Thursday, June 25, 2015

Note to Self:

The clock's neon-blue numbers flashed in the dark: 10:39...11:20 (Good grief, wasn't it at least 1:20?)...12:41...and so on, and so on, ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Sometime during my restless night, I reached for my phone, and lit up the room with its backlight, looking for something to read. The first thing I saw was this from my little brother Eric on Facebook:

Credit given to Dion Vincent's Facebook page

It not only gave me something to read, but something to think about all night. I hadn't noticed Eric's two words, and was so curious as to what he would write. Each time I woke up, I tried to distill my words to my younger self to just two words. 

In the past, I've written LETTERS to myself. That's a lot easier for this blogger to do, as you can see. Words? I've got hundreds. Limit me to two, and I want to explore all of the possibilities. 

When the night was finally over, I picked up my phone to write a response to Eric, and that is when I noticed his two words: BE YOURSELF. That is pure Eric. By my estimation, that has been his battle cry all of his life. 

Eric did things HIS WAY, all the time. He didn't do things to please our parents, unless it pleased him first. He didn't dress like everyone else, but he did pay homage to his hero, Robin Williams by wearing Mork from Ork-styled rainbow suspenders in high school. Not everyone can pull off that look. Eric could. Eric has been my hero in the "Be Yourself" department. 

Those words are perfect for most teens and young adults who nearly kill themselves trying to fit in, and find a place to belong. I wish Eric had written his note to MY younger self. It has taken me years to know who I am and what I like. Great advice. I wish I'd thought of it sooner.

So, this topic was what we discussed before Chuck left for work during his breakfast. I'd had all night to think about my choices, but given his limited amount of think time, I was impressed with Chuck's thoughts. Pretty quickly, he came up with, "Apple Stock." That's Chuck. Mr. Wit.

His other two thoughts were: "Push on," and "Wait patiently." He is an encourager, even for himself.

What did I come up with? It was so hard for me to keep it to two words. As you can see, this struggle is real. Verbosity is one of my questionable strengths.

"Slow down" would have been good advice. I've always been in a hurry, and it hasn't helped anything. 

"Don't judge" is something I remind myself constantly. I keep myself in check with this motto because I realize what other people say and do is absolutely none of my business. We're just here to love and support others along their journey.

"Speak up" is the theme of my most recent letter to myself. I've always been afraid of hard conversations, and have rarely exposed my deepest thoughts to anyone. I am learning that these talks are always worth having, but it has taken me all of my life to understand that what I think does matter, and as long as I present my point of view from a place of peace, and try to say what I have to say to create better understanding, my words are worth saying.

"Don't settle" would have saved me a lot of heartache. I have a whole blog post on that topic! (Note to self: write about that later!)

I think the two words that would have helped me the most, though, are these:


Those words soothe me like no others. I never believed in myself. Not understanding that I was good enough just the way I was made me make poor choices. I rushed things. I settled. I caved. I gave in on important issues. I judged others because I judged myself so harshly. I didn't believe my thoughts mattered. 

It took two failed marriages, losing my dad, and giving up my beloved dog to make me see that even when I'm stripped down to my barest self, and feel that I'm hanging on by a thread, I am enough. 

I faced my biggest fears these last couple of years, and I have come to realize that I am enough. I make mistakes, and I own them. I fall short, and I keep trying. I am going to be okay.

Until recently, I struggled with self-confidence. It has taken most of my life to finally believe that I am enough. Those words are so powerful, and I try to share them with those closest to me, often.

When our pastor shared those words in a recent sermon, I wept. When my husband takes me in my arms, and tells me I am perfect, just as I am; I am more than enough, I feel such a sense of relief.

I am a woman on a mission. I don't want anyone else to ever doubt that they are enough. 

I want my husband to know: You're enough. 

I want my children to know: You're enough. 

I want my parents to know: You're enough. 

I want my siblings to know: You're enough. 

I want my friends to know: You're enough. 

And I want you to know: You're enough.

We are enough, y'all. 

Let's help each other remember. 


What about you? What two words would you write to your younger self? I hope you'll take a moment to leave your advice here, or on Facebook, for us to see. There's a lot of wisdom in your older self that your younger self only wishes you'd known back then. 

For more words of encouragement on this topic, see:


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Male Version of Myself

Even when I was ready to start dating again, I was looking for someone "different" this time. Different from the others; someone
more like me. Someone who cherishes family time, and being outdoors, and photography, and most of all, me. Yes, I wanted someone who wants to make me a priority because I would be willing to do that for them. 

There was no master list, with requirements and ultimatums, but I was aware as I met different men that while they may have had certain attributes that were desirable, I knew that I would be "settling" by putting up with other habits that would be problematic in the long run. I was hoping to find someone like me. I realize there may be some truth to the whole "opposites attract" thing, but this time I was willing to try someone more similar than opposite. Not identical, but someone who could understand and appreciate who I am because of who he is.

Would it be asking too much to find someone who loves words, and understands the basics of grammar? Would it be possible to find someone who liked to read, and didn't watch TV every night and weekend? Was there someone out there who liked to hike, and liked to make plans, and could manage money? I don't need rich; just someone who can live within his means, and still enjoy life. 

My kids agree; Chuck and I are a good match.

I wanted to find someone who could appreciate the wonderful human beings I created who became some of the best people I know. Yes, I wanted someone who would love my kids as if they were his own. I wanted a man who was a good father, and wanted me to be a part of his children's lives. I wanted someone who didn't drink or smoke. Someone who would choose uplifting entertainment for us to enjoy. Someone who likes music and art and theater. If that person could like to dance, even if it's just in the privacy of our kitchen, that would be awesome, too.

Thanks to Chuck, my family includes three more sons, a beautiful daughter-in-law, and a darling grandson.

I guess I was looking for the male version of myself, basically. That's no small feat...not that I'm that phenomenal, but the likelihood of my finding many of my qualities in a man would be pretty amazing.

And yet, I did it. I found the male version of myself in Chuck. Last week I shared this graphic with him, with these words: "Somehow, I think we did."

His response? "Pretty much."

We have enough differences to keep things interesting. I am naively trusting. Chuck is more guarded, and hyper-vigilant about locking things up, double-checking doors and windows, and protecting our valuables. Where I tend to take a buckshot approach at tasks, Chuck is very focused and thorough, seeing each task to its end. I can get worked up into panic mode quickly, and Chuck tends to be reasonable and calm. I would like to think I'm pretty relaxed about most things, trying to minimize most ailments, and Chuck has self-professed hypochondriac tendencies. 

Our likes and dislikes are similar, with some big discrepancies. I never met a food I wouldn't try. Chuck has tried a few foods, and based on his limited previous experience, can predict that he wouldn't like much else. I like music from many genres, especially country, except opera. Chuck loves classical music, tolerates my country music, but does not like opera. (Whew.) We both want to try opera sometime, to give it a chance. I love water and coffee. Chuck loves Powerade Zero, only the blue kind, please. I love sweet snacks; Chuck loves salty snacks. 

This morning, I realized another way we are alike. And I also realized there can be drawbacks to being so similar.

There was a mouse caught in the trap behind the microwave. I got everything ready for the trash to be taken out to the curb, and I left the room. 

"Honey, are you going to make me do this solo?" he called from the kitchen.

"What, the mouse trap?"

"Yes, the mouse trap."

"Yeah, you can do that. You can do that, right?" Oh, please say yes. Please say yes.

Bless his heart. He hates that disgusting chore as much as I do. He asked me how much the mouse traps were, and if I would mind if he just threw the trap away with the mouse, and we could buy more. ABSOLUTELY! I totally understand.

I wanted to show him how much I appreciated his taking care of the rodent situation, so for the first time in several years, and the first time ever since we were married, I mowed the lawn for him after my walk this morning. Neither one of us likes to mow; neither one of us likes to clean house. Luckily, neither one of us likes to have the ugliest lawn in the neighborhood, and neither one of us likes to live in squalor, so we make sure chores get done.

Chuck was so happy. He hates mowing the lawn. Not that I love mowing the lawn, we're very much alike, you see, but I figured I could use the extra exercise, and it made me so happy to do that small act of service for him. He sent thank you text after thank you text. 

We are quite the pair, he and I. I am the female version of Chuck, and he is the male version of me. It took long enough, but we finally found each other.

Hmm...I just realized the new mouse traps are still in the package on the counter. I guess I'll have to take one for the team. Ew. I just hate this part of being a grownup. Tag, I'm it. I suppose I'm getting off pretty easy if the only thing I have to do in the mouse removal operation is bait the traps. I'm glad my handsome prince takes over when the traps work. He'll always be my hero.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Little Wild Horse Canyon (Best Slot Canyon EVER!)

The Beginning of Little Wild Horse Canyon

If there is a slot canyon, I want to hike it. It just so happens that I hiked the granddaddy of the Utah slots with my youngest this last May. Now, that is not a verified fact. I still have Zion's Subway and the Narrows to hike, and maybe they are the "best" in someone else's book, but this is, hands-down, our favorite narrows hike, so far!

This would be Bridger's and my first experience hiking together when I would be the leader, without my oldest son, so I did a little poking around on the internet to get the geographical information we would need. I was so glad I took pictures of the web pages on my cell phone for future reference; there was no cell service in Goblin Valley, and we had to rely on the stored information on my phone.

There is some very good info on about Little Wild Horse Canyon (click this interactive link to go to that site). We were a little confused about the reference of having to approach one dry fall because by our estimation, there was more than one obstacle that required some physical agility and strength, but if this out-of-shape, 54-year-old mom can do it, you probably can, too. 

If you like technical information (like GPS coordinates), check out We found the information here dove-tailed nicely with the site, and we were able to stay on course between the two.

Bridger and I got in a great eight mile hike on a gorgeous, sunny day with blue skies and a hot sun. We chose to start in Little Wild Horse Canyon and then finished in Bell Canyon. Since the majority of the first four miles is done inside the slot canyon known as Little Wild Horse Canyon, we stayed nice and cool. There were many young families with little ones in tow, and babies in backpacks. We assumed they went as far as their kids' abilities allowed, and then headed back down Little Wild Horse. Since we planned to spend a good part of our day hiking, we opted to do the 8 mile loop. 

The slot canyon known as Little Wild Horse wowed us soon as we approached the narrows. The walls were tall, and the openings were narrow, but not so as to initiate feelings of claustrophobia. It is one of the most popular slot canyon hikes in Utah, and with good reason. The scenery is breathtaking, and the narrows go for MILES. 

Looking toward Bell Canyon from the end of Little Wild Horse

After hiking out of Little Wild Horse, the trail crosses an open expanse for awhile until the narrows begin again in the beautiful, but less impressive, Bell Canyon. The afternoon sun was bearing down on us at that point, and we were grateful we'd brought snacks and plenty of water. The canyon walls didn't offer as much protection from the heat in Bell Canyon, but the scenery was nothing to complain about.
Bell Canyon was more open, and the walls not as tall.

Some of my favorite photographs from the day, in no particular order:

We were fascinated by the art made by Mother Nature.

My handsome hiking partner.

Little Wild Horse Canyon follows a dry creek bed. Be aware of the weather, though.
Flash floods make this a dangerous place to be.

The narrows got pretty narrow.

See the hiker in the crevice? The shade was so welcome on this warm May day.

Always a "127 Hours" reenactment moment with my boys.

Little Wild Horse narrows

We have to touch everything. It's a familial trait.

Indian Paintbrush. One of the few plants I know by name. 

Bell Canyon

San Rafael (Goblin Valley)

We couldn't have asked for a better day.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mist Becomes Rain in the City of Saint Charles

The air caresses my skin
with moist kisses
as I walk through the 
early morning fog
that blankets the
city of Saint Charles
before the clouds release
the raindrops gathering
within them.

Snapping my pictures,
then tucking my camera
under my shirt between shots,
I scurry along the river,
enjoying this time that
Mother Nature has provided
just for me, and a few other
early morning adventurers
as the city begins to stir.

Before I left home,
the Weather Channel
assured me there was zero percent
chance of rain, but sometimes
she lies. 

The humidity becomes mist,
and the mist becomes rain
in a matter of moments. 
Droplets spatter the cement
as I hurry back along the river,
retracing my steps to the 
dry haven that is my car.

Buildings shrouded in clouds
rise out of the mist.

Lights haloed in moisture
sleepily blink awake in this 
early morning fog.

The bridges span the expanse
of the Fox River, 
and rise up through the moisture-laden air.

The Pride of the Fox
stands guard on the bank 
of the river, observing the
mysteries in the mist.

Colors are softer;
mornings are slower
when the world awakes
from a gauzy slumber.

The fog is one of many
unexpected gifts on this
hazy morning along the river.

What Rhymes with 'Olonoscopy?

"You can't use the "C" word, if you write about this," my husband insisted.

"Oh, sure, give me a writing challenge, and then tie my hands behind my back," I said, throwing my hands up as we drove out of the hospital parking lot.

"And no, you can't just drop the "c," and write about an " 'olonoscopy," he added.

"You're not being fair, you know."

"You're not being very sensitive to my feelings about this very sensitive topic."

I reminded Chuck that we could make this a public service announcement, reminding people how important colonoscopies are. 

"Don't use the word colonoscopy!"

Ugh. My husband can be a little stubborn when it comes to his privacy. 

I teased him saying I could write the story, and just mention I was with "THIS GUY" (air quotes used for emphasis) in the gastroenterologist's office in Saint Charles...
Chris Farley demonstrates air quotes

"Don't make it sound like you just go with random guys for their doctor's visits."

"Well, your anonymity is so important to you; I'm just trying to help."

If you're reading this, you know I persevered, and Chuck gave me permission, sort of, to share my story with a limited audience. The audience needs to be people he does not know personally, and believes he will not be meeting in the very near future. I feel sorry for the rest of the folks who don't get to hear this one.

I just love showing how witty my husband is, and I think it is good to remind people that no matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable it may be to talk about colonoscopies, it's important to be pro-active when it comes to our health. I have dear friends who are still with us today because of colonoscopy screenings, and they were able to pursue treatment which, thankfully, saved their lives. So, back to our story...

While the doctor was talking to "this guy,"who happens to be my handsome husband, he pointed out that one in eighteen patients has pre-cancerous polyps.

"So how did things go for your previous seventeen patients?" "this guy" asked. I nudged him with my elbow, knowing how his mind works.

The doctor paused, gave a quick smile, and said that they were doing quite well. Chuck looked down, and took a quick gulp. I believe I heard an "Uh-oh." See what I mean?

The next day, Chuck posted this on Facebook:

During the office visit, the doctor pointed out, "It's the patients who don't come in for screenings who are having problems." 

The nurse came back with the pre-screening preparation instructions, two whole pages worth. I don't envy her her job, but she balanced out her information with a dry sense of humor. She and Chuck kept up their exchange of humorous dialogue until it was time to go.

Chuck mentioned that most people have to drink disgusting juice and vegetable drinks for days on end when on a cleansing diet. He would be able to take care of things in less than two days, and would be spared from drinking any juice. We all know how much he loves fruits and veggies.

(At this point in my writing, I had Chuck come in to see what he thought of my story so far.

"You're doing a very excellent job of telling this," he said. "Too bad you and I are the only ones who will ever read it." Ugh.

He's a character, but he puts up with me. And my blog. And a lowered level of privacy. Bless his heart.

Admittedly, the preparation required for a colonoscopy is not fun and games. It's tedious. It can be a little uncomfortable. It requires that you camp out near the bathroom for most of the day before the procedure, but the procedure itself is a breeze. 

One of the most peaceful moments of my life was right before the anesthesia overtook me before my own colonoscopy. Right as my eyes closed, I felt so blissful and carefree, and before I knew it, I was awake, and ready to go home. No. Big. Deal. And totally worth it to know I had a healthy colon.

This rite of passage may not be as fun as being old enough to drive, or buying yourself your first beer legally, but if you're over 50, and are lucky enough to still have your colon, you better take care of it. Seriously, no matter how inconvenient, embarrassing, or uncomfortable it may be, go get a colonoscopy. The life you save may be your own.

This public service announcement brought to you by "this guy" and Randomocity. You're welcome.

(See, Honey, that wasn't so bad, was it?) 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Daddy's Girls

Big Princess and her Daddy
As Father's Day approaches, I find my mind teased with favorite memories of growing up as Daddy's Princess. When my little sister Natalie was born 14 years later, she became Little Princess, and I had the dubious honor of being Big Princess. Let that sink in. LOL.

Apparently, on the Howdy Doody show, the Indian princess was Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring. Daddy called me that when I was a baby, and occasionally, his Princess of All Seasons. Natalie only seems to remember those nicknames; feigning great jealousy that she was simply "Little Princess." The truth remains: we were Daddy's girls, and we miss him fiercely.

Daddy's Girls, Denise and Natalie
I try not to cry when I remember him; he would hate that, but my eyes sting, and my throat gets tight. I just never wanted him to leave so soon. If I were honest, even if I lived to be 80, and he had lived to 106, it wouldn't have been long enough for me.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a Skype request from Bridger. As we visited, he asked me about the DVD my brother Danny made of Daddy recounting his childhood memories during one of our vacations at Myrtle Beach.  Bridge was missing Granddaddy, and wanted to watch the movie. I promised to figure out how to share it with him, but worried, in the back of my mind, how it would affect me to hear and see him once again.

Roger & Carol Ann Beidler
I shouldn't have worried. Dad was a great storyteller, and I loved every minute of seeing him on my computer screen, listening to the well-known stories at the kitchen table in our vacation house in Myrtle Beach. He recounted his memories as a young boy in Germany, as a teenager who was involved in a lot of pranks in high school, and he told my favorite story of his about riding in the back seat of his dad's car with his sister Carol Ann and her cat. 

Roger & Carol Ann
Granddaddy Beidler, MY granddaddy, had told Carol Ann she could take the cat along for a car ride, but she was to leave the cat IN the box, no peeking. Of course, my Aunt Carol had to check on her kitty, and when she did, the cat looked out the window, seeing the landscape whizzing by, and promptly threw up. Then Carol Ann threw up on the cat. Then Granddaddy had a big mess to clean up. Watching my dad tell that story with a gleam in his eye and a smile on his face made me happy, not sad.

Thank you for so many good memories, Dad. Your princes and princesses miss you so much, but we were lucky to have you as long as we did.
Big Princess and Little Princess