Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Life has transitioned for the better for me. I am now a retired person!

I always assumed that retirement (wish there was a more appealing word) would be the ultimate vacation. And it is true that I have more time. But shifting from being on the treadmill of employment and being productive is TOUGH! To be honest I struggle still. 

Henri Nouwen put it well, “When we retire we make a passage from a life of clearly defined work to a life asking for new creativity and wisdom.” Some passages take longer than one would expect.

I had to take myself to task. First I learned that I need to be kind to myself. I expected to tackle all of those projects I had been unable to do while I “worked”. But daily life gets in the way of the best laid plans. Books are waiting to be read!

As part of my process, I decided to list the values that are important for me. Health, Family, Finances, Decluttering, Deep cleaning, Gardening…
Then I picked one value to focus on for the year… I chose my Health.

Watching other retired persons, I recognized that the ability to move free of pain; to think and function easily was of uppermost importance. One term, “to live in place” honed it even more. I want to be in control of the quality of living.

My daily routine has morphed into a rather cliché round of regular exercise, healthy food, learning, being with people I love, drinking 8 glasses of water, getting 8 hours of sleep.

Note that my retirement date of January 17, 2017 was sadly three days before the inauguration of our 45th president. My hoped for days of being creative and imparting wisdom was high-jacked. I admit to becoming obsessed with news cycles, being exasperated, and muttering words I will not repeat here.

Future posts will reflect what I learn as I go.

                Quote from Bread for the Journey, by Henri J.M. Nouwen, ©1997

Saturday, April 26, 2014

To any reader, my apologies. I don't intend for my posts to be depressing because I do not see life that way. However my words take on the shades of what is happening in my life.

A month ago one of favorite people left this world, my Aunt Gena. She was ready to join her husband Burt and all of their dogs and cats who were waiting for her. It is me that I feel sorry for. She was someone who embraced me when I arrived in Washington many years ago. She was my friend through 46 years of ups and downs we shared. I miss her.

Three influential women in my life left this world in the last year. Bev, a neighbor who became a friend taught me to stand up for women and to love life. My dear mom taught me to be committed and kind and to love books. Gena showed me what hospitality is and that it is ok to dote on kids and pets.

I am stronger, bolder and more compassionate because of three very different women.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Eighteen months since I put words to this page. Long enough that the Blog setting has changed...as does life.

Just to catch up with events: I took a new position in the Issaquah Library in January 2013. There was so much to digest and establish myself at the same time proving you can teach an old girl new tricks. I enjoy the work most of the time, enough to stay with it beyond the time I could retire.

My dear sweet mom left this world in August. I am so grateful to my family for calling me home soon enough to spend two days with her. I made a second trip for her memorial service. Someone told me long ago that grief empties you and fills  you at the same time. So true.

Losing her kind of took the wind out of my sails. Three weeks later one of my cats couldn't go on any longer...I stalled and went on autopilot...a saving grace. Reality sets in now and I look around seeing the obvious; I need to restart the engine. I am hoping the spring will warm us. I am  always at my best when the sun shines.

I marked my 65th birthday. I don't feel 65 and I don't want to be 65. I was signing up for the obligatory Medicare the day before my birthday when I had 3 months before to do it...see what I mean. I still have never asked for a "senior discount", it just never dawns on me. My friends have already retired or are planning the day. I expect I will have an epiphany and that will be it for me, too.

One thing I do have to learn for self preservation, ask for help. I take this from Louise Penny's Still Life. Gamache insists his team learn to say four things:
  • I don't know
  • I need help
  • I'm sorry
  • I forget 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My vacation

I find myself feeling very contemplative after visiting my family in the Black Hills. Everything changes yet stays the same. The nieces and nephews are taller and smarter and poised. Siblings remain employed, are wiser and more compassionate.  My parents carry on. Mom cooks breakfast, Dad writes stories with imagination and humor.

My trip started with a flight to Minnesota where I was met by my sister. We had lunch at Good Earth with her long time friend.The spiced tea was a treat. We proceeded the Mall of America! For a woman who dislikes shopping, 400 stores are overwhelming! But the  Sea Life aquarium  was a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Shark overhead! 

The next morning our destination was an hour south in Faribault . The Paradise Center for the Arts  is lovingly managed by a group of artists. Classes and hands on material and galleries provide the community with chances to create. Our purpose was to make a piece of batik and Deb was so generous with her time and guidance. I'm proud of my piece...warning, can become addictive!

An eight hour drive through corn fields on both sides of I-90 took us "home". The 2 Billion year old Black Hills  is a geologist's dream and is chock  full of history. If you ever go there, see Mammoth a 1974 discovery of mammoth relics from 26,000 years ago and no South Dakota trip would be complete without seeing Mt. Rushmore. What a contrast of nature swallowing giant animals and then a few miles away and many centuries later humans carved faces into the granite side of a sacred mountain.

One of the highlights of my visit was to find the rumored original homestead of my great grandfather and grandmother still standing. Their family  immigrated from Finland in  1888. What a joy to actually see it.   The very air carried the pioneer souls that hewed the logs and plowed the land. I think of the footprint they left and am reminded that we all leave signs that we walked this land and changed it's landscape with everyday choices.

After six days I said a bittersweet goodbye. I regret leaving but am anxious to get back to my own city, home and bed. The thing I was reminded of is this; people are the same everywhere. They are kind and busy and they fashion a pace that reflects their region.  But I realize we all miss the relevance of the history that shapes our geography and traditions.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I think
best in ink

The paper awaits
As the pen sates

I can be a fool
With my doodles

an inner quibble

For my eyes alone
Nothing needs to be written in stone

And onto this lined layer
My story, my poem, my prayer .

Monday, January 16, 2012

standing for peace

My spirit pricks its ears to the sound. People all over the world have raised their voice. They speak in city squares. Their protests topple governments, expel dictators, call for fairness and cry for equality.

In Tunisia, it started with one man, Mohamed Bouazizi. He set himself on fire in protest. That one sacrificial act led to what is now being called the Arab Spring. The offspring “occupy” movement has spread to Europe and the US. as the discontentment of young, middle class, educated citizens inspires them to gather and to be heard.

I applaud them and I worry that the outcomes may not be as noble as their intentions. Their pleas are for justice. Justice leads to equality and freedom. Perhaps peace will follow. Peace is not an easy road. But it is peace that will free men, women and children to live their lives without fear.

Women in Liberia found their voice after thirteen years of violent brutal war. One of their leaders, Leymah Gbowee recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in her native country. She rallied women to stand silently in a field, wearing white, day after day to make the world notice. They were tired of being victims of war. Their silent peaceful acts forced leaders to bring an end to war in Liberia. You can read her story in Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War.

A small book (41 pages) I read over and over again is The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering by Sharon Mehdi. A story for anyone who thinks she can't save the world. My favorite line is on page 2, “And there they stood.”

There is incredible power in women's wisdom. It begins right where we stand. The outcome is Peace.

Ms Gbowee said on December 30, 2011 “For one night at midnight, a cacophony of New Year’s resolutions deafen the earth. This year, I will be silent and let my actions will into existence what my lips cannot.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 2012 looking at 1967

In January we take stock of our year. We look at the blessings and disasters. How much is resolved ? Could we have made better decisions? I feel like I remained a hostage to life's events since July. But it is a new year and I have new resolve ...maybe it is more like hope on the wing.

The years are chapters in the stories of our lives. Here is one early chapter from my life.

In January 1967 I was 18, married for 7 months and a new mother of a 2 month old boy. The cute little house we were renting became too expensive to heat that winter so we moved into the house my in-laws had vacated to live "in town". The house in rural South Dakota did have electricity. It had a wood stove but no seasoned wood had been cut, the septic system wasn't working. A dead mouse had tainted the water so we had to haul drinking water.

So there I found myself, young, isolated and alone most of the time. In my effort to use the wood stove, smoke billowed into the house more often than I care to admit. We had to use the outhouse. We hauled water. My husband left every day for his 12 mile commute which seemed like 100 miles away. There was no car for me to venture out. The phone only worked for incoming calls. We had a black and white television with one channel. All of my friends were attending college classes and dating. I spent my winter days nurturing my baby boy ( he was a happy healthy little guy), reading when he napped, cleaning...Oh how I cleaned.

I tell my story, not describe a hardship but because I got through it! At the time I didn't know that the challenges I faced would make me strong. We took each day as it came.

We all do that. An event forces us to veer off our path. We choose to sit right down to wallow or get up and take a step. And then another. Take heart, the years write our story, make it a good read.