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Words matter

Words matter

“Who is going to guard us?”  This is deer hunting weekend in Wisconsin.  Our oldest daughter and my husband go hunting and my role is to babysit.  The hunters were going out the door and the 4 and 8-year-old were up and playing.  I was still getting dressed for the day.  My sister and our dog were still asleep. The grandkids were playing in the front room and asked their mom as she was heading out the door “Who is going to guard us?”

Words matter. Maybe a 4 and 8-year-old need guarding or a referee rather than a babysitter!  I remember asking one of the about their “Child care” and their response was “We do to Day care.  We are cared for during the day while mom and dad are at work.”  Words matter.  One must be precise when you are talking to children.  They are concrete thinkers.  Word images are really important.

Yesterday, the youngest announced “I need to go to the bathroom”.  I asked “Do you need any help?”  Her response was “No, I’ve got this under control.”  That was good to know.  Sometimes one needs help and doesn’t ask for it.  A few years ago I was helping bring up from the basement a very large box from the basement (also during hunting babysitting).  I had the little one going up first and step by step I was bringing up the box.  She sat down on her step and looked at me and asked “Do you want help?”  Help would have been helpful but from a 2-year-old it wasn’t going to happen that day.  I said “No, thanks”.  Then she asked “Do you NEED help?” One may need help and not want it.  That was a good observation.

When our oldest was in 3rd grade, I remember one day preparing supper – it was 5 minutes before we were going to be sitting down and eating.  She asked “Can I have a candy bar?”  I said “No, we will be eating supper in a few minutes.”  I turned around and saw her eating a cookie.  I asked “I just told you we were eating supper in a few minutes, what are you doing?”  Her reply, “You said that I couldn’t have a candy bar, this is a cookie!”.  Words matter.

Sometimes I think children would make good lawyers as they seem to stick to the letter of the law and its interpretation very literally.  We always said when our children were growing up that you never said anything out loud you didn’t want repeated 1,000 times.  Children have internal tape recorders and they remember every detail of something they should not be overhearing or repeating.  Their hearing also becomes acute when you are whispering something that you really don’t want them to hear.  Choose your words carefully.  You can’t take them back or unspeak them.  For better or worse you are stuck with the words spoken and words matter.




Life happens.  Lately I have been dealing with some tough things that weigh on my mind, soul and physical body.  It is taking time – being on hold on the phone.  It is sapping energy – things aren’t resolving. My mind finds it hard to concentrate on other things which causes my body to stay in the “flight or fight” mode which is taking away from what I want to do and who I want to be in the world.

Family and friends listen to me and help point me in directions of peaceful mindfulness.  They help me to see ways NOT to keep thinking about things I no longer have control over.  Sometimes I smile because it is the same things I would say to someone to help them.  My principal gave me a plaque when I left St. Thomas the Apostle school in Hyde Park, Chicago, IL.  “A friend knows the song in your heart and sings it to you when your memory fails”.  My friends and family are “singing” to me and reminding me of who I am and what tools I can use to #staywell.

There are times I feel I am relatively well put together.  Then I realize how fast things can unravel.  It reminds me of my crocheting that I have set down and the dog or a child has gotten tangled in the yarn and I see hours of work unraveling before my eyes.  Unraveling isn’t a good feeling.

Going out on the boat on the water can be calming but winter is coming.  The last boat ride of the season on Lake Wisconsin, the Wisconsin river was to look for birds that I could photograph.  All we basically saw was turtles.  We had maybe seen 1 or 2 all summer and now they were piled up on logs sunning themselves.  If all I had was turtles, then I would see what I could see with my camera about the turtles.   I turned on my camera and went to work with the images that were available to me – turtles and logs.

It isn’t easy to change what you think you should or could be doing.  Life gets in the way.  Other people have different agendas.  What you think is so obvious seems obscure and  incomprehensible to others around you.

Everyday routines, everyday mindfulness, everyday meditation, everyday looking at the calendar, every day setting goals, and everyday evaluation how much time to spend doing computer things can either bring stability or overwhelming sense destruction to one’s life.

As we traveled that last time on the river, the turtles were just sitting there.  They didn’t scare as easily as the birds do so we could get closer and see what was going on.  Sometimes we are traveling so fast – even if we are walking – that we fail to see the beauty and what is around us.  We are traveling so fast that miss so much of what could help us.

I had had knee surgery and had to go to a conference.  I rented an electric scooter.  I had used them in Disneyworld and at grocery stores.  The later actually tone down the “fast” mode but when I rented this one it had ordinary “turtle” and really fast “rabbit”.  When no one was in the hall I tried out the “rabbit” and I went to fast the wind blew back my hair.  It reminded me of being on a bike going downhill.  What was true at the conference and in grocery stores is that people don’t SEE you.  You are sitting low and you become invisible.  You have to go slow in crowds because people just don’t give you room to go fast.  People bump into you and don’t even say “sorry”.

I am in “turtle” mode as of lately, if not just standing still.  I have been chaffing at the bit to go back in “rabbit” mode.  I am stopped and have dwelt on what others have told me.  I am now in a calming, reflective, effective “turtle” mode and experience some peace and sense of mindfulness.  It is OK to be in “turtle” mode.  I am actually enjoying some moments even as I try to regain my “rabbit” speed.  We all have to have options and to #staywell we need to use all the tools and friends we have at our disposal.  Happy traveling today somewhere between “turtle” and “rabbit” mode.  If you wish share your journey and how you are traveling.


Reality Check


Reality check: new driver’s license.

My wallet was lifted from my purse at the end of September.  I had to get a new license anyway because of my 65th birthday in October.  At the driver’s licence place, I wrote down “brown” for hair.  It was automatic.  I have labeled my hair that color my whole life.  The nice young man at the DMV said “REALLY, what color do you want to put down for your hair?”  He was nice but I had to admit “Gray” was the color.

Reality check: going down stairs without a railing

I went to get my hair done and the railing was out for repair.  Going up was OK but the thought of going down the steps which are not quite equal or regular height made me pause at the top.  My friend, my beautician , simply asked “Do you want to use my arm?”  my answer was “yes”.  The next person coming in was older than I and did the steps just fine.  Fibromyalgia and arthritis and having Ehlers-Danlos has led to my hips and knees being older than I feel.

Reality check: putting groceries away in the car

I was at the grocery store and came out and was putting the bags in the 4 wheel drive pick up.  I was by myself.  A nice young man going into the grocery store asked “Do you need help?”  I said no.  I remember my granddaughter being 2 years old and we had gone to the basement to get a large box of blocks.  She was ahead of me and I was going step by step behind her putting the box up one step at a time.  She turned around and sat down and asked “Do you want help?”  I laughed as she couldn’t help me but then she asked “Do you NEED help?”  Maybe I am stubborn and independent and don’t think I DO need help.

Reality check: people opening the door for me

Lately, there have been many men – old and younger – and even some women that have opened the door for me.  I don’t feel old.  I still feel like I am 20.  I know I have slowed down some.  My husband and I went to a retired clergy function and my comment was “Boy everyone else is sure looking older!”

Fighting back: I do water therapy.  I am walking and taking the steps.  I am going to go to a chiropractor which specializes in getting people to move better and getting on with their lives – not just keep coming back to him.  He can’t repair damage but can help more damage not happening.  I don’t feel old.  I do, however, try to not do stupid things but I do have a bruise from a tumble last week (I lodged myself between the organ bench and the wall because I leaned too far on a slippery bench).  My life is good and I will do my best to keep it that way.

Who Knew?


I retired in 2014.  We drive through some of the most beautiful country scenes no matter which way we go from our home.  The fall of 2014 held the most spectacular views of the trees in the hillside.  I took my camera every place I went but as is sometimes the case, what I saw with my eyes never matched the spectacular beauty of nature I saw with the digital images I later saw.  I couldn’t wait until the next year.

I thought it was because I saw the world with new eyes being newly retired.  I was beginning a new and beautiful journey and thought the world just seemed a more wonderful place.  The next year the trees were not quite as brilliant and wonderful.  My life was fine and I was seeing and doing new things.  I was forever trying to recreate and see the fall foliage that I remembered.

This year the leaves are dropping and they haven’t even turned.  It almost looks like someone is teasing us with a paint brush and just lightly touching the trees on the Baraboo range.  “Maybe it will be better”, I thought.  Then came a bunch of news sources telling me that it would not be spectacular this year in my area.

I have always enjoyed the colors of the fall trees.  I have enjoyed rides to see the colors in our area and sometimes drive to other areas. I must not be the only one feeling their hopes dashed as the news kept saying why the colors came in the first place and not to be disappointed as there was always next year.

  1. Not all trees have the ability to turn vivid colors.
  2. Temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture from spring, summer and fall make a big difference in the outcome of the color. It takes the whole seasons to make a beautiful fall.
  3. The green of the trees – “chlorophyll” pigment – dies with the shorter days, the lack of water and reduced nutrients. The yellow and red pigments which have been there all along are no longer masked and can show their “true colors”.
  4. They said “In general, a wet growing season followed by a dry autumn filled with sunny days and cool, frostless nights produces the most vibrant palette of fall colors.” So you might way the stars have to alight just right to get the brilliant colors.

They say that the northeast will be brilliant this year. I don’t live there. They also say it isn’t going to be brilliant in our area.  It may be nice but not spectacular.

I have a book of meditations that were written and intended for “older” audiences.  I have used them since I was in my 20’s.  It had autumn leaves on the cover.  Now that I am in the “autumn” time of life, I need to find that book again and see if I read it with new eyes.

I think our lives are like the cycle of the trees.  You don’t just get brilliant in your old age – it is how your life was lived all along.  Your true colors were always there.  Some people notice about older adults that they aren’t so afraid to say exactly what they think.  They have spent a lifetime, many times, hiding their true colors.  Now they are ready to really show who they are.

Unlike nature, we humans only get 1 autumn time.  It is too late to go back to the beginning to try again.  It is too late for the middle part to be redone.  We are here.  We are showing our true colors.  Whether they are brilliant or not, they are our colors.  They are what they are and are to be celebrated and enjoyed. It isn’t over yet! Today is today. It is a day to enjoy. It is a day to see things with new eyes. It is a time to review and renew and share what we have harvested and gleaned over the years.

Where are you in your life? If you are at the beginning, find a mentor who can share with you.  If you are in the middle, take time to see where you have come from and where you are going – find a mentor.  If you are at the end of the journey, mentors are a little harder to come by – search anyway for fellow travelers and journey partners.  Enjoy your life.  Enjoy this day.

If you wish, share one of the things on your journey -wherever you are – that has made this day spectacular.  When we can name our “bright” spots for others, they can help them on their journey as well.


Go for it!

DSC01818The state parks in Missouri raise trout.  We were in the Montauk State Park feeding the fish.  There are 2 huge places that fish are raised for this park and for shipping to other places.


You buy fish food and “feed” the fish.  They jump out the water to get the food.  The first photo is a trout jumping out of the area where we were feeding fish.  By the way, we saw the fish jump and jump – not sure if it was the same fish – and during the time the fish was trying to get out, it never succeeded.

The fish probably knew the limits of where it was but had no idea of where it was going when it jumped.  There are times in life that we are in a safe area.  We are being fed and cared for but something calls within us to “jump” into the unknown.  I am not sure which area this fish would have a better life.

In our lives there are times when you feel like you need to take a leap of faith.  I retired in 2014 and although I had an idea of where I was “leaping” to, I had no idea where it would actually land.  I am enjoying retirement but I am doing things like playing the organ at church and piano for the Praise Band.  Neither of these were on my “to do” list but I really, really enjoy it.  I joined Home and Community Education connected to UW Extension and am doing different things there. I didn’t even know this group existed when I retired.   Life is exciting and renewing and lively.

I have new ideas and plans of what I can do and what will bring joy into my life and that of life with my husband.  We are seeing plays and musicals and movies.  We are enjoying life here at our home and through travel.   The leap was worth it in so many ways.  Regrets? Well I don’t feel like I am “out to pasture” and the tug of knowing I have skills I am not using weighs on me at times. The truth is I just don’t have time to do much more.  I didn’t think that I would need a calendar and set goals and have check lists but I do need them desperately to get at everything I care to do.

Do you think that you need to take a leap of faith in your life?  Please share it in the comments.  Sometimes just writing it down gives you the boost to get over the top and have support on the other side.  What issues do you think you need to know before you take a leap?  Will it matter what the answers are?  We all need security but sometimes the “familiar” is really a box holding us back and we just need to “go for it” and take a leap of faith.



Adversity or opportunity


We live on a “lake” which is really a dammed part of the Wisconsin River.  There are beautiful bluffs that line the river and even the lake.  We also canoe on the Merrimac River in Missouri where the bluffs are huge and spectacular.


What happen with rain, ice, wind and flooding is that the rock becomes weakened and part of the bluff “sloughs” off into the river.

This can change where the fish can be caught if it is small or it can change the course of the river if it large.

I was thinking about this as we were on the river at home in Wisconsin.  Change comes in our lives whether we are ready for it or not.  Sometimes it seems to be a little adversity or sometimes it seems like a catastrophe.  Sometimes it makes a difference for the better.  For the later perspective, I love Garth Brooks’ song “Thank God for Unanswered Prayer”.

Things in our lives need perspective.  I saw on the news a man in his 80’s who had lost everything with Harvey.  I know if that happened to me, I would be devastated and it would take a long time – if ever- to recover.  Yet there are things in our lives which seem “huge” as they happen and when we look back they weren’t as bad as we thought.  Sometimes we look back and we wonder how we got through it all.  Sometimes we look back and wonder what our lives might have been like.

My prayers go out for people affected by Harvey and Irma and what other hurricanes or disaster will follow.  As a United Methodist, we support UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) with money because 100% of what you give goes to the disaster.  The cost of operation and administration is paid for through other funds.  We also go to the Midwest Distribution Center in Chatham, Illinois to help get the flood buckets and other kits together so that when disaster strikes, things are ready to send out to those needed.

As I deal with problems, I try and get a perspective of how to handle it and how to see it as an opportunity rather than a problem.  Nothing stays the same. We get into trouble when we try to cement our present reality.   Just about the time you think you have things together, you don’t.  If we look at life like canoeing down a river rather than have the bluff as a “stay-cation” place, we might be better off.  Life is a journey – not a destination point.  We are traveling down the river of life.

Change happens in our lives.  How we deal with it can bring disaster, adversity, or catastrophe.  How we deal with it bring opportunity, an opening or a good change of direction.  See what you can do to make the best future going forward.  Plan. Set goals. Then you need to be flexible and a change agent as life actually happens and you go with the flow.

Vision vs What you can see


I am leading a class at the public library on how to take better photos with the camera on your phone.  There are limitations with that camera.  I love my digital camera.  The other night the moon was full and lite the sky.  I put my camera on the rail of the deck and low and behold a number of good images appeared!

Yet every time I “sees” something, it doesn’t come to be revealed in a digital or phone camera.  Our eyes and mind can see/not see/focus/not focus on so much more than any sensor on a camera.  It is amazing what I have been gifted and what I have not seen at all – that is between when I raise my camera and when I get the digital results.

Life can be like that.  We can “see” and “imagine” so much more than we can actually act upon or use.  It is good to be able to cast a vision.  There is the story about boats in a harbor. They are usually safe there in the case of some bad storm, the ships need to leave the harbor to be safe.  They throw out the anchor and winch OUT to safety in the seas.

In our lives we can find safety in the harbor or in a moon lit night.  During the day we need to throw our anchor out and be in the high seas – knowing that we can return to the safety of the harbor when we need it.

It was awesome to sit on the deck and watch the moon light dancing on the waters.  I hope you enjoy peace and safety in your nights and days and be able to live toward a wider vision than you can see or imagine.



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