Progress is Found in the Rear View Mirror


I’m cutting out coffee again. I get to a point where I’m just not feeling good. My energy is zapped. My brain seems fuzzy. And I get tired of the constant pull to get more caffeine. I don’t like to be told what to do, so when a substance starts driving my spending and consumption against my better judgment I get motivated to let it go.

I’ve done this 10 times. In fact, when I started the coffeehouse tour, one of my fellow bloggers commented, “I thought you couldn’t drink coffee.” Yeah, yeah…. I know. I get frustrated with myself because I can’t stay clean. Sugar and coffee seem to be the ones that keep me on an ever-winding path of improvement. I get so mad at myself when I realize I’m doing it again.

Perfection is an elusive dream. In my saner moments, I ask myself to look back at my life 3 or 5 years ago to gauge progress. I may not be improved over January, but when I look back at my life as a whole, I’m making great strides.

Five years ago I often consumed a whole bag of chocolate candy (not the single serving size) for dinner. And the thought of quitting coffee would have never crossed my mind. My email for a long time was for heaven’s sake! I was a supervisor at a Starbucks. My life revolved around the hits of caffeine from that sultry, dark bean.

So, I’m not going to beat myself up on my journey to get healthier. Now I know how much better I feel when my coffee consumption is in check or, even better, eliminated. I know that green tea is a much healthier choice. I definitely have experienced how great it feels to be off the pull of evil sugar. Five years ago I was ignorant of the impacts of either. And my habits have even improved over the last year. The goal is not to be perfect. The goal is to keep on trying… in that I’m a winner.

P.S. Don’t worry! I’m going to continue my coffeehouse tour. They always have decaf!

What habit has improved for you over the last five years with constant attention? Do you beat yourself up for not being perfect?



Morning Share: Be Creative


For months now, I’ve been receiving messages from HP (my higher power) to be more creative. Rumor has it that being creative opens us up to so many possibilities spiritually. Creating and giving to the world is one way to get into the flow. But I’ve been struggling a bit with writer’s block. A fellow blogger told me to write about it.

I get blocked when I’m worried about what other people might think. One of my dysfunctional messages tells me that I shouldn’t get “too big for my britches”. “Who do you think you are?” is a powerful statement that keeps me from standing in my power and asking for what I need. “You always want to be treated special,” makes me feel like I have been asking too much from others. The real stomach punch is the underlying meaning of it all – there’s nothing special about me at all.

The Bible tells me that God knitted me together in my mother’s womb. That in itself makes me feel somewhat special. If I am made in God’s image, I have a right to shine. In fact, I’d say I have an obligation to shine. If God went to all that trouble to create me, then there must be some job for me to do here. And I know from experience if I feel defeated and silenced, I can’t create.

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I used to think I wasn’t creative. I thought of artists and authors as being creative. I just had to be open to what I wanted to create. My main objective for writing was to share what I had learned in my life journey for others who might be on the same path. I’m not super-knowledgable. I want to share my experience because I was taught those helpful things from others. If I received from the Universe, why shouldn’t I keep the flow going and share with others?

Blogging has broadened my world. At times it’s made me feel really insecure. It’s made me feel helpful and productive. It’s certainly helped me find closure and meaning from my life. I’ve made connections across the country and even in other countries who learn from my struggles and encourage me. I’ve met some face-to-face, and some I’ll never meet. Being creative has allowed me to give, but it’s given back so much more. I don’t think it’s made me feel “special”. I am special just because I breathe. Writing has made me feel like I’m an essential part of the human race.

Being creative matters. Plant a garden. Sew a blouse. Create a beautiful space in your home. Write a thoughtful letter. Build strong relationships. Journal. Learn something new. Make money from your own efforts. Splash color on a wall or restore a piece of furniture. Fix a tractor. Whatever it is that you give to the world, give it. The act of creating is powerful fuel for a life worth living. The only way to step into the flow is take a risk and create something from your heart, talent and wisdom. If that makes you special, then so be it. There ain’t nothing wrong with that.


Running Season, More Coffeehouses and Sunshine


On Friday someone mentioned it was supposed to be sunny all weekend. I checked my weather app, and they were right. It’s hardly spring with temps in the 20s-40s and snow in the forecast, but the sun shining in the sky is a reason to celebrate.

I got up Saturday morning early to get a cup of coffee before my hair appointment. None of the local coffeehouses were open, so I decided to stop by Plank’s at the local inn. I was really pleased at their brunch offering and got an amazing breakfast of avocado, eggs and sweet potato hash. My table was right in front of the fireplace with a lovely view of the river. It was a great, cozy, tasty way to start the weekend.


My internet has been out so I had to go home to wait for AT&T while I cleaned house, worked out on my TRX and cooked dinner. The guy was really nice, and I was very pleasantly surprised that he fixed it with no issues, and it didn’t cost me a dime. I went to bed early with my book club book, The Great Alone. A family in the 70s moved to rural Alaska on a whim, and I can’t wait to see if they will get eaten by a bear. There’s a lot of foreboding about danger and trouble going on. If the bears don’t get them, I expect the Daddy might go off his rocker and anger the locals. I’ll keep you posted.

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I had to do a long run this morning, so I packed up Ashok, and we headed to Kalamazoo to a nature preserve on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. It was a beautiful day although it was a tad colder than I expected. I’m lucky my technical shirt had some cuffs I could roll up over my hands. I planned on running 5 miles, but I felt so good at 2.5, I decided to go to 3 and double back for a total of 6. It felt amazing to be out and about and running on a day like today. And I noticed the Kalamazoo Nature Center is hosting a Maple Sugar Festival next weekend. That might be worth a trip!

I’ve started thinking about a running “season” this year now that the snow is melted and we seem to be on the back side of winter. I texted Jessica and hired her to coach me to run two specific races this fall. I want to run my favorite trail/road race of all time, the Mount Baldhead Challenge in September. And I signed up to run the Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon in October. I even had to use my passport to sign up since the race course goes into Canada. Woohoo!!! Now, I just need to train and get in shape. I haven’t run a half marathon since February 2013 in Austin. We’ll see if I can get this body in shape again!

I visited two coffeehouses this weekend. My friend Donna had told me about The Full Circle coffee house (#9) in Stevensville so I stopped there on Saturday. It was a cute little cafe that serves a full breakfast as well as bakery goods and coffee. I opted for a chocolate scone which melted in my mouth. It had the texture of a flaky southern biscuit with a light drizzle of chocolate on top and a spattering of chocolate chips. They serve Infusco coffee, and I grabbed a latte to go. The manager told me it was called Full Circle because it is owned by three friends who grew up together, went on with their lives and then came “full circle” and opened a restaurant  together. The story is almost as cute as the furnishings and the setting in the cafe.


On Sunday, I stopped at Water Street Coffee (#10) in Kalamazoo. It is one of my favorite coffeehouses in that area. I had just run, so I got a Denver omelette strata and a latte made from their own roasted beans. The small place was packed, so I didn’t hang around too long. I noticed they have their own line of teas as well as coffee, local artisan-designed t-shirts and some really amazing coffee mugs. When I have time to browse, I’ll go back for another cup.

I’ve cooked up some beans for meals this week and am going to head to bed to read some more tonight. Now I’ve got races to motivate my running, a blog project that encourages me to explore my area, and a book club to motivate me to read. What’s motivating you to do what you know you want to do? Maybe it’s time you put something in place!

Have a great week, y’all!


There Are No Words


Here we are again. There are just no words.  Actually, there may not be enough words. I keep wanting to write, but I can’t process it all. And I’m not just talking about the immediate crisis of the Parkland shooting. The complex processing that I can’t adequately express in words started with the Harvey Weinstein stories and the resulting cascade flooding the news cycle.

I walk in circles where people heal their wounds, so I know the silence around abuse. I have heard loud and clear that the abuse is horrible, but the silencing by others who should be protecting them is often much worse than the event itself. Women – and men – whose lives and relationships who are ravaged by the impacts of early abuse of any kind tell their mother, their father, the authorities to only find that they are not believed. Or maybe they are believed, but they are told to keep quiet. It’s just too INCONVENIENT to confront a spouse … or an uncle … or a friend … or a teacher.


So now we have a tsunami of words that have been silenced for far too long. Then we have the horrific doctor here in this state who systematically abused children and young women in his care in front of parents and others because his words describing his “technique” was unfathomably legitimized. Yes, there were complaints, but those words were explained away and covered up. Every one of these women’s lives will be horribly impacted by this abuse but most of all by the silencing of their voice by the people who should have protected them. I LOVED hearing their words to their trusted perpetrator.


We have the 18th school shooting this year. Eighteenth… and it’s not even the end of February. Parkland is the tip of the iceberg. And yet the rallying cry of some is that these children should not be speaking up. It is not their place. They are not old enough, wise enough to express themselves. These kids just lived through an event where they were targets of a man with a gun. Whatever age they were before this happened is irrelevant. They were forced to grow up real quick. Youth over. Life changed. Grown up.

I am sick of this silencing of people who have been abused. I am especially sick of white men in power who silence people with their money, their shaming and their lies. There is a cultural shift in this country going on, and it’s about damn time. I am horrified that there was a systematic silencing of women in the workplace who had to endure ridiculous behavior in order to work. I am saddened at the lack of compassion and understanding to the plight of children who have to fear gun violence in their schools. There are just no words that adequately express my feelings around all of this.


This is who we are, America. Make excuses all you want. Marginalize the victims. Squash them if you can. We are one big dysfunctional family. Protect the perpetrator. Ignore the problems. Pretend we are normal. Keep the status quo. Do not feel. Do not speak. Do not tell the truth. I don’t know the answer to any of the problems we have as a country, but I know the path out is paved with words. Find them. Say them. Listen. It’s the only thing that has ever healed.

Seeking Comfort: It’s Monday


In the January 22nd reading of Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart, she provides a perspective on comfort. She keeps one of her favorite blankies in her Jeep. She doesn’t use it to sleep with because she doesn’t sleep outside, but she throws it in her vehicle to remind her of how important it is to seek comfort.

Our collective obsession to “be the best we can be”, “live out our passion” and “stay positive” has become a new way to push ourselves.  It seems softer than having to work ourselves to death for The Man, but it can have the same effect of driving us to succeed. We are not machines.

Even Elizabeth Gilbert realized that she was passion shaming people when she spoke about the importance of finding your passion and committing to it. After a confrontation from a fan about how shamed she felt after hearing her speak because she couldn’t name her singular passion, Gilbert realized that her path might have been different. She found that most people grow into their passion by the choices they make. Not everyone has the same driven life experience that she had. And both approaches are completely normal.

Gilbert says there are two kinds of people. There are the jackhammers and the hummingbirds. I like to noodle things. I try out new things to see if I like them. I see a shiny object, and I totally dig getting distracted by it. This kind of lifestyle brings me comfort. Yes, I feel a little unfocused at times. I give in to my depression on occasion. There are days when I’m not being true to myself. I wasn’t always this way. I was taught to power through and excel. I was raised on the mantra “be the best at something, or don’t do it”. And it about killed me. I am NOT a jackhammer.

I’m approaching Monday by easing into it. I’m curled up with my kitties and Ashok under my favorite blankie. I’m sipping green tea instead of coffee. In a moment, I will have some greek yogurt and granola with fruit. These are some of my favorite things. And I will probably be a few minutes late for work because I hate dragging myself out of my house in the morning. Luckily it’s not too cold, and I don’t have to shovel snow. I have time to seek comfort this morning, and I believe I will.

What brings you comfort? Do you spend time seeking comfort, or do you drive yourself? What feels better to you? Are you a jackhammer? Or a hummingbird?



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.

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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.





Fiction: Almost Given Up


Tara looked at her running shoes on the other side of the room. They look like new but had been in her possession for many months. “There’s nothing like the feel of a new running shoe under my feet,” she thought. It made her smile. She glanced out the window at the road that she had run so many times. Running was freedom. It was a longing and an attempt to maintain forward motion. She loved it.

The Chicago Marathon was less than an hour from starting. Even with the warmth of the 70,000 people around her and the buzz of excitement, she was cold. But she had waited a long time for this. She had trained a long time and through a lot of humid, hot miles. It was her first event of this magnitude, and it would be the highlight of her 40s to finish it.

In fact, her 40s seemed like a marathon. The death of her best friend, a divorce and the loss of the job that she had loved for 15 years knocked her off her pedestal of success. But inside, she felt that she was a better person for it. She’d learned how to ride the waves of grief, reinvent herself and ask for what she wanted. The muscle of her soul felt stronger. She’d chosen the marathon as a way to help her outsides match the badass strength of her insides. Every mile gave her the confidence that she was gaining ground.

Looking up at the condominiums on the other side of the park, she wondered what it was like to live there. Would she want to lug her stuff down 15 floors every morning to go to work? Slogging through snow and ice to catch a train could be an adventure if you looked at it that way. She thought of the empty space in her future where her dreams used to live. Could this be a future she’d love? Her heart jumped a little at the thought of it. She could see herself as a city girl.

The miles slogged on the roads through weather of all kinds was just a metaphor for her life journey. And her shoes lay on the other side of the room, discarded… a reminder of what she hadn’t done more than what she’d accomplished. After the marathon, she’d almost given up on herself. It was a great accomplishment, but it somehow brought on a pause instead of a celebration … a depression instead of joy.

She had wanted that 26-mile journey to be the start of something new. Instead it felt like an ending. It was the hard stop of the life that she had known before with a fist shaken in the face of defeat. The energy it had taken to get there – physically and emotionally – left her depleted. Her much-needed physical rest turned into a surrender to life. The grief was gone, but the hole left by her dreams seemed bottomless. Those almost like-new running shoes lay right where she had left them that day 6 months ago. When you don’t know the next step, who needs shoes?

She looked at the road again. The sound of her footfalls and the sight of her frosty breath on a cold day seemed like a gift. She thought about that morning in Chicago when she was so hopeful and inquisitive about her next steps. “Every journey begins with a single  step,” she whispered. She breathed in a big breath shifting the weight of the depression weighing in on her chest. “Maybe I could start with a walk,” she bargained. “Yes, I think a walk would be good.”


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.




Superhighways for Moving Through Feelings


Today’s reading from The Language of Letting Go urged me to be aware of my feelings. Dysfunctional messages tell us not to feel. Above are some basic feelings. We all have them. Normalize them. Let them move through you like a current. I promise they will change if you just let yourself feel them. Here are some superhighways for moving emotions through your body.

  • Talk about them.
  • Journal or write.
  • Cry.
  • Laugh.
  • Hug yourself.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Exercise.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Explore them in meditation.

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….