Trusting my intuition…


Recently I re-read the book, Life’s Companion – Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest by Christina Baldwin, as part of my morning read/meditation/journaling exercise.  The book has a copyright date of 1990, so I’m not sure if it is still available for sale – maybe on Amazon or a used book store; but, I highly recommend it whether or not you are a journal keeper.  I think it has lots of good stuff in it about the spiritual journey we are all on (even if we are not aware we’re on it).

I was especially intrigued by the chapter on intuition...our secret voice, which if we don’t ignore it, offers guidance.  Our intuition is not rational since conscious reasoning is not part of it – we just know.  For a person like me who likes to analyze everything that happens – what/why/when/where – it’s easy to reject my intuition.  How can that possibly be what action I should take…it came to me too easily, too quickly.  Instead, I usually have to mull over important decisions.

So, I’m working on trusting my instincts, my hunches – my intuition.

Ms. Baldwin relates a story in the book about how she studied with an Indian medicine man who helped her determine her totem animal was a fox.  She says the fox symbol comes to her often in dreams and meditations…representative of her intuition, her secret voice.  She suggests we can all create our own image of inner guidance – it could be an animal, an object of nature, a refrain of music, etc.  We just have to “ask” for a symbol and then notice and be open to receiving an answer.  It might come to us in a dream or a vision; or, read on for another potential source for discovering a representative symbol.

Throughout this book, the author provides examples/suggested exercises for journal writing and/or meditation to accompany the topics she writes about. One of the exercises she suggests in this intuition chapter is meant to help us recognize a personal intuition symbol.  She says to sit quietly and imagine the space behind your eyes and between your ears is an imaginary room – designed any way you want it to be.  Then, invite a messenger into this space, and notice what/who the messenger is.  I take that to mean whatever form the messenger takes is a  symbol of our intuition.

I just did this little exercise a few days ago and the image that came to me was the sun flooding my imaginary room with sunbeams, providing lots of bright light.  So, I’m thinking the sun or sunbeam is the symbol for my intuition.  I will be curious to see if that image pops up when my intuition is kicking in (and, if it does, will I pay attention to it?!).

If you’re like me and sometimes have trouble recognizing or listening to your secret voice, you might want to try the above exercise and see if you can come up with a symbol for it.  (If nothing else, it’s kind of fun!) That way, when you think of, or dream about the image in the future, you will know it is your intuition speaking to you and just maybe you should listen.



It’s all about moms…

Lovely spring day in MN
Lovely spring day in MN

This weekend is all about moms.  (Unless you are a fisherman in MN, then, it may be all about the fishing opener!)  With Sunday being Mother’s Day, greeting cards, flowers, candy and other gifts are flying out retailers’ doors as families prepare to recognize their moms.

I lost my mom to cancer when I was just 21, so haven’t had a mother to recognize on this special day for many, many years.  But, over the years, I have known lots of other special women who have shown love and care towards me and others in their circle of family and friends – grandmas, mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, and girlfriends.

Lilacs remind me of my sister who loved them and was a terrific mother.  May she rest in peace.
Lilacs remind me of my sister who loved them and was a terrific mother. May she rest in peace.

I think all women whether they bear children or not have a built-in motherly instinct.  Women are the caretakers of the world.  Lucky is the child who not only has a mom to care for him/her, but who may also benefit from the love and care of grandmas or aunties.  As it has been said, it takes a village to raise a child, and how wonderful for those children who experience that village.  And, how wonderful for we adults that have women in our lives still caring for us.

I spent the morning today treating myself to a walk through the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, enjoying the thousands of blooming tulips, the flowering trees and lilacs.  I found another bench to sit on in the midst of the beauty and consider all the special women I know.  Too numerous to list, but all have special gifts they offer the people in their lives – and for that matter, the world.  waterfall

So, I say Happy Mother’s Day to all women.  I hope you receive some recognition on Sunday (and, actually every day!) from your family and friends; and, I add my expression of appreciation and admiration for all you do!




Last week I drove to Silverwood Park – a Three Rivers Park District park near my house – and sat on a park bench near the lake shore.

The bench
The bench
The view
The view

As I sat there for several minutes gazing at the lake and enjoying the serenity of the setting, I wondered what the other people enjoying the park that day thought about what I might be doing.  Little did they know that I sat there because I can’t walk very far on the paths right now without feeling the pain of my hip bursitis.  Normally, I would be walking the pathways and getting some exercise.  In fact, I would usually walk to the park rather than drive.

Particularly at this time of year when everything is budding and blooming, and we finally have warmer weather here in Minnesota, I love being outdoors.  It lifts my mood and provides me with a light heart.  So, my hip issue keeping me from my walks is really bugging me!  An aha moment came to me last week (might have come to some of you more quickly, but I may be stuck in a rut) that I could at least enjoy the outdoors by sitting on a park bench even if I couldn’t walk very far.  Thus, my drive to the park to take in the view from the bench.

Now, all of the verbiage above is just background for why I was sitting on the bench and wondering what people thought of me.  I really want to address my concern about what people were thinking of me.

I pondered the idea of how my actions impress (or not) other people.  Here are my thoughts and questions about this topic:

  • Probably 98% of strangers I encounter give very little thought to what I might be up to; however, that is likely because I am Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual and mostly don’t bother anyone or stir up trouble.  What if I was Muslim or Asian or Black or gay or trans-gender?  Would others then feel they could judge my actions?
  • If anyone does wonder about my behavior, they have no idea what my life is all about at any given moment – how my story affects my actions.  I could be experiencing a tragedy or crisis that causes me to behave differently.  (Yes, I know, hip bursitis is not a crisis, but it is currently affecting my lifestyle.)
  • It is nobody else’s business what I am doing as long as I am not hurting anyone in any way.  Why can’t we all see that as long as no laws are broken or no one is hurt, there is no reason to fear and judge the actions of others, even those that may be of a different race, culture, religion or socio-economic class?

In January, for the last couple of years, I have set a “word for the year” to use as guidance, hopefully, for my lifestyle.  This year my word is acceptance.  I started out with non-judgmental, but decided acceptance sounded better.  I am trying to accept everyone I meet as they are.  I may wonder about the actions of others, as I thought others might be doing about me as I sat on the bench; but, I want to remember that I do not know everyone’s story or the customs of their culture or race or religion, and therefore, cannot judge their behavior.

In the troubled world we live in today, it seems to me we could all attempt to show more acceptance and less fear of the people we encounter as we live our lives.  Who knows what their story might be!


Slow down you move too fast…

Remember that Simon and Garfunkel song from the 60s – entitled, The 59th Street Bridge Song (why not Feelin’ Groovy??)

Slow down, you move too fast; you got to make the morning last.  Just kicking down the cobblestones, looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.

I got no deeds to do; no promises to keep.  I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.  Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.  Life, I love you.  All is groovy.

I recently had a weekend with no plans or activities scheduled.  Our grandsons’ basketball games were on hiatus between the winter and spring seasons; the Gopher basketball season had come to an end; and gardening season had not yet begun.

So, because I had recently requested four books from the library and amazingly, they all became available at the same time, I spent pretty much the entire weekend reading.  Now, what I discovered is since I had no place to go or anything specific to do, I REALLY concentrated on the reading.  I must admit many times I am trying to read quickly so skim whole paragraphs in order to finish a chapter in a book before I have to leave the house to go somewhere.  On this quiet weekend, I really took my time to read each sentence.

In essence, I slowed down from moving too fast – like the song admonishes us to do.  I realized what a gift I was given to have the time to contemplate the authors’ words in each of the books I read – perhaps, to find a deeper meaning.  Instead of just reading the words quickly I had time to really think about the author’s message.

My usual quick method of reading books probably explains why I can get to book club meetings and not remember how the featured book ended! I am in awe of my fellow members during our discussions who can recall what I consider really small details about the story we’ve read.  I usually can’t do that!  I consider myself a detail person; but really, I guess I’m not if I can’t pay attention to the detail in books.  The sad part about that for me is I aspire to be a good writer, and good writers are good at writing detail.  I need to pay better attention!

Really, I started out writing this post with the idea of conveying how important I feel it is to take time to slow down.  Seems as though it has turned into a piece about becoming a better reader and paying attention to detail.  Unless skipping over details as you read also pertains to you, you can ignore that part of this post.

Back to the slowing down topic.  I really enjoyed my quiet weekend.  I know I have written about being still and quiet in previous posts; but, again I will say I highly recommend taking your calendar and blocking out some time to just sit and read, meditate, reflect, pray, watch a movie, listen to music, nap, take a walk outside…to just be.  It doesn’t have to be a whole weekend – an hour here or there can work.  I think you will find it very refreshing/re-energizing.  I know I do.


I’ve Got My Ears On…

After months (okay, maybe years) of responding “what” to persons engaging me in conversation; or, missing much of the dialogue in movies I was watching; and, lastly, being told by my children that I couldn’t hear, I have succumbed and been fitted with hearing aids.

My new ears!
My new ears!

I didn’t go into this without some trepidation.  First of all, I think of hearing aids necessary for only OLD people, and I don’t want to be thought of as elderly…oh, wait, I am getting old.  (Notice, I said getting old.)  Secondly, amongst the few people I know that have them, they always seem to be complaining about them – hearing too much noise, or messing with them to get them to work properly.  My fear was that I would not be able to adjust to the aids, and I too, would not be successful wearing them.  Add to these concerns, the cost of the devices (EXPENSIVE) and the fact insurance and Medicare pay very little in the way of reimbursement, and you might see why I was fearful as I made my appointment with the audiologist.

But, make the appointment I did with an audiologist recommended to me by a friend.  The doctor, a woman, put me at ease immediately.  Though she is likely several years younger than me, I would describe her as a grandmotherly type lady with a huge smile on her face and very cheerful.  During the appointment she thoroughly tested my hearing and shared with me the results in easy-to-understand language.  She answered all my questions and calmed all my fears.  It was clear to me she is very passionate about helping people to hear better.

So I left the first appointment after indeed, placing an order for devices the doctor felt were most appropriate for me.  She actually represents about ten hearing aid manufacturers so had many to consider for me.  Turns out her favorite and the one she felt would work best for me is a Danish company – must be a sign as I am part Danish!  There really is no risk in making a choice, as her routine is to give people 45 days in which to get used to the devices and make sure they are working well.  If in that 45 days I decide these aids are just not working, she will fit me with a different pair.

I received my hearing aids a week after ordering them.  Now, I am still in the 45 day trial period, and in fact, have had two adjustments made already.  It seems that as my brain adjusts to the hearing correction, tweaking may be necessary to make the devices more effective, especially when first starting to wear them.  Once, I have gotten comfortable with my new-found hearing ability, changes may not be needed for a long time.  With this particular audiologist, adjustments are made for free for three years.  The devices themselves have about a 8-10 year life span.

Just this week, an adjustment was made for me that did not increase the loudness, but made the sounds sharper.  My hearing test shows that I have trouble with the higher pitched vowel sounds when listening to someone speak.  That is why while watching movies, for instance, I could hear the dialogue, but could not always discern what was being said – very frustrating!

The bottom line here is I am very happy with the outcome of my decision to get help with my hearing.  Yes, as a woman, I do have hair to hide the fact that I am wearing devices; but, they really are made such that even if I was bald, you may have trouble noticing I am wearing anything extra on my ears.  I am happy to report I can now understand dialogue when I watch TV, I think I am asking “what” less frequently, and, in general, I am not missing out on what goes on around me.

By the way, I can adjust my devices for three different settings (many more are available) – master is the one I use most of the time, comfort is used when I am in a very noisy situation and don’t want to hear everything, and TV is a sharper version and allows me to hear the dialogue when watching a movie or tv program.  A voice in my ear tells me which level I am using; she also tells me when my batteries are low.  (Actually, just like choices one can make for Siri’s voice on iPhones, I can choose the voice to be male or female and even one with an accent.)

If you feel like your hearing is not what it used to be, I would suggest you not hesitate to get help.  I’m here to tell you it is a very good thing to hear well.



Music Makes My Heart Sing…

     Music to fit any mood!
Music to fit any mood!

Recently, as a reward for enduring another PT session for my ever-plaguing hip bursitis (topic for another blog post?), I treated myself to a Starbucks’ coffee at Target.  Normally, I would prefer to sit in a Starbucks shop and relax, but I needed to pick up a few items from Target so chose to indulge in the java there.  Actually, it wasn’t an unpleasant atmosphere – I sat by a window and watched the rain outside, and the only other patron sitting at the tables was a young mother and a very cute baby who charmed me with her smiles.  The best part was the background music playing was music from the 1940s.

Though I was merely a baby at the end of that decade, I have always been drawn to the music of the 40s.  Listening to it always conjures up images of an era gone by.  I can imagine all sorts of scenarios to go with it…like, I can imagine soldiers of WWII and their sweethearts dancing the lindy to the big band sounds. (That is, when they were on leave and not fighting the ugly war.)  Since it is in my imagination only, I can make the scene as fanciful as I want.

I think music is wonderful in the ways it can relax us, excite us, motivate us, inspire us, or cheer us.  It can also bring joy and laughter or even tears.  Listening to music can be an escape – from sadness, stress, undesirable tasks or boredom; or, it can provide a diversion as we go about our household chores or exercise.  And, what about providing the impetus to get up and dance – with or without a partner?!

Mostly, I only listen to music when I am driving in my car.  Thanks to SiriusXM radio, I have a wide variety of genres from which to choose.  With the exception of hard rock and opera, I love all of it, and choose whatever appeals to me at the moment. Though I also often  select public radio and the news to catch up on current events (more frustrating than anything, these days), I have set my favorite music stations so they are available quickly with the press of a button. Like my husband, who flips back and forth between several channels while watching TV, I tend to flip back and forth between radio stations in the car.  My rule with oldies songs, for instance, is if I have never heard the song before, don’t remember it, or don’t like it, I don’t listen to it and quickly change the channel.

I know in the past, I have written about how much I love silence; and, I still think it has its merits and benefits.  But, today, I am writing to remind myself how much I enjoy listening to music which of course, is noise – in some cases, big noise.  I don’t listen to some of the oldies or my favorite country tunes without cranking up the volume…likely why I now need hearing aids!  Even my introverted soul can be energized by listening to music, and I am vowing to take time more often to listen to it other than just when I am in my car.

If you are already a music lover and indulge in listening frequently, you are probably saying, “well, duh!” as you read this.  If not, maybe you will be inspired to take time to treat yourself to your favorite tunes more frequently.

Music sets my heart free.  I hope it does for you also.


It’s all about finding ways to create coziness…

I have just recently learned of the Danish word, hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).  Simply defined, it means coziness.

Cozy up with a cup of tea and a good book.
Cozy up with a cup of tea and a good book.

 For those of you like me that have not heard of this word, it refers to a Danish concept that helps the Danes get through the long, dark winter.  (Actually, in Denmark, they indulge in this concept all year round; but in my mind, it is most needed in winter.) It means creating a warm atmosphere; enjoying the good things in life; spending time with loved ones.

Some say the Danes are the happiest people in the world – maybe hygge explains why.

(As an aside, for those Norwegians reading this, hygge actually comes from a Norwegian word meaning well-being.  The Danes adopted the concept in the 18th century.  Since my heritage is at least half Danish, I choose to embrace the word as the Danes do.)

It seems those of us living in the colder climates could benefit from hygge.  Minnesota winters are not unlike Denmark’s winters with their cold and dark days and nights.  Maybe that is one of the reasons my grandparents decided to land here when they immigrated – the climate was familiar.  (Another side story – when my grandparents, Jens and Agnes, came to America in 1910, they traveled with their 6 month old baby, my dad.  I imagine that was quite the journey for a very young couple with a baby.)

But, I digress from my topic today – hygge.  Though I was fortunate enough and very grateful to have spent a week in January on Grand Cayman basking in the sunshine and warmth of the island, now that I have been back home for a couple of weeks, it seems I have fallen prey to the lethargy of dark, cold days causing me to be unmotivated to do anything productive, and feeling rather blue.  I feel like a slug (actually the word is sluggard)!

So, I am choosing to embrace hygge and taking steps to overcome my funk.  Spring is just around the corner, meaning longer and warmer days, and the opportunity to get outside more; so, I don’t have much longer to endure the effects of winter.

Meanwhile, here are some techniques I have been utilizing which seem to fit in with the concept of hygge…creating warmth and coziness…to help me enjoy what is left of winter.

  • I light a candle or candles, as I work in my kitchen preparing dinner.  The Danes apparently use lots of candles in the winter to create hygge.
  • I snuggle under an afghan as I watch sappy Hallmark movies with RC on TV.
  • I try to include comfort food every now and then in my menu planning – last night we had a yummy chicken/sweet potato stew which I made for the first time.

    Enjoy a good stew on a winter night - comfort food.
    Enjoy a good stew on a winter night – comfort food.
  • I enjoy my morning cup of coffee or afternoon tea in a favorite mug.
  • I curl up with a good book and read in the middle of the day.  I am grateful for retirement and the opportunity to do this.
  • I open the blinds in the rooms of my home early in the day and let the light stream in.
  • I try to get outside mid-day to enjoy real daylight.
  • I treat myself to a creative excursion/fieldtrip occasionally – doing something just for fun or inspiration.

I do think the Danes are on to something.  I like the idea of hygge and since I am a Dane it seems I can own the concept.

I invite you to join me.  What do you do to create coziness?


Laughter is great medicine…


Jack & Grammy enjoying some laughter a few years ago.
Jack & Grammy enjoying some laughter a few years ago.

Three months ago or so when the weather in Minnesota was still friendly for walking outside – no ice, warm – I was passing by a house in my neighborhood and heard laughter through the open window.  This was adult laughter, not child laughter…though who can resist the giggling of children.  It was such a delightful sound of someone enjoying a moment that lovely fall morning that it inspired me to write a blog about laughter.  Obviously, I never got around to writing the post at that time, but the inspiration has not left me so I will expound on the subject today.

Current day magazine articles include laughter when listing all things a person can employ to live a healthy life.   I’m sure there is some scientific reason for this – release of endorphins or somesuch.   I don’t really care about the science of why this is a good thing, I just think it is a nice idea.

Since I am not one that quickly does laugh out loud, I was struck by how wonderful it was to hear the sound of laughter that day on my walk.  I decided, I have to find ways to see the humor in life and enjoy a laugh more frequently.

Here are some things that make me laugh; I’m hoping you might add to the list.

  • telling or hearing a good joke – the cornier, the better
  • witnessing others laughing out loud – especially babies
  • watching the crazy home videos aired on America’s Funniest Home Videos or whatever that program is called on TV; true, many show unfortunate happenings that may even have caused injury to someone, but they are funny
  • recounting stories of embarrassing moments – either my own or someone else’s
  • sharing the details of a random dream – in my case, they usually are very silly
  •  making a comment or doing something that causes levity in a serious situation

I have a good story about how levity can be a release in stressful or sad situations.  My mother passed away many, many years ago (that’s not the funny part).  As my family and I sat around the dining room table going through sympathy cards that we had received, I opened an envelope that contained a birthday card.  It provided some levity that day – we had a good laugh considering how embarrassed the sender was going to be when she realized she had sent us a birthday card and someone celebrating a birthday, a sympathy card.  (For the record, we never divulged the mistake.)

I am generally not a joke teller; my spouse, on the other hand, does like to tell funny stories.  One of my very favorites that still makes me laugh out loud follows:

While visiting a friend, Roy politely removes his brand new shoes at the door of his friend’s home.  One of the many cats the friend owns finds the shoes and proceeds to chew them up.  Roy is very upset.  The friend feels very badly, but isn’t sure which of his pets has done the damage.  Just then, one of the cats enters the room.  Roy’s friend says, “Pardon me, Roy, is that the cat that chewed your new shoes?”

Now, as RC says, I hate it when I have to explain a joke, but in case you don’t get the joke above, think of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo song from the 1940s.  Yes, it precedes most of us, but you may still have heard of it.  If not, I have left you clueless, I’m sure.  Any of you that have known my husband for many years likely have heard that joke told by him somewhere along the way.

Anyhow, that punch line can still make me laugh out loud just thinking of it – sooooo corny!

I hope you all find cause to laugh out loud every day.  In all the seriousness facing us in the world, we do need to lighten up once in awhile.  Laughter is great medicine!


Everything’s new again…

It’s 2017…a new year!

new experiences, new challenges, new opportunities, new methods, new failures, new products, new directions, new events, new sadness, new happiness, new exercise, new sights, new prayers, new realizations, new disappointments, new celebrations, new traditions, new babies, new deaths, new movies, new books, new endings

New Beginnings

That’s a whole lotta new stuff; but, I figure we all will encounter most of it in 2017.  As self-help books and articles will tell us, it’s up to us how we deal with all of this.  Our attitude is key.  We can feel overwhelmed with all that the year brings, or we can feel energized with the possibilities…have a negative attitude or a positive attitude.  And, I’m guessing, on any given day we may bounce between the two, so the trick will be to focus on staying positive.  I wish there was a set of specific instructions as to how to do that, but there isn’t – each of us will have to find our own ways of dealing with life’s happenings.

I’ve always felt the flip of the calendar into the new year offers me a clean slate – a chance to try new things, improve my behavior and outlook on life, and face each day with a positive attitude.  I know I have to work hard to stay focused and make the most of those opportunities.  It would be easy to fall off the wagon, so to speak, after just a few weeks.  Kind of like the masses of people you see at the gym on January 1 certain that this will be the year they maintain a regular exercise program; then, after a few weeks, you never encounter them again.  (Maybe the ease of falling short is why I choose not to make specific resolutions – it’s too difficult to keep them, and I don’t want to feel like a failure.)

Today, I am full of optimism and wishing that each of you reading this, and I, will face 2017 with a positive attitude towards all the new things life will throw at us.  I am not able to take credit for the phrase an attitude of gratitude; but, I have found that acknowledging all the good things in my life on a daily basis, helps me to appreciate each day.

And, oh, by the way, I have set a goal for 2017 to attempt to post a blog a couple of times a month.  (Notice the word, attempt – gives me an out if I fail.)  I realize it has been two months since I last posted so I know I have some work to do here!

Happy New Year!


What the world needs now…

is love sweet love.  It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.  What the world needs now is love sweet love, no not just for some but for everyone. 

Lyrics from a Dionne Warwick song back in the 60s, but how fitting for today’s world, if you ask me.  What with all the ugly news relating to politics, racial tension, terrorism, and more, couldn’t we all use just a little more love?

In no particular order, here are some ideas of what love looks and feels like to me:

  • Maxie painting a ceramic bowl especially for me, Grammy, – a “cookie jar”

    a "cookie jar" made for Grammy by Max
    a “cookie jar” made for Grammy by Max
  • Jack & Max (grandsons) playing with Peter (son to me and uncle to them) in the back yard – tossing and catching a football
  • hugs from Max
  • rocking a baby to sleep
  • singing to a baby or toddler
  • reading a story to a child
  • having coffee with Amy & Karen (daughter & daughter-in-law)
  • December shopping day with my girls
  • bookclub meetings with a special group of friends who have been meeting for over 15 years
  • having Dairy Queen treats with RC
  • making love with RC
  • family gatherings

    Love family gatherings
    family gatherings
  • gardening – making the backyard beautiful to enjoy with loved ones
  • sharing grandkids’ antics with RC or Amy, Dan, Pete, Karen (those of us who love them)
  • communicating 1:1 with someone – no distractions
  • enjoying any activity outdoors
  • kind words uttered to or from someone
  • kind deeds done for or from someone
  • RC taking care of my car – pumping gas, oil changes, tending to repairs
  • unexpected gifts
  • no questions asked, no explanations needed for the activities I choose to participate in or spend money on (freedom)
  • back rubs
  • phone calls from Jack or Max
  • attending the grandsons’ school happenings & sports activities
  • lunch with Pete once a month
  • getting together with good friends

    Enjoying fun times with friends
    fun times with friends
  • watching a movie with RC
  • a black & white cat curled up in my lap or on the chair behind my head (she’s gone now and I miss her)

I am very blessed to have all this love in my life.  I challenge you to make a list of the things that bring you love in your life.  If you choose to share by commenting below, I’d love to hear what you cherish.


Perhaps we can inspire one another to realize and recognize the loveliness of the world instead of the ugliness of the world!