Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceGot a letter from a friend of mine yesterday. She writes: The other day, I went up to a local Christian bookstore and saw a “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker. I was feeling particularly inspired  that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting, so I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.

Boy am I glad I did! What an uplifting experience followed! I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection – lost in thought about the Lord and how good He is – and I didn’t notice that the light had changed. It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn’t honked, I’d never have noticed! I found out LOTS of people love Jesus!

Why, while I was sitting there, the guy behind me started honking like crazy, and then he leaned out his window and screamed, “For the love of GOD! GO! Jesus Christ, GO!” What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus! Everyone started honking! I just leaned out my window and started waving and smiling at all these loving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love!  Continue reading

Our school of hard knocks: life


Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios

Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios

Okay, my life isn’t always crappy, quite frankly, it’s rarely crappy.  I’ve had a great life and I certainly can’t complain too loudly.  But I’ve learned many things in my umpteen years of life, one of which is that there are teaching moments – and teachers – all around us and if we’re diligent students, we’ll learn something new now and then.

Dr. Bernie S. Siegel in his book 365 Subscriptions for the Soul, brings up this topic in one of his daily meditations.  He starts out by offering the following Taoist quote:

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceThere was a female business executive who was late for a meeting.

She is going 65 mph on a street where the speed limit is 40.

A cop pulls her over and says, “Ma’am, can I please see your license?”

She says, “I’m sorry, officer, but I got it revoked two years ago for drunk driving.”

His brow furrows and he straightens up.  “Well, can I please see the registration of your car?”

She says, “I stole the car and killed the driver; he’s in the trunk.”  Continue reading

Why I love the internet

http-895558_640Sure, it’s convenient and very utilitarian for our every-day use.  As a writer, I benefit greatly from an online Thesaurus to use alternate words.  Case in point,  there’s gotta be a better way to say, “Colleen got angry (irked, vexed, indignant, apoplectic, choleric) when traffic made her late for her hair appointment.”

And among the many other reasons for which I use the internet, I count on it for quick access to a recipe for an I’m too exhausted to be creative meal on a Monday night or in the alternative, a restaurant that’s not too far away from home and can seat us at the last minute.  Bottom line, I take full advantage of what the inter-web has to offer.

But the biggest reason I love the internet is that it reaches anyone who has access to any type of computer device – especially those in need of some sort of assistance when sorting out the difficulties of life.  My need for a dining alternative pales in comparison to someone searching for help when caring for someone with a debilitating illness.

Caring gumby figuresOne of the blogs I follow: My Dementia Experience, is written by a woman, NorCalMom, who takes care of her mother-in-law.  This delightful caregiver also has five children of her own.  But NorCalMom jumped into caregiving with both feet in 2013 when Marie, her mother-in-law, moved in with her and the rest of her household because of Marie’s advancing dementia.  Reading just one of this blogger’s posts will show an outsider what types of challenges NorCalMom faces on an ongoing basis.

As caregivers, and I’ve been one as well, we oftentimes “wing it” when it comes to handling the day-to-day, and shockingly acute, issues that occur during our caregiving journey.  The unpredictable nature of Alzheimer’s or other dementia makes even the most mundane activities frustratingly impossible to handle with only a layman’s knowledge of providing care.  For example, how does one communicate with a person who can no longer understand what is said to her and who can no longer respond cogently to questions proferred by their primary care person?

Caregivers need psychic powers to unravel the mystery of care providing.  Or do they?  Continue reading

Focus on Caring: raising children who care

Source: 7 Ways To Help Your Kids Embrace Kindness – By Lucy Martial

Compassion facesWe’ve all heard the admonishment that we should lead by example.  The intent of that statement focuses on providing good examples for not only our own children and grandchildren, but also our neighbors’ children, school students, and all other young people with whom we come in contact.  The final increment of this Focus on Caring series suggests that adopting an attitude of caring is best started at an earlier age.

If we live in such a way that our words and actions positively influence the younger set among us, we are to be rewarded.  But if our actions negatively influence children, we’ve done them – and the world – a grave disservice.

The article attached above from the Kindness Blog – a website that ONLY provides stories that focus on kindness – lists seven suggestions for effectuating kindness in children.

My article focuses on two of the article’s very apt suggestions: Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceA middle-aged woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital.  While on the operating table she had a near-death experience.

Seeing God, she asked, “Is my time up, Lord?”  God said, “No, you have another 43 years, 2 months, and 8 days to live.”

Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face lift, liposuction, and a tummy tuck.  Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well look good. Continue reading

My plea for print news media

I love, love, love to read my local print newspaper, The Seattle Times, each morning.

 If a daily edition is late due to inclement weather, I will read the paper on my tablet, but only if I’m quite certain the print edition won’t arrive, e.g., snow, power lines across the roads, the end of the world as we know it, etc.

But I don’t want to read the paper on my tablet  – or sitting at my computer – as  my only option.


The other local area newspaper, Seattle Post Intelligencer, switched to online-only several years ago.  I’m thrilled that the Seattle PI is still available to readers but I fear the remaining local newspaper will end up with the same fate.

Why do I think so?  Continue reading

Perfecting our life’s target practice

Are you going in circles?

Are you going in circles?

Dr. Bernie Siegel, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, provided the following regarding the art of focusing on the right target for our lives.  The first quote is very timely advice by the late, great, Yogi Berra:


You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. – Yogi Berra

Your target in life helps you to direct your course.  So before you aim, be sure you choose the right target.

What are you aiming for?  What is your goal?  What goals are you trying to achieve?  What are you trying to hit?  These are the questions you need to ask yourself, because they tell you your direction and where you will end up.

The more target practice you engage in, the more likely you are to hit the bull’s-eye.


Take the time to refocus on your target.  Ask the questions often to be sure to hone in on your center.

Art worth viewing: spotlight on Mary Riesche

Warf at Monterey, CA

Warf at Monterey, CA

There’s an artist in Vacaville, California, Mary Riesche, who paints in such a way that what she sees – and the way she sees it – comes alive on every canvas she fills.

Ms. Riesche is a Baby Boomer, like myself, and many of you.  She has painted since she could hold a crayon and hasn’t stopped.  Her retirement consists of capturing the beauty she sees in her travels, and sharing them with the public at very reasonable prices.

Mary Riesche Studios, her virtual art studio, is a great place to look for extremely well-priced pieces.

Ocean Park on Maui

Ocean Park on Maui

She currently has a spotlight show at the Vacaville Art League and Gallery  that consists of some of her smaller, mixed media selections.  This particular show only runs through October 3, 2015 so if you live in the northern California area, you must have a look-see of some of her paintings.

0129 Truck at Rush Ranch

Truck at Rush Ranch

Additionally, her entire inventory of paintings can be found on her Mary Riesche Studios website and unless otherwise noted, are available for sale.

Focus on Caring: The ties that bind us

This week’s story is right out of a fabulous blog that I follow, The Kindness Blog.  I’m submitting the story as it was written, in the 1st person, by the person involved.

dome-of-the-rock-574488_640I was in a really bad three-car accident a few years ago where a drunk driver ran a red light and hit another lady and me – the other lady died.  This couple who had been leaving the Mosque across the street heard the accident happen and came running to help.  It was cold out and I was just sitting on the side of the road shivering and cold.  Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceA young man was walking through a supermarket to pick up a few things when he noticed an old lady following him around.  Thinking nothing of it, he ignored her and continued on.

Finally, he went to the checkout line but she cut in front of him.  “Pardon me,” she said, “I’m sorry if my staring has made you feel uncomfortable, it’s just that you look just like my son who died recently.”

“I’m very sorry,” replied the young man, “is there anything I can do for you?” Continue reading

Our life: an ongoing parade

Here I go again, relying on Dr. Bernie S. Siegel to provide some wisdom for your day, but what can I say, his 365 Prescriptions for the Soul catches my attention more often than not and when it does, I like to share the good stuff I find.  The following is provided verbatim:

Parade of Life

Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you are going to do now, and do it. – William Durant

oktoberfest-819706_640Life is a parade. Sometimes we march along and realize we have passed by what we were looking for.  What do we do?  Stand there and drop out of the parade?  March on with regrets?  Feel bad about how we looked or that everything we wanted was on the wrong side of the street?  It’s passed!  Forget it and march on!

Sometimes our parade isn’t so pretty, and the crowd isn’t interested in us.  If we drag everything we have passed with us, we will destroy the present.  We have no future when we live in the past.

We even talk about past lives.  Whether you believe in them or not, the same principle applies.  If you are living a past life, you are destroying your present one.  In therapy, people come to understand why they are acting the way they are and how the past is affecting them.  They learn to let go, move on, and not sit in the same classroom year after year.  They graduate and commence a new life.

A closing comment by this blogger:

The good news is that we can learn from our past, both the good and the bad.  But if we stay cemented in the past and don’t move on, that parade Dr. Siegel talks about?  It’ll pass us by.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get left behind.

Focus on Caring: Looking for trouble

Compassion facesMy oh my how often we are on the road, driving to our intended destination, and we observe someone with car trouble.  Each and every time I observe such a scene I always say a little prayer that the Universe will step in and send someone to be of assistance to this poor soul.

Thomas Weller of San Diego, California looks for trouble and provides assistance in the form of: fuel for those who thought driving on fumes would get them to their destination, a change of tire for that troublesome flat tire that started out as a slow leak but ended as a pancake, or a lift to a safer place so that the stranded motorist could get off the highway.Flat tire

This isn’t a passing fancy of his, he’s been doing it for 50 years. Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceCharlie experienced a bit of confusion at the liquor store the other day.  When he was ready to pay for his whiskey, the check-out clerk said, “Strip down, facing me.”

Making a mental note to complain to the store owner about excessive security running amok, he did just as the clerk had instructed. Continue reading

Time to recognize & bolster family caregivers

Family surrounded by caring handsThe proposed Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act would require the development of an integrated national strategy to provide resources for under-served family caregivers in the United States.  If you are not currently a caregiver for a loved one, you most likely will be, and no doubt you know of someone who is already an unpaid caregiver (as opposed to a hired caregiver) for a person in their family.

Source: Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act – AARP

Many families, even those with young children, find themselves thrust into the role of caring for a loved one when they least expect it and can ill afford to.  Caregiving for a child or an adult with disabilities, or caring for an adult with a debilitating illness, has become the norm for many in the United States and abroad.

These caregivers “prepare meals, handle finances, manage medications, drive to doctors’ appointments, help with bathing and dressing, perform complex medical tasks and more – all so loved ones can live at home.”

Family blurred linesKeep in mind, the above tasks are those they were already performing for their own household, tasks that multiplied exponentially with the increased needs of their disabled or ill family member.  Add a job outside of the home to all of that, and you have to wonder how these overworked and over-stressed heroes manage at all!  Continue reading

Walking In My Shoes


When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, life as they know it ceases to exist. It’s unfortunate that when they need help and understanding the most, such niceties are oftentimes unattainable.

Originally posted on ALZWA Blog:

By Anita Harvey 

HandsWhen a trusted neurologist told me, “Your mother has dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s,” I knew there was no escape from the cold reality that my life had changed forever. My future was set and an unavoidable path unfurled before me. The only choice I had was to accept the cruel diagnosis, gather my strength, and slip on the shoes that so many are forced to walk in.

As I adopted the role of advocate and caregiver, what shocked and surprised me most wasn’t the complexity and horror of Mother’s disease, but how little help and guidance I received from the professionals we turned to for help: doctors, nurses, hospitals, and care facilities. In fact, it seemed that instead of helping us, the system in which we placed our trust was actually designed to work against us. I came to realize that those who are responsible for the…

View original 509 more words

Focus on Caring: The Spineless Bystander Effect

Compassion facesOn July 7, 2014, I wrote an article Spineless inaction: the bystander effectan article that told the story of a female McDonald’s restaurant employee who was severely beaten by another woman.  No one called 911, no one tried to intervene, but everyone within a block of the beating took cell phone video of the attack.  That, my friends, is an example of spineless inaction.

I’m going to counter that horrific example with a rewarding one out of Buffalo, New York.

Darnell Barton, a bus driver in Buffalo, New York, was on his multi-trip route over a bridge on the expressway.  Ahead of him, he could see a woman standing over the railing on the ledge; the intent of this woman was obvious to anyone who observed her.  The entire episode was caught on the bus dashboard camera. Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceAs I age, I realize:

  1. I talk to myself because sometimes I need expert advice.
  2. Sometimes I roll my eyes out loud.
  3. I don’t need anger management, I need people to stop pissing me off.
  4. My people skills are just fine, it’s my tolerance of idiots that needs work.
  5. The biggest lie I tell myself is, “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it later.”
  6. When I was a child I thought nap time was punishment, now it’s like a mini vacation.
  7. At my age, Getting Lucky means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.
  8. Even duct tape can’t fix stupid, but it sure as hell can muffle the sound.
  9. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes, come out wrinkle-free, and three sizes smaller?
  10. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would’ve put them on my knees.
  11. When the kids or grandkids text me “plz” which is shorter than “please”, I text back “no” because it’s shorter than “yes.”  And last but not least …
  12. The day the world runs out of wine is just too terrible to think about.

The Elephant in the Room

ElephantHave you ever jumped to conclusions or reacted ill-advisedly because you didn’t have all the information about a particular person or situation?  If you haven’t, I guess I’m the only sorry person out there who has made that mistake far too many times throughout my life.

Dr. Bernie S. Siegel is my commentator today as I quote directly from his 365 Prescriptions for the Soul that starts with an Indian parable:

Three blind men touch an elephant. The first blind man was holding the elephant’s leg and said, “I think an elephant is like the trunk of a tree.” The second blind man was holding the elephant’s trunk and said, “An elephant is like a large snake.” The third blind man said, “An elephant is like a great wall,” while touching the elephant’s side.

You all know the story about the elephant that walked into an area where many blind men were living. They all wanted to know what the elephant was like. So when the elephant was captured, they were allowed to touch it. Of course their descriptions varied depending on the part of the elephant they touched. Continue reading

Focus on Caring: Boundaries that constrain us


How are you defined?  What kind of box would you fit into?  Here are a few characteristics some might assign to me:

  • White American
  • Baby Boomer
  • Pacific Northwest resident
  • Wife
  • Mother
  • Sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend
  • Seattle Seahawks super fan

Box with color cubesAll items on that list are correct but if that’s all that people see about me, they’ve greatly reduced the trueness of who I am because my box also contains the following:

  • spiritual but definitely not religious person
  • free-thinker (is that redundant?)
  • writer of things that matter to me
  • advocate of the elderly and just about everyone else who crosses my path in life

Setting boundaries between who I am, and who you are, benefits no one.

Compassion facesLeonard Pitts, Jr. spoke at a TEDx event in February of this year.  His 20 minute talk, The Boundaries We Choose, is readily available on YouTube so I strongly suggest you seek it out.  He suggests, “Our labels shouldn’t define who we are and place us in a strict box.”  He then spoke of labels one might put in his box: African American, Christian, Husband, Father, Fan of the LA Lakers.  If you’ve read any of Mr. Pitts’ literary pieces in the Miami Herald or any of his books, you already know that he is more than the contents his box may imply.  (To be sure, there is a very valid reason why he was named the 2004 Pulitzer Price Winner for Commentary.)

During his February TEDx talk, he provided a fabulous story that illustrates the downside of labels or identifying markers.  I’ll let you discover that beautiful and clarifying story by watching his TEDx video, but for the purposes of this blog posting, I will provide you with one of his statements from that video.

Our bonds are more than connecting with certain markers that define people.

Examine, if you will, your way of describing something that happened to you during the course of your day.

Cup of CoffeeWhen you relay a story about a person taking his or her time in line at the Starbucks store, holding everyone up for far too long a time, do you define the person this way?

This Asian woman in front of me acted like she owned the damn place.  She was so selfish, taking her damn time ordering her fancy drink when all I wanted was a damn cup of brewed coffee.

Or did you simply say

This damn person in front of me took so much time ordering a fancy damn cup of coffee that I  just about ran out of time to get my plain and simple cup of brewed coffee.

Continue reading

Tuesdays in September: Focus on Caring

Compassion facesJust a brief post to announce that I have designated each Tuesday in September as a day to Focus on Caring.

On September 1st (tomorrow) I’ll introduce the topic by providing extraordinary insight by Leonard Pitts, Jr. and my takeaway from his insight.  On subsequent Tuesdays I will provide heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories about ordinary people, doing the ordinary right thing, at an extraordinary time.

In short, I will introduce you to people like you and me who, in my mind, are every day heroes: people who chose to do the right thing in an amazing way.

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceAn elderly couple went to church one Sunday.  Halfway through the service the wife leaned over and whispered in her husband’s ear,

I’ve just let out a silent fart, what do you think I should do?”

The husband replied,

“Put a new battery in  your hearing aid.”

Be pro-something instead of anti-something

Helene Gayle, Care USA President and CEO, learned early on in her adult life that giving to others was a necessary part of her participation in this world.  It makes sense, then, that she heads a major international humanitarian agency that delivers emergency relief and support for long-term development projects.  This organization is nonsectarian, impartial, and non-governmental.  In my estimation, what could be better than that?  In the book, Getting There by Gillian Zoe Segal, Ms. Gayle had this to say about effecting social change:

Social change is better achieved by being for something (rather) than against something. Growing up, I was part of a protest generation. We protested the war and stood in support of liberation struggles in Africa. Whenever we saw a problem, we were “against” it.

It’s easy to think that by being against something you’re standing up for a cause, but if you want to have a greater impact, you need to ask yourself, “What do I stand for and what do I want to happen?”

Angry personIn this world, there exists a me against her/us against them mentality that causes us to lose sight of where our focus should be. Continue reading

Alzheimer’s caregiving: The Art of Lying

Dad, me (unpaid caregiver) and Jenny (paid caregiver) 2006

Dad, me (unpaid caregiver) and Jenny (paid caregiver) 2006

Alzheimer’s Australia | Therapies and communication approaches. Caregivers have it hard enough without having to crawl through the maze of ethical versus practical when it comes to communication.

The above article provides a clear perspective of the challenges inherent with taking care of someone whose reality doesn’t come close to matching that of the caregiver.

Whether you are an unpaid caregiver – someone who cares for a friend or a loved one – or a paid caregiver providing services for which payment is received, you need to embrace the art of lying for your benefit, and that of the person for whom you provide care.

I feel so strongly about this matter, that over the years I’ve written several articles proposing one engage in the fine art of half truths, omitted truths, and out and out lying to save the day.

Here are two articles I think you will find of interest, articles that might just infuse you with the strength to take the low road from time to time:

Honesty is NOT always the best policy;    and

Caregivers: learning from our mistakes.

Definition of sympathy

I am again relying on Dr. Bernie Siegel’s wisdom, found in his book 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, for this post.  The older I get, the more I’m faced with opportunities in which to witness tragedy in the lives of those with whom I come in contact.  Even after all these years, I have to meditate on what a particular person’s tragic situation may mean to him or her so that when we meet in person or by phone, I’ll do and say the right thing.  Here is Dr. Siegel’s take on the matter which I present verbatim:


Sad gumby figureSympathy is not about feeling pity for the person who has experienced a significant loss or problem.  Being “simpatico” is about being congenial, winsome, and pleasant.  To be sympathetic is to connect with the other person so she does not feel isolated by her problem.  If you fear experiencing the other person’s pain, then you will not be able to be sympathetic.

Just as sympathy is not about pity, it is not about denial either.  It is about accepting and relating to the person.  When you do you will experience a fuller life and a feeling of closeness with the other person.  In the sharing of sympathy we learn, and so we move up, in a sense, as human beings.

Caring gumby figuresBeing a sympathetic person will also attract others to you.  They come not to share wounds and complain, but for understanding.  When we are alone in our world and questioning life, a sympathetic word or touch can change our experience and help us to survive.  To be held in the arms of sympathy is a gift that creates true healing.

Soulution of the Day

Be sympathetic in your words and actions, you never know when you may need some sympathy yourself.

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceReporter: “So you are 100 years old.  How did you manage to live so long?”

Old man: “Well, son, I got married when I was 21.  The wife and I decided that if we had arguments, the loser would take a long walk to get over being mad.  I suppose I have benefited most by 79 years of fresh air.”


Two elderly ladies were discussing the upcoming dance at the country club.

“We’re supposed to wear something that matches our husband’s hair so I’m wearing black,” said Mrs. Smith.

“Oh my,” said Mrs. Jones, “I’d better not go.”

Good citizenship starts young

Operation Good Citizen: Teaching Kids to do the Right Thing in 2015.

Colorful hands of helpA recent article in Parade Magazine spotlighted the efforts of older adults mentoring children on how to be good citizens.  Specifically, Veterans and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients volunteer as mentors in schools across the nation.

The article emphasizes the point that parents and other adult family members should be the main source of such teaching – teachers have enough work to do just getting our children educated – but with a little bit of reinforcement at school, the lesson becomes that much more vital to the young learners. Continue reading

Single ladies, this one’s for you

Fireworks 2What do you look for in a man?  I did a wee bit of internet research and gleaned some listed qualities from websites such as Ask Men, Men’s Health, and Psychology Today.  Here are a few of the qualities listed:

  • passionate
  • humorous
  • faithful
  • dependable
  • mysterious
  • exciting
  • kind
  • generous
  • confident
  • good job

All but two of those qualities were on my list when I was looking for a husband.  Maybe it’s just me, but a man who’s mysterious seems to cancel out a few of the other list-worthy qualities above.  Additionally, I think exciting is completely overrated.

I hit the jackpot when I met my husband.

I don’t wanna brag … who am I kidding, I really wanna brag about my choice in life partners.

Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceTwo elderly women were out driving in a large car. Both could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just went on through.

The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself, I must be losing it, I could have sworn we just went through a red light.  After a few more minutes, they came to another intersection and the light was red again. They went right through it. This time, the woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light had been red and was really concerned that she was losing it. She was getting nervous and decided to pay very close attention to the road to see what was going on.

At the next intersection the light was definitely red, and sure enough, they went right through again. She turned to the other woman and said, “Mildred! Did you know we just ran through three red lights in a row? You could have gotten us killed!”

Mildred turn to her passenger and said, “Oh my, am I driving?”

Hot and Cold signals

Hot and cold thermometersThe title of this article refers to a game in which temperatures provide guidance for the searcher to locate a particular item or to guess an answer to a query. This concept can also help us pursue appropriate paths on our life journey.

That concept is spotlighted in Dr. Bernie S. Siegel’s commentary provided below, word for word from his book, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul. Continue reading