun chat with a couple from Calgary. That's one of the cool things about this place--we meet very fun folks. 
    Saturday is lobster night at the resort, so that was the dinner highlight. We are finding that a decaf coffee with Irish cream is a lovely sleep aid. 
    Today's agenda... "lather, rinse, repeat."

Enjoying the sunset is a ritual for many.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

December 2--Yippee, Arrived!

Thanks for this day, for all birds safe in their nests, for whatever this is, for life. 
--Barbara Kingsolver

    I am at this very moment in a hammock on our second floor balcony in Jamaica. If I look to my left, I can see bits of beach and ocean through the lush vegetation. We did not have the usual Friday night Beach Party, as a downpour came through right around set-up time. We did, however, enjoy the martini bar and buffet supper at the Palms. It's so great to be reunited with friends in this heavenly place. 
    Ah, yes, the tree frogs. Or the joke that the tree-frog crooning (chirp/screech/squeal/shriek) is a recording. They go on for most of the night, but I can say thankfully that I have learned to sleep through it. 
    Today's agenda... pickleball, lap swim, laze on the beach, eat, drink and be merry!!!

Lush vegetation is EVERYWHERE
in Jamaica

Friday, December 1, 2023

December 1--ADIP

Reflect upon your present blessings--of which every man has many--not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.  --Charles Dickens

    Gratitude is the theme for December. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Dickens that life offers us considerably more blessings than misfortunes. Alas, for some reason, misfortunes seem to hold our attention too much. It is a practice to stay focused on the blessings. 
    My gratitude level is around 15 on a scale of 1-10, because today I fly to Jamaica for a 10-day vacation on the beach with dear friends. Another day in paradise...
The Jamaican flag

Thursday, November 30, 2023

November 30--You are More!

Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  --A. A. Milne

    These are words uttered by the ever-so-wise Winnie the Pooh, a fitting close to November and the theme of strength. And these words are true about every single one of us. Life can surely be challenging, and we humans are superb at "rising to the occasion." 
    I had my "audition" for simulated patient (SP) at the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine on Tuesday. I didn't actually have to perform. It was a tour of the facility (amazing, beautiful, high-tech) and learning about the program and watching videos of previous SP sessions. It was a fascinating learning experience. I can hardly wait to give it a go. I signed up for all open January and February encounters, which is the name for the actual SP/student interaction. There is a training session and a dry run before each encounter. This is all quite "outside my box," so I shall have to remember that I am braver, stronger and smarter!
     Adventure always awaits!

This will be my view tomorrow evening...

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

November 29--Broken and Stronger

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. 
--Ernest Hemingway

    I know what it is like to lose a loved one. I have lost several. I have known big disappointment. I understand grief. I am seeing as I age that grief is simply a companion. It does break us, but also strengthens us. It is a weird paradox. 
    A broken bone healed properly is stronger at the break than it was originally. Any successful joint replacement breaks the patient temporarily, but strengthens him or her in the long term. 
    The breaks aren't so bad if we use them to strengthen us. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

November 28--Feeling Strong

I read somewhere how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong . . . but to feel strong.  --Jon Krakauer

    Here are some insights I gained from my recent two-week visit with my brother who lives in the care home. I feel strong--I'm healthy, active, and I don't even remotely feel my age of 68, though there may have been folks living there who are younger than me. I'm not "old"! But yes, in fact, I am. I have gray hair and wrinkles just like the residents.
    It takes huge strength to be the primary person responsible for the affairs of a resident. My niece is that person for her father, and it is a heavy load. She is a strong badass, though I know there are times when she does not feel strong. 
    There is a certain level of tension involved in taking my brother on an adventure, because I surely wouldn't want him falling "on my watch." The relief of having him back safely in his room is visceral. Having several successful trips away from the home gives me strength for the next one. 
    I am super-motivated to keep moving. My brother's decline began in earnest when he was no longer able to walk longer distances. To keep moving makes me feel strong. 
Christmas beauty at the 
Stan Hywet Manor House, Ohio

Monday, November 27, 2023

November 27--Home Again

To hurt is as human as to breathe.  --J. K. Rowling

    Many thanks go out to my in-laws for giving me a bed and a lovely visit on my way home. The only difficulty on my final driving stretch was a scary 50 miles on the Kansas Turnpike. I saw at least a dozen cars and four semis in the ditch. I drove 55 mph with my flashers on, and of course, there were plenty of folks zooming by me. I'm home, safe and sound and happy to be here. 
    My sweet husband could hardly wait to show me:
  1. He put up outside Christmas lights and decorations. I was planning to do that this week, but could not have done it very easily because we have 7" of snow here. 
  2. He set up and trimmed our fake Christmas tree. I'm not fond of an artificial tree, so I was not going to do that job. 
  3. He hung up my "Unparalled" painting over the mantle, truly a wonderful surprise.
    Home, sweet home!

The creation of "Unparalled"

Sunday, November 26, 2023

November 26--Over Half Way Home!

There are two ways of exerting one's strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.  --Booker T. Washington

    I made it to Wentzville with a long but fairly easy drive in wonderfully clear weather.
    On my last night in Ohio, my niece treated me to a tour of the Stan Hywet House and Garden Christmas light extravaganza. The gardens were beautifully decorated with thousands of lights. There was a large field of lights in various configurations where the lights danced to music--ultra-cool. The manor house was open for touring parts of the ground and second floor, and all the rooms were decorated with Christmas trees and elegant lighting. It was a spectacular treat for this Christmas-light-lover. 
    Today I'll finish the drive home. 

Yes, a Santa made of Legos!!!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

November 25--Kind Travels

It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.  --J. R. R. Tolkien

    Today I start the long drive home. I fully intend to be kind to everyone I encounter along the way. It makes the trip much smoother. 
    I had a lovely last visit with my brother yesterday afternoon. I'm hoping that I get to do another one of these two-week-stays soon so that I can spend more time with him. 
    Time to get moving. I'll write more about my visit in the coming days. 

Last night's fun

Friday, November 24, 2023

November 24--Many Thanks

Those who hope, by retiring from the world, to earn a holiday from human frailty, in themselves and others, are usually disappointed.  --Iris Murdoch

    We had a lovely Thanksgiving. My niece wisely bought the whole Thanksgiving feast from Bob Evans Restaurant. The work was much less and the food was quite good. The key thing was having most of my brother's family celebrating together. We played Uno till 11:00 pm. The competition was fierce and quite funny. 
    We are so blessed! No Black Friday shopping for this female; I'm headed to the lap pool instead.

Most of the gang

Thursday, November 23, 2023

November 23--Love It All

Do your best and trust that others do their best. And be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.  --Mother Teresa

    I offer here from Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation (Nov 19) a list of the great chain of being. This was the medieval metaphor for ecology before we spoke of ecosystems.

Link 1: The firmament/Earth/minerals within the Earth
Link 2: The waters upon the Earth (snow, ice, water, steam, mist)
Link 3: The plants, trees, flowers, and foods that grow upon the Earth
Link 4: The animals on the Earth, in the skies, and in the seas
Link 5: The human species, capable of reflecting on the other links
Link 6: The heavenly realm/Communion of Saints/angels and spirits
Link 7: God/the Divine Realm/the Mystery that creates a universe as such, which needs a Center, Source, and Ground for any coherence.

Such a graphic metaphor held all things together in an enchanted universe. If we could not see the sacred in nature and creatures, we soon could not see it at all.

    On this Thanksgiving Day, let us see the sacred everywhere, and honor our fabulously supportive Mother Earth!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

November 22--Weird Nurturing

Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will. 
--Cheryl Strayed 

    My brother and I have had conversations over the last few days about our family of origin. He is 16 years older than me, and my other brother was 14 years older. My older brother was gone to West Point and then the Army by the time I was two. He said that he never saw Dad drink much, and that Dad never encouraged him or supported him even though he was a high school football star. He said used to hitchhike home from football practice, a distance of about 15 miles. Mom and Dad were fairly poor when my brothers were little. 
    Then the surprise happened... me. That was, for three of my family members (Mom, Dad, my living brother), a wonderful event. Then the bomb landed on the family--my maternal grandmother ("Grammie") died suddenly of a heart attack. Everything went downhill then. Addictions went rampant--alcohol for Dad and food for Mom. Their relationship went sour. There was either angry yelling or vicious silence. It became my job to try to keep the peace, at the ripe old age of five. 
    I offer all this because, ultimately, it did nurture me. 
The morning ritual was Mom counting 
and reporting the number of these
in the trash can from the night before.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

November 21--You Never Know

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." ... You must do the thing you think you cannot do.  --Eleanor Roosevelt

    I must admit that I like life to be fairly predictable. It's a control thing, I know. My visits with my brother, however, are reminding me of how little I can control, and how it's best to simply "go with the flow." I visited him yesterday morning, and while he was chattering on, he was making very little sense. He was convinced that since his usual Monday meeting was merging with two others, it was not happening, so he was NOT going. OK. So I left, promising to visit later. I went back at 3:30 and he was climbing into bed, apparently for the night, with his sense of time quite confused. That was my clear signal to let him have this less-than-stellar day to rest. I see that the level of care for a challenged person has to target his/her "worst" days, not the best. Thus the memory care unit is the proper place for my brother, despite the label of "prison" that he has placed upon it.  
    Going with the Tuesday flow,

Giant oak leaves, the few still hanging on...

Monday, November 20, 2023

November 20--Courage Is Earned

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you've been through the tough times and you discover they aren't so tough after all.  --Malcolm Gladwell

    I am currently taking a break from teaching MELT and yoga classes, which I have been doing twice a week for over a decade. I am using this time to ponder whether I want to go back to teaching classes in 2024. Right now I am leaning toward not returning. There is a part of me, less than courageous, that wants to know in advance how I'll replace that teaching income and what I can do with that free time. The wiser, braver part of me knows that if I simply "take the leap" with faith that I will certainly be offered new and good options from which to choose. 
    Yesterday my niece's group of close friends gathered to watch the Browns game. For the second week in a row, I predicted a "miracle" win. Then the real fun began. The homeowner has a complete music studio in the basement because three of the guys get together weekly for "band" practice. The studio includes a setup for karaoke. I was reluctant at first because I'm not a great singer. Well, it turns out that none of the group is going to be singing in Carnegie Hall any time soon. We had a blast! Singing, dancing, loads of laughter, the most fun I've had in years. I'm so grateful for how my niece's friends have welcomed me into their fold. 
    It's a good week for thanks giving,

A tornado went through my niece's 
neighborhood recently, sparing homes, 
but not so kind to the trees.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

November 19--Moving Beyond Fear

So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren't afraid? And then go do it. 
--Sheryl Sandberg

    This question many years ago led me and a group of five others to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Our skydiving adventure was a huge success. 
    Fear... there is a giant group of politicians pushing more of this on us. This is not helpful and it is grossly unkind and manipulative. I am holding onto the facts that we humans are amazingly resilient and we are witnessing the "old energy" dying while "kicking and screaming." Alas, it can't die fast enough for me. 
    Fear... a week's worth of care home visits has me thinking that memory loss is contagious. I've thought of all the ways I could eventually do myself in so that I don't end up "in the home." I see my brother, a lifelong leader, with virtually no control over anything, which is totally frustrating for him. He is such a positive person, however, that he is making the best of it. 
    Fear... addiction in any form is a killing disease. My brother and I do agree on one thing: everyone is addicted to something. There is fear in recovery, plenty of it--it is hard work facing one's demons. But I also fear that untreated addiction will eventually ruin us and our magnificent Mother Earth. 
    I am currently in the process of answering Ms. Sandberg's question above. We shall see where it leads.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

November 18--The Rewards of Service

It's one of the secrets of strength: We're so much more likely to find it in the service of others than in service to ourselves.  --David Levithan

    I have gained much strength and enjoyment this week taking my brother to 12-step meetings. Though he and I have a different "substance of choice," any time with recovering addicts is inspiring to me. I also took him out to lunch yesterday. He told me some stories about his relationship with our maternal grandfather and all that he taught him on weekly long hikes through the woods. My grandfather was an invalid due to strokes by the time I came along, so it was great to hear stories of him being a vibrant, active man.
    One of my frequent ponderings on my care home visits this week had been this: I know my brother had a highly successful military career. He is a West Point graduate and an Army Ranger who did two tours of duty in Viet Nam. Then he had a good run as a stock broker. He and his wife raised three kids and mentored many grandchildren. I look at the folks around the memory care unit and wonder what awesome lives are locked away inside? I'm sure every one of them has a lovely story to tell, and they may never get told. It's another sadness of the care home experience. 

I'm missing our sweet ultra-handsome Barney!

Friday, November 17, 2023

November 17--Good and Strong

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others. 

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.  --Thomas Merton

    I wanted to share the Merton quote to remind us that our ultimate is simply being the unique human each of us is. YOU give glory to God by being YOU. I give glory to God by being ME. 
    I celebrate our human uniqueness. I want to shout my appreciation for the staff at the care home where my brother resides. In memory care, they are dealing with a volatile population. They work hard and care deeply. Just yesterday one of the staff handled a situation that was quite embarrassing, yet it was "all in a day's work" to her. Another taught this rookie how to insert my brother's hearing aids properly. I could not do their jobs. They are "good actions" on steroids. 
    I am exploring a new adventure in life. With a tip from a fellow pickleball player, I have applied at the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine to be a simulated patient. I've had a phone interview, and in a couple weeks I'll have a tour of the school and an in-person interview. I have a relatively small idea of what I'm getting into, but it sounds like fun. It is also an answer to my prayer for new options to use my time. 
    Happy Friday!
Those aren't leaves, they are berries--
quite glorious!

Thursday, November 16, 2023

November 16--Kindness is a Better Tool

You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force.  --Publilius Syrus

    I wish the Russians and Israelis and all associated parties would operate on that sentiment. Clearly force is not good for anyone involved. Why are we still killing each other!?!?!?!!?
    Yesterday started with another glorious early morning swim. The sun shines directly down my lane, so I see swirling rainbows of color on the bottom of the pool. Swimming with rainbows... can't beat that. Plus there is an even warmer therapy pool that I can roam in after lap swimming, making all my hard-worked muscles go "aaahhhhhh!" 
    I took my brother to lunch and a 12-step meeting. He has been a member in the area for decades, so there were plenty of folks happy and surprised to see him. The meeting was on prayer and meditation (Step 11), so it was a lovely reminder for me how essential those practices are for recovery. 
    I also brought my brother over to his daughter's house in the evening for "Taco Wednesday," where two of her sons joined us. Great family fun and banter ensued. I took my brother back to his "apartment," thereby escaping the cleanup and dish-washing chores. 😉 A couple more rounds of Rummikub finished off another excellent day. 
    So happy to be here, 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

November 15--It's Bold to be Old!?!?

Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer. 
--Niccolo Machiavelli

    Wow, what an education I am getting. I have made several visits to my brother's care home in the three full days I've been here so far. It looks to me like the folks there are suffering mightily, but are they? My brother calls it "the prison." He doesn't like all the rules. Being there makes me pray that I someday just drop dead of a heart attack. I am naming the fact that I am in denial about being an old person. All those folks gathered around the table with varying levels of engagement brings the age issue square in front of my face. I cling to the fact that I am in good shape and healthy for my age. I must continue to do bold things while I am able! 
    I am also amazed at the body/mind connection. My brother's short-term memory is more and more challenged, but his long-term memory is amazing. He talked to me for an hour and a half yesterday about his two tours of duty in Viet Nam as an Army Ranger. Yet he is challenged to remember to insert his hearing aids and to always use his walker. 
    This is a very good love and learning experience for me. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

November 14--More Gentleness, Please

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength. 
--St. Francis de Sales

    I am visiting my brother at his care home, and due mostly to recent falls, he has been placed in the locked-down memory care unit, labeled by my bro as "the prison." I love my brother. I would do most anything for him, even taking him to Walmart (for me that is true, true love). I cannot deny, however, that it is quite depressing to walk through the area to which he is confined. It's mostly older folks just sitting and staring. The staff is wonderful--they are magnificently gentle with these folks--and I understand that this is challenging work. I couldn't do it. Part of me wants to run away screaming, and part of me wants to move to a state that allows "death with dignity" so that I never have to be in a care home. This place makes a fairly quick death by cancer look like a sweet dream! 
    I am going to learn a lot over these next couple of weeks hanging with my brother, both about his situation and myself. Yesterday I took him to get his hearing aids fixed, followed by an ice cream lunch at our favorite local spot. He motored around very well with his walker. Today's mission is to take him for a new pair of sunglasses. Walmart may be in my future.

Lavender, the horrid smell in 
most every care home

Monday, November 13, 2023

November 13--Bravery Is Earned

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you. 
--Mary Tyler Moore

    Then I guess I can thank my late older brother for much of my bravery. He was my in-family bully. 
    Moving on, after my "brave" 1000-mile drive here, my first full day was awesome. I had a morning visit with my brother, and I'm pleased to report that he looked and sounded much better than I expected. I did a big grocery run in anticipation of doing some meal prep for my niece and me. I got soup ingredients ready to assemble and went back to my brother's "apartment" and watched the first half of the Browns game with him. Things were looking grim for the Browns. He was sleepy so I left at halftime. 
    I returned to my niece's house and assembled the lentil soup while watching the game. My niece expressed worry over the Browns' chances, but I said, "You never know, a miracle could occur," and we laughed. Well, a miracle did occur, the Browns came from behind and kicked the winning field goal with three seconds left on the clock. It was awesome! 
    We did our two-mile walk and celebrated the Browns' win and a great day with a bowl of soup, a beer, and a few rounds of Rummikub. We know how to party!! 😉😉

Sunday, November 12, 2023

November 12--Arrived!

Sometimes the worst thing that happens to you, the thing you think you can't survive... it's the thing that makes you better than you used to be. 
--Jennifer Weiner

    I'm safely in northeast Ohio reunited with my niece. All things considered, it was an easy drive. 
    On my drive, I gave considerable thought to perfectionism. I was raised by the poster-child for perfectionism, so I have had very strong tendencies in that direction. Because of my own personal perfectionist "vibe," I have been fairly well surrounded by perfectionists my whole life. I have had great recovery in this area, but it still sometimes "rears its ugly head." 
    I've come to three conclusions given my experience with perfectionists. The first is that being perfect, it is totally unreasonable for anyone to criticize them. Second, given that they never do anything wrong, there is never a need to apologize for anything. Third, because of the need to keep up the perfect facade, they are extremely self-centered and lack interest in others. 
    I'm thinking that perfectionism is simply another form of addiction. 

Threats of punishment or promises of candy later
create perpetual adolescents and well-disguised
narcissism at every level of Christianity.  --Richard Rohr

Saturday, November 11, 2023

November 11--Over Half Way There!

Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness.  --Thomas Hardy

    I made it to Effingham--an easy drive on a sunny day. I was quite happy to see the giant cross. 
    I realize that this may really make me sound like a nerdy old fart (which I am), but on long drives I have been wearing compression knee-high socks. I am astounded at how not tired I am on the long drives. My body feels fine, rather than the usual feeling beaten up by the many miles. I certainly don't understand the physiology, but I love the results. Yes, they are a bitch to get on, but it is worth the effort.  
    Also, I highly recommend the audiobook that is currently entertaining me: "Nothing is Missing" by Nicole Walters.
    Today I arrive at my destination in Stow, Ohio. Onward!

Time to get some colorful, 
less nerdy hose 😉

Friday, November 10, 2023

November 10--Making the Odometer Spin

Be strong. Live honorably and with dignity. When you don't think you can, hold on.  --James Frey

    Today requires strength and holding on. I'm driving approximately 550 miles to Effingham, Illinois. My husband jokes that it is right next to Effingturkey. I'm sure there are endless jokes on that town's name. It is the stop-over winner on my drive to Ohio because it also has a Culver's restaurant, one of my favorites. Below is the BIG landmark of Effingham. The cross is "198 feet tall and 113 feet wide, forged out of over 180 tons of steel anchored in untold fathoms of cement." It can withstand winds up to 145 mph. "Can't miss it."
    On the road again,
I hope they don't call it
the Effingcross?!!?!

Thursday, November 9, 2023

November 9--Daily Right

In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can. 
--Barbara Kingsolver

    I realize I am a bit "late to the game," but I love to play pickleball. I have been playing most of this year, starting at the YMCA as a complete rookie. I think I've improved. The best part is that there is a fairly consistent group of folks who show up on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and I'm getting to know them and actually remember their names. (I'm typically challenged by that.) Last week, circumstances were such that I was included in a free lesson by a very experienced player. Among the many tips he imparted was the idea of keeping a strong, stable wrist through the stroke, rather than flicking the wrist. Well, talk about a game-changer! I'm still practicing it, but it feels so much better, and (duh!) it gives me much more control over where the ball goes. I'm learning and I love it!
    Even though there are young folks showing up to play, I really appreciate how this sport keeps so many older people moving when they may not have otherwise. Pickleball camaraderie is a "right" thing. 

The new pickleball center
at the west YMCA

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

November 8--Grief is Inescapable

Between grief and nothing I will take grief.  --William Faulkner

    I'm not so sure. Having spent the last year plus in grief in assorted forms, a little "nothing" sounds fairly good right now. I get the idea that feeling something is better than a numb life. But I have certainly enjoyed times of being numb, as in "stop the world, I want to get off." 
    I'm learning that aging and grief go hand in hand, as friends and family members make their transitions. There is even grieving associated with those whose quality of life is so poor, yet they are still hanging on, where transition would be blessed freedom. 
    I must say, however, that experiencing grief has made me stronger, and certainly more compassionate. Rough times make us appreciate the good times more. 

Hope springs eternal...
this lily bulb planting project
was completed earlier this week

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

November 7--Worthiness is Irrelevant

In yourself right now is all the place you've got.  --Flannery O'Connor

    I have spent a lot of time in life trying to get over the hump of feeling unworthy. It is a constant challenge, and recently I've been realizing that "worthy" is irrelevant. We are all beloved children of Spirit. I read the following from Richard Rohr in his Daily Mediation of November 6: 

Who among us is worthy? We’re all just varying degrees of fallible and unworthy, but when we surrender to that knowing, the fountain of grace begins to flow. We stop seeking our own worthiness and we begin to know the gift of God. We begin to realize that it’s all gift, and it’s all free, and we already have it, and all we can do is learn to enjoy it. That changes everything.

    The gig is not to make myself feel worthy, but simply to know that I am not worthy, and it doesn't matter. I am loved anyway, anyhow, anywhere, always, and I accept and delight in that. 
    Our beautiful Mother Earth with all her bounty is proof that we don't have to be worthy to enjoy. 

Another sunrise work of art 
by Mother Gaia

Monday, November 6, 2023

November 6--It's All in Your Head

You have power over your mind--not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.  --Marcus Aurelius

    Practicing this has been the journey of my lifetime. I am grateful for 12-step programs, Centers for Spiritual Living, practitioner training, Ernest Holmes, yoga teacher training, monthly coaching sessions, and lots of friends who have supported my efforts. Everything begins in thought. Negative thinking leads to low energy; positive, to high vibrations. I believe it is an excellent practice to talk regularly with someone who is not living inside one's own head. As always in this life, we have a choice. 
    I'm back home again and prepping for my next trip. I'm driving to Ohio in a few days to spend a couple of weeks with my brother and my niece. My brother's health is declining and he no longer drives. Besides just hanging out with him, I'll take him to meetings, appointments and (the dreaded) Walmart. It gives my niece a break and me precious time with my brother. 
    One day at a time,
My sweet brother,
ready for the game!

Sunday, November 5, 2023

November 5--Whimsical

You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.  --Mary Oliver

    I fell in love with Wales as soon as I saw that the flag of the country has a dragon. There's some whimsical for you. I bought a hoodie with the dragon--it was a double bonus because the dragon is red, my favorite color. Also, at the shop where I bought the hoodie, the ladies bathroom stalls look like this:

I would say that the folks in Wales have "whimsical" nailed. 
    I hit a milestone this past Friday--the 100-mile-swim mark for 2023. This is my 26th year in a row of swimming over 100 miles. I do take responsibility for my health and keeping my body moving. It makes life much more fun!
My favorite clothing brand!

Saturday, November 4, 2023

November 4--Celebrating a Rare Milestone

Take pride in your pain... you are stronger than those who have none. 
--Lois Lowry

    Here's some strength for you... we are in Missouri celebrating my in-laws 70th wedding anniversary, which is officially on November 7. One might think they were married as teenagers, but they were not. They married just before their 24th birthdays. Their three sons have produced five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, so far. 
    CONGRATULATIONS, and thank you for all the good you have created in the world!
        Daughter-in-law Leta

A family shot from 4 yrs ago
when we celebrated their
90th birthdays

Friday, November 3, 2023

November 3--Free to Be Happy

We are each responsible for our own life. If you're holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you're wasting your time. You must be fearless enough to give yourself the love you didn't receive.  --Oprah Winfrey

    My husband and I have very different interests. He has a collection of musical instruments and bicycles and uses all of them. He's an active musician. His idea of a great vacation is riding his bike many miles with lots of other folks, then sleeping in a tent, and repeating that for a week. I have minimal musical skill and his vacation idea is too much "roughing it" for me. My idea of a good time is having one or more trips upcoming on my calendar. I travel often with girlfriends, as we are similar in our enjoyment of being pampered. I would not be a pleasant companion on a bike trip, and my husband would die of boredom on the beach, where I could relax forever.
    It works for my spouse and me. We do what makes each of us happy, and with our different interests and adventures, we have plenty to talk about. I am very grateful for the freedom we each enjoy. 

One of the many beautiful murals in 
an English village

Thursday, November 2, 2023

November 2--The Body, A Miracle

In order for us to liberate the energy of our strength, our weakness must first have a chance to reveal itself.  --Paulo Coelho

    Let us take on the idea of strength by looking at the human body, an absolute miracle. Here are words by Nadia Bolz-Weber:

I do not know the designations that the world has given you, or the things that have been said about your body or done to your body. I do not know what binds you. But … how amazing is it that a human body is also what God chose to take on to be with us?… That God would, as we say, slip into skin and walk among us … that God would choose to make God’s home in an actual human body—in the person of Jesus of Nazareth….

All of this is to say, that God saves you IN your body, not FROM your body. Your body is in the same form and substance as that which God chose to put on and walk among us as Jesus. Your body is holy and beautiful to God—your young, old, fit, fat, cis, queer, disabled, strong body. For after all, it is the human body in which God placed God’s image, the imago dei. God could have chosen to place the image of God in the mountains, but instead she put it in our bodies. We might experience the awesomeness of God in the mountains … but we see the image of God in the human body in all its perfectly glorious diversity.

    Many folks don't care for their body. This is a weakness that must be overcome in order to live a strong and healthy life. 

DNA, the same building block in every human.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

November 1--Strength

Don't find fault; find a remedy.  --Henry Ford

    We move into November wherein our theme is STRENGTH.
    The last year plus has been difficult, with depression and anxiety on the scene quite a bit, lots of uncertainty, disappointment and grief. I've muddled through it, and I think things are on the upswing. I have become less and less motivated in teaching, and then this came across my radar:

In A Daily Dose of Sanity by Alan Cohen, he said: "When you work with full passion, you create huge success for yourself and your clients. When you act with less than a whole heart, everyone remains hungry. Be honest about where your energy is streaming, and go there. Then you will wow everyone around you, along with yourself." (From Rev. Suellen Miller's Wednesday "Thought")

    I have not been operating with "a whole heart." So a break is in order. I'm taking off all of November and December to travel, celebrate holidays and figure out if and how I want teaching to be a part of my life in 2024. It feels like implementing this decision is allowing some clarity to shine through, and I am grateful for that. 
    The million dollar question---what do I want?

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

October 31--Little Bits

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.  --Desmond Tutu


    Halloween in Wichita is a crap-shoot. I've lived here for 40 years (no way! yes way!), and we've had lovely warm weather, a flood, ice storms and snow all on assorted Halloweens. Not wanting to have candy hanging around calling our names, my husband and I plan to go out for dinner to celebrate our October birthdays. 
    Little bits of good are easy. I've been getting grandson photos printed at Walgreens (cheap and easy) and sending them to his great-grandparents and great-uncle. They are not smart-phone or computer-savvy, and they like looking at the photos. I am quite fond of hand-written notes sent by snail-mail, so this is a win-win activity for all. 
    Put some "little bits of good" together today,

Creator Greg Cole sells these tiny cookies at
our Kansas Grown Farmers' Market

Monday, October 30, 2023

October 30--A Little Extra

Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.  --J. M. Barrie

    Those are excellent words to live by! My husband is a fine example of this behavior. Each morning he brings me coffee in bed (where I sit and write these blog posts). Yes, I could go get the coffee, but I love his kindness. He cooks us fabulous meals from scratch. He goes the "extra mile" to avoid unnecessary chemicals and processed foods. He is currently in the middle of a huge project--cleaning out our laundry and storage room. He started that while I was in Europe. I'm helping, and I'd say we are about half finished. The room is already much cleaner and more organized with his addition of several shelves. It is a labor of love and kindness. 
    Kindness feels good,

A new shelf, a nicer laundry setup

Sunday, October 29, 2023

October 29--Free the Goodness

You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge.  --Eckhart Tolle

    I look at my grandson, and goodness oozes from his pores. We all start that way. It is our essence. 
    I look at the man who is believed to have done the mass shootings in Maine. Someone early on had to have put considerable effort into ruining that innate goodness. Hate fed upon hate, and expanded until the troubled soul killed as a result. The suspect has been found dead. What was accomplished there, other than horrific fear and sorrow? And another opportunity for legislators to ignore sensible gun control? 
    Stay focused on the goodness,
The Glastonbury Community Fridge-
goodness in action

Saturday, October 28, 2023

October 28--Warm and Sunny

A kind word is like a spring day.  --Russian proverb

    I believe there is significantly more kindness in the world than violence. Alas, violence gets the publicity. What we focus on expands, so let's focus on kindness. Other "spring day" elements are a smile and using the name of the person with whom you are interacting. Tips are nice, too. 
    I saw a neighbor out walking in the dark the other morning (I was walking Barney), and she had on a light vest that changed colors and made her quite visible. I asked her about it later in the day, and she said she bought it on Amazon. She then went to the trouble (kindness!) to find out my cell number from her sister-in-law and text me the link for the item. 
    On the other hand, on my recent UK trip, there was one person whom I could describe as "Negative Nellie on steroids." She was loud and constantly complaining, and after just a few days, no one wanted to be around her. She was a "winter day" rather than a "spring day."
    Kindness is a choice. Be kind. 

IMAGINE, by John Lennon

Friday, October 27, 2023

October 27--Gentle Care

Sometimes self-interested is the most generous thing you can be. 
--Tony Kushner

    We certainly tend to be generous with our resources, especially time, giving to others, but are we as generous with ourselves? One of my long-time MELT/yoga students is recovering from successful hip replacement surgery earlier this week. This is for her a time for massive self-interest--our bodies use an extreme amount of energy to heal such a procedure. It is time for her to be very generous and gentle with herself.
    Do we need major surgery to be kind to ourselves? I hope not! Good self-interest lies in adequate sleep, moderate exercise, healthy eating, time in nature, social connection, and some form of creativity. When an individual's "tank" is full, generosity can then overflow to others--a win-win for all. 
    Happy Friday!


Thursday, October 26, 2023

October 26--Expectations--Not Helpful

What will matter is the good we did, not the good we expected others to do. 
--Elizabeth Lesser

    Hmmmm... my first reaction to this was: I don't expect others to do good. But wait! I expected those in my family of origin to be sane, considerate and loving in healthy ways. That was not often the case. What matters to me now is my recovery from that and the good I have done for others as a result of my experience. 
    I think it is mighty clear these days that expecting others to do the good and right thing is a prescription for frustration. All we can do to keep our sanity is to focus on our own do-good practice. The more good we do, the more good comes 'round to us. 
    Circulate the good stuff,

At a shop in England

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

October 25--Don't Wait

It is no way to live, to wait to love.  --Dave Eggers

    Maybe we could also end this quote after "wait": It is no way to live, to wait. To wait to do whatever--we have no guarantees here. My travel buds and I consider this often. Let's go while we are able. 
    In a few weeks, I'll head east to spend time with my brother. His health is not great, and time with him is very precious. It is a very long drive of 1,000 miles, but I don't want to wait any longer to see him. 
    Do you love someone? Show it today!

England loves at Buckingham Palace

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

October 24--Doing Well, Doing Good

All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.  --Anna Quindlen

    There were many times on my recent trip when I asked for help or directions or suggestions. Every time the person was helpful and gave me proper guidance. Each instance of this was doing good--a simple act, yes, but very important to me. 
    Every act of kindness is doing good. I believe we are wired for goodness, and that is what enables us to do well in the long run.

The English do good by encouraging
tourists not to get run over 😉😉

Monday, October 23, 2023

October 23--Stop the Hurt

You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true and also fierce you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. 
--Winston Churchill

    Isn't a Churchill quote so appropriate given that I've just returned from the United Kingdom?
    I see plenty of "fierce" out there in the world, but I'm not so sure about "generous and true." 
    On the other hand, I saw a LOT of people on my just-completed two-week tour of England and Wales. Between all of us, no doubt we've made thousands of mistakes. As I did plenty of people-watching, I reminded myself that we are all simply moving through life as best we can. We want to be healthy, connected, and loved. The billions of expressions of human life all came from the same Something Bigger. Peaceful coexistence happens all over the world every day. War and violence are hurting and distressing the world. Let us fiercely expand the "generous and true" and stop the hatred. This begins in each one's own heart.

The sea at Land's End, England