It’s back to school time…

Though I have always felt a certain amount of sadness when summer ends each year, as a teenager, I did get excited about the start of each new school year every September.  I always felt like the beginning of the school year was ripe with new possibilities for me.  Though they now seem silly and trite, the possibilities I dreamed of included things like – this is the year I will get really good grades; this is the year I will be popular and have loads of friends; this is the year I will find a boy who likes me as a girlfriend; this is the year my hair will always look fabulous!  With the exception of hoping for good grades (and, really, was I willing to put the time into studying that good grades would require??) my hopes in those times seemed to imply I had a self-esteem issue, didn’t they!?

The new school year was also exciting for me because I knew there would be at least one new “school outfit” and new shoes purchased…a chance to finally be a really “cool” dresser.  Then, there were the new school supplies purchased… I loved getting new school picpens/pencils and notebooks.  (The new supplies would certainly aid me in getting the good grades I dreamed about.)

Now, as an adult and long past dreaming and worrying about my life in a new school year, I still have a sense as the season changes from summer into fall, that it is a time for new beginnings.  It seems I have opportunities to:

  • change my in-the-house and outside décor to something more fallish
  • change into my fall wardrobe and put away the summer clothes
  • re-start my exercise program and be more faithful about actually doing it
  • be more deliberate about eating a healthy diet (maybe less Dairy Queen runs?) and, adding comfort food to the menu as the days are shorter and turn colder
  • spending less time on social media and more time on reading good books
  • actually doing a good job of cleaning up my gardens so I don’t have as big a mess to deal with next spring

And, on and on and on.  You get the idea.  I am grateful I live in Minnesota where we have distinct seasons (well, not grateful for how long the winter season is!) so I can feel excited about the new opportunities each season brings.

I am full of gratitude also that I am fortunate enough to have any and every possibility for doing anything I want in any season.  It is up to me to make the most of my life situation,  and to find joy.

I wish you lots of happy times during these last couple weeks of summer (according to the calendar, we have until September 22).  But, I encourage you to look forward to the “new school year” and make the most of the new opportunities that come your way!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Affirmations – prescriptions for change…

water fall

One of my latest mental exercises is using affirmation statements.  I don’t have many stories to tell yet about how well they are working or to illustrate the process with a success I have had using them…I’m apparently not far enough into the process to be able to give a testimonial.  So, I thought I would discuss the concept of these tools with those of you reading this and see if you have any good stories about how using affirmations may have worked for you.

In a couple of the self-help type books I have read lately (yes, an almost 70-year-old can still be looking for help!), affirmations are mentioned as a good tool to utilize for self-improvement.  Simply put, an affirmation statement is a positive statement of belief.  It can be used to rewire the brain to make changes to behavior patterns, or transform one’s outlook on life…a prescription for change, if you will.  Affirmations can allow one to move any area of one’s life to the next level.  They can be powerful tools for managing stress, caring for physical health, and stimulating productivity.

Here are a few suggestions I have come across in my reading about this topic as to how to use affirmations:

  • Use I am statements – think of Ali, the famous fighter, who always said “I am the greatest.”  (And, at the time, he was the greatest.)
  • A more specific, behavior changing type of affirmation statement is I am committed to ___________, so that I can _______________, by ____________.  (This method was suggested by Hal Elrod in The Miracle Morning books.)
  • Write your affirmations out (in your journal is a good place, if you keep one) and repeat them every day.  Affirmations repeated over and over work on the subconscious mind.

I can give you an example of my use of the middle bullet point above – an affirmation involving action.  I have hip bursitis (you have heard me whine about this malady before) and am intent on correcting the problem if at all possible.  My affirmation statement for this has been I am committed to doing my exercises every day so that I can move around and sleep without pain by May 1.  (I thought of this affirmation and used it prior to May 1.) I have dropped the May 1 deadline and continue to use the affirmation, and do the exercises.  (I can report that though I still have the hip issue, it is much improved and I indeed, move without pain most of the time now; and, I think this is because I use the affirmation and then feel obligated to follow through and do the exercises!)

The other type of affirmation – like Ali’s affirmation – may address how we would like to feel about our behavior patterns and/or our capabilities.  This one can be more difficult to work with because our internal demons immediately refute what we might be trying to affirm.  Example:  I am a good writer.  My immediate response – my very own censor – says “who do you think you are; nobody is going to ever read anything you write and think it is wonderful or useful!”  The so-called experts on this topic assure that if an affirmation is repeated daily it will ultimately transform the way we think or feel about ourselves and overcome our limiting beliefs and behaviors.

In my last post I wrote about how I am focusing on being more accepting of others and less judgmental.  Today, as I was pondering what to write about affirmations, it struck me I could use I am a kind person as an affirmation to help me with my goal of respecting other people.  I will add that to the list of statements I review daily.

I’m going to keep using my affirmation statements about exercise, my writing abilities and my latest addition about being kind and see where they lead me.  Likely, I will add others as inspirations come to me.  I’ve got nothing to lose.

Would love to hear if you have a story about changing something in your life by using an affirmation statement.  Feel free to share in the comment section below.



Showing compassion & love is always appropriate…


I do believe in the thought my title above conveys.

BUT, several weeks ago as I sat at my grandson’s 5th grade graduation (moving-on ceremony), a baby was crying behind me.  It irritated me as the noise was very distracting to hearing the people at the podium saying wonderful things about the 5th graders.

A baby bothering me!  What is wrong with me?!

Actually, my irritation was directed more at the parent of the baby than the child – why didn’t he (the parent) take the baby and leave the room so as to not bother those sitting around him?

I know the answer – because his other child was one of the 5th graders being recognized and he didn’t  want to miss this special lifetime event.  That’s reasonable!

Oh, and I might add to this story, there was a toddler sitting with his mother in front of me with two celebratory balloons, waving them at just the right level to block my view of the stage – another irritation!  Again I thought, why is that mom so oblivious that her balloons are blocking the view of those seated behind her son and her?

At the beginning of the year I designated acceptance as my word of the year – the word I would think of to direct my behavior in my encounters with all people.  The word reminding me compassionate and loving actions are always the appropriate choices to make.  BUT, the story above shows how quickly I abandoned those tactics!

I’m not proud of my attitude that day at the graduation ceremony.  I don’t think there is any reasonable thing I could have done to change the situation; but, in the long run it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I was able to hear and see the entire program.  I could have portrayed myself as a much better person though if I had smiled throughout the activities instead of periodically glaring at the parent with the crying baby behind me.  That did no one any good!

I’m going to keep working on having an attitude of acceptance in my everyday life.  Greeting and meeting people with a smile instead of a sneer can be a small step in making the world a better place.  (I might add, I need to remember this when I encounter what I consider to be bad drivers on the roads.  I’m not saying I suffer from road rage, but it is not uncommon for me to utter expletives when someone cuts me off or tailgates me.)

There, that is my confession for today.  I hope writing this and sharing it with you will help me get back on the right path!  I have previously quoted the lyrics of an old Dionne Warwick song which again, seem appropriate here – “what the world needs now is love, sweet love!”  Oh brother, and how!!


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?