Category: The good news (page 1 of 7)

12 days of a boomer Christmas.

12 Days of a Boomer Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my Subaru gave to me…..

a recall notice they fix for free.

On the second day of Christmas, my oak trees gave to me….

two zillion leaves, and a recall they  fix for free.

On the third day of Christmas, my furnace gave to me….

no warm air, two zillion leaves, and a recall notice they fix for free.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my insurance company gave to me….…

four denied claims, no warm air, two zillion leaves, and a recall they fix for free.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my pantry gave to me….…

chili cheese fritos!  four denied claims, no warm air, two zillion leaves, and a recall notice they fix for free.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my closet gave to me….…

six pants a-busting, chili cheese fritos!  four denied claims, no warm air, two zillion leaves, and a recall notice why is it always  me.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my remotes gave to me

seven batteries a-dying, six pants a busting, chili cheese fritos!  Four denied claims, no warm air, two gazillion leaves, and a recall notice oh golly gee.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my clients gave to me

eight invoices a-ignoring, seven batteries a-dying, six pants a busting, chili cheese fritos!  Four denied claims, no warm air, two gazillion leaves, and a recall notice they fix for free.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my subconscious gave to me

nine ways to feel guilty, eight invoices a-ignoring, seven batteries a-dying, six pants a-busting, chili cheese fritos!  Four denied claims, no warm air, two gazillion leaves, and a recall notice someone help me.

On the tenth day of Christmas, driving gave to me

ten new swear words …nine ways to feel guilty, eight invoices a-ignoring, seven batteries a-dying, six pants a-busting, chili cheese fritos!  Four denied claims, no warm air, two gazillion leaves, and a recall notice someone help me.

On the eleventh  day of Christmas, my oven gave to me

eleven fewer degrees, ten new swear words, nine ways to feel guilty, eight invoices a-ignoring, seven batteries a-dying, six pants a-busting, chili cheese fritos!  Four denied claims, no warm air, two gazillion leaves, and a recall notice someone help me.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my heart gave to me….

12 reasons to be happy

11 million reasons to be grateful

10 ways to find joy each day

9 people I could help right now

8 chances to smile every hour

7 recipes to share

6 songs I could hum as I drive

5 people I could wave to as they cut me off in traffic! 

4 elderly friends who could use a visit

3 old friends I miss

2 donations to make

and a Merry Christmas to one and all!



“Ho Ho Ho!”

   Santa Claus


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Welcome Winter!


IMG_0008Winter has an inferiority complex—and I think we’re to blame.

We complain a lot about winter. As baby boomers and beyond, we grumble about how the cold air makes our bones ache. Dries out our skin. Causes us to shiver on the bus stop or while walking our dog.

We don’t want to drive in it. Or sit outdoors at a sporting event and be uncomfortable.

Winter gets in our way. Slows us down. Simplifies everything.

Hey wait…maybe that’s a good thing?

There’s nothing like 15 degrees, a strong north wind, and a little sleet to force you to take stock. Are you prepared? Do you have what you need to survive? Are you making wise decisions so you literally can stay alive?

And going a bit deeper….are you living your life the way you hoped?

I confess I can grow weary of shoveling snow and slushing around in heavy boots and multiple layers of cold. But I also relish the amazing beauty of this season.

As children, we loved to make snowmen, ride sleds, build forts and attack unsuspecting adults with a barrage of snowballs. (When I was a senior in college, we did this to the professors leaving the journalism building—they were not amused).

Now, I marvel how the snow can sparkle like diamonds. How snow-capped hills shine brilliantly against an unbelievably blue sky. How the crisp air awakens every part of me every time I go outdoors.

Just look at your pets. At least in my house, my dog delights in the snow with a joy that takes me back to that giddy feeling of school being canceled and a warm kitchen.

IMG_0816Instead of seeing winter as a time of decay and death, consider the blanket of beauty that winter can bring to nature. Think of Walt Whitman’s “unseen buds, infinite and waiting”. The ice-covered ponds. How snow lands on each tree branch and defines it with exquisite detail.

“The life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam.” (Words of John Burroughs.)

Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion once commented how “winter gives us purpose.” I like that. I like a season that reminds us who is in charge, and that we are left with ourselves.

Maybe as people aged 50 and better we can really understand that winter can be hard, but it will pass. Winter’s dreary nature doesn’t last forever. It might not even last a day. And doesn’t the cold make it easier to draw closer together? To snuggle against what is out there, or what might be coming?

And winter is a perfect time to stop and think about those who truly face the challenges of the dropping temperatures…the homeless, the frail, the forgotten. Those who have no shelter from the storm. Who sit by the shops with their empty cup and watch us come and go.

We know their struggle is real, because many of our parents and relatives lived through the Great Depression and had very little. We understand how hard it can be. And we can help.

Wrap yourself up this winter, but not so tight that you cannot take in all that is happening around you. Seasons change. We grow older. And life renews itself again.



“Winter is the kind of showman,

Turning tree stumps into snowmen

And houses into birthday cakes

And spreading sugar over lakes.

Smooth and clean and frosty white,

The world looks good enough to bite.

That’s the season to be young,

Catching snowflakes on your tongue.

Snow is snowy when it’s snowing,

I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.”

            Ogden Nash

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Walking the Labyrinth

Life can take us in many directions, and often on paths we never thought we’d choose.  Sometimes the way ahead is clear.  Other times, (and for me, more often than not,) the path ahead is a bit hazy…I can’t quite see the images…and when I get to that intersection I am really not sure where I’m supposed to go.

It’s like hiking, which has always been my favorite thing though these days my feet don’t want to cooperate.  I hike a trail. I can tell where it’s going.  Then I come to a point where it seems to split into many options.  Obviously only one is “really” the trail.  But the others look kind of okay…are they options?

If I choose one I’ve never done before, will it bring me back to where I am right now?

 Or will I get lost and never find my way back? 

The movies want you to think that it’s easy to figure out moments like this.  There’s a sudden vision.  Or the music changes and the sun comes out and you just know.  More likely is you are tired, distracted and you’d just like someone to come along and tell you which way is which.

file000143069688That whole fantasy about how things get easier as you get older…hmmm…how’s that working for you?  I agree we have more wisdom as we age.  But I’m not sure it always makes things easier.

When my mind won’t settle enough for me to figure out what’s next, or there’s just no peace because it feels like I’ve backtracked and messed up and soon I’ll even up living under a bridge, I try to find experiences that quiet it all.  Meditation is good.  Tai chi is restorative.  Nature is always a balm.

And then there’s the labyrinth.

According to The Labyrinth Society, a “labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological or spiritual transformation.  Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity.”    Labyrinths are considered walking meditations, where your psyche meets your spirit.

Labyrinth enthusiasts believe that as you enter the labyrinth, you release.  When you enter the center, you receive.  Then as you leave, you give back to the world what you have received.

One of the most famous labyrinths is that found at Chartres Cathedral in France.  This labyrinth is 42 feet in diameter and is thought to have been constructed in the early 13th century, though no one is sure.  What is known is that up to 1,000 people have walked the path and the numbers continue to grow.

What is it that pulls so many people to walk this design?  Does it really have a power all its own?

Many years ago I was at a point in my life where I could not figure out what was my inner self giving me direction, or what were the messages I’d absorbed for years from well-meaning but negative people I was around.  I just wanted to clear my mind and get a feel for what my path should be.  I had heard of a large labyrinth laid out at a church near me, and I decided to try it.  A friend had suggested that before I walk the labyrinth, I say a prayer or meditation of what I hoped to find…what answer I was looking for.  And be sure to enter the design with as clear a mind as possible.

Easier said than done, but I followed her advice.  And it was, for me, an amazing feeling.  As I entered the labyrinth, I felt what I can best describe as a force field…an energy that seemed very real and very strong.  I took my time and let thoughts come and go.  What most impressed me was how just as you think you’re about to reach the center, the labyrinth takes you back out to the outer edges, slowing you down, making you revisit where you have come from, not allowing you to just quickly find that golden egg.

In other words, you can’t get where you going without circling back to where you’ve been. 

I find that to be a huge lesson.  We don’t just come out of the rodeo shoot and never look back.  We make progress, we accomplish things, we lead our lives…but we’re always calling upon where we’ve come from.

Some reject this idea, as they have come from places or environments that were abusive or so negative they never want to look back.  I understand that for sure.  But I think even that pain has something to teach us and if we boomers ignore it, it’s just going to keep popping up and block our forward motion.

dioI also noted how once I reached the center of the labyrinth, I felt peace.  I could just breathe and be for a bit.  (How often do we do that??)  Then as I was ready to leave the center, I once again had to follow a path that picked up speed, then slowed, and again, took me literally full circle…to the outer edges and back.

Maybe this all sounds weird.  But lately, I’m in a place again where my inner self is a bit off-balance, where it is easy to give in to the notion that because I’ve returned to an earlier address, I’ve failed or walked backwards.  Yet my conscious mind knows that’s not the case; I’ve just taken one of those spur trails to see where it will take me.

I’ll still get where I was going, but I will take an unexpected route.  And it might be one that for a while doesn’t feel quite right, like putting on shoes that don’t fit or a sweater that itches.  But if I trust a higher force to get me through the dark parts, then surely there’s a vista at the end of this trail that’s far more beautiful than I could have imagined.

I let go.  I receive.  I give back.  And maybe in the process, I return to who I am so I can be even more.

“Methinks the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”     

       Henry David Thoreau


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Which way to go?

Whenever I go for a hike, I’m always eager to get started, to walk through the beautiful scenery, breathe the fresh air and feel the sun on my face. I’m careful to keep my balance as I walk over rocks and roots so that I won’t stumble.

So as much as I’m enjoying my surroundings, I’m mainly concentrating on my feet…on getting where I am going.

The destination.

DSC_0180 - Version 2Along with this is the aspect of time. If I’ve driven to the mountains for the day, I know my time is somewhat limited, so at some point, I’ll need to either turn around, or only spend so much time at the trail’s end before knowing it’s time to get back. So as beautiful as the lake is, or the view, or the mountaintop, or wherever it is I’m going, it’s not forever.

I can’t stay there. I want to get there, but I can’t stay there.

When I ultimately do turn around to go back down the trail, I’m always struck by how much more I enjoy that part of the hike. I see things from “the other side”. I notice so much more. Everything looks even more beautiful and I often see things I missed on the way up…maybe it’s an unusual tree. Or a lovely small waterfall trickling down the side of the trail. Or a view from a perspective I didn’t note on the way up.

The hike feels more inviting, more relaxing. Because I’ve already accomplished what I set out to do—hike the trail. Now I can really enjoy it.

But only when I’m coming back down the trail.

 Lately I’m struggling with a crossroads. Trying to decide which path to take, or whether to simply be still. My heart pulled me years ago to move a great distance to answer my yearning for the beauty of the mountains. I did it, scared and unsure, but I followed my instincts and took the giant step. There were many who advised against it, just as there were many who applauded my determination.


Now, almost a decade later, I’m faced with some challenges that include, in various degrees, issues about money, aging, a strong desire to do something else with my life, and more. I’m considering turning around on the trail and going back to where I was before.

Mind you, I’m still just considering it. Yet already I’m hearing some of the same things I heard almost 10 years ago. How can you do that? Aren’t you scared? What if it’s a mistake? (And my new favorite):

How can you give up on your dream?

I’m not giving up on anything. I’ve accomplished my dream. I’ve lived it. It’s in my heart and it will always be there. I can come back and touch it anytime I choose.

But I’m not on the same part of the trail anymore.

Already, I’m “heading back” in many ways these days. It’s not so much a slowing down as it is re-evaluating. I’m asking myself:

What matters most to me?

What brings me joy?  

 Can I have more peace of mind?

 What new adventures would I like to participate in?

I’ve been talking with some trusted friends and mentors about their experiences of “going home again.”   One very successful man told me I’m “driving his Porsche.” He said he always wanted a Porsche, and longed for years to have one. Now he’s in a position to have one, but he no longer wants it. Instead, he’s enjoying married life with his wife and stepson. “But you went out and followed your dream,” he said. “You’ll always have that.”

IMG_0799 - Version 2Another wise friend reminded me of words written by author and teacher Parker Palmer, who talks about two kinds of heartbreak. The heartbreak when you are deeply hurt or angry and your heart feels like it’s in shards. And then heartbreak where you heart has to break open in order for the new good things to flow in.

I like that. Because thinking any kind of change won’t be painful is short-sighted.

Of course it is.

Giving up anything you love hurts. Yet, as I think Palmer is saying, it also makes you stronger.

I also like the idea that while I may never really “belong” anywhere—simply because I’ve lived in 4 states in my life—I’ll always “belong” with myself. Place is important, but it’s not what stays deep inside. I think I’ve always had this “place” inside of me, just as I’ve always carried other places with me as well.

Look at a labyrinth:  you begin on the outside, following the wide path around the edges, slowly working yourself closer and closer to the center.  Then suddenly, you find yourself walking back towards the outer edge, going back past the route you just took, yet you aren’t in the same place.

You’re covering new ground.  

And in fact, you have to do that to eventually reach the center destination…before you turn around and walk back to where you began.

When you throw caution to the wind (at least metaphorically) and you do achieve what you’ve always wanted….a new address, a new relationship, a new job, whatever…you show courage and self-knowledge. No one can ever take that away from you.

Where you go from there is your decision. There’s a lot of advice out there about how to change your life and go a whole new way. There’s very little said about deciding at some point to return to your roots, and start life anew.

That’s really rockin’ the wrinkle!

I still don’t know what to do. I’ve been at crossroads before, many times wondering which path looked like the right one. But I can say that I’ve always trusted the trail to take me where I need to be.

And it’s always a welcome sight.

“Wherever you are is the entry point.”


“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

      Marcel Proust

“And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.”
    Kahlil Gibran

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

    Yogi Berra

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