better than gym class arm circles

better than gym class arm circles

20171230_085405.jpg(A girl can dream, it’s been a while since I took this photo in my favorite place.)

Last week, I experienced back to back days of feeling listless*. Which looks like being withdrawn and my spoken words slowly beginning to cease. I am grateful the two I live with gave me plenty of space to sort myself out or perhaps they welcomed the silence. I choose to believe the former. When those days strike, “trying harder” or being more productive doesn’t help. Even the activities I reached toward during the early days of this crisis aren’t helping as much as hoped. I wonder if many of those activities were simply a place card labeled in the meantime, a way to distract me and manage the unmanageable.

When my lethargy lifted, I noticed one thing in common with what has been key to anchoring me each day, connection.

Acts of connection are buoying my soul right now. I need to stay connected to God, others, and myself. It’s the holy trifecta of life, a life that will remain when everything feels shaky and fragile.

I plan to experiment the next time I feel an emotional wall starting to build. I am going to check to see what connection is missing or needs rewiring?

I hated the arm circles endured during  P.E. classes. However, I am going to suggest an easier set of arm movements and questions to help assess these three vital connection points. 

Reach up:  I will lift my arms upward and ask:

Have I slowed down long enough to meet with God?
Does God feel distant?
Am I sharing with God my biggest fears or superficial chatter?
Have I spent time in nature?

Reach out: I will extend my arms out in front of me and ask:

Who have I spent time with this week outside of my housemates?
Am I lonely?
Am I missing someone?
Do I feel forgotten? Who might also feel forgotten?
How can I close the gap of distance with my loved ones?

Reach in: I will bend my elbows and place my crossed hands over my heart and ask: 

How am I ignoring my body?
Have I taken a shower?
Am I taking good care of my body by eating well, drinking water?
Can I allow myself to bask while indulging without apologizing or criticizing myself?
Have I moved my body, dug in the dirt, laughed, taken a nap?
Am I holding my breath?


During these challenging times, we don’t need more items on a to-do list.

We need simple ways to connect with God, others, and ourselves. Whatever ways feel life-giving, rather than an obligation or a “should” is probably your answer. I could fulfill all three connection points in a day spent at the ocean, but that is not currently a simple way. So I will think again until one day the tide runs over my weary feet.


May we extend ourselves grace when we have off days.
May we not ignore what our bodies, minds, and moods are trying to tell us.
May we feel deeply connected to God, each other, and ourselves this week.


*What I experienced was situational and not long in duration. If you are experiencing prolonged lethargy or depression, please seek medical advice or help. Especially if you are not inhabiting a home with others.

bookmarks of the past and present

bookmarks of the past and present


Back in December when I started thinking about writing more consistently on this blog, it was a challenge to align my heart with my mind. My heart was completely on board but my mind kept telling me to not get ahead of myself. There was a faint whisper reminding me to look at the space between my posting history if I needed further proof of my lack of consistency.

My mind has been reluctant to admit this has been a sweet surprise to have posted every Monday since the beginning of January.  My heart swells and pumps an affectionate response of knowing it was always possible.

I thought from time to time, I would share an update or another thought related to a previous post or a short tip for living a slower life. These posts will be shorter in length and perhaps give the writer and the reader a little breather (wink).


On Wednesday I finished the book from last week’s post. I choked up several times while reading the last several pages.  For those non-book enthusiasts, I won’t write at length about how the sentiments of happily ever after felt more applicable upon book completion. 

Last week, I was reminded of a piece I wrote for an online writing class I took in 2005. I started this blog the following year. I posted those words as my first attempt to share with others. So much has changed in 15 years but so much has remained the same. I am including a paragraph excerpt without revising it. There are sentence fragments and during this time, I loved using the ellipsis. Because this is my writing from the past resonating with the present.

There are many times that I feel as if my bookmark has fallen to the ground.  I scramble to pick it up as if by simply holding it in my hand, it will magically replace itself.  I rifle through the pages trying desperately to find my location. Where am I? If I backtrack needlessly, it is fruitless…territory already covered.  Lessons learned and vision restored. If I jump ahead of my place, I will only be skipping important details that are essential to any good story. Oh, it is so tempting to sneak a peek, just one juicy tidbit to keep my interest engaged, but that morsel will be all the tastier when it is revealed at the proper time.

Why had my bookmark fallen? At that time, our children were 16, 12 and 2. We were at the beginning of one of the deepest, darkest times of our lives. It was a prolonged season of loss, grief and immeasurable pain. I recall being asked to speak at church possibly in 2007 and expressing how it had been the hardest season of our lives. I would advise never saying those words because life can get even harder. The crush of those years has passed however I don’t know if anyone ever fully recovers.

I cannot count the number of people who are suffering today. They are people I know and others I won’t ever meet. To be honest, it is overwhelming. To them, life is not simply a book to be leafed through. It’s an assigned textbook too difficult to comprehend or desire reading. It’s not being able to articulate a sentence which has changed days and life as it once was. Many days, I can remember wishing to go back a few chapters, before our narrative changed.

I weep with you today. 

One hard reality I remember during our times of trial was how some people will come close and others will withdraw. Pain is uncomfortable. I will confess to wanting to help others but also not wanting to hover or intrude. I have learned drawing near even in silent presence is always better than quiet from a distance. 

I extend my arms toward you today if you are in a hard place. 

If no one knows your pain, text a trusted family member or friend. Don’t live in silent pain.

If you know someone in pain, reach out even if you feel you don’t have adequate words or might say the wrong words. Presence wins over perfection every time.

If you feel you have no one who can share your pain, my email is on the sidebar. 

You are not alone.


The Joy Collection

The Joy Collection



It’s a new year.


I thought it would be fun to recap the many ways I encountered joy during the previous month.

This year I have been using the Passion Planner as my daily calendar. Within each weekly spread is room for Space of Infinite Possibility. I am dedicating one box monthly to collect joy which might slip from my view unless documented.
This month, reaffirmed how technology can be used for good in my life. I suppose there isn’t anything new or earth-shattering in my collection but isn’t it marvelous how often joy is contained in familiar and mundane places.

Bring on the joy.

Fitbit: When I was a physical therapist, I never worried about the number of steps I walked in a day. My day consisted of walking patients up and down hallways and stairs. I was always eager to take the stairs instead of elevators to access a patient’s room.
For the past four years, I began my first-ever sit down job in a small office building.

I started wearing a Fitbit a few years ago and was horrified by the average number of steps logged at the end of my work day. I am here to tell you, inactivity breeds inactivity but thank goodness, activity breeds activity.

  • I have started taking 15 minute walking breaks during my work day. It has been such a great way to add steps to my day, clear my head by actually walking away from my desk and deposits renewed energy for the remainder of my day.
  • I invited my family to do a Workweek Fitbit Challenge a few weeks ago. Before the week was over, Courtney had already invited us all into a Weekend challenge. It has been a lot of fun to gently nudge one another to be active. I don’t see any end to the challenges. We dragged our feet about Caleb having a Fitbit as he doesn’t need one and more importantly he will clobber us. Are we competitive? Yes!
    But Adam our newest family member disagreed and bought him one this past weekend. The first day at noon, Caleb had already logged 9500+ steps. (Currently he averages about 26,000 steps/day). Another reason I walk the track while he has soccer practice. Every step counts:)

The Bible App: Currently Carl and I are reading through the Bible using a 3 year plan and Carlen and I are reading through the Bible in 90 Days. Slow and fast.
I can’t tell you what a touchstone this has been to my days. Each of us leaves our thoughts on the readings. Doing these plans together has helped me stay connected with two important people in my life, given me built-in accountability and provided rich face-to-face conversations.

Power Sheets: As I said above, I am using the Passion Planner as my daily calendar. During a Cyber Monday sale, I took the plunge and bought Lara Casey’s Power Sheets.
I have loved using this goal setting system. For me, it was helpful to have it in my hands in advance of January as there is plenty of prep work before a single goal is formed. I found the process thought-provoking and glad not to rush because January 1st was beckoning. The sections about what I am saying No and Yes to this year as well as what worked and didn’t work for me were enlightening. By the time I finished, I had a great grasp on the direction to head in the year ahead, instead of grasping at familiar popular goals. The built-in monthly assessments of goals allows me to change my mind. What a novel thought 🙂

Family Skype Calls: My parents live 350 miles away. My brother and his family live 250 miles away in a different direction. We only span two states but we don’t see one another as often as we would like. I am horrible about picking up the phone. In fact, I have to put it on my calendar to remind myself. It’s not my preferred method of communication. For an introvert, texting and email are divine. For the last year, my family has had as often as possible weekly Skype calls. Yes, Skype is old-school and out of date but it keeps our family up-to-date. It’s so nice to see each other’s faces in motion. We have had serious calls recounting test and treatment results and unfortunately, those topics aren’t over yet. We have watched and listened as my brother Bill cooked spaghetti, comical and noisy. We have laughed over past history and it’s always fun when the younger set who favor SnapChat or FaceTime make an appearance. I believe our record is 12 people making a chatty, fun time.

Favorite bite:  A toasted bagel with equal parts cream cheese, avocado sprinkled with Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend, topped with arugula.
I eat carbs.

Feed the birds: “People living in neighborhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress” ~the University of Exeter.

For many years our family has hung bird feeders. I can attest to the fact it is soothing to watch the birds at the feeders. I also know this has been a slow act of faithfulness. We have placed an offering of food on branches and have waited to become a regular feeding stop for different types of birds. We love to watch outside our dining room window during breakfast and witness our feathered tenants. This is not a new joy but one which continues to endure.

My one word: Unwavering

It would be easy to say last year was a difficult year sprinkled with patches of great joy. If I am honest, the last many years have been challenging. I am learning this might be the bittersweet gift of aging, experiencing more joy and sorrow. I have lost track of myself. I can see it in my body, not paying attention or taking the time to care for my entrusted vessel. I witness it in forgetfulness of what I like in favor of other’s preferences. I sense it in how overwhelmed I feel by the immensity of suffering of those around and beyond me. I feel the ripple of fear of finding myself in the most unsettled place I have ever resided within my faith community. I recognize how neglectful I have been to hold in my hands, the grief of the past decades in favor of simply soldiering on.

The paragraph above might scare you or read as a real bummer.

You might think, wasn’t this post supposed to be about joy?

It should scare me.

It should completely bum me out.

Instead, it feels like a flashlight or perhaps a penlight has been flipped on. I can’t hide the corners of my life anymore. It’s time to remember who I am and also honor the road walked and the path still to tread. I know it won’t be easy. There will be days when I will pray for the flashlight’s batteries to dim the light or to die.

Joy often shares a lap with sorrow.

This is why I chose the word unwavering for 2019. I am on an unwavering pursuit in many areas but most importantly, I am on an unwavering pursuit of Helen. I need to rediscover and reintroduce her to all the inhabited spaces she occupies. At times, I have lived in the third person. There is joy in recognizing this awkward speech pattern.

Every time I am tempted to whisper to myself any back talk, I have been running towards and repeating a verse allowing the truth to establish residence in my mind, heart and soul.  This verse is the first of I hope many to guide my steps and beliefs this year and hopefully, forever.

I am believing as I stretch my arms like branches, with hands full of crumbs, He will faithfully create a resting spot for me to feast.

That’s joy today and to come.

 So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.

Hebrews 10:23 (Amplified, classic version)

What’s on your joy list today?

don’t short circuit failure

don’t short circuit failure

Over the last few weeks, I have written about how not being

chosen propelled me towards wrappers.

I have reflected on parts of my history and revealed

failing a semester of physics.

Last week, while perusing a sale table in Barnes and Noble,

I stumbled upon this gem:


I smiled, laughed out loud enough to  prompt a mother and child to rush past me.

I flipped through the innocent looking pastel pages of equations and diagrams which had

stymied me in my past.

A  thick workbook represented failure to me.

It reminded me of my pride in being unwilling to admit my need for help.

Perhaps if I purchased this book and worked hard enough,

I could learn that which

had seemed out of reach,

I would be healed.

The failure would be erased and I would be rendered free.

I could literally close the book on the physics

chapter in my life.

Releasing my grip, I set the book down,

took out my phone and captured

the image.

Revisiting my physics story has helped me to

view failing differently.

You see as much as we imagine no one has ever

crashed and burned like we have,

failure is universal.

Most of us rarely reveal ourselves to others by

boasting of our latest epic fails.

Yet when we give voice to our less than stellar

moments, we diminish our failing’s power to rule.

Physics has opened up conversations with

others who suddenly feel empowered to recount their own


If you were to witness the sharing of failure from afar,

those sacred viewed moments would be a collection of

heads nodding and hands thrust over hearts.

You might not be able to make out the words or

even guess at each person’s scenario,

but for a faint steady current

coursing between two masters in falling short.

I am not sure if that would be considered a closed

or open-circuit,

I just know inviting others into our

failures always fills a dark

corner with light.