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Is Spring in the air or is it snow that I see falling?


Today Is April 3, 2018.  We are under a winter storm warning.  We might get from 2 – 6 inches of snow.  There are reports of strong storms – possible tornados and lots of rain for other parts of the country.  These lovely flowers were out in the sun yesterday.  They don’t get a weather report to know that for this week it will be way below temperatures for April.  Their DNA says “It’s spring – go for it!” and they bloom.

We are waiting for the ground to get warmer to plant other plants. We are waiting to see the other annual flowers that will come blooming.  We are waiting so that we can plant vegetables.  We are waiting for warmth and it looks like a snow globe outside.

I remember years ago that our kids came home from college and said that Global Warming really didn’t mean that it was going to get just a little warmer.  Climate Change is now the phrase we use because as they told us, Climate change meant that weather would be more violent and unpredictable.  It is happening.

Easter was Sunday.  Lent is a time for waiting and searching and seeing what needs to be in one’s life – sort of spring house cleaning for the soul.  Easter is a time a celebration and living that life.  I look around my craft room and get discouraged for all the “cleaning” and sorting I need to do.

What gets you down?  Winter that will never end?  I think of the Chronicles of Narnia and the winter that never would turn to spring.  Do you get down listening to the news? Today is also a voting day.  Some people get so discouraged with what they hear and see that they don’t vote.  We’ve seen the Parkland High School students in the news being articulate in that their spring and new life will come with assault rifles are banned and other gun sense laws are passed.  I keep hearing with the young people say that they will be voting soon and they will vote OUT those people that will take money from the NRA which takes the lives of our children when gun sense laws aren’t passed.

Today in the news there are teachers again striking in many different states.  It is for their students that they fight – for better schools, having good textbooks and so they don’t need to have 2 other jobs to make ends meet when they have 2 degrees.  Sometimes it seems that winter and cold are never going to end.  Sometimes I can see new life in so many areas.  Look for the volunteer plants and those bulbs that are coming forth in new life.  Enjoy them as you wait for Spring to really come.  Then I suppose people will be complaining about the heat in the summer!






I didn’t think of capturing the thick fog when I first woke up today.  Now the fog is beginning to lift and disperse.  The weather person said last night that the fog would bring icy road conditions this morning– then freezing rain and we would have icy conditions in the morning and late at night with sun in between.   I love when the fog leaves frost on the ground and trees.  Today it is just fog.

As I was looking out at the fog, I don’t know why but I began to think about the term “Brain fog”.  This description of Brain Fog and what you can do at home comes from the Internet (

Brain fog isn’t a medical condition by itself, but rather a symptom of other medical conditions. It’s a type of cognitive dysfunction involving: memory problems, lack of mental clarity, poor concentration, inability to focus. Some people also describe it as mental fatigue. Depending on the severity of brain fog, it can interfere with work or school. But it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture in your life.

It can be caused by: stress, lack of sleep, hormonal change, diet, medications, and medical conditions (a major symptom of chronic fatigue syndromes one being fibromyalgia)

If it is persistent and disruptive in your life, a doctor can do test to see what Brain Fog is pointing to.  There are things you can do at home: sleeping 8 to 9 hours per night, managing stress by knowing your limitations and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine, exercising, strengthening your brain power (try volunteering or solving brain puzzles), finding enjoyable activities, and increasing your intake of protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.

I would like to say that I have never experienced Brain Fog but that isn’t true. I do know that I have experienced it.  I don’t know when I am in the midst of Brain Fog but I can see the result of little mistakes that I have made – not at the time I am making them but later they become so apparent.

When one is driving in fog it is interesting how you see it.  Standing still one had a better understanding of how thick the fog is and what is obscured but when driving we forget we are being propelled in a car at speeds which may be too fast for how we can see. I think life is like that too. I look at the white fluffy clouds in the sky and see what images I can see – a duck, a dog etc.  Yet when you are in a plane in the middle of those white fluffy clouds it is really like driving through fog (all be it propelling through it at a much faster rate than in a vehicle on the ground).

When I had my total hip surgery, I was on different opioids for pain.  I got off of all of them as they messed with my mind and I still had pain.  I was playing a handheld Yahtzee game and had 3 Yahtzee’s in a row and couldn’t manage to move the buttons to log it in.  It was a small thing but it told me I was in mental trouble.  When I play Sudoku and start making too many mistakes, I pause and think if I am distracted, or tired and I don’t do anything that really requires accuracy.

We all experience a little Brain Fog from time to time.  If it is persistent it requires help beyond just getting more sleep etc.  If you have a broken leg and refuse to put on a cast or use crutches, you will fall down and do more damage to your body.  If you take time to acknowledge you have a broken leg, and take time to heal you will heal and walk well again.

Brain Fog points to other problems although it is a problem itself.  You may not recognize when you are having trouble so you may need to rely upon a friend to help you.  Ignoring a symptom won’t make it go away. I guess I was thinking about conversations I have had with friends lately whose loved ones are experiencing dementia, Alzheimer’s and slowly losing the spark of who they were.  Those diseases are really different from Brain Fog even if symptoms may at times look the same.  One needs to explore what is going on in one’s life rather than ignore feelings, facts and medical knowledge.  The fog is lifting slowing outside today and the sun will shine.  I hope if you are experiencing Brain Fog, it too can lift for you and you can live in the sunshine of your life.

Hug a tree

my tree

“Tree hugging, frog licking, environmentalist”.  My sister and I were called that once at a conference.  I am proud to be a tree hugger – saving trees and planting trees.  I believe in Climate change and that we need to save the environment directly by political action not only on environmental issues but in other ways that have direct effect on the environment.  I am proud to be called an environmentalist.  I have no idea what a frog licker is or does.  But that isn’t what I wanted to talk about today.

Do you remember the purple dinosaur called Barney?  On one of his shows he was sharing with children that if they got lost in the woods, they were to hug a tree and stay there until someone found them.  Most children wouldn’t understand Grid searches nor know that if they are running around trying to find their way, they might land in an area already searched and no one would find them.

There are many time in our lives when we feel lost.  The problem is that sometimes no one else knows we are lost and no one knows they need to come and find us.  I found the image of hugging a tree – all by itself – can help me to not be lost or feel like I am Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in a tornado spinning around.

What do I do to “hug a tree” or “find myself”?

  1. I practice Centering Prayer – there is actually an app for that. I do this at church in a group. I use centering prayer with Val Isenhower’s book “Meditation on Both sides of the Camera”.  I do it just by myself.
  2. I use mindfulness practices that are helpful to me to stay grounded.
  3. I use Zentangle and coloring pages.
  4. My daughter gave me “The Artist’s Way” and I am getting into that book by using “Morning Page”.
  5. When I was a pastor, there were times that conflict and trouble seemed to incase me in cement. I would lay on my office floor and turn up the music – usually Bach 6th or 9th symphonies or other classical music. I would lay there and let the music wash over me and little by little the cement encasement would wash away.  The issues were not changed, but I was and I was ready to look for creative solutions.
  6. There are times people are helpful in “finding your way back”. Going up to someone and saying “Can you be my tree I hug today because I feel lost”. Asking for help and someone just to listen to you is really important.

Do you have ways you want to share with others that are helpful in being grounded and whole?  I went to a music workshop in Illinois with John Bell from the Iona Community in Scotland.  While he was leading us, he was barefoot so that he felt grounded in his singing and spiritual leading.  What grounds you in your life’s journey?  You might just find a tree and hug it or find someone to stand in as your tree.

By the way: The tree in the photo is from the front yard of the home I lived in until I was in 6th grade.  My mom, an artist, said I drew the most beautiful trees.  A few years ago, traveling down the road after I had drawn a tree from memory, I realized this was MY TREE in my drawings.  It is what was in my head that a drew over and over and over.  I had hugged this tree, sat under the tree, talked to the tree and I realized I had drawn THIS tree my whole life.  My hope is that you can find a tree to hug when you are lost and find your way back home.

What is “wearing” at you?


I made a gluten free, dairy free Apple Spice cake this afternoon.  I went for my favorite spoon.  You may not be able to tell it, but the spoon isn’t quite symmetrical.  That is because I have used for over 40 years.  My mother used it for many years and it really belonged to her mother – Barbara Crain – who I am named for.

It takes a lot of baking to get a metal spoon to become worn down!  It comes from many rounds on a bowl.  It comes from many uses.  It comes from a place where lots of love have come as well as work.  It comes from many cookie batches, many batches of candy and many other things that were mixed and baked and eaten.

The beginning of the new year people make resolutions.  Usually we choose the list from that that are wearing us down in your life and we want to make changes.  Some want to lose weight.  Some want to change bad habits.  Many things are habits in our lives.  Some are good and some are not so good.  Some of our habits we want to keep – they are helpful and useful.  Usually the things are “ok” in our lives don’t show up in our resolutions.  We usually write about what changes we want to make rather than list what we do that we want to keep.

As I looked at the spoon today, I thought of all the good things that wore that spoon down.  It is said that if you can do something for 10 days it can become a habit.  I am starting reading the book “The Artist’s Way” which asks you for 12 weeks to write 3 pages as soon as you get up – sort of to get the “gunk” out of your system.  After that you are free to be creative and get “worn” down with good things that you want to try and things you do. The course is to be 12 weeks which means all that you do become your “new” habits.

As you are listing the things you want to change in your life, maybe you could list what “wears you” Up?  What “wears you to wholeness”?  What makes you feel good?  Just because somethings is wearing doesn’t mean it is a bad thing.  When we look at the bad things, we also need to list side by side the good things.  Life is a challenge and part of it is not to get burdened down by things you thought you could do and then didn’t do.  I joined a group that is to help you declutter your life.  I thought it neat that one day you task was just to “unsubscribe” from 1 email you didn’t need in your life. There may be 30+ emails to unsubscribe from but everyone can do just 1!  To be successful means that you are motivated to do more.

Many things wear on us.  Look for the positive wear patterns as well as a the negative.  I will think of all the good things that wear in my life the next time I pick up Grandma’s spoon.

Sing, Sing Sing!

me and tshirt

If you can’t read it, the T-shirt says “I don’t always sing…oh wait, Yes I do”.  I don’t know that I was born singing but I sang a lot as a kid.  My mom taught 3 and 4 year old Sunday School and our Brownies (me and my 2 sisters).  There were lots of songs. From the time I started taking piano in 2nd grade until she stopped teaching, I would play the piano and teach her the music.  My mom thought she would learn piano alongside me so that she could at least pick out the music herself.

I had a parakeet (Sweety) that sang and sang when I practiced.  Sweety would be perched on my shoulder as I practiced and would sing.  When my mom tried to play the piano the parakeet would screech and screech.  My mom put the bird back into the cage and the terrible sounds kept continuing as long as she was on the piano bench.  She never did learned to play the piano.

My mom and I would sing doing dishes.  We would sing rounds and two part singing – even sitting at the kitchen table.  I started church choir in 3rd grade and only stopped singing in High school because I became the organist. I became a K-12 vocal music teacher and sang and used music teaching to K-8.    I loved to sing and was in many choirs.  The summer of 2012, I was going to Lake Junaluska for an Upper Room retreat.  I had a severe ear infection for several weeks before and was worried about flying.  I had a number of antibiotics and flew to the conference. when I got there,  I thought I had laryngitis.  I couldn’t even whisper.  My roommate had to talk on the phone for me with my husband.  He called the doctor and I had an ENT appointment the day after I came home.

It appears that some viruses attack nerves.  The one I had usually attacked the eye or ear nerves but my had done the voice/throat/ vocal cords area.  I was a pastor that couldn’t speak.  The doctor said “It is what it is.” and I recovered enough from the news as he was walking out to whisper “Isn’t there anything I can do?” .  He put me on steroids and as my voice came back a little he thought there might be some hope.  He suggested voice therapy.  I whispered that what I wanted to do was sing. He said “Find a Singing Therapist then.”   I started with Diane Sotola who not only is a voice teacher but rehabilites opera singers.

My speaking voice came back but because of years of doing things wrong I still am struggling to sing.  Someday I will be free to sings all I want – it isn’t yet.

The reason my sister got me this t-shirt for Christmas is that I did and do try to sing anytime, anyplace, anywhere.   When the kids were home and wouldn’t get out of bed, I would sit at the foot of the bed and sing nursery rhymes and camp songs until they got out of bed.  It beat yelling.  My daughter was a camp counselor in college with foster kids.  She had the older girls.  One day she called up and said that they wouldn’t get out of bed that morning and she starting singing until they all got up.  We do become our mothers after all.

I have a song for everything – or so others say around me.  I break into the beginning of songs at the drop of a hat.  I think the world would be a better place if it were a musical and people could break into song and dance for whatever moved them.  Our children know a lot of songs. I sang to them when they were young.  They sat next to my on the piano bench and sang.  They were in choirs and musicals in school.   They sing today.  Musicals are such fun and music carries such emotion and passion.  There is a song “I hope you dance”.  My wish for 2018 for all of you is “I hope you sing”.  I hope you sing in the shower, doing dishes, walking down the street or just sitting in your car.  I hope you can break into dance and see the wonders and glories of the world around you.  Sing when you are sad.  Sing as you grieve (there are some Psalms in the bible that might inspire your healing and wholeness).  Sing when you don’t know what to say.  Sing for joy and happiness.  Sing with your heart, mind, soul and strength.  Music heals the soul and helps you know who you are and bring you to life.

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.


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