Sand Dollars

There is a large glass vase that sits on my fireplace. It has the words Lest You Forget etched into it. It’s meant to be a marker, a way of remembering.

We need markers in our life to help us remember. As young parents we forget what it was like to be a kid. As parents of teens we forget the stupid stuff we did that taught us life lessons. As mature adults we forget the mistakes made that allowed us to become mature adults.

When we first moved to California, I spent a lot of time collecting sand dollars, seventy to be exact. They weren’t just any sand dollars, they had to be perfect; no cracks or missing backs. I brought them home, wash them and let them bleach in the sun. Then, I carefully laid them in the jar. This jar and its 70 perfect sand dollars was a marker to me of life prior to California.

Two Fridays ago I had an nagging feeling all day that I had forgotten something. It wasn’t until evening when it dawned on me that exactly ten years ago on that day, I had flown into San Luis Obispo, CA for the first time. A decade, my mind immediately began recalling all that had happened in those ten years.

It wasn’t an easy decade by any stretch of the imagination. There was an enormous amount of change, health issues, loss of career, financial loss, and family tragedy. The images that filled my head were not of celebration but of pain. And then suddenly, there was the image of a large glass vase filled with sand dollars and it no longer marked life prior to California, rather our first decade here.

The next day we packed a small cooler, a shovel, and a large glass vase filled with dusty sand dollars and Jeff and I headed to the beach.

We parked and Jeff took the shovel and began digging a hole while I retrieved the cooler and poured two glasses of wine. When both tasks were complete, I pick up the glass vase and held it for a moment as if placing all the sadness I had been reminded of into it. I then carefully tipped it over and seventy, once perfect, sand dollars spilled out.

As the last of the dollars landed I couldn’t help but notice the perfect, white, brilliant ones that now laid on top of the pile. “And there it is,” I thought. “That’s the full circle.” Surrounded by faded, dusty and broken sand dollars were beautiful white perfect ones, so breathtaking that I had to stop myself from retrieving them.

I had been remembering the loss and had forgotten that it was only because of the loss that life is now more amazing and wonderful than I could have ever imagined…and I have a big imagination.

Jeff covered the hole and we toasted to the past, to lessons learned, and to all that lay ahead of us in 2018 and beyond.

…There is a large glass vase that sits on my fireplace. It has the words, Lest You Forget etched into it. It’s meant to be a marker, a way of remembering…it’s waiting to be filled.



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Living Unstuck; finding your joy!

Feeling or Fact

I heard him say, “I just can’t forgive myself. I feel so guilty…”

I’ve heard others say this very thing but on that day his words hit me in an odd way. What would cause someone to not accept forgiveness? Why would anyone want to hold on to the past that badly?

“I feel guilty…” I played it over and over. Then it dawned on me, maybe guilt isn’t an emotion. Maybe it’s just a simple fact.

There are two reason why we feel guilty. The first is that we are super sensitive, insecure, and feel like everything that goes wrong in the world, in our lives, and in the lives the people around us must be our fault. We have caused all the evil, bad luck, and devastation in the world and are resigned to carrying the guilt and responsibility until the day we die. To those I simply ask, “How’s that working for you?”

The second reason we feel guilty is that we are. We did something – that cause something – thus we are guilty. In this case, guilt isn’t an emotion, it’s a fact. We are guilty!

This should not be alarming to anyone since we are all guilty of something. Even God says we are all guilty. So why do we pretend we aren’t? Why do we prefer making this fact into a feeling and carry it through life with us?

Once we flip the switch from feeling guilty to admitting that our guilt as a fact, we are free to accept forgiveness. Whether that’s God’s forgiveness, the forgiveness of another, or forgiving ourselves. It can only be accepted when we admit we were wrong.

Guilt is a fact, not a feeling.

I’m quite sure a jury never came to the conclusion that the defendant felt guilty.


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Three Little Words

As 2016 came to an end, I contemplated what adventures were awaiting the arrival of 2017. I like making resolutions, but last year I simplified it to three words: Books, Trips, Easy.

As I’ve begun thinking about my words for 2018, I decided to look back and evaluate my 2017 results.

Books. YES! it was a good year for books!

  • I got to meet wonderful, creative, new authors
  • The Plan, my favorite title, was re-worked and re-released
  • The Retail Ladder was recorded and is available on Audible
  • Ready for print is “Living Unstuck” my first collaboration.

All in all – Books was good!


  • Wisconsin in the February. Visited my mother who had a very bad bout with the flu. There’s ice and snow, wind and freezing rain in Wisconsin in the February. No one has ever written a lovely song about it as they have of other places.
  • Wisconsin in ‘later’ Spring. Visited my mother who was recovering from the flu and moving into assistant living. There’s ice and snow, wind and freezing rain in Wisconsin in ‘later’ Spring. Still no songs being written about it.
  • Denver in the Summer. Drove to LA, flew to Denver, met the grandkids at the airport, flew back to LAX and drove 3.5 hours back home…all in one day.
  • Las Vegas in the Summer. Drove to Las Vegas to return grandkids and returned to LA in an adventurous 16 hours.
  • Chicago at Christmas. Three nights on Michigan Avenue enjoying the lights of the city; Wicked, jazz clubs, Hot Spiced Rum, pneumonia and a funeral.

Lesson: I must learn to be more specific with my words!

Easy… Easy is my new way of life.

Easy was a success!

What three little words will define 2018?

I’m still thinking about them, redefining them. The first is rock solid, the other two need to be evaluated. I’m considering adding an adverb or two. After all, my 2017 Trips may have been different if I had said, “Vacations”.


Tubing Through Life

Every been tubing? It was a favorite summer activity as a teen. We’d drive to the middle of nowhere, pay our fee and climb on an old school bus painted hunter green. With a strong enough imagination, you could pretend you were traveling with the Partridge Family. The bus would transport us up a winding road, hugging close to the edge of the river. In tow was a trailer filled with big black inner tubes.

When we arrived to our destination, the bus quickly emptied and its passengers made our way to the river bank. At the same time, the bus driver made his way to the trailer and with the pull of the end of a single rope, giant inner tubes donut rolled down the incline and landed in the water.

In a blink, Partridge Family bus guests forgot they were on tour and dove into the water to catch an inner tube before it floated off.

Once captured, the next challenge was mounting the black rubber vessel. Some would fling it over their heads and allow it to settle at their waist. The next challenge was figuring out how to get their legs up through hole.

Other’s would do the daring backwards leap in hopes their butts would land dead center. Seventy-five percent of the time both human and tube would capsize, throwing the human in the water and the tube in the air.

The preferred method was to belly flop on top of the tube and once balanced, roll over allowing gravity to pull our butts through the hole. Once securely settled in, our feet were free to kick the air, arms were wrapped around the warm rubber tire, head leaned back resting on tube, allowing the current to take us down the river.

No matter how one mounted the tube, once safely on board the river did the rest of the work. For the next few hours, the river was in control and there was no doubt it would take us to the where we needed to go.

In the past year I’ve experienced moments in life that felt like I was still tubing. Moments where things fell into place, strangers I needed to meet crossed my path, opportunities bumped into me and all the while I was just floating along on my inner tube trusting the river. It felt easy. It felt amazing. It felt right.

Those moments have turned into a preferred way of life. A life filled with anticipation to see who I’ll bump into, or what adventure will find me around the next bend. But nothing really needs to happen because floating peacefully down stream, safely tucked away in my big black warm inner tube, is pleasure enough.

There are a few secrets to tubing through life: the first is learning to trust the River. Call it whatever you’d like, Universe, Source, Light, my preference is God; you’ll never begin floating until you begin trusting that the River will take you to where you need to be.

The second is to stay in your own tube and don’t invite anyone to ride along – you’ll likely capsize. The third is to let go of anything that would keep you anchored, bound, tied or tethered, you can’t hold on and move at the same time.

Jumping into the river can be scary. Mounting your tube can be challenging. But once you’ve figured it out, floating down the River is a blast and you’ll never want to live any other way.

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Here’s the thing…

In early August, Jeff and I booked reservations to travel to Chicago on December 6th. It would be the second of our newly established annual Christmas on Michigan Ave get-a-way.

On November 9th I caught a bug which was diagnosed a week later as pneumonia. A week on antibiotics and I still had no energy and a cough that wouldn’t end.

The pneumonia made us rethink our trip agenda, simplifying to allow for a lot of rest time.

A week before our trip, Jeff booked a room close to LAX for the night before our scheduled departure in order to keep our travel days manageable.

We loaded up the car Tuesday morning and headed south to LA. As we neared Santa Barbara the haze over the ocean turned to smoke and we began to see the plumes billowing up from a wild fire still 30 minutes away.

“This probably isn’t good for me,” I said though a series of coughs and quickly covered my face with my sweater making a custom face mask. Jeff took the hanky he always has in his back pocket and did the same.

As we drove further south we were surprised by the lightness of the traffic as we sailed through a stretch of highway that is usually at a stand still. The sky grew darker and sun turned red, it reflected orange sparkles off the water.

When we passed the area that had been ablaze during the night, the sky became brown and black as new fires erupted. After we passed the view in the mirror resembled the severity of a mid-west tornado.

Then the winds hit. The 40 to 60 gusts that were predicted were now a reality. Palm trees swaying, sand and dust blowing across the highway. The ocean looked angry as if it was being churned up from below. Large pockets of mist and salt air circled over the top like a giant caldron.

Jeff was holding tightly to the stirring wheel as we felt the force of the winds. The road wound around the coast line forcing us in and out of the blowing sand, gusting winds and ocean spray. Rounding a bend we both saw the wall of brown heading toward us, as it hit the sound of stone, shells, and sand bounced across the hood of the car, slamming full force into the windshield, and sliding across the roof. There was silence for a second and then round two repeated the performance.

A man on a bike was stopped on the side of the road trying to protect his face from the on slot of nature.

We rounded two more bends and the sky began to lighted. The sun displayed hints of yellow once again. Reflecting off the windsheild we saw the new dents, cracks and divits the sand storm had created. Ten miles down the coast we again saw the ocean mist turning to smoke as another fire had broken out and the high winds carried the smoke over the ocean waters.

Pulling into the beautiful beach town of Manhatten Beach we were both tired and ready to breath fresh air. Lunch and a walk on the pier calmed the nerves but the smoke had irritated the annoying cough that had lingered the past four weeks.

Ready to settle in for the evening we made our way to the hotel, out quiet night was beginning at 4:00.  A short time later we settled into a corner table in the bar. We talked about life and about relationships. I coughed and sipped on a hot toddy.

The next morning we woke to the lights of LA and the layer of smoke that blanketed the hills. It appeared that there was new plumes of smoke billowing up just east of the HOLLYWOOD sign.

I turned on the local new for updates from the fire we had driven through the day before. There were now six fires burning across the LA area, schools were closed and highways shut down.

Then it hit me, if Jeff had not persisted in making Tuesday nights reservations, we would have never made it to the airport this morning.

So, here’s the thing – this is the God I believe in.

He’s not wizard and we aren’t chess pieces on his chess board.                                      He isn’t a God that stops all bad things from happening.                                                         He is a God that promises to walk with us.                                                                            He is a God that has promised he knows what’s ahead and he’s made a straight path for us.                                                                                                                                                                  He does this by gently calling.
He quietly directs.
He offers ideas, inspirations, opportunities.

He impresses on a husbands heart to make a reservation that will allow his wife, recovering from pneumonia, to have a more enjoyable trip. A week later, it is the only way to get them to the airport due to out-of-control raging wildfires.

This trip that was planned three months ago will take us a few short hours away from our family who has experienced a great loss this week. I’m not suggesting for a moment that this tragedy was predestined. But what I will confess with confidence is when we learn to listen to God’s quiet nudging, life flows in ways that gently carries us through the best and the worst of times and gets us to where we need to be even when we are unaware we need to be there.


Layers and Layers and Layers

In the past few weeks it’s been made very apparent to me that I’ve created a bit of a nightmare. It started by cracking the door open just a tad and suddenly I realized it was taking all my strength to keep this monster contained.

The monster is made up of all the extra responsibilities I’ve taken on over my lifetime. It’s all that STUFF we do that we don’t really want to do, or things we do because no one else will, or because we feel guilty. Perhaps it’s because we can do it way better and faster than anyone else. Those things.

Now, I find myself not wanting to do most of them anymore! But it’s not that easy to stop. I know people are expecting me to simply continue to do those things. Yo!

All this STUFF feels like a zillion layers of clothing that I’ve put on and now it’s just heavy and hot under the weight of it all.

I had thought that maybe I needed to stand up, throw off all the layers of clothing  and proclaim that “I’m done!” But that could create a few ripple effects and possibly even a tidal wave or two. I also considered packing my bags and leaving, except I like where I live and for the most part, I like my life. I don’t want to start over.

I was contemplating how could I possible be free from this mess I had so willingly created over my lifetime when the image of a naked toddler popped into my head. You know, 18 months old, totally naked and making his escape from bath time. Running through the house as fast as his chubby little legs could take him, butt cheeks flapping, arms waving in the air and a giggle of freedom that makes you laugh just thinking about it.

“Oh, God, how do I get from here to there? How do I get out from under all these layers?”

One layer at a time…

Yep, just one layer at a time. One situation at a time. One new discovery at a time until I’ve removed all the extra layers and find myself to just me, doing the things I enjoy.

I don’t have plans to run around naked but I would be delighted to sashay through the remainder of my life in a sundress, wide brimmed hat and a shawl – just in case it gets cool. I’d like a refreshing beverage in my hand and every time an opportunity presents itself, I’ll straighten my dress, adjust my hat, take a long cool sip and respond, “I don’t want to do that… but thanks for thinking of me.”