It was the middle of June, 1963 and we were at our first stop to stretch our legs--just outside of Yuma, Arizona. I was 6 years old. We were only a few hundred miles into what would be our first of many summer trips from California to our home town in Kentucky.  This year we were driving the family car, a 1962 blue Pontiac Tempest. 

I peered out the window through the sand coated glass and pulled the door latch with both hands, and pushed against the heavy car door as I tried to unstick my legs from the blue vinyl seats.

My younger tow-headed brother had already escaped out of his side of the car and was racing after Dad, who was a few man-sized strides ahead, finally catching up, grabbing his fingers and skipping every other step alongside him. 

Mom, dressed in a pale pink sleeveless blouse, white Capri pants and sandals, wrestled her purse over her arm and took my hand as we walked toward the concrete building housing the restrooms.  We both agreed it was too hot for either of our liking.

Pushing open the stall door, I stood at the sink and splashed cold water on my face, getting chin length pieces of dark hair around my face wet in the process, and waiting for Mom before walking back out into the blazing Arizona heat.  The hot air blew into my face reminding me of when Mom opened the oven door while dinner was cooking.

I stared at the adobe and iron barred building in the distance and brushed my damp hair off of my face and squinted in the bright sunlight.  I was ready to go, but my brother was busy collecting rocks and chasing horned toads.

I squatted down and swirled my fingers in the sand, making designs and letters and waited as Dad went to get the camera to take a picture of us. 

My brother and I posed in front of the Old Yuma Territorial Prison sign and made squinty smiles for the camera.  The hot wind blew sand into our eyes and after several clicks of the camera, Dad put it away and promised we’d stop for a cold soda pop at the next place we came to.

My brother and I raced back to the car, swung open the doors, and climbed back in, each reclaiming our own half of the back seat.  We peered forward, pushing against each other hoping to get the first glimpse of a filling station sign, a place we knew would have ice cold bottles of grape and orange pop, and Dad’s favorite, Pepsi-Cola. 

Before long, we spied the red and white star on the Texaco sign standing out like a beacon against backdrop of blue sky meeting sand.  Dad turned off the two lane highway and rolled into the parking lot.  He fed silver coins into the pop machine and we pulled hard on the cold glass bottles grinning when they released into our hands.  We wrenched the bottle tops off on the opener and I pressed the bottle against my lips and drank half of it before taking a breath.  The fizz from the soda burned my nose and my eyes watered, but at the time, it tasted like the best thing I’d ever had.

We reluctantly climbed back in the car and Dad turned back onto the highway driving east toward Phoenix.  I  perched on my knees against the back seat and watched out the back window, as the sand blew off the back of our car and the mountains faded in the shadows of the setting sun.



Online dating is hard.  I’ve been there.  It feels like navigating through the fog.  You can’t see things clearly and you don’t know where the danger is.  I learned a few things and worked out a way to navigate better.  Here are my tips.

          1.  Know yourself and what type of person you need in your life. Soul searching and evaluating is crucial.
          2.  Take your time and write down exactly what is important for you and what characteristics in a mate you value, need and want. A list of what is important and what you can compromise can be a good reminder of why you are doing this, or convince you to try something else.
          3.  Always, be careful.  Do not risk your safety with the type of information you put in your profile.
          4.  Be honest, specific and detailed in describing yourself in your profile description.  Make it clear who you are and what you are looking for. I spent almost three hours writing and editing mine. 
          5.  When reviewing the profiles of men who respond and reach out to contact you, immediately delete anyone who:

               A.  Has obviously not read your profile or admits they have not read your profile.
               B.  Has not taken the time to fill out a detailed profile description.
               C.  Does not match what you are looking for.
               D.  Seems fishy in any respect to you.   
 I could write for days about the number of men, who looked at my photo, and ignored all or most of what I had written and still contacted me—they wanted a one night stand, someone to cheat on their wife with, borrow money from, or Heaven only knows what else…I never gave them the time of day—their profile or lack thereof said all I needed to know. 


          6.   After steps 1-5, and you’re ready to take the first step, exchange a few brief emails and a phone call and if you’re feeling good about meeting him, then waste no time in a meeting.  Do not drag on with emailing.  I made that mistake. Once.  It’s best to find out as soon as possible whether there is promise in a relationship or not.
          7.  Once you decide to meet, arrange to meet somewhere for coffee.  Yes.  Coffee.  Do not meet for drinks, or lunch or dinner.  Save that for your second date.  Coffee dates are not costly, allow for casual conversation, and can be planned at all times of day or evening.   Meet for coffee in a public place that you are familiar with.  YOU choose the place. Period.
I chose a place close to my home in my comfort zone.  I knew the area and people were familiar.  It felt safe to me.
          8.  Always have an ‘escape plan’ in place.  What does that mean?  If within the first 15 minutes (or sooner) you realize there is no chemistry, but you can tell he’s already decided you are the ONE and never wants the date to end, be polite and finish your cup of coffee, but at the same time, casually work into the conversation an OUT.  For example, mention you have a work deadline to finish or your sister asked you to help her; have something to do or somewhere to be later.
           9.  When you get home, you can write an email saying it was nice to meet and then say that there was no chemistry and good luck.  Do not get emotionally invested at this point. Manipulative personalities can suck you in and waste a lot of your time. I know it may sound cold, but I made these mistakes in the beginning, until I approached this process more as a business transaction.  Then it got easier.

      10.     When you are in your car and ready to leave to go home, if you have ANY concerns, leave AFTER he does and don’t go straight home.  Stay in public view.   I cannot stress personal safety enough.  I had several safeguards in place when I began online dating.  Make sure you have them, too.

This is your search and your life.  Do not be bullied or persuaded by guilt to continue beyond your first date with anyone you do not feel in your gut is right for you.  Remember, you do not owe anyone your time, if you are not interested in pursuing a relationship with them.  You should be kind, but foremost, be true to yourself.
 I did go out on one second date in order to avoid telling the truth, but learned quickly that was not fair; to either one of us.  I learned to speak honestly and move on without agonizing.  I appreciated similar mutual honesty from two men I dated, who on the same search as me, but for them, I was not the right one either.  We decided on friendship and were supportive of each other’s search for our mates.
I was on the same online dating site for two years and during the time, I went on a lot of coffee dates, and took two breaks of a month or two, where I didn’t date at all and invested in two separate relationships that didn’t work out.  I was about to take another break and even considered terminating my subscription to the site when a profile caught my attention.
A first date evolved into saying yes to spending the rest of my life with Mr-Right-for-Me—this summer we celebrate 15 years together.  



It was 1972.    I was 16 and I loved outlaw country music.  My vinyl collection boasted music by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.  Not many of my high school peers shared my taste in music, but my best friend, Dusty, who I’d known since we were 11, was as crazy about it as me, which is just one of the reasons we were best friends. 

The day we learned Kris Kristofferson was going to be in concert, we begged our parents for permission to go, collected our saved up our allowance and babysitting money to buy the tickets and waited impatiently for THE night to arrive. 

The concert venue was downtown and I was nervous about driving in unknown territory.  Dusty assured me that with her riding shotgun, we’d be fine.  That night we climbed into my 1966 VW Bug and traversed the puzzle of one-way streets to the concert hall.

We sat on the edge of our seats in the balcony and dramatically sighed, when, at last, Kris Kristofferson sauntered on stage, dressed in a pale blue wrinkled shirt, sleeves rolled up, faded jeans, worn boots and his guitar slung over his shoulder.  We were in ‘teenage-girl-with-a-crush-heaven’ when he began singing.  We knew every word to every song and were disappointed when he left the stage after his final song.  We hoped we could score an autograph and pushed our way out of the venue to the street and around the corner, hoping for even a glimpse of our beloved star. 

We giggled and looked around, surprised that we were the only two waiting outside the side door.  We stood in the glow of a streetlight, otherwise draped in darkness.  Suddenly, the door opened and three men emerged, each carrying a guitar case, laughing and mid-conversation.  They stopped abruptly when they saw us. 

Even in the dim light, we immediately recognized Kris Kristofferson.  He smiled at us and I felt my knees shaking and I suddenly couldn’t even remember my name.  I could not believe I was standing next to Kris Kristofferson.  He was so close to us, I could smell him.  He smelled like whiskey.

Dusty and I were so star-struck that we could hardly find the words to speak, but I remember finally gushing about how much I loved the concert, and then asked for an autograph.  He scratched his head and drawled, “Well, this is the first time anyone asked me for my autograph.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.”   I was in disbelief but dug into my purse and pulled out a scrap of paper—which happened to be the receipt from the concert ticket purchase. He took it from me, our fingers touching briefly (I was never washing that hand again), signed his name (I was staring at his face) and handed it back to me. I could not stop smiling and giggling.

Then, he grinned again and queried, “Do you girls want to party?  We’re going to a party.” 

I remember freezing in place, blushing and then panic hit me.  I stammered and muttered something about our curfew and thanked him for the autograph.  We raced back to the Bug, slid in, slammed and simultaneously locked the doors.  My hands were still shaking as I turned the key in the ignition and drove away.  Neither one of us had said a word.  I was still waiting for my heartbeat to slow down.  Dusty, in her usual style, and too loud voice, blurted out, “THAT was crazy!”  I laughed hysterically and we both started singing ‘Me and Bobby Mc Gee’.

I’ve never been to another Kris Kristofferson concert but I still have his autograph on that faded receipt and wonder if it really was the first one he’d ever signed.



The Fear quietly follows me like a shadow, never leaving and like the proverbial Boogie Man under the bed, pulls me under the surface of my own insecurity, suffocating me with imaginary whispers of  “I told you so”.

Sometimes at night, when I am trying to go to sleep, this Fear creeps into my thoughts and prevents me from even closing my eyes.  I stare upwards to the ceiling and can feel it choking me as my thoughts stomp wildly inside my head.

“I didn’t write today…I should be writing something right now…I should get up….I write best at night, but I’m tired.  Tomorrow will be better…I’ll never finish any of my projects…I will die before I actually become serious about my writing…I have already wasted so much time…”

I despair over the wasted days, weeks, years and then fervently promise and plan to start the next day, so that the Fear will go back to its corner.  But, the next day I don’t write and the Fear charges me again, pushing me back further under, into surrender to its grip. 

I have plenty of excuses, but none of them are valid.  They are only lies that I tell myself to quell the Fear.

“I have no time, I work full time.  I’m too stressed…I just want to come home and relax, not write.  My recorded shows are filling my queue, I need to watch them. Next week looks better.”

The truth stands accusingly before me.

I have time to write.  I have a place to write.  I have talent.  I have passion.

What the heck is holding me back?

The Fear may actually be that I won’t write well enough, that I won’t be able come up with the pieces to fill the frame of my story and finish it.  Maybe the Fear is also that no one wants to read what I have to say. 

I must stand up face to face with the Fear and write anyway.  I must write because it is who I am.  A writer.



Sometimes, I change things up from my usual posts and my writing becomes poetic and introspective. This is one of those times. Since I haven't posted in awhile (but I have been writing just the same), I decided to publish this piece, here.

This is me.  This is everyone.  We've all fought hard to get where we are in our journey. We hide our scars from each other and pretend we're unscathed.  But in time, it's evident, we are all brave warriors, each having survived different battles.


masked exterior
Madonna smile
but inside
weary, wary, vigilant.

The fragile soul
bears the scars of ancient battles.
Remnants of busted, bruised pieces
and holes filled with 
loss and fear.

Damaged but resilient
with wounded parts cloaked
behind bravado
which like a fortress
protects the broken child within.

A solitary dented shield
warns that a sword
she keeps
buried deep
can be sharpened,
and hailed
to defend that child
from harm.




I'm through planning for the 'whens, afters and somedays'.  It's time for action, now.

I've jumped feet first into some pretty great projects that I'm excited about, and though, there are times I feel I am knee deep in mud with my endeavors, I am doing what I love and I am not wasting time talking about it anymore.


1-- Writing
This last day of the month of January marks the most consistent writing I have done in more than 10 years (which embarrasses me to admit). After all, I'm a writer. So why haven't I been writing more? I've delayed, put off, made excuses, and procrastinated for a myriad of reasons, but only a few of them are valid.

I am so grateful to have been a part of an amazing group of writers on Facebook through Jeff Goins' "My 500 Words" challenge.  I am proud to say that I have been consistently writing at least 500 words, on more days than not, for the challenge month of January.

I also happily discovered another group of creative souls who are inspiring and helping me unleash another layer of my artistic side.  The page is called "The Documented Life" and this is a group of people creating their own planners/art journals, guided with weekly prompts, each person making their planner, a santuary, a place to journal, doodle, and organize. 

Mine will be a place to journal and write, brainstorm ideas for future writing projects, songs, dreams and inspiration.  I have always loved to doodle in the margins of notebooks or on scraps of paper and this is permission to do that in a very purposeful, creative and unique way.

3--Bible Study
I am attending my church's women's Bible Study to deepen my relationship with God and develop friendships with other Christian women. We meet for an hour of worship and Bible Study followed by an hour of break out classes. The breakout class I signed up for is a digital photography class. I already have some knowledge through a class I took when we first got our camera, but I'd like to start using my camera all the time for documenting and memorializing all the moments in my life.

Recently, I'd been bummed that I'd let my Spanish get rusty and wanted to brush up on it and expand my vocabulary and fine tune my ability to speak, read and write in Spanish.Recently, through a friend, I learned about Duolingo, a free app, that I downloaded on my phone and use every day.

Music.  I learned how to play the guitar (chords and some picking) beginning in the 7th grade and took lessons through my junior year of high school, but my guitar was abandoned and has not been played in several years.

I've regretted not completing my lessons so that I can read music. I began learning to read music when I was a junior, but my music instructor was very intimidating and demanding. At that time, I didn't have the desire to put in the time and work to meet his expectations, so I quit. I am now picking up where I left off in my music.

Each one of these five of these pursuits filled my time in my younger days.  I was active in my church, studied Spanish, took guitar lessons and played it often, wrote every chance I could steal away and sketched, painted and doodled on blank pieces of paper laying around. 

All of these things have a connection. They are creative outlets that compliment one another. I am excited about the journey that I've begun. I feel renewed and energized.

I am no longer just idling, waiting for the right time to accomplish the things I WANT to do. I am DOING them.

What are you waiting to pursue?



I felt sad, burdened and travel weary as I stared out the car window at the passing landscape. The highway was lined with three-rail farm fencing and leaf barren trees. 

We were back in Kentucky. We were here to bury my father. Tears welled again, uncontrolled, and rolled down my face. I glanced over at my mother, sitting next to me in the back seat of our rental car. Her own tears spilled down her cheeks. She, too, was lost in her own grief laden thoughts. It was even more heartbreaking for me to imagine her loss.  My head pounded like a thundering drum inside my skull and I squeezed my eyes closed and tried to shut the pain off. I couldn’t. I opened my eyes again and looked out the window trying to make sense of it all. 
A snow storm had arrived at the same time our plane landed in Louisville. After a 3:00 a.m. start to a long day of airport lines, snafus, plane changes and a cross country flight, we were finally in the car on our way to my cousin’s home.
Snow was blowing around us and frosting the world outside. We had an hour drive to go from Louisville to Lexington and my husband (a native Californian) had stepped up to the challenge of driving this leg of our journey. My brother rode shotgun next to him. They were a good team.  Their conversation consisted of road directions and traffic and I welcomed the distraction from my grief.

I'd been back to Kentucky for a visit with extended family when we made a trip to Nashville, three years earlier, but it had been a very long time since I'd visited Lexington with any snow on the ground.
I was in the 7th grade and we'd come to visit my grandparents for Christmas. All of the rest of our annual trips were during the summer, since Dad was a teacher and had all of his summers off.
This time we’re here for you.  This would be his last trip.  I tried not to think about leaving him here.  About having him so far away from me.
It felt surreal to be making this trip for the purpose of laying my dad to rest next to his parents. How did this happen so fast? I was just talking to him, he was being funny, teasing us.
I remember feeling confident that he'd be fine, probably weak and not feeling like coming to our house for our traditional family Christmas Eve dinner, but I was certain that the New Year would arrive with him out of the hospital and with us again.
I was right.
He was no longer in the hospital. He was home. His soul was home with his Heavenly Father and his body was home in KY. And now, January 2, 2014 we were home with him, too.

At that moment, I wished we could have been anywhere else. I wished that all of this was just one of my disturbing nightmares and I would wake up from it, with my heart beating fast and my day thrown off, but grateful that it was just a bad dream. 
But, it was not a bad dream this time.  It was real. It was a sharp piece of truth that had spun the world I knew, upside down and left me disoriented.
I continued to look out the window but my vision was blurred by swirling snow outside and the veil of tears. I blinked, took a deep breath and prepared myself for what would end up being the hardest day I’d lived, in a very long time. 



I am once again re-evaluating my life and what I want to do with the rest of it—what will I choose to spend my time doing. My initial reply is, writing more and working less.
Yes, losing my father has illuminated the reality of my own mortality and forced me acknowledge how short life really is and made me consider how I will spend the days left in my own life and how to make the most of each one of them.
None of us know how many days we have.  Some of us are told our days are numbered because of a disease that modern medicine cannot cure.  Some of us are taken without warning, in our sleep or in the course of our day by violence, accident or disaster. Few plan for that.  I don’t plan for that, either. I live my days as if there will be no end to them.
I have been on a journey of re-evaluation for awhile now.  This blog has several posts about slowing down, simplifying, shedding stuff, and eliminating drama. I’ve ignited discussions about planning for a simpler lifestyle in retirement and considering what I will do to fill my days when I am no longer employed.
But I haven’t written anything about taking time to be a child at play again.  To experience the simple joy I had when I was a child lost in play.
Life as a 50 something adult is full of so much seriousness.  I have tied myself down to managing my career, maintaining my home, chasing retirement and a multitude of other grand responsibilities that keep me grounded to the path of aging.
Do you remember being a child, wishing to be grown-up, to be freed from childhood?  I could not wait to grow up.  I saw making my own decisions and being an adult as the ultimate freedom.  But, having been an adult for almost 40 years now, I can say, aloud, that it isn’t freedom at all.
Of course, I can’t go back to my childhood, but I can take a “play like a kid again” break now and then, leave my cell phone at home and ignore the adult voice shunning the idea and just be a kid again for a little while.
·     I’ll go to the beach, roll up my jeans and run in the waves and still get my pant legs wet and sandy and squish my toes in the wet sand and giggle. I’ll throw my arms up to the sky and shriek with glee with each wave that splashes up on me.

·     I’ll take a Saturday afternoon and walk to my neighborhood 7-11 and enjoy my favorite frozen Slurpee drink.  I’ll walk a little slower on my return home, sipping my Slurpee and paying attention to the cracks in the sidewalk instead of thinking about the deadlines waiting for me at work and home.
·     I’ll choose to buy a double dip ice cream cone for lunch occasionally and savor each cold, sweet lick of my two favorite flavors. 

·     I’ll head to the park and swing on the swings for half an hour. Close my eyes and lean back, like I did when I was a kid, and try to swing as high as I can, remembering how free that made me feel.

Life is short. Take time to play.  How will you play like a kid again?



You were the best father a girl could ask for and I was blessed with your love and guidance for the most important years of my life and beyond.   I wasn’t ready for you to be called to Heaven, but you gave me so much while you were here, that I know I’ll be okay.  

Today, I cry because I miss you so much, but the memories I hold onto, make my heart smile.

I loved your passion for the games of tennis and basketball that you shared with me, by teaching me the fundamentals and helping me practice. 

You taught me how to fish, and even though I didn’t catch many, I still thought it was cool to go fishing with my dad.  Some of my fondest memories are of our family camping trips and one of my favorite ways to spend a long weekend will always be desert camping.  

I remember going with you to Gulls’ hockey games, and learning to drive a Tote-Gote when I was nine years old. I remember carefully riding it in big circles in the dirt thinking you were still on the back with me—but you’d hopped off to prove to me I could do it by myself—and I did.

I loved how special I felt going out on our dress-up dinner dates for my 13th and 16th birthdays—my handsome dad as my date!

You were larger than life and little pieces of you, will live on in me. I am confident because you had confidence in me. I’m strong because you gave me your strength when I felt unsure.  I’m smart because you allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them.  You never gave up on me, not even when I disappointed you-- I knew you were always in my corner, that you’d be there for me, no matter what, and you were. 

Thank you for being my compass to find my way between right and wrong, for setting the example of not only a good father, but also husband, teacher, friend and neighbor; for all of your pranks, jokes and teasing--your sense of humor never failed to make me laugh.

Thank you for sharing your life stories with me, for your generous heart, and the priceless gift of your time.

 You have always been my hero and you still are.

I love you Daddy.



How can it be that nearly two weeks have passed and yet I feel frozen in place--stuck.  I am mired down in unexpressed grief and denial. 
I lie to myself. You are not gone. You are simply delayed with your buddies, probably having a bagel and sharing laughs and lost track of time. You will be at home when I call to see how you are feeling today.

But I cannot remove the pain of the truth from my heart.
I cannot erase my last visions of you.  The first, you are laying so still in a hospital bed, except for your breathing, labored and thick. I cannot forget the sight of the rise and fall of your chest as you struggled to stay with us. I believed you’d triumph.  In my life, you were always invincible. 

Then, I blink the tears back and try to clear my head and I see you again.  This time, I return, after the call telling me you are gone. The lights in the room are now dimmed, your face is grey but your legs are still warm to my touch.  The nurse explains, that the soft intermittent rise and fall of your chest, that I think I see, is now only a cruel trick of my mind.  

I am crying, but I suck back gut wrenching wails and feel them catch hard in my throat. For a moment, I feel suffocated and I gasp thin breaths of stale air, looking for an escape from it all, but I am unable to move.  Part of me wants to run but I know that will not change the way I feel and it will not bring you back. So I wait--snared between denial and reality.
Every moment in the short span of time since then, feels the same. I allow myself to release stifled sobs, and tears roll down my face freely, but the cascade of unabashed grief remains carefully imprisoned inside my chest. 

My mourning time is spent alone, inside my car cloaked in the predawn darkness during my early morning commute. My sorrow song is muted by the music on the radio.  My ritual ends as I exit the freeway and harness my grief once more.  I wipe my eyes and put on my mask for the day.
Despite my memories of your flag draped casket and internment, I cannot find my closure.  Your memorial service looms ahead of me and I anticipate more helpings of pain while I have not yet embraced the pain served up and stored away. 

I need you to help me be strong and yet you are no longer here to do that.  You taught me to be independent and tough, but where is that trait in me, now?  I feel weak and small, and vulnerable to being trampled by the world around me. 

I know it is still there, somewhere deep inside of me but for now, it is covered beneath the pain of the loss of you, my father and hero. 

I will emerge strong again on the other side of this loss, because I am my father's daughter.