Our Need to Look Forward



Signs of spring – asparagus, morel mushrooms, new potatoes and red onions. Yum!

I had brunch at the Browns’ house today on Dewey Lake. If you’ll remember, I spent a month in the little cottage by the lake when I first moved up to Michigan. But today was the last meal that the Browns would have in the big cottage on the hill. I’ve had at least 15-20 meals with them in the last two years. And dinner was usually followed by a boat ride on the little lake. And while I’ve been there for two years, they’ve been gathering at that spot as a family for as long as they can remember.


One of my first mornings in Michigan on Dewey Lake. I feel like a different girl than I was on this day.

Kathy has since moved to California. Another sibling is renting a condo in downtown Saint Joe, and still another has an RV spot near Saugatuck. Their parents and a brother are buried down the street in Dowagiac. An era is ending for this family, and as we took one last walk down to the boat ramp, they all agreed they were ready for the next chapter to begin. What I thought would be a tearful day turned out to be a day of gratitude and acceptance.


I had to do a trail run today. I’m training for a 15K in September in Saugatuck which is part trail run, part street run and part dunes climb. It’s a tough one, and I’ve been building a base with strength training and street running. I wanted to run a trail that I knew, so I chose one in a state park near where I used to live. I’d run those trails in that park in every season and in every kind of weather.


Leaves and wildflowers were popping out in celebration of springtime. I hiked that trail this winter in the snow. It was the same but totally different. It is the ending of the winter in the woods and the beginning of spring. Nature is always looking forward. I ended my day with dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant having one of my all-time favorite soups. I’ve ordered that warming soup so many times on chilly days. It was comfort food when my marriage was falling apart. It, too, felt familiar.


We didn’t talk too much about the past today even though I’m sure it was as much on their minds as it was on mine. There have been many nights that I’ve listened to Brown family stories at that dining room table. It was their Mother’s home. Her presence was palpable and yet I never met her. It was certainly fitting that they would say good-bye on Mother’s Day.


The Browns found these old cookbooks in their family home. I’m glad this is changed!

Comfort hails from the familiar. Like nature, though, we have to always look forward. We have no choice in this. We suffer loss, and we let go. We set goals and leap forward. If we fall backward, it is usually a painful incentive to try something different. We are hard-wired for growth. And growth happens outside of our comfort zone.

When you look back on your life, what changes brought about the most growth? What are you afraid of changing now?



Finally 2017: Uncovering a New Path


I always like to look at last year’s New Year’s blog to see what I had hoped for the year ahead to see if I nailed it. Sometimes I do. Other times it’s not even close. I blogged on New Year’s Eve last year but not on the first day of 2017. I know that I went to my friend Cheryl’s house for soup and socializing on New Year’s Day, but I have no idea what else I did.

On New Year’s Eve 2016, I had a great hike at Warren Dunes with my friend Karen and her dog Tippy. It was obviously warmer than today as the water in the stream is not frozen in the photos. It was a lovely day, and about a month ago I contacted Karen to see if she would be up this way this year. I longed to spend some time with her adventurous soul again. She is building community in Texas and won’t be headed this way this year.

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 1.57.24 PM

A part of me would love to get out and snowshoe, but a part of me would like to stay warm and cozy inside. I made the trek to yoga this morning in New Buffalo to Dancing Feet Yoga where a warm and introspective yoga practice grounded me. Don led us in a series of poses that stretched my hamstrings, twisted my spine and spiked my energy. We were warm and toasty inside while the snow fell constantly outside like a Christmas postcard. The drifts by the parking lot were so deep that Ashok couldn’t even touch the ground when she got out for a walk. As opposed to last year’s high energy ending, I feel much more internally focused and relaxed.


I’m now comfortably hanging at Infusco having a biscotti and a latte while Ashok lounges on her blanket. The people here are not as interested in socializing as they were at the hotel last weekend, but she keeps looking for it. She hasn’t been able to spend as much time outside as usual with the frigid temps and constantly falling lake effect snow. I ran with a running group yesterday for the first time, but it was too cold to bring her. Besides, I wasn’t sure how it would go as it’s been over 10 years since I’ve run in the ice and snow. I was a little afraid of slipping, but yesterday turned out just fine. Perhaps we’ll get out for at least a little walk or hike this afternoon if it slows down.

At Dancing Feet this morning….

As far as my reflection on this year, I’m not thrilled with my adventures this year. I’ve spent too much time ruminating on things I can’t control and more time than I’d like mired in depression. But I’ve learned how effective meditation can be, and I’ve settled in to a comfortable life in Michigan. My routine feels good although I’d like to get more consistent running in the winter. My hopes for next year are around spending more time creating – whether that’s writing or teaching or learning something new.  I have a goal of attending a writing conference, finding a writing group and beginning a practice of regular daily writing.

I am starting the New Year off just as I did last year with a 30-day yoga practice. Yoga with Adrienne has a 30-day practice focused on being true to yourself called True. A few friends are joining me in the free series. I recommend it if you’d like to start off 2018 in a more connected way. I think I’ll let this practice inform where I want to focus this year. I’ll be 57 in two weeks. The clock continues to tick, and I continue to be inspired to make each day count more than the one before. I certainly feel truer to myself at 56 than I did at 46. Ten years ago today I was waiting to be divorced and in a decidedly worse spot than I am today. I had no idea what gifts the future would bring.

This morning’s email from Adrienne asked me to think about what I’m open to this year. I like the thought of being open to something rather than trying to force myself into some kind of activity. Finally, it feels like I’m uncovering a new path rather than searching for a destination. I don’t have to know exactly where it’s leading. I just have to be open to walking it. What surprises might be in store for me this year?

Be safe tonight, and have a great New Year’s Eve. 2018 awaits with adventures we cannot even comprehend. Greet them with an open heart, a sense of adventure and a seriously deranged sense of humor.





The Silver Lining of a Year Gone Bad

I’m kind of excited! I’m charting my calendar for the weekend. I have two parties to attend, and it looks like we are getting snow, snow and more snow! I may get a chance to snowshoe. I joined a local running club, and I plan to attend their Saturday morning run tomorrow. They seem so friendly and welcoming on their Facebook page. And I’ve started making the drive to New Buffalo to attend Sunday morning yoga at my old yoga studio. I went two Sundays ago, and I realized how much I miss Don’s yoga. His yoga is so different than the “exercise” yoga I find so many other places. His over 40 years of experience in teaching yoga puts him in a whole different universe than a teacher with five years of experience.

I also signed up for my first writing course! It starts right after my birthday. I’ve been noodling this for months and just decided to bite the bullet. If I can come up with $1200 for emergency vet bills, I can come up with $300 to invest in learning something new. My goal this year is to start writing some fiction to see if I like it.

Today is the day I start to ratchet down my overconsumption of caffeine and sugar that has been my habit over the last week or so. I can’t wait to feel better and have a fun-filled weekend filled with good health and friends – and probably a coffee shop visit or two. This week has been slow at work, so I’ve had a chance to be productive and create a few things that I haven’t had time to work on due to meetings and interruptions. Overall, this week has given me a chance to think about where I want to go personally in the new year. I think I will be writing more, trying some new exercise options, practicing more yoga and continuing to make new friends.

Most of my podcasts are doing “year in review” segments. 2017 was a monster  truck in overdrive, and it has never stopped. I’ve been looking for the silver lining in all of this because I know it’s there. It always is. The Daily from the New York Times is one of my favorite podcasts to explain the news. Their year-end review has been particularly inspiring and has helped me find the fabulous silver lining on the last year. I’ll link to some of them at the end of this blog. It is a reminder to me that the good in life is found in the interpersonal relationships of people and in the resilience of the human spirit. We are at our best when we focus on individuals and put down our stereotypes.


I hope you have a glorious New Year’s weekend, and I urge you to take a few moments to yourself to set up a plan for a better 2018 – for you, your family and friends, our country and the world. We all deserve it.

If you are needing a more positive take on 2017, here are some great stories:

  1. This podcast illustrates the goodness of people when we connect individually instead of focusing on stereotypes. It is set in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and it is the story of a young man who vandalizes a Mosque and the reaction of the Muslims to his heart-felt apology. Forgiveness, humility and self-compassion are key ingredients. Click here for a story on vandalism and forgiveness.
  2. This podcast shows how one of the budding leaders of the alt-right changes his mind about his family’s political views. It’s the connection, kindness and respect of his Jewish and liberal-leaning friends that gently lead him down a path of awareness. We will never change people’s minds by screaming at them or shaming them. It is only with love and patience that people listen. Click here for this amazing story.
  3. This podcast shows a town learning the hard way how tougher immigration laws impact one of icons of their community. Nothing is ever completely good or bad, and this story shows the impact when hard lines are drawn. Click here for the heartwarming story of Carlos.




Christmas Vacation in Chicago 2017


We arrived in Chicago today for our holiday in the city. I have always loved Chicago at Christmastime, and with a great stroke of luck, hotels are reasonably priced during the holiday. When I lived up here before, I used to book on Priceline and get really great deals on downtown hotels, but since I have the dog now, I have to make sure the hotel is dog-friendly. The Kimpton Hotel Monaco billed itself as very pet-friendly, and there was no extra charge for my furry friend. It looked pretty nice, too, and was in the same general area where I like to hang out.

I thought GPS would lead me here, but apparently GPS gets very confused in the city. I had to pull over and actually look at a map to get me to my destination. One time I looked at GPS, and it showed me driving through the river. It was comical except for the fact that traffic was really bad, and I was a bit nervous about finding the place. I finally made it, and the bellman was super nice, helped me with my luggage and gave me advice on where to walk Ashok. Apparently pickings are slim on green areas downtown.


He also told me about a dog park about a mile away, so I took Ashok down there. We went down sidewalks by Millennium Park, up stairs, through a concourse and down a hundred outdoor stairs to get to the nicest little park surrounded by high-rise condos. Dog owners were all over, and there was a fenced in area where dogs could run loose. Since Ashok isn’t super dog-friendly, I didn’t bring her in there, but she had a ball sniffing around the rest of the park on leash and rolling in the grass.

We walked toward Millennium Park. I didn’t know dogs weren’t supposed to go in there until a security guard informed me,  but we spent a little time by the Christmas tree and ice-skating rink. A Holiday Bus with Santa on it rode by on Michigan Avenue. Chicago apparently has a tradition of dressing up a bus and some trains for the holidays. It was blaring Christmas songs, and Santa was waving at everybody. The whole scene was quite festive, and it seemed that the whole city had turned out for the holiday festivities. Ashok got lots of attention. One little girl passed by and said out loud, ” Look a Santa Dog!”


Our room and the hotel is quite nice. I’d describe it as cozy and trendy. A crackling fire in the lobby is warming me while a beautiful Christmas tree twinkles right behind the sofa. I plan on spending some time here this weekend. I want to relax and enjoy some down time. I didn’t decorate for Christmas at home, so this will suffice for my holiday decorations this year. I have to say they are lovely, and I won’t even have to pull them down when it’s over.

I’m looking forward to breakfast with my friend Gerry from Memphis in the morning, and I get to spend the rest of the weekend with Nancy. It will be cold, and we have an 80% chance of snow on Christmas Eve. I see lots of hot chocolate and coffee in my near future, and a good bit of walking trying to find Ashok a grassy place to pee. But she seems quite at home by the fireplace.


Sundays in Sawyer: Dancing With Darkness


The house across the street when I left this morning.

It was dark when I left out this morning at 8 AM. Christmas lights sparkled red and green against the soft luminescent snow. The Winter Solstice is this week – Thursday to be exact. I love Solstice celebrations. When I think of the significance of lightness and darkness in our lives, it makes sense to me that the days with the most light and the days with the most darkness should be marked in some way. And what would Christmas lights be without the long interplay of darkness in December?


I’ve always loved the dark. I love seeing the stars at night, and I love the long nights of winter. They are times of rest and reflection. I don’t sleep as well in the summer with the long days of sunshine. While I feel more energetic during the summer, I don’t think it is good for us to be revved up all the time. There is a reason for the season, and I believe the reason is rest and rejuvenation – of our bodies, our souls and our lives. Our ancestors felt these seasons were so important, they were the biggest celebrations of the year.


Part of my plan for getting through the winter this year is to be open to doing something different. I signed up for an 8-class yoga pass at my old yoga studio where I completed my teacher training. And, I decided that I would start doing my Sunday blogging at Infusco Coffee in Sawyer since it is on the way to the Sunday yoga class.  When I visited their website last night, I read about their mission. This is much more than a coffee shop. They sell “relationship coffee.” It makes the coffee taste much better when there is such a good cause behind it. If that’s not a light in the darkness, I don’t know what is. So now my Sunday blog will be called Sundays in Sawyer…. until I do something different.

The mission and history of Infusco ….

A sign on their counter said their eggnog latte was divine, so I ordered one. Ashok was out in the car waiting like usual, and I thought to ask if they allowed dogs. They do! Ashok can now hang with me instead of waiting in the car. I set down her blanket, and we both enjoyed the Christmas tree and the quiet setting of this comfortable and welcoming coffeehouse.

The darkness of depression is still lingering with me this evening. But I got up and made myself a nice, healthy dinner. A task so simple feels overwhelming when I’m depressed. But, I have to say it made me feel a tad better to put some effort into taking care of me. I think I’ll turn off this computer now and go read for a bit. Surely I have something light and humorous on my Kindle to ignite a little lightness in my spirit. If not, I can always fall asleep and get some rest. Either way, tomorrow will be another day.

We got out for a hike today at Warren Dunes State Park. That helped my mood a bit, too….


Sundays in Saugatuck: Relaxing Holiday


It seems like just yesterday, I penned my blog about the long vacation waiting ahead of me. I feel more rested at this point than I did then even though I ran a 7-miler this morning. Yesterday was particularly relaxing. I only left my house to go to the YMCA for a workout. The rest of the day was filled with reading, blogging, researching writing courses and snuggling with my fur babies. I got a chance to catch up with my friend Kristine on Facetime in a “just woke up, no makeup, bad hair day” coffee date.

I also Facetimed with my friend Leah from Memphis on Wednesday. I actually love these virtual visits. The only thing missing is the touch of skin. We even get to show off our pets. There’s no driving, no getting dressed and no hassle. Just dial-up a friend’s number, and you get face-to-face conversation and laughter. I know people who date people long distance, and they actually Facetime while they have dinner and watch movies. It’s a great way to stay in touch if you are open to it.

It’s a beautiful day outside, and I think I’ll take Ashok for a walk downtown when I get done with my coffee and this blog. Saugatuck is a bit crowded today, so it feels festive. People are milling around dressed in their best winter sweaters, scarves and boots. All of the leaves have finally fallen off the trees and summer coffee specials like the lavender latte have made way for the more wintry bonfire latte made with maple syrup and smoked salt. The word is warm, and the feeling is definitely cozy.

My mittens are the pink and brown ones. My sister Susan has the strawberries… 


As for me, I put on my wool lavender sweater and some sweatpants before driving over. I packed Ashok’s cozy pink sweater just in case we took a walk. I’ve been tearing my house apart looking for my wool scarves from last winter, and I finally found them this morning in the back of one of my horrible closets. I will need to get those closets redone if I live here any length of time. I picked out my favorite soft plaid on winter white scarf from that box and grabbed some beautiful wool mittens that I bought last summer. I didn’t want to put a hat on my head since my hair was still wet, but I grabbed one just in case.


So, looking back at the end of my holiday, it was very connected and very relaxing. I spent Thanksgiving with my friend Nancy and her family. I got in yoga every day and ran my 5K as frustrating as it turned out to be. I even blogged every day. I feel good when I do that. It tells me I have plenty of energy if I’m being creative. And, in turn, writing helps me keep on the path to good mental and physical health. It’s sort of one of the leading indicators that things are well with me.

It’s back to work tomorrow for most of us. Have a great week, and remember it’s only 29 days until Christmas. I’m still on the fence about decorating. I may just enjoy everyone else’s Christmas trees. Time will tell. Have a great week, y’all. 




Some Days are Just Harder Than Others


My friend Lori sent me this beautiful “hand-warmer” mug as a surprise. I knew I had to run tonight, but I was puddled in the lethargy of a post-Thanksgiving work pot luck lunch. So, I grabbed that beautiful little mug and fixed myself some green chai  laced with my homemade almond milk hoping it would provide a little pep. I read the NYT and sipped my tea until I started thinking that maybe I didn’t really need to run after all. I mean, it’s cold outside. I’m running a 5K on Thanksgiving. I ran a 6-miler on Sunday. I could probably take the day off – it being the holidays and all.

But this face was staring at me……


So I called on my coach to pull me off the bench….


You have two choices for dressing for a run in winter.

  • A) Be warm when you walk out the door and overheat later or
  • B) be cool when you walk out the door and be just right later.

Tonight I opted for Option A because I just didn’t feel like being cold. Thank heavens I did because it was much colder than I anticipated. It was only 37 according to the Weather Channel, but that dadgum wind was fierce. The streets acted like funnels for the wind coming off the lake, and I thought I was going to freeze to death. I slipped my hoodie OVER the hat I had on, and zipped myself up in a cocoon of fleece. But my ass was in the deep freeze! Nothing I could do but RUN!


If I ran down streets that were perpendicular to the lakefront, the wind wasn’t as bad, so I changed routes midway. Once I got out of the wind, my eskimo swaddled upper body started overheating. I took the hood off and stuffed the gloves down my shirt. But my ass was still freezing! Nothing I could do but keep running. Since I was running half mile splits, I figured the faster I ran the faster I would get home and could go sit on my cooktop.

You can see I was motivated….

Faster and faster and faster I ran. Ashok thought we were racing some unknown invisible foe. I ended up right at my house, and I bolted for the front door. Brrrr…. that was a cold one, and it’s not even below freezing yet! I think I’d better figure out a way to insulate the junk in my trunk a little better, or it’s going to be a long winter. (I’m still not totally thawed.)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Get out and exercise before you eat all that stuff, will ya?  Now excuse me while I get a snack.


Things I Learned in My 55th Year


Today I am 56 years old. WTF? Dolly Parton’s birthday is also this week, and she’ll be 71. I’m only 15 years from 71. Holy cow… WTH???

Daddy called this morning and wished me a happy birthday. He went on and on about being old enough to have a daughter that is 55. I said, “Daddy, I’m 56.” “That’s even worse!” he said. I laughed but it wasn’t funny. Why does this clock keep moving? Can’t I just take out the batteries and let it rest awhile?


I know in my heart that there is full life on the other side, but I have a long list of trails to hike and adventures to take here on earth. If I was independently wealthy I might have time to get them all in, but I have to work until I can retire … and if the Republicans have their way, I probably won’t even be able to do that. So, I’m pretty much relegated to fitting it in between holidays and vacation weeks which means I have to prioritize. 15 years? 20 years? How much time is there left anyway? Who says the biological clock ticks in your 30s? Mine is ticking now.

56…. I can remember when I thought that was old. And I feel as good now as I did in my 30s. Well, regardless, there’s not anything I can do about it but make the best of each day. So, I’d like to reflect a minute on some of the things I learned in my 55th year (the blogs are linked for your enjoyment):


I am a badass in my soul. I learned how to backpack in my 54th year and took the new hobby on my own in my 55th year. I learned to scale down my pack to the essentials and that didn’t include makeup or hair product. I also learned that I can be a badass if I want to be, and I enjoy doing it. In a few words, I learned that I don’t need much baggage to be happy and content. I just need to be challenged.

Kefir is a miracle anti-depressant. I haven’t talked about this much since I’ve started making kefir and drinking it everyday, but I’m here to tell you that this stuff is a game-changer when it comes to anxiety and depression. Since July I’ve been consuming a glass every morning, and I usually end the day with a glass. It helps with my blood sugar after I consume sugar, and it keeps my anxiety at bay. They say that gut health is critical for anxiety issues, and I’m a believer now. Even Ashok is less anxious because she gets a couple tablespoons when I do. Kefir rocks… and it’s so easy to make at home!

God is not too busy to take care of me. I won’t go into a ton of detail about it here, but the way this job and move came about was absolutely divinely inspired. I should not be here, but I am, and I got an amazingly low interest rate on a 15-year mortgage on a great house. If I ever doubt that God has my back, please slap me silly. He even made sure I would stop complaining about the heat. He covered all the bases…. period.

Change your energy … change your life. I had another session with Lexlee a couple of weeks ago. I was starting to feel a bit down after the holidays, and I needed a lift. I’ve had the same experience this time as I had last year – although not as dramatic because I’m in a better place to start. When I shift my energy, and I start focusing on keeping it that way – doing yoga, eating right and managing my emotional state by feeling my feelings – life starts moving in an improved direction.


I don’t know what I’ll learn in my 56th year. I hope I learn that having sex is like riding a bicycle. Or maybe I’ll learn that being wealthy doesn’t solve all your problems, but it does allow me to buy a yacht. I know that I will learn something. I’m learning much more rapidly as I get older. I know I pay attention more, and I also focus on living my life with intention. Every moment seems so important now. When I do cross over to the other side – this week or 40 years from now – I want to remember every second. I want to know that I spent my time here enjoying all of the beauty and love and laughter that was put in front of me. And maybe I’ll even inspire a few others along the way.

It Ended As It Began – 2016




Happy New Years Eve! 2016 has been an up and down year for me for sure. I’m eager to see it end, and excited to see what 2017 might bring. All week, I’ve been seeing memories from Facebook of last year’s holiday hike on the Wild Azalea Trail. It was my first long backpacking trip with three ladies and one girl dog. It’s made me reflect on that hike and remember what it meant to me to be so adventurous and learn all of those new survival skills. It truly was a life-changing experience.

Last year’s hike on the Wild Azalea Trail….

As I was watching those pics pop up, it made me a little sad that I didn’t have hiking buddies this year. I’m ready to get out hiking, but I just don’t have those folks on speed dial that would say Hell, yeah! if I called and asked if they wanted to go on a hike. By some stroke of sheer luck, my friend Karen posted on Facebook that she was in Southwest Michigan this week. Karen is one of the lucky travelers who travels around the country in her RV working at National Parks and other odd jobs. In her spare time she hikes. I went out to dinner with her last night, and at the last moment, I asked her if she wanted to hike this morning. “Hell, yeah!” she said. (Well, maybe that’s not what she said, but that’s what I heard.)


We met at 9 AM at Warren Dunes State Park. It is about a 25-minute drive from my house. I had driven over there once before but wasn’t interested in just climbing those steep dunes all day. I had done some research and found out that not all of the trails were over the dunes. Some were in the woods, so I was eager to get my feet on the trial to see if I liked it.


We hiked through the woods with our dogs – females Ashok and Tippy – on another all-girl adventure. A slight dusting of snow was evident at the start, but gradually the snow disappeared. The leisurely trail through the wooded park sat just on the edge of the sand dunes. We finally reached a juncture where we had to choose if we wanted to get physical and climb some dunes or stay with a more easy pace. We both decided to go for it, and up we went into some of the largest freshwater sand dunes in the world on a beautiful 40-degree day.

The dunes, of course, led us to that gorgeous gem, Lake Michigan. There was no ice today. We walked the beach next to crystal green water boiling with waves just like the ocean. We found a little “tumbleweed” that was formed from the dune grasses that line the shore. The dunes had eroded a great deal, and a massive “wall” of sand marked the edge of the beach. The sand was stacked in layers that looked like some kind of massive sandstone rock formation.

The tumbleweed and sand wall….

We climbed Mount Randal which is a 260-foot dune and the namesake of the trail. Feeling like we were lost in the desert, we kept climbing and walking on the top of the dunes trying to find the trail. It disappeared into the blowing sand, and there was little evidence of a walkway. To our left was a sharp drop-off that went almost straight down to the woods, and on our right was a less steep but still unnavigable drop into the heart of the dunes. Eventually, we saw this really long, steep “trail” that looked like it led back to the wooded area. We decided to slide down as far as we needed and then lope the rest of the way down the dunes. It was like a long sand slide, and I had a ball trying to get down.

We found a lovely little creek at the bottom and followed it and the trail back to the car. It was such a beautiful day, and the dogs had a great time playing with each other and hiking. It was a perfect way to spend the last day of 2016. I’d spent the first day of 2016 on a trail in North Louisiana alongside a beautiful creek. I never would have dreamed that I’d be climbing a massive sand dune in Michigan by the end of the year.

On the way back, Karen and I talked about the Great Lakes and the massive sand dunes. On that trail, we had two very distinct eco-systems. The dunes very quickly fade into a super-dark soil that could support trees and ferns. The Great Lakes were formed when very heavy glaciers pressed down upon the earth and dug out (or pressed down) the soil. So, these dunes and soil rose up in the process. When the glaciers melted, the depressions filled with water, and we now have some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. I find the history so fascinating.

I hope that you have a Happy New Years’ Eve tonight, and I wish you the very best year for 2017. I hope that you discover and seek out experiences that fill your heart with joy and make your soul’s desires your most important priority. Life is too short to miss the beauty and love all around us. And it won’t come to you. You have to go seek it out. Happy New Year!

See this drone footage I found on YouTube of the park we hiked today….



Christmas Is Christmas …. Always


My sister asked me this morning, “Is it hard?” We had been talking about my Christmas on My Own this year. It’s certainly not the first Christmas I’ve spent on my own. One of the first Christmases I spent on my own was the first one after my first divorce. Momma came up for the days before the holiday, but I had Christmas  Day by myself. For that one, I spent the day reading and taking a hot bath and spending some time in tears. I certainly survived, but it was not a pleasant day. This year, in comparison, is a piece of cake.

It was much harder to spend Christmas with someone who made holidays very painful because of their propensity for holiday chaos. In that scenario, Christmas was just a painful day that reminded me that I had to do something different with my life. The loneliest Christmases I’ve ever spent were when I was in an unhappy marriage. Being single and alone for Christmas is just a tad lonely and sad at moments. Being trapped in a painful relationship at Christmas feels hopeless.


All of my friends that are spending the holidays in the Louisiana flood area have mentioned how hard it is to be there right now. The newness has worn off, and the heavy lifting on cleaning out their homes is over. The rebuilding takes so long. People have moved away because they don’t want to deal with it. Families have been co-habitating for months, and the welcome has worn off if it ever felt welcome in the first place. Traffic, I hear, is unnavigable. With so many people impacted, it takes longer to get appliances, supplies and contractors. They may be feeling hopeless that Christmas will ever be happy again.

I’ve had 55 Christmases in my lifetime. I imagine most were happy. Particularly as a child Christmas was magical. As an adult, there really isn’t any magic. The adult Christmas season is about celebrating relationship. And there’s nothing magical about relationships. They are hard work. Christmas as an adult is about spiritual connections and connections with other people on earth. And if a person has superficial or strained or downright abusive relationships, Christmas sucks. If someone special is missing from your Christmas gathering, it can be a very painful Christmas indeed. Christmas, it seems, can be a litmus test for whether or not you are truly content in your life.


So, as I reflect on my Christmas on my Own today I don’t feel sad about it. Sure, there are moments when I feel sad, but on the whole I have some great relationships. Just because I am here on my own, and they are busy with family elsewhere doesn’t mean we are not connected.

One of my good friends is celebrating Christmas with her husband today. It is the first time that they’ve ever celebrated Christmas without their kids. Because of jobs and distance, they won’t be coming home this year. She was a little nervous about it and not sure what they would do. Another friend decided to work today because Christmas is really kind of painful with his family. And I know lots of people who are going through the motions. They will be glad to rip the tree down out of the stand and get this sh*t done. The old refrain “Christmas just aint’ Christmas without the one you love,” is really just sort of a sappy sentiment. Christmas is Christmas always… it just sometimes looks different in its execution.


If this is one of those Christmases that feels unhappy to you, my heart goes out to you. I’ve done so many things in the past to make it special or at least bearable:

  • Take a long hot bath and journal about the great things in my life.
  • Pretend it’s not Christmas and just do whatever I’d normally do on a day off.
  • Focus on my spiritual practice and the real celebration of the season.
  • Join other “orphans” at Starbucks or at a Chinese restaurant.
  • Go to a 12-step meeting or church gathering for some spiritual food.
  • Curl up with a good book.
  • Let yourself cry and feel your feelings.
  • Take a long walk and enjoy the Christmas lights.

Above all, remember that “this, too, shall pass”. That’s my mantra for this holiday season. I’m in a new area and not well-connected yet. Christmas will not be like this next year. Christmas, like everything else in life, changes from year to year. It could be better next year, or it could be worse. But you can bet your Christmas stocking it will be different.

Merry Christmas, my dear readers…. whether your Christmas is happy or sad or somewhere in-between, I hope you’ll find it informative. The holiday season can be a great time to reflect on what you need to do to make your life better. It’s very appropriate that New Years’ resolutions follow on the heels of Christmas. And, remember your happiness is not about him or her or them doing something different. Happiness and good health are inside jobs. If there is something lacking about Christmas or any other day, it’s up to you to create something different.