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Little Things

Sun streaming through the bedroom window called me awake this morning. Not ready to get up, I snuggled deeper into my bed and began listing all the little things welcoming me into this new day.  The feel of crisp clean sheets.  Sunshine.  A warm bedroom.  Being able to wiggle my toes.  The luxury of rolling …

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Stories

I’ve been reading Erica Bauermeister’s delightful book, The Lost Art of Mixing.   It’s not the greatest piece of literature ever written.  The storyline is simple and uncomplicated, but her use of language and word pictures are heartwarming and vivid.  The Lost Art of Mixing is one of those books that leaves you feeling hopeful about the future and …

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Step 11 and Gratitude

The older I get, the more grateful I become.  The other night our little CoDa group worked on the 11th step.  “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for God’s will for our lives and the courage to carry that out.”   When I …

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STILL PONDERING

I’m still pondering the who or whose “I am” question.   Descartes said, “I think, therefore, I am.”  I have no idea what that means. To be truthful, I can drive myself nuts asking questions such as, “who am I?” There are many ways to describe myself.  I am female.  I am a widow.    …

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IT’S THAT GRATITUDE THING AGAIN

Mary Davis has a simple formula for dynamic living.  “Shine brightly.  See beauty.  Speak kindly.  Create joyfully.  Live thankfully.”  If there ever was a time when there are good reasons for unhappiness and despair, it is now.  Yet, precisely because these are challenging times, it is vitally important we implement Mary Davis’s suggestions.  Negative thinking …

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World Soul

John 1 opens with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Through him were all things made that were made, and the Word was the source of life, and this source brought light to all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness …

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Success and Gratitude

At our CoDa meeting, last night,  we talked about the 10th step.  That’s the step in which we take time each day to review our successes and our failures.  Unfortunately, most of us have been programmed to focus on our failures rather than our successes.  We’ve learned how to blame and shame ourselves when we …

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Tempting or Temptation

  There’s a phrase  in the familiar version of the Lord’s Prayer that troubles me:  “And lead us not into temptation.”  How or why would a loving God deliberately lead us into temptation?   It simply doesn’t make sense.  In fact, the more I delve into theology and religious literature and the answers we humans have …

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Consequences

I have this intense urge to go upstairs and hide in my sewing room.  It’s a dreary day, following a series of dreary days, and my get up and go never got up with me this morning.   I’ve been feeling this way since our discussion on crime and punishment at church yesterday.  I’m bothered by …

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Step Nine

I have never met a person who hasn’t hurt or disappointed me.  In the same way, I have never met anyone I can’t love, if I really try.  Granted, there are people  I don’t like, but liking is different from loving.  Loving is about respecting another’s right to live a full and rewarding life.  There …

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Boredom

Some mornings I wake up with an idea already percolating.  Sometimes my morning walks bring things into focus.  Sometimes  I just sit and stare into space.  That was this morning.  As I stared out the window, I reached for one of my collections of sayings and read, “Writing is like driving a car at night.  …

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The power of music

Most mornings my friend and I walk the streets of Fairfield, waking our sleepy bodies by walking to great conversation.   Yesterday we both attended the fall performance of the Gettysburg Chamber Orchestra.  It was an emotional experience for both of us.  For me, the tribute to 9/11 brought memories of bodies jumping from those burning …

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Perception and perspective

Last evening my granddaughter showed me a collection of  photographs she’d taken.  I was blown away.  As we scrolled through her various collections of trees, marshes, water, and ocean sunrises, she’d often comment, ‘this one’s no good.  It’s blurry,’ or  “the light’s not right in this one.  It almost hides that tree”  or “this didn’t …

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Becoming more aware

Earlier this morning my neighbor, who was walking his dog,  stopped to chat.  He reported reading an article in the New York Times about the correlation of dogs with  depression and dementia and exercise.  Once we had exhausted that topic we explored that topic of plants.  “You know plants have feelings,” he said.  “Scientists are …

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Or not to be

I’ve been missing him more lately. Perhaps it comes from visiting family and scattering some of his ashes at  the foot of his parents’ gravestone. Perhaps it’s the letdown following a very positive family gathering. Perhaps it was celebrating his birthday with the children and grandchildren by each eating a bowl of coffee ice cream (his …

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On Eagles’ Wings

It’s been six months since he died.  It’s time to move on, to pull myself up by my invisible bootstraps.  Time to make a new bucket list, to embrace my new reality; do my best to make the most of each and every day.  Years ago one of my counselors asked me, “What would you …

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Worry

Worrying has never solved anything or helped anyone succeed in life. Being concerned is different than worrying. Being concerned acknowledges there are needs and issues to be rationally addressed. Worrying, on the other hand, is like having a gerbil wheel running nonstop in one’s head. It’s worry that robs us of our sleep and keeps …

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Gratitude

Gratitude is everything.  Without gratitude life has little meaning.  Without gratitude we are less than we were created to be.  Gratitude allows us to see with new eyes, to hear with new ears, and to perceive with new understanding.  Gratitude is loving with abandon and joy.    Gratitude inspires us to stop and thank the …

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This is the day the Lord hath made

I’ve been warned that anniversaries are difficult times following a loved one’s death., so I woke up promising myself that I will not feel sorry for myself today.  Instead I will celebrate this day in as many ways as I can by focusing on being grateful –  not just for what was, but for what …

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An attitude of gratitude

 I think it was Charles Swindoll who said, “ Your success or failure in life will not be determined by the number of setbacks you encounter, but rather how you react to them.” The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change …

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Attitude

Attitude, it’s been said, makes a big difference in life’s outcomes.   No matter how difficult or easy the situations and people with whom we are dealing, our attitude will be a determining factor in what happens and how we react.  One of my favorite Native American folk tales is the one in which a …

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The Golden Rule

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I grew up believing that I, as a good little Mennonite girl,  should always put others first.  My role in life, I believed,  was to be compliant and attentive to others, to adopt the servant role in all I do, and to always put others first, …

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Do no harm

The question, “what is my purpose?” has been rattling around in my head since my spouse  died.  This morning, while walking several buckets of weeds and table scraps to my neighbors compost pile, an idea popped into my mind.  “What if my purpose in life is simply to do no harm?  What if it is …

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Golden Years

As I look back over this past year and the final days with my husband, I have a new appreciation for the phrase “Golden Years.”  I think I’ve always thought one’s golden years were more about financial security and being free to come and go, relax, travel, read, volunteer, etc.  Yet, after this weekend I …

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Step One Again? Step One Again?

It’s been three months since he died and my friends and family are starting to worry about me.  Shouldn’t I be snapping out of this malaise? Why my lack of interest in things I had formerly cared about? In the past, I’ve been able to talk myself out of self pity and resentment when things veered off …

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Our Great God Guns

If I hear one more person call for more thoughts and prayers in response to gun violence, I think I’ll scream. Thoughts and prayers are worse than meaningless, especially when they are intended to substitute for corrective action.   Nor is God going to step in and save us from ourselves.  God, you see,  has this …

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Step Five

Step Five is the step where  you share your story with someone you trust.   In many ways Step Five is the freedom step.  This is “swallow your pride and walk into the light of truth and honesty step.” It’s human nature to try to hide things about ourselves. We’ve all done things for which …

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Accepting the Process

Blogging eluded me yesterday.   I simply didn’t have the energy or will power to develop a coherent theme.  At this stage of life, blogging has become an important way of helping me reinforce the tools I need to get through my days.  It also makes a good vehicle with which to share my 12 …

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Kite Strings

I’ve been experiencing blogger’s block.  For the past few days each time I sit down to write, pray, or meditate all I experience is emptiness, an emotional and spiritual void. So I fiddle with this and mess with that, hoping something will emerge from waiting.  It’s not that I’m unhappy.  In fact, the days are …

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Self Care

A new concern emerges now that I am alone…I could easily become absorbed in me.  My grief. My sadness. My concerns.   My feelings.  As each day passes I’m becoming more aware of how easily I could slip into self pity.  I started attending 12 step meetings many years ago because our teens had gotten caught …

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Basic Questions

Since he died, I find myself asking the same question each morning when I awake. “What’s the point of getting up?  Where do I now find my meaning and purpose in life?”  Up until now I was the wind beneath his wings as he was mine.  Now that he is gone, I am faced with …

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Thorns and Roses

Routines are important.  Routines give structure to one’s day, awaken one’s mental juices,  help jump start the morning.   One of the hardest things about adjusting to my husband’s death is the disruption of long established routines.  Most of our meaningful discussions came while getting dressed in the morning and eating breakfast.   I recall a …

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Reflections

Well, this is it. My new life. Over the weekend we buried his ashes in a puddle of watery mud and had his memorial service. Family and friends who came for his service have returned to their everyday lives. Everywhere I look I see reminders that reduce me to a tearful ball of gratitude. I …

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Interdependence

The focus statement in Sunday’s bulletin read: “As we seek God’s way, we move from an understanding of power that grasps for control over others to an understanding that power comes from working with and for others.”   That idea was further developed in the Call to Worship.  “Together we seek the way of God, a …

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Fake it till you make it

An oft repeated 12 step saying is “Fake it till you make it.” I find that excellent advice as I set about creating my new life as a widow. No matter what challenge faces any of us – death, addiction, recovery, losing a job, divorce, business failure, debt, an empty nest, starting a business, getting …

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Big Girl Pants

It’s been a week. A long short forever week since he died. To paraphrase Edna St Vincent Milay, “Life goes on though good men die. Life goes on. It’s time to discover why.” My aching body and broken heart isn’t ready to move on, but remembering his courage in face of his disabilities and illnesses, …

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Endings and Beginnings

Last evening my companion and lover embarked on life’s greatest adventure …exploring the afterlife. I’m feeling; well I’m not sure what I am feeling. Numb. Abandoned. Relieved. Anxious. Angry. Exhausted. Lonely. Afraid. Once again, I find myself taking a first step; admitting over and over that I am powerless over almost everything that matters. Like …

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“Oh Love, That Will Not Let Us Go”

There is something in us that clings to life.  We do a lot of grumbling and complaining, but when push comes to shove, we hang on with every ounce of our being.  My spouse of 63 years is finally taking his leave.  He’s no longer eating or drinking.  At times he’s been agitated. He mumbles …

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Be still and know

I haven’t wanted to blog the past few days as I have been running on automatic pilot. Reality is closing in even as it seems very distant and unreal. I am fascinated by the way we create our own reality. Ukraine provoked war with Russia?  Russia is so threatened the West it is going on …

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Guilt as incentive

Guilt, it’s been said, is the gift that keeps on giving.  It’s the 2nd part of the 12 step saying “pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.” We all experience pain and guilt. They are both inevitable with guilt being one of our basic human responses to much in life. Without guilt we’d never learn, …

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Bitter or Better?

In the forward to my book, Steps to Hope, I wrote: “To my four wonderful children. You taught me in unforgettable ways that we can either be “bitter” about our trials in life, or “better” because of them. Together we learned that the difference between bitterness and betterment is one letter and one person. I.” My …

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The Bluebird of Happiness

I learned to love books as a kid. Born before TV and technology came on the scene, a crank telephone hanging from the wall and a big console radio were all that connected us to the distant world. I was in college before my folks got their first television set so my childhood centered around …

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Love them; change me

Yesterday in the discussion that followed our Zoom church service, we talked about the importance of praying for our enemies and those with whom we disagree, mistrust, or feel some discomfort.  We agreed one of the great opportunities and responsibilities open to us is practicing gratitude and praying for or, as some of like to …

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Affirmations for today

This being one of those days where life just keeps disrupting my carefully laid plans, I reached for my 12 step file and flipped through the pages until I found what I needed to detach from my to do list.   I am connected to others and the world around me, both the positive and …

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In a bulb there is a flower

There is something about watching an amaryllis bulb grow and unfold during these dark winter days that speaks to me of hope and beauty.  I admit that I am easily discouraged with all the negative energy polluting our emotional and social air waves and environment, that our self limiting fears and suspicions are far more …

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Letting Go

Letting go is a vitally important 12 step principle, for without our willingness to let go, nothing can change. Step One tells us that we have to let go of what was before so we can enter into what can be; that which will liberate and heal us. Nor is Step One a once and …

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Islands of Opportunity

 It’s so easy to look back and assume that life was easier, simpler, less complicated in the good old days.  Not so.  Granted, there was no snap-chat or Facebook, no Twitter or landlines, no 24-7 TV news or cell phones to mess with our minds.  One could go for months, even years without seeing friends …

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The words we use

Our son and wife were just here for a Christmas visit.  Our daughter-in-law is a fabulous cook, and she brought several delicious meals, making food prep much easier given my husband’s medical situation. The rest of the time we did what I’m most comfortable doing when company comes.  We grazed and ate left-overs, along with …

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When will it be time?

There is something healing about this sorting and discarding process…this reliving and remembering, this taking stock of the past and present, this recognizing past and present brokenness and growth, this claiming the many small victories that add up to a full and gratitude filled life. I’ve barely started on the many drawers and files of …

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Chaos and Connections

I’m watching tiny snowflakes drift lazily to the ground, waiting for my husband to awake. He has a cold. I panicked last night fearing covid19 or one of its variants, but with morning and a cup of coffee the world has righted itself. At hospice’s suggestion we are to isolate ourselves for several days just …

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Remembering

This Thanksgiving “vacation” has been both chaotic and wonderful. Some of our vaccinated family came to help care for and spend time with their father and grandfather. One evening, we dug out old photo albums, laughing and reminiscing. But, what are we to do with old albums that are too precious to throw away, yet …

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Joy comes in the morning

Instant communication has its pros and cons. It’s good to keep informed. I appreciate being able to call, email, or zoom loved ones. Platforms such as Facebook allow us to share pictures and news with loved ones far away, but they also allow for dangerous misinformation and provocative videos that are blatantly untrue. Cell Phones …

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Eagle’s Wings

Even with the Hospice nurses and home health aids frequent visits to check on my husband, I’m still denying the reality of his impending death. It’s all I can do to believe that after 62 years of marriage, he is going to be leaving me. My head understands, but my heart refuses to accept his …

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Gratitude

My houseplants and I have a standing agreement. If they want to stick around, I will feed and water them, taking them outside in the summer where they can snuggle under the shrubbery soaking up the rain and sunshine. In return they agree to fill our home with greenery and flowers once the weather turns …

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In all things give thanks

This week has been a reminder that each and every day is a precious gift. Tuesday evening my husband of 62 years had a heart attack. Since then it’s been daily trips to and from the hospital, waiting, reading, knitting, praying, waiting, touching, helping, waiting…. So far, he’s hanging in there and the prognosis looks …

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Steps to Hope

My husband and I have very different thermostats. He tends to be cold while I tend to be hot. Summers when I am miserable, he is chilly and resists our using fans. In winter, he prefers the thermostat to be set at a minimum of 75, too warm for my comfort. Since his temperature sensitivity is health …

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One day at a time

My husband is a member of our local School Board. Anyone who thinks school board meetings are boring obviously hasn’t attended one recently. The pandemic has turned meetings into shouting matches between the maskers and anti maskers, vaccers and anti vaccers. Many, it seems, just wants to get back to normal, whatever that is, and …

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