Farewell Dear Swing

We took down our old front porch swing this week, my baby son and I.

He’s 28 years old, but he will always be my baby.

We replaced it with a new one from Wayfair, so I needed a Millenial to assemble it for me.

It was a decision that we had been sitting with for a couple of years now. The swing was old when it came to me over 30 years ago.  Many layers of black paint are peeling out of control to reveal a light green base paint that was there where I received it. Both of my grand babies and I have taken to peeling the paint, which I’m sure has a high VOC rating and may even have oil based, lead paint in the layers-so for the safety of all of us, we needed to make a change.  Also the chains had become so rough and rusty, that my granddaughter would touch them, then thought it was a fun game to wipe the flakes on MaeMae.

I had to stop that madness.

Over the years, the swing has been lightly sanded and repainted several times, but now it needs a chemical peel. A light sanding won’t help the old girl.

I know exactly how she feels.

My hub and I have committed to simplifying everything we can around the house as we become sexagenarians.  ( Don’t you just love that word? You better believe I’m gonna be using it a lot the next 10 years!!!) The new swing is made of synthetic wood which should never need to be painted.

For as long as we both shall live.

The old swing has served me well throughout my life. Before coming to Maryland it hung on the front porch on another farmhouse, one in Tennessee, where I lived my senior year of college with a precious family. Surrounded by the East Tennessee mountains, I laid on the swing and studied my huge Med-Surg book in nursing school, took long naps in the summer rain and wrote weekly letters to a cute Maryland farm boy.

It was a happy day for me when they gifted my beloved swing to me and it made the journey north to our 200 year old farmhouse. Countless snapshots of life are in my photo books and in my mind, of the 3 little boys who grew up on this swing. Sitting together during summer storms to calm our new puppy who was afraid of thunder, waiting for dinner to finish cooking while swinging, a porch crammed with friends taking turns in the rockers and on the swing and even the time all the boys had chicken pox WITH their daddy, swinging in the April breeze. Here I have cried many tears -away from my family’s eyes, had many long conversations on the phone and with Jesus, and simply listened to the sound of the steam going over the rocks.

Most recently, it is the place my grand babies love to be. I started swinging with them as I gave them a bottle and looked deep into their eyes and said,”We’re gonna be big friends, you and me”. I swing them to sleep and sing as loud as I want (because we live in the country and don’t have close neighbors). I sing “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”, “Jesus Loves Me” and “You are My Sunshine”.


Because they are.

I let them eat popsicles on the swing in the summer and when they are teething. I even have bundled them up in warm blankets in the winter, when the inside air seems stale and taken them to the swing. We read books and talk about birds, cows and tractors.  It’s a good place to learn about life and how much MaeMae and Jesus loves them.



We have taken millions of pictures on the old swing: informal of course, usually as a last minute thought because we don’t want to forget even ordinary moments. We have taken the 4 generations pics on the swing and these are so special to me-I’m thankful for both my parents to hold their great grandkids here in Maryland.



I’m doing good, so far, not being too sentimental over the old swing, since the new one went up right away. Still, it’s going to take some getting used to… the back is not quite as high as the old one was, and the slats are spaced a little further apart, but it sits comfortably and in the long run, that’s all that matters.

I am now looking to replace our heavy wooden porch rockers with something similar, so that my children will rise up and call me blessed for saving them future projects at mom and dad’s house.


                                                Last look at the old swing



You have to think ahead when you are a sexagenarian.




Here’s a sweet poem I found about old porch swings, I love it ( just a little corny) and I would feel so blessed to think friends and family thought this about our swing.


Grandma’s Place by Louis Gander

The paint was cracked and weathered,

The ‘welcome’ chimes would ring.

But grandma’s place was special with

her old porch swing.


Her dinners were delicious

her cookies she would bring,

as rich aromas found me on

her old porch swing


At times the wooden seat was damp.

The morning dew would cling,

but I couldn’t keep from sitting on

her old porch swing.


The chains, stressed on occasion,

that held a many thing,

as every friend kept resting on

her old porch swing.


Served well those rusty bolts,

Though not for queen or king,

but all the folk were welcomed on

her old porch swing.


The conversations several-

the arm rest, everything-

as we discussed my problems on

her old porch swing.


Nothing makes my heart so glad

and nothing makes it sing,

until I think of grandma on

her old porch swing.


Many years have long since passed.

To memories, I cling-

those days I sat with grandma on

her old porch swing.


The workers razed the homestead

In fear, the birds took wing,

but always in my memory is-

her old porch swing


Some say it wasn’t special

nor good for anything-

yet, that’s where I found Jesus – on

her old porch swing.




Posted in Family, Farm, Midlife Maze | 14 Comments

Last Minute Thanksgiving Pep Talk



This is it sister. The Big Day. With only 3 more days till Thanksgiving… it’s almost GO TIME.

Here’s our pep talk to get through Thursday in the best (emotional and relationship wise) way possible.


What are you waiting for, sister? Get a move on! Whatever that looks like for you. If you’re hosting, blessings upon us, do not let the sun go down tonight without your big grocery shopping done. In the pantry, in the fridge, done.  The biggest time waster during the holidays is shopping during peak hours with the mass of humanity. You use up all your “good will to all men (and women)” by navigating busy store aisles and waiting in long check out lines. If at all possible, be there when the store opens and soar through your list. God bless 24-hour groceries and Wal-Mart. If you’re going to be a guest, do it right. Show up with a small token of your appreciation (hopefully a yummy side dish or dessert) and lead the charge in clean up duties. TIP: Don’t bring anything that requires extra work for the hostess: flowers not in a vase, food that needs a serving dish or worse yet, still needs to be cooked. #dontbethatperson



Make 10:00pm your bedtime for the next 3 nights. It is hard to get aggravated at a turkey or your in laws when you are well rested. And, in case, you haven’t heard…sleeping less than 7 hours a night (or day for my fellow nurses!) is as harmful to your health as smoking! We all handle the big and small stresses of life when the sleep tank isn’t empty.  Zzzzzzz



Most decent folks are waiting for a job assignment and may have already asked. Take them up on it. There are no awards for being a one-woman show. Don’t rob others for their chance to shine: almost 40 years later, I still miss my Aunt Mary’s coleslaw at Thanksgiving. There is enough gratitude for a job well done to go around to multiple cooks. Enlist someone to greet guests at the front door and take coats, put ice in glasses, call folks to the table, etc. If people don’t ask for a job, give them one anyway. No HO’s (hang oners) for Thanksgiving!



The hostess sets the tone for the day. If you are happy and relaxed, chances are most of your family/guests will be too. Some families like to go around and share one thing they are thankful for, or what the best part of the past year has been for them. THANKFULNESS is the order of the day (just like it should be everyday). If conversations get tense, be ready with: “and that’s enough of that!” or “move on, please” or “how about those Ravens?” Your house. Your rules. Don’t let anyone get belittled or bullied at your table. #notonmywatch



This is the hard one. In most families, all the non-perfect ones, like ALL OF THEM…there can be the potential for hurt. This is a natural time that families start discussing past hurts or holiday schedules and tensions can arise if one feels slighted for Christmas. (Or so I’ve been told.) If you start feeling upset, or slighted, try delaying the conversations and decisions for a few days till you can get your thoughts in order and practice your words so they don’t sting. Most of us are not our best “off the cuff” and can regret later words said in the heat of a discussion.

Remember these wise words:

 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

                                                                                                                Romans 12:18


I hope this gives you permission to relax and focus on the important things that these next few days hold. Let me remind that you don’t have to do all the Hallmark stuff. They didn’t come to see your house or how beautiful your table and serving dishes look.


They came for you.


And food.


And family.


And maybe football.


And that’s the best reason for Thanksgiving.


Happy Thanksgiving…go and be a blessing!



Posted in Faith, Family, Food | 4 Comments

Thy Will Be Done

It’s the easiest prayer to pray.

It’s the hardest prayer to mean.

When I was in college I read the Savannah series by Eugenia Price. The story spanned several books and followed the lives of a family in post Civil War Georgia. I don’t remember much of the plot or the characters except one: William. William lost his wife and children in a steamship explosion off the coast of Savannah, shattering his life and happiness. For a good part of the book, he was withdrawn physically and emotionally from this family. While there were several main characters in the story life of this family, it was the fly on a wall viewpoint to this man working (the rest of the book series) on how to live out those four words, that remained with me forever. In fact, when I searched in our library for the book as I wrote this blog, I found I had a page marker at the exact section.

I haven’t opened that book in 40 years.

When he finally reemerged, William shared with his brother what he had written in the family Bible regarding the horrible tragedy that had happened in his life. He repeated the words, “Thy will be done” over and over to his brother as he explained how he learned to not just say those words, but to mean them. His ability to come to full acceptance of “Thy will be done” happened in hours of silence and solitude as he allowed the Lord, Himself to be his comforter and healer.

Thy will be done.

From the perspective of a nineteen year old, it was thought provoking.

From the perspective of an almost fifty-nine year old, it is gut wrenching, yet faith affirming.


Throughout these past forty years, I have prayed that prayer many times. I wish I could say that every time I said the words “thy will be done”, I truly meant it. In the first 8 months of this year, my family has had to walk out those words many times, sometimes daily, most times with tears with hope just beyond our reach.

person on a bridge near a lake

Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

It’s the easiest prayer to pray.

It’s the hardest prayer to mean.

We started the year saying hello and goodbye to my sister’s first grandchild. We had known for months that Caleb would not be with us long. His mommy and daddy had him for 45 minutes before they had to lay him back into the arms of Jesus.

baby bed blue blur

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Thy will be done was a bitter pill that day, and countless ones since. We surely could relate to the prophet Jeremiah when he said:

  “My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me. “ (Jere 8:18)

 “Thy will be done” means a dying to self, dying to what I want to happen in each circumstance. In raw honesty, that is a flat out hard thing to do.

My entire middle class, American life has taught me that I can have anything I want done my way. From a fast food burger to a sixty-dollar steak…food is catered to my preferences. Where would I like to sit at the Orioles game? What kind of car would I like to buy? What color natural fiber sheets do I want for my bed? The choices are endless and all mine to make. The control I have over my life by making insignificant decisions is astounding.


photo of blue sky

Photo by Elia Clerici on Pexels.com


But in the area of controlling the most important circumstances of my life, things get tricky. I don’t happen to life as much as life happens to me.  There is pain/uncertainty that walking this earth brings. And the stakes are much higher than what color sheets I want. It’s in the big area of life that means EVERYTHING to me: my family.

The stakes are high in praying this prayer, because on one hand it’s part of the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray. That alone ups the ante. If I want to follow Jesus in the way I say I do, I have to take this seriously.

What makes this life so precarious is that we never know when happiness or tragedy is just around the bend and this cuts to the core question: Does Jesus really love me when the loss of loved ones, accidents, job loss, or health issues come to me? Can God be trusted with my life?

If we only trust God or think of Him as “good and loving” when our life circumstances are not in jeopardy, how much benefit is faith to our life as a believer?

These are questions that I wrestle with when life gets hard and makes no sense.

CS Lewis said, “ There are two kinds of people in the world, and only two kinds: those who say to God. “Your will be done”, and those to whom God says in the end, “Your will be done”.




Posted in Faith, Family | 6 Comments

Being a Floridian (kinda)

Ping- pong is how I describe my life to most people.

Let me explain.

For the past 3 years my hub and I have been making almost weekly jaunts from Maryland to Florida for his work. We have a lovely home here and I have come to be very comfortable, knowing my way around the west Orlando area and we love exploring “Old Florida” when we are down here over a weekend.



Even after I explain to folks that we (for the most part) are only down here 2-3 days at a time, I can’t get over the number of people who ask me, “You drive that every week?” I look at them  (and try not to roll my eyes), because c’mon folks… it’s a 19 -hour drive each way.

Do the math.


Like I said, for the most part we are down here just a few days at a time since we have the care of my 95 year old mother in law on the weekends. But we do try to spend a weekend down here every couple of months and I have spent 10 days down here twice this year so far. Once in the winter (heaven) and I am here right now (hot as hades). I would say the other “h” word but my hub would get mad. But it is that and much more.


Since I have given Florida a fair shake (that’s southern for been here for a while) I have come to the following observations/conclusions:

  1. Floridians are the worst drivers in the USA.

They officially bumped Pennsylvania off the top of my list when I drove my belongings down here the first time. I have thought long and hard about this, trying to figure out why they are so terrible. This is my theory: In our area of Orlando, near the House of the Mouse, there are thousands and thousands of tourists everyday on the roads. I think that the native Floridians nerves are shot between so many blue hair drivers, silver alerts and all the tourists trying to figure out the routes to the different parks that they just go 80 miles an hour to get away from them as fast as possible. Add to that the very dangerous pattern of weaving in between cars with narrow margins and it’s the Gator Autobahn. Seriously, it’s unnerving. Don’t even get me started on the construction on I4 and the plethora of tolls. Driving nightmare. (I would say the “h” word, but again, my hub.) But it is that and much more.

  1. Floridians send all the best produce up north.Try to find a farm stand to get a home grown tomato. Nowhere to be found. I ask my neighbors where they go to get a good tomato and they say “Publix”. No, thank you. Even in this early part of summer, which is towards the end of the growing season in Florida, the tomatoes in my Publix are from Canada.




  1. Floridians only get fresh seafood if they live on the coast. If you look at a map, Florida is a skinny peninsula roughly 2 hours across from coast to coast with Orlando being about almost dead center. One would not think that finding fresh seafood (aka shrimp) would not be a major ordeal. Considering that Florida has the best seafood on the planet (and I say that with the authority of someone who also lives on the Chesapeake Bay) it’s a dagger to the heart. I asked my neighbors where they go to get good seafood and they say “Publix”.



Which brings me to:

  1. Floridians are obsessed with Publix. I get it. Publix is a great grocery store, home based in Florida. But it ain’t a farm stand or a fish market. Choices are limited, prices are high and I have yet to get the coveted “pub sub” that my fellow Floridians are so nuts about.  The closest Publix to my house is also the closest one to Disney and caters to tourists: people who are not looking for good tomatoes and fresh shrimp. They want crackers and cold beer and my Publix has those things in spades.IMG_0615
  2. Floridians have the best sense of humor. Hands down. As they constantly point out “We live where you vacation”, they have the endearing quality of not taking themselves too seriously. There is a Face Book group called Florida Memes and it is hilarious. My hub and I laugh daily at their postings. Nothing is off limits to being poked at: their favorite thing to pick at is snowbirds, followed by tourists, the heat and alligators. They sell these white oval bumper stickers that say “WTF” and in small letters say “Welcome to Florida”. I giggle every time I see one. I want one. (But again, the hub.) For a smile a day, check it out.

It’s a closed group and they might have to confirm that you belong there. I mean, you have to at least be living the ping -pong life or be a Floridian, (kinda.)

Like us.



Posted in Faraway, Food | Leave a comment

Behold, I Am Doing A New Thing

  “Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity.”  

                                                                   Col. 4:6


Hello, my friends. It’s been a while since I posted anything and I wanted to let you know the reason why.

 Today I am launching a life and spiritual coaching business.

After months of prayer, study and hard work I passed all my oral and written testing and credentialing to become a Life and Spiritual Coach.

Behold, I am doing a new thing.

This new thing has been about 4 years in the making. Four years ago I didn’t even know what a life coach was, until one of my sons told me one day, “Mom, you should be a life coach. You’d be great at it, it’s what you’ve been doing your whole life. Might as well make a career of it.”

So…. delighted that my son thought this about me- I researched, prayed and even went so far as to apply and get accepted to the Life Coach program at Liberty University.

But something didn’t feel right with me. I felt the Lord say that now wasn’t the time. I withdrew my application and continued on with my part time nursing job, which I loved. And I didn’t think about coaching again.

Enter Florida.



If you follow this blog, you know about our ping-pong life between Maryland and Florida almost weekly. My hub and I have chosen to embrace this new season of our life and we loving refer to it as “the long commute”.

Side by side we eat Chipotle dinner at the airport, wait at the gate, fly 2 hours, wait for Uber in Orlando…until we arrive late to our house.

It can be an exhausting gig.

And while there has been a lot of goodness in this new season of our life, I had a lot of alone time during the day, without family and my posse of gal pals. I got involved with a church in Florida, helping with a week VBS last summer and attended (most) of a winter women’s Bible study group.  But the back and forth travel doesn’t allow for regular commitments to serve in either Maryland or Florida. I felt disconnected and honestly, not useful.

I had always been able to serve in purposeful, fulfilling ways. But this was becoming increasingly difficult in our ping-pong life, which now includes Nashville.

Left out that little tidbit, didn’t I? That’s a story for another day.

That longing for purpose led me back to thinking about coaching.  So what started last fall becomes reality today. In my months of study, preparation and practice I have found the missing piece of me. I am so grateful. Grateful for the prompting from the Lord that the timing was now right and grateful to have been brave enough to do something so different from my life’s work of nursing. But, I guess maybe it’s not so different. It’s still helping people to be the best version of themselves, healthy and whole.

With the blessing of technology, I can work with clients wherever I am. In Orlando, or in Maryland I have the option of face to face, but I have had great experiences using FaceTime and the phone. It’s a whole new world, my midlife friends!

I’ll wrap up now, because I’d love for you to checkout my website, built by me (a middle age nurse, with help from a smart millennial gal in CA) and look around.  The link is at the end of this post.

I have 3 last things to share:

  1. Don’t think, my sweet midlife friends, that it’s too late to change your course in life. It’s amazing and life giving what we are still able to accomplish! Dream big and go for it. No regrets.
  2. I’d be honored if you feel like you could share this post and my new website. There are easy share buttons on the homepage and the blog pages. This helps boost my SEO ratings with Google and other search engines.
  3. Please pray for me. Pray that I can be wise and walk in this new endeavor with grace and peace.

To God be the glory!

My Life and Spiritual Coaching website is http://www.moveyourmindup.com.

The name of my business is Move Your Mind Up. I’ll tell you why I chose that next time.




Posted in Faith, Midlife Maze | 3 Comments


  • This post was written in September at the time of our anniversary. Life got super crazy so I’m just getting to post it now. Love is always a good idea, and right on time. Happy Valentines Day!

This is us.

Not the television show.


Me and him.

We just celebrated 35 years of marriage. 35 happy years of marriage. In this day and age, it’s a feat worthy of noting.

All of us Pickel girls are celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries this year. Between the three of us, we have one hundred years of marital experience.


100 years!

I asked my sisters the same question that my hub and I talk about: What advice for a happy marriage would you give to a newlywed couple? I was eager to see what my sisters and brother–in-laws said. Here is the list they sent me in no particular order:

(Side note: One of my sisters was sitting at the gate at the Atlanta airport getting ready to head to Cabo to celebrate 30 years together as they compiled theirs.)

  1. Lower your expectations. I laughed out loud on this one. It’s really true. The fairy tale idea of marriage has long been debunked, and the institution of marriage has gotten a bad rap because of it. That’s sad, because marriage can be and is supposed to be the singular most satisfying relationship that we have in our life journey. We were created by God to crave intimacy-to know and be known in the depths of our being. But having said all of that…we are all still flawed human beings. It’s bound to spoil paradise from time to time. Remembering that we are flawed as well goes a long way to having realistic expectations for Prince Charming. Life will never be perfect, but even really good is a blessing.
  2. Have friends of your own and couple friends as well. Start planning for life after your kids are gone from the beginning. It will give you a support system during the important season of child rearing, and make the empty nest season AMAZING! There is nothing sadder than a couple that did not build a marriage while they built a family. The grief that can happen when all of the children are out on their own can be intense if this was the focus of the family for 18+ years. For mamas and dads that start childrearing in their 30’s..take note: there is a lot of living left to do when the flock has flown.
  3. Have hobbies you like to do together and separately. Again, the idea is to keep developing as a person and a couple, apart from being parents. Watching your kids play sports does not qualify as a hobby.
  4. Make your spouse a higher priority than your relationship with your children. Your mate is with you for the long haul. Don’t underestimate the power and importance of intimacy. Honor date nights. Have their back in front of the kids during disagreements. Speak well of your spouse to everyone, especially your children. Remember, you are modeling a healthy marriage for them.
  5. Don’t keep secrets. Period. (Unless its about a surprise party for them.)



                     This is us…10 year anniversary 

I agree with every one of the things my sisters and BIL’s said. In addition to these things, this is the advice my hub and I received and have tried to follow since we said “I do.”


  1. Spend the majority of your first year of marriage together. Doing shared activities helps you become anchored in your marital identity to yourselves and others in your life.


  1. Learn to fight fair. (This has 3 rules of its own, thank you, James Dobson.)


  • Once engaged in a conflict, you must stand and fight. You can’t leave the room or get in a car and leave.
  • You must stick to the current offense. Avoid using the following: “You always…”or “You never…” –that is not staying on the current issue.
  • Every spouse knows the one area that the other struggles with in their life. It could be a lifelong issue that brings shame or insecurity. It is an area that should only be broached in a safe time where love is abundant and with kind words and gentle support. NEVER in times of anger to gain the upper hand in an argument. Marriage killing is what that does.


This is us-my sisters and their hubs, my hub and I and our youngest son this past October, We were high in the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, celebrating our son and daughter-in-law’s 3rd anniversary with her extended family.

I hope this advice is received in the way it is offered. Our experience in marriage has been the single most satisfying relationship of our life.

It is never too late to make a marriage better than it is today.

Even if it’s been 35 years.


This is us…35 years and counting!



Posted in Family, Midlife Maze | 3 Comments

“The Woman Who Prayed a Man Out of Me”

True story.

Right before Christmas I flew to Nashville with my hub for a business trip. While he took the rental car to his appointments, I took the shuttle to our hotel. One of the best things about being in the south is that strangers carry on conversations.

Anywhere. Anytime.

I love that. I have missed that in Maryland these past 37 years, where strangers are HIGHLY RELUCTANT to engage in the briefest of exchanges.

The sweetest guy drove the shuttle, and this was our conversation:

Guy: Hey, good morning!

Me: Hey, how are you?

(In the south we greet each other with “Hey”.)

Guy: Welcome to Nashville. Where did you come in from?

Me: Baltimore

Guy: Is this your first time in Nashville?

Me: No, but it’s been a long time and I’m happy to be back. My husband and I are going to the Ryman to see Vince and Amy tonight.

 (Classic southern oversharing.)

Guy: Do you like country music?

Me: I sure do!

Guy: Well, listen, me and the wife have a video on YouTube of a song we wrote called, “The Woman Who Prayed a Man Out of Me.” I’d appreciate it if you’d check us out sometime.

Me: (As I am pulling up the notes section on my phone) Can you say that again, so I get the words right?

Guy: Sure, it’s called “The Woman Who Prayed a Man Out of Me.”

You can not make this stuff up.

At this point I have two things I’m struggling with:

  1. The overwhelming urge not to laugh
  2. How can I ever tell this correctly?

Me: Well, that’s an interesting title.

Guy: It’s my testimony, cause I used to be a not so nice guy, but she stayed with me and prayed that I would change and I did.

Me: Well thats really great. I’ll look it up when I get on to the hotel WiFi.

Here is the link to his YouTube video, check it out:

By that time we had arrived at the hotel and our meeting was over. I started counting the hours till my hub got to the hotel and I could tell him this story. But he never gets as tickled about these things as I do, so I did the next best thing:

I called my sisters.

They gave me the reaction I was looking for and we all agreed that Nashville does live up to all the hype of struggling country singers everywhere you go.

Later that night, my husband and I had dinner at Merchants (highly recommend the duck fat tater tots) and walked around Broadway looking and listening at all the honkeytonks. Every group that we heard spilling out of the doors of those clubs was good enough to be on the CMA Awards show. Even the bands playing the 6:00pm spots. The better bands were supposedly later in the evening.


On our walk to the Ryman we stopped and did some boot shopping, because if you’re going to spend time in Nashville, you gotta have cool boots. It was hard to stay in those stores too long because the music beckoned us back out to the streets.


The Ryman was everything we had hoped it would be. Hearing Vince and Amy sing the Christmas songs we have loved for so long was magical. Especially Tennessee Christmas, my hub’s favorite.




Bucket list kinda night.

When we came out the street performers were on every corner as we walked to our car. All of them…sounded good enough to be on the CMA Awards show.

I started wondering…if everyone in Nashville sings good enough for the CMA Awards show-how will I ever sing loud in church?

Guess we’ll find out!



Posted in Faith, Midlife Maze, Travel | 3 Comments


It’s been a rough couple of weeks at our house. First the hub started with a raging fever and chills, which finally drove us to a 4am emergency room visit for blood cultures, nasal swabs, breathing treatments and IV fluids.

Followed by (4 days later) a predictable cough, chills and fever for me. In the middle of a family crisis.

H3N2…I hate you.

I never got as raging ill as my hub did. Why not, you ask? Because, I got a little thing called the flu shot. Despite all the hoopla from the CDC about how they were off with the shot this year (it’s always, pretty much a guess as to which strains will be dominate) it was still better than nothing.

Just ask my hub.

104 temps, chills and body aches were his story. For days. Mine lasted 48 hours.

All this to say: be careful out there folks. It’s everywhere. So here’s your PSA for this week as the flu season reaches the peak:

  1. Wash your hands, frequently. MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO.
  2. Cover your mouth if you cough. Better yet, practice coughing into your bent arm instead of your hands.
  3. Try to keep your hands away from your nose and eyes.
  4. Use wipes and hand sanitizer sparingly. It’s a balance of wiping bad germs away and wiping our good germs off.
  5. Go get tested immediately if you start having fever, coughing and chills. Tamiflu is only effective if given within first 48 hours of onset of symptoms.
  6. Get next seasons flu shot in midfall, NOT in the spring or summer as some pharmacies advertise. You want maximum coverage during the height of flu season. (The surgery center where I work likes us nurses to delay until the first of November to get ours.)

It’s no fun, my friends.

Here’s hoping to see ya’ll on the other side. (Of the flu season.)



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Devil, Thy Name is Hurry

I’m in a hurry to get things done

I rush and rush until life’s no fun*


Or until I slam my finger in a locked car door.

That brought my hurry up life to a screeching halt about 2 weeks ago. Intense pain has a way of getting our attention. The busy, productive day I had planned took a detour that looked a lot like me settling into a position where my hand could be elevated on pillows and I got to continue the book series I have been reading through this summer.

Forced rest.

My least favorite kind.

The whole ordeal made me introspective. How, I asked myself, could such a small injury-one half of one digit on my dominant hand affect every part of my waking hours? I know the answer: our fingertips are jam packed with nerve endings, which allow us to distinguish thousands of different sensations-a wonderful thing. However, the more pain receptors, the more intense the pain, ergo the smallest paper cut can send us howling.

There is no way around this throbbing, swollen finger…I am a captive to time.


I started thinking about other parts of life that cannot be hurried. The kind of things that have their own ebb and flow in life, despite our coaxing, “Hurry up!” We are just along for the ride.


Feeding a baby a bottle is one of those things. It makes us sit down and be present in the task. We can’t hurry a 5 month old into gulping faster. We don’t want to. It’s an honor to be involved in such an important part of their growth and development.

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Karalin Grace has reminded me of that. I count the time I spend feeding my little granddaughter her bottle as time I want to stand still. Holy moments as we stare into each other’s eyes. I long to know what she is thinking. Here’s what I am thinking: this time will be gone too fast. Slow down.

57 years of living taught me that.

Healing is another thing that cannot be hurried. Our bodies are amazing. As a nurse, God’s design for how the body heals itself still keeps me in awe. But it takes time. Time that has it’s own pace that we are captive unto. That hits home as I hunt and peck this keyboard, protecting the still sore finger.


It is good to be sidelined sometimes. To be reminded that the world keeps going on without us, just fine. We are not so important as to hold up the universe, even the universe of our lives.

The Bible taught me that.

It says, be still.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps 46:10)

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” (Ps 37:7)

We are encouraged by spiritual fathers of the past to look not only to participating in the outward Christian disciplines of worship, service and giving, but seek to incorporate silence and solitude into our practice of faith. In a world that values production and accomplishment, it is sometimes hard to sit and wait. The blessing is in the action of being still on purpose. To wait patiently for Him.

With expectation of meeting the divine.

God desires our attention. And He will have it one way or another. Freely given. Or heaven directed.

As the bruises fade and tenderness subside, I realize I needed to be attentive to what I had put off for too long.

And I am thankful.






* Excerpt from I’m in a Hurry by Randy VanWarmer and Roger Murrah

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Minimalist Me

Ok, that’s a stretch.

But I am moving in the right direction. As a follow up to my last post, Defeathering Our Nest, I am proud to report that in this past week I have “dealt with” 23 Rubbermaid boxes in the back part of my attic. The weather was cooler and my mom was visiting -so that was a great combo to spur me on. My mom genuinely enjoys this process. You would think it was like opening packages on Christmas morning for her. She has the opposite problem that I do…she doesn’t hold on to ANYTHING. She even tossed my dad’s love letters to her, long before we ever found out that he had written them!

Honestly, my mom is one of the only people I would let into this process. She passes no judgement on me as I have held on to more than she ever would have drug through the decades. It also helped that I had a very non-sentimental vibe going last week.

I can tell when I feel this way. I wake up and think, “today is a great day to get rid of stuff”. No emotion attached to items. No remembering 3 little boys, who are now grown men with their childhood packed up one floor above me. I steel myself not to dwell of the beautiful past.

Focus on the future. A clean attic. Less work for my boys and their wives. A monumental task completed. And lightness for hub and I if we decide to do something crazy, like live half of our lives in another state.

Once I got through the initial self- loathing for waiting so long to do this task, and that I had left so much stuff to deal with, I was flying through the boxes. Easter baskets, tooth fairy pillows, plastic pumpkins for candy, board games, stuffed animals, baseball cards…I could go on and on ad nauseam. I even came across the box with our wedding momentos. I still have 27 lilac napkins that have our names and wedding date on them.

From our reception.

35 years ago.

Bless my heart.

However, in that same box was a wooden music box that I had bought in Austria when I lived there while I was in college. When you lift the lid it plays Edelweiss, from The Sound of Music. Inside were my hub and I’s high school rings and most exciting, my gold baby bracelet. When our family was complete having 3 boys- I’m sure I thought that was a good place for safe keeping, back in the days before the box got reassigned to the attic.

But I never figured that my middle age brain drain would not remember it was there. Yet, there it was. And now I have someone special to give it to. I polished that little treasure and gave it to my new little treasure that very day.


            My little treasure wearing the my baby bracelet for the first time.

With the 20+ boxes emptied, that is roughly 1/8 of the attic contents. I ended up with 4 pared down boxes, but in each of those boxes is an 8 x11 paper with one of the boys names on it. So when the time comes for the big breaking up of household, each son will take the boxes assigned to them and if I see them again, I will know that they have already been dealt with.

I am so encouraged, and as soon as we get another break in the heat, I’m going back up there to bring another load down. If any of my fellow midlife mamas have had a hard time getting rid of the past, I urge you to start the defeathering process. It can bring such feelings of power and control, at a time of life where that can be in short supply.

 If only losing weight was this easy.




Posted in Family, Midlife Maze | 4 Comments