Growing Pains

Personal growth can be painful.  It requires a new perspective.  Ten days into 2020 I am coming face-to-face with over four decades of behaviors and choices that have dominated my life on many levels.  It is time to reset expectations.  I am purposely not identifying a specific aspect of my life that is changing because growth will most likely have a ripple effect.  At least that is my wish.

I have identified the following steps to create change in my life.  They are in no particular order.  They may occur simultaneously or sporadically.  There is no scientific study or research behind them.  This is my process. 

Step One:  recognizing the pattern

Step Two:  admitting the pattern is unhealthy

Step Three:  understanding the rationale behind the pattern

Step Four:  visualizing more positive patterns

Step Five:  taking steps to leave the past in the past and not repeat it

Step Six:  healing the issue behind the old pattern at the root

Step Seven:  identifying a desired outcome of change

Step Eight:  allowing new thoughts and beliefs to take over

Step Nine:  cracking open my heart to receive

Step Ten:  proceeding to live a life of joy

The Possibilities are Endless

2019 was unusual for me.  Normally an intuitive decision maker, I decided to leave the canvas blank and take my time figuring out next steps.  I was torn between my life in Michigan friends, family, work, community connections and the Florida sunshine and friends.  So why not have both?  I bought a condo in Saginaw to augment my condo in Florida. My canvas now looks like this:

What’s in store for 2020? 

I am enjoying the Florida sun.  Mornings may be a bit chilly in my neck of the woods (high 30’s – to low 50’s), but the sun comes out every day and the temperatures range from the high 60’s to the low 80’s. 

I picked up new glasses with a slightly new prescription on January 2nd.  And that inspired a metaphor for this year: 

A fresh look at the possibilities. 

I have a loose plan for the year:  some time in Florida and some time in Michigan.  When I will transition from one to the other is up in the air.  Meanwhile, I am enjoying catching up and spending time with my Florida friends. 

Bring it on 2020!

Blank Canvas

It took a while to come up with my “word of the year.”  In fact, one word would not do.  I have chosen “BLANK CANVAS” as my phrase for 2019.  I have both short-term and longer-term plans for the future.  Then recently I was faced with a decision that could change those plans, I began to wonder what else might be possible.

A blank canvas is filled with possibility.  Possibility can be both exhilarating terrifying.  The thing about blank canvases is you can always get another. There is no shortage of canvases.  And no matter what choice you make, you can always choose again with a new blank canvas. We have all the colors, brushes, and materials to create our own beautiful masterpiece.

Let the painting begin…

Everything You Do…

Everything You Do…

I met a man at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago…no, this is not going where your mind just went.  It’s a story about how everything you do, good or bad, has a ripple effect.  You may never know the consequences of your actions.  Please read on, it’s a story about kindness.

In conversation with the man I met,  Brian, I was telling a story about my dad.  There was a time when my father had to account for every nickel of his paycheck, literally every nickel.

Every day my dad drove a fellow teacher to work and home again.  She was not able to drive so she paid dad five dollars a week for his kindness.  Considering it was the 1960’s, five dollars covered gas for the car and then some.  He would have done it just because it was the right thing to do.  

My dad taught in what would be considered an “inner city” school.  Many of the kids in dad’s fifth-grade class arrived at school without having breakfast.  They may have gone to bed without dinner.  When the milk cart came to his classroom, dad made sure every child had a five-cent carton of milk to start the day.

“I know your dad,” Brian said as I finished the story.

Brian was a student teacher in dad’s classroom fifty-something years ago and observed this act of kindness play out every day.  It turns out Brian grew up in a dysfunctional family.  Witnessing an adult display this small act of kindness, buying a carton of milk for a child, gave Brian an example of a compassionate adult and role model for life.

Brian added that for fifty-something years he has been telling the story of this kind teacher and how it influenced his own life in a positive way.  But Brian did not remember the man’s name.  To be sure Brian was talking about my dad, I shared a story about a learning tool my dad built for his class to learn the state capitals.  Yes, it was the same man.

Was it a coincidence that Brian and I met that night?  I don’t think so.  Brian has the name of the man who made a positive impact on him so long ago.  For me, it confirms what I already know about my father, he was a kind man.  Every child who received a carton of milk felt the impact of that nickel and so did everyone who observed the act of kindness.

Everything you do…


mirror imageI have been tinkering with a post on how my actual age and my virtual age don’t match.  By that, I mean the image I have of myself, how I feel, and my adventurous spirit do not match the image I see in the mirror or in photographs.  And then….

My Medicare card arrived.  Pause for a breath or two….Assess a life in progress…. Reflect on a government-mandated milestone.  That new Medicare card is just a piece of paper, my new health insurance plan.  I have been paying into the plan for over forty years in hopes that I would live long enough to carry the card.  That time has arrived.  Brush it off and move forward.

How did I arrive at this point?  I found a few photos to demonstrate the process.  Scroll over each image for the captions.


As for the future, let the adventures continue…

Image result for what you think you become

The Rocker


If it could talk, the rocker would share stories about how it soothed babies to sleep as they nestled in their mother’s arms.  It would describe grandfathers nodding off in the middle of a conversation.  It wouldn’t talk about the seventeen trips in moving vans, the six different states it lived in, the year it spent in storage or the five times it was nearly left behind or sold.  The rocker took comfort in knowing that in over eighty years it had only two owners.  Now it was looking for a third, an opportunity to create another generation of memories.

Tucked in the corner of a consignment shop, the curves of the wooden rocker beckoned to Samantha; a soft glow created an aura around it.  Samantha was looking for a sturdy chair that would last her a lifetime.  Made of maple and crafted by a master carpenter, the rocker held its form with a straight back and strong joints.

Samantha slid into the curved seat and closed her eyes.  The gentle rocking motion transported her back in time flooding her consciousness with the memories of those who had filled this seat before her.  The comfort of the rocker surrounded her like a warm blanket.

As she continued to rock back and forth, Samantha was given a peek at the future, rocking her babies to sleep and reading to her grandchildren with her soulmate at her side.

Samantha opened her eyes to see a face from her future standing before her.  Kevin, the owner of the shop, asked, “Are you interested in buying the rocker?  Others have tried it out but it didn’t light up till you walked in. We’ve been waiting for you.”



I used to think grocery shopping was a chore, I loathed it.  When I lived in Botswana it really was a chore.  Now I find it an enjoyable luxury, I love it.

perspective 1

BA – Before Africa

Shopping was a series of tasks that ended in nothing to eat on hand.  Does this sound familiar?

grocery listMake a list, cut coupons, sort through previously cut coupons checking expiration dates, load digital coupons to my “card.”

Remember to bring bags into the store, find a small cart vs the large, family-size cart, wander the store to find items, cross them off the list, and load into the cart.

Move selected items from the cart to the check-out conveyor, from the conveyor to bags, bags move to the cart, find the car, and move the bags to the trunk.

Once home, carry bags into the house, unload the bags, and put everything away.

Open the refrigerator and cupboards and there is nothing to eat.

A – Africa

Carry two light-weight, recyclable bags in the backpack at all times.

Mentally assess what will be needed or wanted in near future and prioritize urgency.  Make a list.

sparStop at THE store on the walk home from work, wander the store to find items from limited choices, cross them off the list, and load into the cart.

Move selected items from the cart to the check-out conveyor, from the conveyor to bags, balancing the weight of the two bags that will be carried, one on each shoulder, adding them to the laptop, cross-body bag, and backpack of files, water, and current project notes already strapped on.

Walk fifteen minutes in 90-degree plus weather; the end of the trip in deep sand.

Once home, unload the bags, and put everything away.

Open the refrigerator and cupboards and there is nothing to eat.

Many of my friends in Africa had it much harder.  It was a day-long bus ride to get to the town where there was an ATM to get cash before shopping.  They had to find a friend to stay with overnight.  They could purchase only what they could carry on the return trip home.  If lucky, there was a small tuck shop (corner store) for produce and cold items.

perspective 2

AA – After Africa

Grocery shopping is the same process as Before Africa with a new perspective.  I enjoy shopping now.  But I wondered what it must be like to live in my current hometown, use public transportation, and grocery shop.

grocery cartThen I met a woman in the check-out line who does just that.  She travels 6 miles on a bus that runs every hour.  She has her own cart, fills it with what she wants, and does the whole check-out routine.  Then it is off to the bus stop for the ride home, hoping her timing is such that she does not have to wait very long.  We have all kinds of weather in this state:  rain, hail, sleet, snow, sun, heat, cold, and wind.  Wating might be the worst part of the excursion.

This woman was not complaining.  She seems to take the whole thing in stride.  After working all week, grocery shopping is part of her Saturday routine.

Grocery shopping:  do you love it or loathe it?  I now find joy in every step of the process.  And still, when I open the refrigerator and cupboards, there is nothing to eat.  Some things never change.

Dear Younger Self,

Dear Younger Self,

A life-long journey of self-discovery and self-awareness awaits.  Trust your instincts.  Follow your heart.  The joy is in the journey.

The first sign of inner strength to carve your own path is skipping Mass in eighth grade.  It will feel risky, rebellious, and exhilarating.  After decades of trying to embrace your religious upbringing, forty will be a breakthrough year.  Confident in your spirituality, you will understand how you live your life is more important than any organization you belong to or label people try to put on you.

In your twenties, health issues teach you to take care of yourself and not compromise your personal values for an employer.  This conflict will show up several times.  You will change jobs frequently and move almost as often.

You will make many life choices that give your mother and father heartburn.  Through it all, your parents will provide a safety net for as long as they are in this world.  Their love and support will give you the self-confidence to face any challenge placed in your path.

The easiest and best decision you will make, at age fifty-one, will be to end twenty-four years of living in the Florida sun to return to your hometown in Michigan and care for your parents.   At age fifty-nine, you make the most difficult decision of your life, leaving the Peace Corps early.  Commitment to self will win over commitment to the Corps.

Follow your parents’ examples:  be generous with yourself and possessions, give to the community you live in, and leave the world a better place for having been in it.

As for the future, embrace the wanderlust that drives you.  Live the life you are meant to live.  The joy is in the journey.

Safe Travels!

note to self 3


Spring Cleaning

spring clean 4Spring arrived, about a month late.  Sunshine, blue skies, higher temperatures, open windows, people in short sleeves; all signs of a change in the season.  Spring fosters a sense of renewal, an opportunity to sweep away the cobwebs and shoo the dust bunnies out from under the bed. This year, spring cleaning looked very different for me.

spring cleaning chakras

First task:  Conduct a series of cleansing rituals to purge the bad vibes from my energy field.  I drew on my metaphysical background to brush away bad energy from my aura.  That was followed by burning of the names of people and issues dragging me down.  Next, I cleaned my chakras.  Finally, I surrounded myself with a shield of white healing light.

It all sounds a little woo-woo and out there.  But it worked.  The nagging sensation in my belly is gone.  I sleep better at night.  If any of the cleansed issues come to mind, I can see them burning, smoke rising and dissipating.

spring cleaning rokuSecond task:  Learn how to use my smart TV to eliminate cable.  After one year, the new-customer special pricing evaporated.  Monthly charges increased thirty-three percent, for which I received no additional services or programming.  Cable providers really need a new business model, one that rewards loyal customers.

A collateral result of “cutting the cable cord” is a new way of approaching media input to my brain.  A few days in and I have seriously cut down the amount of news I watch.  In today’s environment, a huge step toward clearing negativity from my world.

Third task:  Take laptop in for a good scrubbing.  Every now and then I byte the bullet and have a professional clean my computer. spring cleaning geek squad

Fourth task:  Complete actual spring cleaning.  Move furniture, sweep, and dust.  The good news about having very few possessions is that it takes little effort to complete this task.

spring clean vacuum


What are you doing this spring to reduce clutter in your world?

spring cleaning 1


Eagle’s Nest

Eagle’s Nest

Safe Zone,[1] Coffee, Food, Folks, and Fun

Anna shook the snow off her boots and waved to Migisi, owner of Eagle’s Nest, as she made her way to the corner booth.  Regular patrons understood the extra-large, corner booth was reserved for the International Relations study group every Tuesday and Thursday morning from ten till noon.  Known as the G-6, the study group represented six different countries, each student a first or second-generation immigrant to the United States.

Dr. Smith, Professor of International Human Rights Law: Migrant Populations class, assigned the G-6 to study and work together on team projects.  They wrestled with syllabus topics of conflict between international legal obligations, domestic politics of citizenship, immigration, asylum, and human trafficking.  Each member brought a unique perspective to the issues covered in class.

Migisi walked over and sat on the edge of the booth, “I thought classes were cancelled today, Anna.  Is the G-6 meeting anyway?”

“Afternoon classes are cancelled, there’s a winter storm on the way.  Administration isn’t ready for a repeat of last year’s fiasco.  Commuter students were housed in the gym for three days during Ice Storm Ilsa.  It was pure chaos, from what I heard.  The rest of G-6 left campus for a long weekend.”

“But you’re here today.”

Anna took a deep breath in and let it out with a big sigh, watery eyes gazed down on the table, “Like the sign on the door says, this is a Safe Zone for me.”

Migisi motioned for the server to bring a carafe of coffee and two mugs to the table.

Over coffee, Anna shared her story.  Words she had been holding back for months tumbled out.

“I came to the United States as an exchange student in my senior year of high school.  My host family was wonderful.  They treated me like one of their own children.  My parents agreed to let me stay in the U.S. to attend university.”

“Last year I married my English professor.  It was a whirlwind courtship with a Las Vegas wedding, no family.  Just the two of us.  It seemed so romantic to a naive girl from Israel.  As soon as I moved into his house, he changed.  He tracks my cell phone so he always knows where I am.  If I change my route or am a few minutes late, he has a fit.  I’m not allowed to call my family in Israel or my American host family.  I have no money of my own and am forced to beg for books, school supplies, new clothes, and shoes. When he has been drinking, it’s even worse.”

“He wasn’t like this when we were dating.  Marrying him was a mistake and I don’t know how to get out.  If he finds out the rest of the group left early today, well, I don’t know what he’ll do.  He knows how to hit me so the bruises don’t show.”

Migisi took Anna’s hands in her own, “Take a breath while I tell you about Eagle’s Nest.”

“Because the Eagle’s Nest is two blocks from the university campus, everyone thinks the name came from the school mascot, the Golden Eagle.  It fits and is one piece of the magic.  Eagles are considered medicine birds with magical powers.

Have you heard the saying, ‘Feathers appear when angels are near?’

Anna shook her head side to side.

“Feathers have ethereal qualities and come to us as sacred gifts from heaven, from our Angels. They fall on our path as a sign from the Divine, sent to comfort us and place us in a state of joy and higher awareness.”

“My name, Migisi, is the Chippewa word for eagle, the symbol for courage, wisdom, and strength.”

“I was married to a controlling man for twelve years.  It took courage and the help of a special place called The Haven for me to leave him and start a new life.  They can help you too.”

Migisi pulled a gold feather from the arrangement on the table and placed it in front of Anna.

“I will drive you to The Haven myself.  When you are ready, place a gold feather on the bar as you walk by on your way to the restroom.”

Back behind the bar, Migisi took orders and served customers while keeping an eye on Anna.

Ten minutes before noon, Anna walked past the bar and left the gold feather next to the cash register.

golden eagle 4

[1] Safe Zone – An area in which a human being feels safe, usually some place familiar, where they feel they have some control over what happens.  A “safe zone” can be a physical place or even a state of mind. A safe zone is a neutral territory possessing no hostile energies. violence is not possible in these places.