Editing my life for 2015

Home is where the dog is.
Home is where the dog is.

If you had the ultimate power to edit your life in 2015, what would you change? Do you have people who don’t support you? Do you have a home that doesn’t support you? Do you have a habit that no longer serves you? The good news is that you have the power to change these situations!

In 2015, I want to edit my novel and my life.

Novel Editing

I’m three highlighters deep into editing my first draft of my novel from NaNoWri (excerpts in case you missed them). I bolster myself to be brutal each time I pick up the highlighter. No mercy! I think.

Where I thought I would have to cut a lot, I need the opposite. My novel writing style seems to mirror my poetry writing style: sparse. I need to put some weight on the bones of the words I already have and fatten the story up!

Life Editing

As for editing my life, I see it in two parts: home and self.


My home needs streamlining. We have too much stuff for the space we live in. That is the reality.

This realization helps me to not feel guilty. No matter how many systems I try, the problem is more stuff than places to put it all away.

To start, I focused on our bedroom as the place to make spacious and open.

First, I removed all the boxes I stored under our bed and moved them to the bathroom. Who knew I had so much memorabilia? How much do I need to remember?

I still have to go through all the boxes and steel myself to edit their contents with a hard eye. If I try to hold onto everything, I won’t have space to welcome the good things that are coming to me.

So memorabilia weeding is in my future. For now, the space under the bed is clear so I am called that a success.

Next, I saw the floor of the closet after a big cleaning out. I’m afraid I can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen that floor. I know it didn’t happen in 2014. Now I can actually walk in my closet. Novelty!


The editing of self comes with healthier eating, regular exercise and working with God.

For 2015, I created a healthy four-week meal plan. This will help reduce our costs and shopping time. With our meals already decided, a menu will free my mind to think of other things. I built in making extra of some meals so others are already taken care of. So far, it’s been efficient. I will let you know more about it later after we’ve gone through a few cycles.

My exercise plan focuses on making exercise a daily habit. Some days, we only do eight minutes of yoga. But I call that success! My sister taught me the power of accumulation. Even a few minutes a day adds up to something respectable for the year. At the end of 2015, how proud will I feel if I say I exercised every single day? And even if I only do eight minutes a day, I will have 48 hours of exercise total.

Finally, my plan for spiritual growth will be a new prayer for wellness this year. Last year, I held the word simple in my heart. I sang about simplicity. I felt these prayers work in my life. Today I have less intensity about acquisition.

This year, I will focus on wellness and well-being:

  • I know things will work out. With God, all things are possible.
  • All is well.
  • May my loved ones be well.
  • May my valued readers be well.

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to change something about your life? Even if you haven’t had success this first week, it’s not too late to try again.

Think about your life as a practice in editing. Make little changes and those little changes will add up to a good story. Never give up! Keep practicing so you can feel happy of yourself!

Do you have prayers about wellness or hopes for the new year? I welcome them in the comments! Have a wonderful week!

A sketch before the dream

Miko the horse next to the painted barn door horse

Are you like me, feeling like you want to hibernate? It’s getting dark early. The glory that was fall color is changing to bare leaves. We had frost this morning. I’ve already heard Christmas music, and it’s not even Halloween.

I love this season, and I find it depressing. In that tension between delight and depression, I sigh. There’s a part of me that relishes my melancholy, the same side that might wander the moors if I lived where there were moors.

But, speaking honestly between you and me, would I be motivated enough to get out and wander moors? Sounds too damp. The reality is I am more like this woman who plans to stay under a blanket for all of winter.

With moor-wandering out, I will stick to staying cozy and remind myself that my life is wonderful, even when it seems too cold and dark to be getting out of bed every morning.

Miko the horse next to the painted barn door horse

Before I created the life I have today, I had to dream it. I made sketches in my journal of my ideal life. There was a family and a dog and a horse. First came the dog. Then marriage and the baby. Then we bought enough land where a horse could live.

I couldn’t get a horse right away so I made a sketch of my dream. A painting, really. I painted a horse on the door of the barn. Every day, I saw it and thought to myself, Someday a horse will live here.

Now I have not only a horse, but a pony! And hay in the barn—the best feeling of security I know. When I open the barn door and smell the fresh green scent of alfalfa, I feel secure we’ll make it through winter.

I believe you have to nourish your dreams for them to grow strong.

In the beginning, your dream might not be fully fleshed out. It might be just a hint.

Make a sketch or a painting of your goal: your future horse, your novel cover, what you want your life to look like. Put up a picture where you will see it daily.

You might not be able to make your dream come true right away, but you can give yourself the essence of your dream.

Feed your dream.

Windswept Miko

Horsey Selfie

Horsey Selfie


Lord, remind us to dream more when
we enter darker times.
Turn our hearts to you when
we feel lost.
Keep us close as we travel through hills and valleys.

Tell me your thoughts!

What seed of a dream are you planting now?

Believing the myth of perfection keeps you from joy

May your inner self be secure and happy

May your inner self be secure and happyIf you were perfect, what would you be like? How would you dress, walk and talk?

Most of us keep an image of perfection in our minds that we truck out. We compare ourselves against it.

Perfect Gen wouldn’t spill tea down her front minutes before teaching class. Perfect Gen probably wouldn’t be addicted to tea and certainly would be coordinated.

As real Gen, I had to squeeze out what I could of my soggy shirt and do my best. If spilling tea is the risk I have to take as a tea drinker, then I will deal with it.

Lessons from pasta

I watched a food show that made me hungry and thoughtful at the same time. Hungry because it looked delicious. Thoughtful because the hosts mentioned that rough pasta is the tastiest. Why?

Perfectly smooth pasta can’t soak up sauce as well as pasta with some texture on the surface. The surface might seem too rough at first glance but once the pasta is in the sauce, it’s beautiful.

Perfect or joyful

Perfection can be an enemy of joy. Instead of seeing the beauty around us in people, our homes and ourselves, we wrestle with wanting to be flawless. We become prisoners of our own minds and judgments.

We chide ourselves to improve. A mother thinks she should be kinder and more patient, even after hours of playing Legos with her son. An artist imagines the painting should hold more emotion and thought, although declared stunning by others. A woman looking at herself in a mirror concentrates on imagined spots when everyone only notices her smile.

How do we find contentment if we cannot be perfect in this life?

Joy lives in being present to moments as they are in messy, glorious days. Cups of teas spill. Tea-soaked teachers teach.

Our rough edges are the places where we can best soak up all the flavors of life.


God, you who hold all our tomorrows,
remind us of the joy in today.

We can relax and trust in the new beginning
you offer us.

Bless us now in our imperfection.
Help us focus on living out your love in the world.

Tell me your thoughts!

What does the perfect version of you look like? How do you use that image against yourself?

When the midlife crisis hit

Turning 30 was no problem. I hit the mental marks I’d set. I was newly married with a sweet blue-eyed toddler boy, a golden dog and ten acres of land to call home. I didn’t mind turning 30 at all.

At 30, I’d been a stay-at-home mom, concerned with entertaining my young child. I made our bread from scratch every week, watching a show on PBS where a monk showed new types of loaves to try. If my son wanted to spend the day driving his yellow dump truck in “his dust factory,” then I was content to sit next to him with a book. My life at 30 had an easy pace with a natural rhythm.

It was turning 35 that was the problem. Fast forward five years from 30 to 35. At 35, I was back to work as an admin assistant. My son was in elementary school, with expensive childcare before and after school.

I shared an office with a woman who listened to a religious radio station all day. She looked directly at me without smiling as the pastor on the radio blared, “I’m going to talk about the sinners going to hell who are around you right now.” I turned away from her white-hot stare back to my computer that only worked 80 percent of the time. Unfortunately I was held responsible for deadlines 100 percent of the time. I had a volatile relationship with the computer that caused me frequent punishment.

Do you know who leaves the best tips at restaurants? People who have been servers themselves. There are some people who feel that the better title you have, the smarter and better you are. They think that people in low-paid jobs should be lucky to get a paycheck, no matter the abuse. I don’t feel that way. I think anyone who works is worthy, whether your title is janitor, admin assistant or director, you deserve respect. If you’ve ever worked as an admin assistant, you might understand how it feels when someone in power disrespects and condescends to you. Add in a boss who takes credit for your work, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for despair.

I’ve kept a daily journal since I was eight. It became too painful to write the details of my days. My sister suggested I make a cartoon of my days.

The cartoons helped. Who can seem wretched in a doodle? But the cartoons were still too sad to send to my longtime pen pal Shoshannah (who keeps a wonderful blog about her life in San Francisco. I encourage you to check it out: Crosswalk Confidential).

I asked myself, “What am I doing with my life?”

I believe in personal growth. With effort, intention, courage, a little luck and the willingness to change, anyone can improve their lives. I felt miserable at 35. Next week, you’ll find out more about how I survived—and thrived due to—my mid-life crisis.


Lord, bless us with hope
when we face situations that test us.
Ease our heavy hearts.
Loosen our tight places of stress.
Comfort our overactive minds.

Remind us of your constant love
when the hours feel impossible
when we feel brought down so low
we can’t get up.

Tell me your thoughts!

What was a time in your life when you felt less than successful?

4 free lessons from the Little Drummer Boy

daisiesAs I begin my new book project, I struggle with that voice that says, “You’re not good enough.” While I can’t quiet the voice, I can remind myself that this book is my offering to God. I’ve been thinking of the Little Drummer Boy.

My mother was one to listen to Christmas songs year-round, or at least starting in August. She would break out the Mannheim Steamroller vinyl and turn the stereo up to at least 7.

She loved the classics as well as electronic music. One of her favorite songs was the Little Drummer Boy. This song tells the story of a young boy with nothing to give the baby Jesus. With Mary’s blessing, he plays his drum.

Without fail, my mother cried every time it came on.

I seem to have inherited her Little Drummer Boy crying syndrome. Now when I hear the song, I remember her feeling so touched. It brings tears to my own eyes.

The simplicity of the story means each generation can learn from the little drummer boy.

Give now. Don’t wait to be an expert to give your best to God.

The little boy didn’t say, “Wait, I need to take some drum lessons and get better before I offer my song. I will come back in a few years.”

As I was talking to my husband about the song, he said he imagines the little drummer boy played the drum the way young children play drums, in a clumsy, charming way. The song doesn’t say, “Then the very best child drummer—a kid so good that had he been on YouTube 2,014 years in the future, he would have had 1 million views—played for Jesus.” It only says that he played.

Be a proud beginner.

As adults, we get caught up in looking like we know what we’re doing. How we look seems to matter more than what we feel and experience. How many new things do we avoid because of fear and the idea of “I don’t want to look stupid”?

Children are beginners at everything, even self-consciousness. They haven’t learned to be self-conscious.

What if we approached something new with an attitude of openness without worrying about how we look?

Remember it’s OK to look like a beginner. It means you are beginning something new!

Offer what you have with your heart.

The boy was motivated by his love for the Lord in this song. He could have gotten caught up in self-pity that he had no frankincense.

Whether you are offering a prayer, a smile, a glass of water or a devotional—do it with spirit and goodwill. Let your love for the Lord motivate you. Whatever you have to give, if you give it with love, it will be enough.

Be present to the moment of giving.

The boy wasn’t half-drumming, distracted by the score of a game. He focused on what he was giving.

How often are you present? All the time? Most of the time? Or like me, sometimes, here and there, when I am not distracted by ponies and to-do lists?

Think of a Japanese tea ceremony with its deliberate patience. Instead of tossing your offering in an off-hand way, present it with intention.

Center yourself and give part of yourself. The recipient of your generosity will feel your presence. You will gain more from the giving.

Give well.


Lord, let us give what we can now:

Smiles to the lonely,
Peace to the troubled,
Food to the hungry,
A hand to the stumbling,
An ear to those not heard.

If we don’t have big tithes
or fancy prayers,
time for overseas missions
or prayerful retreats,
let us give what we can now:

A kind word,
A welcome,
A thank you.

Let us be the people who turn around
someone’s day.

Guide us to become people who give
as you give:
extravagantly, excessively,

Tell me your thoughts!

How have you been blessed this week? What will you give out of love for God? What would you like to learn?

Tell that trash talkin’ opossum, “No thanks!”

Baby birds

What’s it like in your head? Is it an easy, relaxed place to be? At the end of the day, do you feel positive and excited for the next day or drained and discouraged, dreading what the next day will bring?

I have good news if you’re in the drained and discouraged camp: you can change your mind and change your mood.

Years ago, my mind was like a neglected alley, overrun by opossums eating out of knocked-down trash cans under dull yellow light. My thoughts were a daily toxic stream of unforgiving words and mean judgments directed toward myself. I could do no right in my own eyes. It was exhausting.

I cringe when I hear an adult say to a kid, “No! What’s wrong with you? You’re so stupid!” I know from experience that kids can be super recorders and replay hard words in their heads for a lifetime.

You have competing elements for your inner voice. One is a cruel self-critic, and sounds like a opossum that hisses and eats trash. The other is the voice of your spirit, less noticeable and more fragile. Like a fledgling songbird, it needs to be nurtured to grow stronger. The opossum can climb into the songbird’s nest and crunch its bones if you let it. Or you can feed the songbird until it’s strong enough to fly and carry your thoughts with it.

An old opossum message might have been I’m so stupid! What’s wrong with me?

If you find yourself thinking that, try following it with a songbird message of, It’s OK. Mistakes happen. I can learn from this.

You might think a opossum thought such as, I’m too fat/skinny/bald/hairy/old/young. Nobody likes/understands/wants me.

Your new songbird thought can be, So what? I’m going to try things and enjoy life regardless of my weight/hair situation/age. I’ll do what I can to be a blessing to other people.

Be a friend to yourself. Let your mind be a place of song and spirit. Tell that trash talkin’ opossum, “No thanks!”

Do you want to make or have you made a change in the way you think? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

PS—No hate mail from opossum lovers please! Called “America’s finest marsupials” by Logan Howard, I recognize opossums as creatures that deserve respect but all’s fair in love and metaphor.

Baby birds