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!

Prayers the color of code blue

dandelionsHealth is the great equalizer. Whatever we strive for and however many material goods we amass, it all pales in the face of health problems.

Friday, I woke up with plans to clean the house and put in quarter round. After making myself hot coffee with eggs and toast, the sparkling dew on the spring grass distracted me. I left the kitchen table and took the dogs, Mercy and Cookie, outside. The dogs were content with my change of plans. They accept going outside anytime for any reason. God bless dogs with their moment-to-moment happiness.

I was in a mood of gratitude, feeling thankful for my family, my job and my animals. I marveled at the dandelions, yellow against the new grass. They didn’t seem like weeds, just little flowers hoping to become puffs and renew their kind. Do dandelions dream of their time on the wind? God bless the dandelions.

Inside, I started laundry and began to saw the quarter round. I do not see myself getting hired as a quarter round installer anytime soon, or, if I’m honest, ever. My miters left gaps large enough to stick dandelion stems in. I would call my hammering ability inclusive, as in, I included my thumb as well as the nails. God bless home improvement amateurs.

While I cheerfully bumbled about with hammers and saws, the phone rang. It was the high school. My son had some mild chest pain and due to his history, would need to get checked. I explained that I didn’t have a car, because he had one with him at school and my husband the other. I tried to reach my husband. No luck. The school called back and said my son was being driven home to me so I could take him to the ER, one school member driving my son in his own car while someone else followed to drive the administrator back. God bless small schools and caring school staff.

In the ER, everyone treated us with kindness and expertise. From the desk clerks to the nurses and doctors, we felt our son was in good hands. I texted five friends to pray for my son, and their immediate prayers eased the tightness of my bones. I felt them close to me. My ribs loosened to let me breathe again.

We waited for the cardiac test results and listened to the ER stories through the curtain, stories heard but not seen, heard but not completely understood. Ambulances brought in broken people, overdosed and injured. We heard a code blue and knew someone’s life was on the line.

We listened to a conversation about a child who used to come in the ER often but had died. He wouldn’t ever be back in. Through the curtain, we felt the collective missing of a boy we would never know, and somehow we missed him too.

A volunteer came by and offered us something to drink. The clear soda he brought cleared our minds. It grounded us in the simple act of being alive, swallowing something sweet.

The cardiac tests came back negative. My son was OK.

God bless us to always taste the sweetness of life, whether surrounded by weeds, sloppily sawn quarter round or a curtain in the ER.


Lord, bless our eyes to see beauty
in both hospital waiting rooms and
spring mornings.
Seven days of the week our lives belong
to you.

Don’t let us turn our backs to what
you offer:
experiences to know you,
chances to pray and
chances to ask for prayers.

The end of our days belongs to you.
Before we return, remind us to relish
the sweetness of now.

Oh! The sweetness of now when
we taste it.


Tell me your thoughts!

Have you had a day that turned out differently than you expected? Who can you ask for prayers when you’re worried?

Blue? Try green instead!

snake plant

snake plantEver get a case of the winter blahs? Short days and long nights give you the blues? A little green life will energize your space! You’ll feel better with oxygen and a touch of nature.

During my week off for Thanksgiving, I wrote 5,000 words on my memoir. (I’m so close to finishing!) As I wrote, I realized that one of my characters wasn’t human; it was my first houseplant.

I was 20 when my housemate gave me this plant. Almost 25 years later, this plant still lives with me. It’s survived the zaniness of my 20s, the unintentional neglect of my 30s when I was child-centered and more unintentional neglect during my outwardly focused life of my 40s.

It even survived a trip across the country from California to Missouri in a cardboard box through the mail with no soil on its roots.

This plant cheers me up. It’s been an important part of my path toward wellness. Upright and green, it never tires of stretching for the light. It reminds me that I have to keep growing and stretching for the love of God that nourishes me as sure as the sun sustains my plant.

Consider yourself a true black thumb? Known for your plant-killing reputation? Do you also tend to push yourself too hard, often ignoring your body and running yourself ragged? Taking care of plants is one of the simplest and most satisfying ways of care taking. By nurturing another living thing, you will slow down and take better care of yourself.

Good plants for busy people

Two common problems with plant care are over-watering and incorrect light.

aloeBefore you imagine me as some magical plant-raising fairy who makes vines swirl up with the twist of my glittery green finger, I’ll admit that I have killed many a plant. Many.

Before I was a mom, I could care for the finicky ones. Misting an African violet, or doing daily trimming and fussing, all that used to be possible before motherhood and the demands of life. Now I stick to the ones who can live with the level of care I can give them (read, minimal).

These are my longtime reliable friends. I recommend them as the best place to start if you’re new to plants.

  • Spider plant (extra benefit: this one purifies the air for you!)
  • Pothos (free if you know someone growing this! You can take a cutting and start a new one easily)
  • Snake plant (obviously, a beloved one of mine! This one also purifies the air and removes the formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide produced by fuel-burning appliances)
  • Rubber plant
  • Jade plant (some Asian cultures believe this one will bring you good fortune!)
  • Aloe (nice to keep in the kitchen in case you get a burn! A gift from a friend at church, the one shown in the photo sits on the sill so we can enjoy it while washing dishes)
  • Zebrina (another plant that is easy to start with a cutting)

What do plants need?

  • Light and location
  • Water
  • Soil and nourishment
  • Attention

Sound familiar? Give yourself the equivalent.

Light and location

Make sure you get enough light this winter!

Spiritual meditation on light
For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:6


Plenty of water will keep you healthy, hydrated and better able to fend off viruses.

Spiritual meditation on water
You visit the earth and water it,
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
You water its furrows abundantly,
you settle its ridges,
you soften it with showers,
you bless its growth
Psalm 65:9a,10

Soil and nourishment

Following nature’s rhythm is healing. Wellness comes from a supportive environment and encouraging people. What are you grounded in? Learn from the plant world. Deepen your spiritual roots in good earth. Lengthen your branches to the sky.

Spiritual meditation on soil
Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!
Joel 2:20-22


What are you paying attention to? Worldly temporary things like technology? Or the inner peace that surpasses understanding? The actions and thoughts you feed will grow stronger. Feed the right things.

Spiritual meditation on attention

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…
Romans 8:6

Remember, connect with nature for wellness this winter. Replace your blues with green!

Bonus: you can enjoy a two-minute meditative slideshow video featuring my office plants: http://youtu.be/9e9swsZxm8s

Please add your thoughts in the comments below and also be sure to share which plants are your favorites!

The only sip that satisfies

goldDuring this month of Thanksgiving, I’ll reflect on being grateful in unexpected ways for unusual reasons.

Before you read today’s blog post, I recommend you get a glass of water.

The norovirus hit hard that fall. It seemed unstoppable. There were those who tried to control it. They disinfected, wiped, sterilized and disinfected again, with vials of sanitizer in their purses that they put on in regular intervals.

There were the carefree who tossed off truisms like, “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. I think flu shots and antibacterial soap are making things worse.”

The virus attacked everyone, the disinfectors and the happy-go-lucky.

We were the middle of the road. We washed our hands well but carried no alcohol gel.

When the headache came, I knew what I was in for. I had heard enough stories. I brought a bowl and a bottle of water next to the couch and prepared myself for a journey into the land of illness.

Sickly Child

My mother always called me “a sickly child.” She would say, “You’re a sickly child like your father.” How she knew the state of my father’s immune system when he was a youth was a mystery because they didn’t meet until he was 20. But she insisted. Had he said such a thing to her himself? I tried to imagine him whispering during some candlelit dinner in their courtship, “You know, I was a sickly child.”

When sickness comes for me, it is familiar. The official title of Sickly Child was born out by my example of having chicken pox twice. I spent many hours ill.

It is said that we can hear God best when we are still. That is true for me. Even stillness enforced from being sick can slow me down to mindfulness and a spiritual view. I notice the room and my body in ways I never do while rushing around in wellness. I watch dust motes drift through sunlight and find airborne patterns of houseflies.

The land of illness

As the norovirus staged the coup of my body like a terrible dictator without mercy, I let my consciousness dissolve in the puddle of vagueness.

All my fluids came out of me, from every direction. I could not move. The fever brought a blurring between the room and my imagination.

States of sleep and wake swirled like drops of blue paint in water.

Sour clothes wrapped my body that couldn’t decide if it needed five blankets or a fan set to high. A permanent pair of pliers was stuck on my head, always squeezing.

My husband was sick at the same time on a couch a few feet away, but it might have been in another house for all the help I was able to offer. We could only moan to one another in sympathy. Our lips cracked and we rolled lip balm back and forth.

Movement such as handing over lip balm required more energy and motivation than we had.

I lingered between the land of the living and the land of illness. From the land of the living, I heard noise, shuffling in the distance; my young son fended for himself with crackers for dinner and ramen for breakfast, cooked from the microwave.

Days before, I had stopped eating.

Living water

Three days into the sickness, I could drink no water. My joints ached as if their linings had been ground down. My eyelids grated against dry eyeballs. I kept them closed because blinking hurt too much and the light felt like a personal assault.

In the middle of the night, I woke. My tongue stuck to my mouth. The bed damp around me, I could think a clear thought, “My fever’s broken.”

I was thirsty. Not a mouth thirst, a throat thirst or a belly thirst, but a thirst from behind my dry eyes, the ends of my shriveled fingers, the thickened marrow of my bones.

I clawed the comforter and pulled myself upright. I took a moment to settle. I swung my legs over. Using the wall as a support, I made my way to the bathroom sink. I filled a glass with cold water from the tap.

I held my glass. My vision cleared. The water sparkled and glowed from golden streetlight pouring in the window. It seemed to be everything I had ever needed or wanted. It was life, mine to take in.

My heart echoed in my ear. A clear thought broke through like dawn cuts darkness and mist, “I will give you living water.”

I understood.

I drank the water. I had never had such exquisite water. How good, how sweet must living water be! If this is only the water on earth.

I was back.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Be blessed as you drink water today. Because you are.


What is something you’re grateful for that didn’t seem like an obvious blessing? Have you ever had a spiritual experience come out of illness?

Sandwiches are so hard

thanksI recently had an afternoon to spend at the local hospital. I needed some tests and then had an appointment a few hours later. It didn’t make sense to leave so I decided to wait it out.

Time is malleable. When I’m doing something I love, hours slip by as fast as a fox across a field. When I’m waiting to see an oncologist, minutes limp along, an arthritic dog laboring his way to the door.

I noticed that making decisions doesn’t come easily during the waiting time.

On a good day, I take my time to decide anything. I like to research and study before making a choice. If you’ve eaten with me in a restaurant, you know I can go two ways: always ordering the same thing or taking a long time to inspect the menu before asking the  server for his suggestion.

During a time of unknowing, my hesitant decision making skills peter out. I stood at the cooler looking at cold sandwiches for ten minutes. Roast beef? Cheese and tomato? Baguette? Italian? I was both thankful and envious when someone came up and took the last turkey and cheese.

Thankful because it was one less choice, envious because she had made her decision so quickly and maybe that  was the best sandwich!

Less emotional energy

When facing a big change or big news, I have less emotional energy. A sandwich choice is going to seem much more imposing than usual.

I went with the roast beef.

If you know someone has a lot going on, try making a decision for them.

During a crisis, the natural offer is to say “Let me know if you need anything.” Of course it’s an offer made from generosity but the person doesn’t have the emotional energy to let anyone know. She probably is struggling to even tell what she needs, let alone communicate it.

A concrete offer can be more helpful. “I will call you on Wednesday just to say hello.” “I will bring you tea at 3:15.”

You might get refused but that’s OK.

Sometimes the effort to not think about something makes it impossible to think at all. I didn’t want to think about cancer so I couldn’t think about which sandwich would taste good. It was as if my brain went onto energy-saver mode.

Facing something tough? Save your hard choices for the times when you’re clear-headed.

It’s OK to say, “I’m having an off day and I can’t make this decision right now.”


PS—I got to my appointment with the oncologist. She looked over the test results and said, “Not malignant. So that’s good news.”

I left the office and crossed the skywalk. I passed the prayer room and decided to go in. I fell to my knees, thinking, “Thank you God for the gift of my life. I know someone right now in this hospital is hearing the word, malignant. Comfort them and give them the strength they need.”

Giving thanks is one decision I know is always right, even in times I can’t pick a sandwich.

Too tired to rest? 10 ways to recharge!

Take a moment. How do you feel? Energized or frazzled?  Research shows that one in five people feel tired at any given time.

How often do you tell yourself, “I have to push through this.” Have you been in the habit of pushing through for so long that you’ve forgotten what it’s like to live a light and relaxed life?

Your well-being is important!

I invite you to loosen the reins and let yourself have some breathing space. You don’t have to push all the time. Soften the hard edges and brittle places. Kindness to self leads to patience, flexibility and kindness to others. The more you can restore yourself, the more you will fill every room you enter with positivity and grace.

True relaxation helps you. You’ll think with clarity and have a better attitude.

A little while ago, I realized I was mentally exhausted and in need of renewal. These are the ten ways I’ve been using to refresh.

1. Move that body!

Get up and stretch! Breathe. Walk and run and dance. Shake off the dust and get yourself going!

2. Be in nature.


Reconnect to the natural rhythm of the world. Sit by a river. Immerse yourself in the fresh green fluttering leaves. Daydream as you look at the sky. Watch squirrels dash up trees. When the sun falls, lose your worries to the music of starlight and the background crackle of the bonfire.

3. Soak in a bubble bath.

Recipe for revitalizing after a rough day? Candles, something to drink and warm water to melt away your tension. You might try adding Epsom salts for an even more relaxing time. Warm towels to wrap up in afterward make it luxurious.

4. Feel the air on your skin from the wind or a fan.

Let the air wake you up! I love a windy day for feeling invigorated.

5. Nap and read.

If you can nap, do it! Bonus points for being in comfy pajamas. I’m not a natural day sleeper but I appreciate stretching out on the couch with a dumb book.  I like the kind where nothing too bad happens and the end is tidy. Everyone paired off with a smile!

6. Smell something delightful.


Jasmine in the evening, vanilla and cinnamon while I bake in the kitchen, fresh cut grass on a June afternoon, the neck of my horse warmed from the sun, musky men’s cologne.

7. Taste happy food.

What’s yours? I like the sharp freshness of oranges and grapefruit. Maybe you’d like a big glass bowl of salty buttered popcorn? Or a steak from the grill? Eat the food that nourishes your body and soul.

8. Drink water (and tea).


Most of us don’t drink enough water. We get sluggish and headachy from dehydration. Drink water first thing in the morning when you wake up and keep the fluids going all day.  As the granddaughter of an Englishman, I’m a lifelong tea drinker. I keep a tea chest close! For a super recharge, try drinking some green tea with honey and then resting for 20 minutes. The nap/tea combo will liven you up!

9. Pray.

Center your mind on God. Let the peace that transcends understanding flow around and within you.

10. Be a friend.

Invite a friend for a cup of tea (see #8). Enjoy a fun visit laughing or a more serious heart-to-heart. Whatever the kind of conversation, a good companion gives you energy. Love lifts you up.

The most important thing is to be a friend to yourself!

What do you do to recharge your body and spirit? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

A blessing St. Francis understood

crazyDo you have a special animal in your life? Whatever kind of person you are: cat, dog, horse or lizard, pets bless our lives.

With the food bills, care needs and short lifespans, a non-animal person might wonder why we give so much to our pets but animal people know how they add liveliness, laughter and warmth to our days.

We learn from these non-human relationships. Practicing kindness to animals teaches us how to be kind to ourselves.

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” ―St. Francis of Assisi (Goodreads)

The human-animal bond brings us wellness, friendship and happiness.


Animals keep us healthy. Dogs and horses make us stay active. Whether it’s taking our dogs Mercy and Cookie for a walk around the property or lifting hay bales for the horses, caring for animals keeps me in better physical shape.

They help our psychological health. Research shows that pets help relieve stress. Animals give you someone to focus on other than yourself. During hard times or grieving, the steady presence of a dog or the warm purring of a cat soothes you when few things can.

“It may be a cat, a bird, a ferret, or a guinea pig, but the chances are high that when someone close to you dies, a pet will be there to pick up the slack. Pets devour the loneliness. They give us purpose, responsibility, a reason for getting up in the morning, and a reason to look to the future. They ground us, help us escape the grief, make us laugh, and take full advantage of our weakness by exploiting our furniture, our beds, and our refrigerator. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Pets are our seat belts on the emotional roller coaster of life–they can be trusted, they keep us safe, and they sure do smooth out the ride.” ―Nick Trout (Goodreads via Central Missouri Humane Society)

A friendly face is a great antidote to loneliness. When you come home, you have someone there. They don’t have to check their schedule; they’re always ready to socialize with you!

Dogs excel at reunions. Who doesn’t feel popular returning to a house where a wagging tail awaits you? How would it be if we showed the same level of excitement to our loved ones when they came home, welcoming them at the door with hugs? A feeling of belonging gives us well-being.


Bu at the pondSome animal friendships are closer than others. My dog, Bu (Sula Bula), was independent in her twilight years. She would take herself down to the pond for a swim and come back for dinner. The warm water must have felt good on her old bones. After dinner, she’d head off for bed.

We decided to adopt a second dog, Mercy, to keep Bu company. I was amazed at the loyalty of our new white spotted dog. Mercy stayed by my side, following me from room to room.

After Bu died, we adopted Cookie. She makes Mercy seem reserved. Next to me is not enough. Cookie’s place is on me. She launches herself with 15 pounds of pure Chihuahua power into my lap whether I’m ready or not.

This morning she got a splash of tea on her head because I wasn’t expecting her. She practices the philosophy of, “Leap toward the lap!” as opposed to “Look before your leap.”

Where people can hold back and worry about looking foolish, she leaps and loves without hesitation.

No matter what I’m doing, Cookie is there. She plays the roles of laundry assistant, barn help and crochet project supervisor. She outdoes herself in the kitchen while on dropped bacon pickup duty; I’ve never seen such focus and concentration. Her closeness can be cloying but for the most part I love having her constant companionship.

We talk to our friends so that means we talk to our pets. Do you talk to your pet? You’re not alone. A study showed that 97 percent of people do (Pets: Good for your health). St. Francis was known to preach to animals. (St. Francis Preaches to the Birds)

Want more interaction with your pet? Make an effort to spend time with your fuzzy friend. Play string chase with a kitty or relax in a sunbath next to the dog. Often, our animals are the ones seeking us out. It does us good to slow down and give affection.


The best pet is the one whose face you want to see every morning and every evening. I’m happiest sitting outside where I watch contended horses graze, a dog at my feet and another on my lap. I find the sound of the horses’ chewing and the smell of fresh grass peaceful.

“Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” -St. Francis of Assisi (Wikiquote)

It’s a good life. Pets make it even better. Enjoy this video of my animals and others I know and love.

Is there a special animal in your heart? Tell me about him or her in the comments!