Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z Is for Zzz...

Finallly, the last day of the A-Z Blogging Challenge is upon us. If you haven't fallen asleep yet with my Daily Affirmations for Intentional Living, let's give you a little nudge, and talk about getting some Zzzs on our final day. ("You're getting very sleeeeeepy...")

"But I don't wanna take a nap," I must have said hundreds of time during childhood. 

"I'd like to take a nap, but I'm just not much of a napper," I must have said just as many times during adulthood.

Insomnia and I have been bedfellows for decades. Falling asleep at bedtime, which is any time after 7:30 p.m., is a cake walk for me. Staying asleep has been an elusive quest most of my life, it seems.

Enter retirement, combined with my lifelong history of brief sleep patterns, and suddenly, I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, any time of day. Sleeping past three in the morning is still a challenge, but these daytime naps are wonderful.

There is something very delicious about sleeping while there is daylight. I am learning there is something to be gained from slowing my pace enough to rest. It is also very reassuring when I wake up anytime after 3;00, knowing a restorative nap will be on my agenda later in the day. 

My mom always told me, rest is as good as sleep, so even if you can't shut down all the way, there are still benefits to closing your eyes and lying down. If you are a napper, you know exactly what I mean, and if you are like I was, maybe you still have this little life lesson to look forward to. 

Before I go, I just have to share a few of the "inspirational quotes" on napping I found on Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Maybe they'll be just the inspiration you need to take a nap today.



- - - -
“Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll nap today.”

- -
“Nap like no one is listening. Nap like you’ve never been hurt. Nap like nobody is watching.”

- -
“Do one nap every day that scares you.”

- -
“Be the nap you wish to see in the world.”

- -
“Every girl is napping. Sometimes it just takes the right guy to see it.”
- -
“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is napping.”

- -
“To the world you might just be anyone, but to one person you’re napping.”

- -
“Never frown because you never know who is falling asleep to your smile.”

- -
“When life gives you lemons, take a nap.”

- -
“Everything happens for a nap.”

- -
“Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you’ll take a nap.”

- -
“What doesn’t kill you makes you nap.” 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y Is for YES

As a young mom and teacher, I tried very hard to say yes as often as I could. As long as a request wasn't dangerous, illegal, or just plain wrong, I would try to find a way to make things happen for my children and my students. I like to have fun as much as anyone, and I have found that being open to new ideas and experiences has made for an interesting life.

The little yeses led to sleeping outside on the trampoline, having breakfast for supper, going to the circus, planting snapdragons, reading the Boxcar Children in the tree house, eating from the ice cream carton with spoons, water balloon fights, opening birthday presents early, watching the sunrise and a solar eclipse, winter walks in the snow, learning to downhill ski at 48, Renaissance Faires, buying a drum set...

The big yeses led to body surfing with my kids at Myrtle Beach, road trips to Colorado and California, meeting the man of my dreams in the Smokey Mountains, accepting his marriage proposal just after sunrise in those very same mountains, moving back to Illinois... 

Saying yes to so many wonderful things life has to offer led me to where I am today. I find myself happily married to a man who seems to share my philosophy. We indulge each other in our passions, knowing that the same will be done for us.

Why not say yes? If I can't come up with a very good reason to say no, I always try to muster up the courage and enthusiasm to say yes. 

"Find a way to say yes to things. Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meet new friends, say yes to learn something new. Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it's a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference. Yes lets you stand out in a crowd, be the optimist, see the glass full, be the one everyone comes to. Yes is what keeps us all young."  
-Eric Schmidt

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X Is for XI

Here we are on day 24 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge, staring down the letter X. Let's face it, unless my theme were musical instruments and today I were writing about xylophones,  the letter X was going to be more than a challenge. 

Xi is one of my favorite words to play in Words with Friends. There are not many words that begin with the letter X, but xi does. It is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet, and is an acceptable word, according to the game rules.

I'm pushing things a bit, since my theme was Affirmations for Intentional Living. My affirmation today is 

Don't forget to have fun!

XI is also the Roman numeral for 11. So today, I will share 11 things that are fun for me, starting with the word Xi. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Chuck and I love word games, and we play Words with Friends which is an online app similar to Scrabble. So, playing WwF is one way I like to have fun. 

2. Blogging is fun for me. I write every day, even on days I don't have anything worth publishing. If you notice a day when I don't post a blog entry on Facebook, you can thank me for sparing you that day's efforts. Today may end up being one of those days I should have not published; sorry about that.

3. Photography is one of my passions. Marrying a photographer who has professional skills has allowed me to learn so much about this craft. We collect camera gear the way Jay Leno collects cars. That may be a bit of a stretch, but we love getting new lenses, lights, and backdrops. 

4. Reading keeps me busy during quiet times at home or on planes. I like reading all sorts of books: self-help, Christian, poetry, how-to, humor, memoir, and on occasion, fiction.

5. Being outdoors makes me happy. Hiking with the ones I love the most makes me deliriously happy. My kids and I have enjoyed hiking in Utah and Colorado for the last few years. Chuck and I have had so much fun exploring the national parks near our home in rural Utah. 
My all-time favorite hike: Little Wildhorse Canyon.

6. Last summer Chuck introduced me to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin. We love our time there, and even attended all three days of Labor Day weekend. Chuck is my own Dr. Who, and we travel back to the Renaissance period as often as we can.

Yes, we color-coordinate our clothes, and have matching lenses, too. Fun, fun, fun!

7. Tea parties with five-year-olds is a great way to spend an afternoon. Whenever Miss V comes to play, I know there will be baking, tea, and laughter involved. What could be more fun than that?

Sierra is a fun thrift store shopping partner.
8. Thrift store shopping is so much for for me. I love finding bargains on name-brand clothes, and decor for our home. Chuck introduced me to the consignment shops, thrift stores, and resale shops nearby. My kids and I love trying on outlandish hats, and seeing what oddities we can find.

9. I love to bake: cookies, French bread, potato rolls, chocolate chip cookies, coconut lime scones, sugar jumbles; I just love to bake. I saw a t-shirt I need that says, "I don't bake all the time. Oh, wait. Yes, I do." I would, if I could. I guess I COULD, I just shouldn't. My jeans say that would be a terrible idea.

I'm more of a baker than a cook, and my oldest Dylan is more of a griller, but SOMEBODY has to cook at Thanksgiving.

10. Being a grandma has opened up for me a new way to have fun with children. It is different than parenting or teaching. There is a sense of wonder and delight, without all of the worries and stresses of being the adult in charge.

Being a grandparent is one of life's sweet joys.

11. Not many people know, but I have always wished I knew how to play the drums. As it turns out, my husband has had the same dream (not that I could play the drums, but for himself to be able to play). We two, who from all outward appearances, are a couple of mild-mannered, middle-aged grandparents, shared the dream of playing the drums. SERENDIPITY! So, we bought ourselves a drum set, and we are learning to play. (Emphasis on the word PLAY.)

Grandpa lets CJ give the drums a try.

There you have it. Eleven of my favorite fun things to do. What about you? What is fun for you?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W Is for Wait

Back in the day before Pinterest came along, and I subscribed to a half a dozen magazines, O magazine was always my favorite. Oprah's What I Know for Sure column was one I made sure to read. Two of her top twenty things she knows for sure were these:

"Doubt means don't. Don't move. Don't answer. Don't rush forward." 

"When you don't know what to do, get still. The answer will come."

Oprah's words of wisdom have come to me time and time again. Whenever I have been faced with a big decision, unless I felt really good about it, I figured waiting wouldn't hurt anything. Sometimes jumping in prematurely sets us on an undesirable trajectory that is difficult to reverse or redirect.

When in doubt, don't. At least not yet. Just WAIT. The battle cry of FULL SPEED AHEAD is not what we want to listen to when we are feeling uncertain. If we have any doubts, waiting to make our decision is the best thing we can do. There's no need to hurry.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V Is for Variety

"Variety is the spice of life." 

We've all heard that overused quote, which is the essence of an actual quote from a poem by William Cowper: 

"Variety's the very spice of life, 
That gives it all its flavor."

My husband and I may differ most when it comes to the need for variety in the food department. Chuck is a creature of habit; he knows what he likes, and does not want much variety when it comes to eating. He eats the same breakfast every day, he has a few favorite recipes we enjoy for dinner, and he likes his Sugar Jumble cookies I make for him. 

Often, I want to go to a restaurant we've never tried, or order a dish I've never eaten. If Chuck takes me to an ice cream shop, I will deliberate for quite some time, usually having to order two scoops because I can't settle on just one flavor. Sometimes the wide selection staggers my mind, and it's hard to choose. I'm like a kid in a candy shop, overwhelmed by having so many choices. I feel like Nick, the young man in the Great Gatsby who said this about variety:

"I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life." 
-F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)

Dining out is easier for Chuck. If we're going out, he knows his preferences are deep dish sausage pizza from Giordano's, or a chimichanga from his favorite Mexican restaurant. Whenever ice cream is a possibility, there is only flavor for him: mint chocolate chip. There is no perusing menus, or scanning the multitudinous flavors of frozen dairy delights. It's simpler for Chuck.

For me, I have favorites, but I always want to try something new, too. This quote sums it up for me:

"No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety." 
-Publilius Syrus
Ice cream is my biggest weakness, but every once in awhile, I would want to venture out beyond my love of French vanilla swirled with caramel sauce. Add in some nuts, chopped candies, and every once in awhile, a new base flavor. Changing things up keeps me coming back for more. Unfortunately. 

Luckily, Chuck only limits himself with his eating. When it comes to travel, photography, date nights, books, topics of conversation... anything else, really, he has very eclectic tastes. I am so, so lucky. And I know it.

Life will never be boring with this man by my side. He is always willing to go on adventures, and he likes to take me exploring with our cameras. He reads and reads and reads, and because of this, he will never run out of interesting thoughts and topics to discuss. He is spontaneous, and energetic, and thoughtful. Chuck may be selective when it comes to food, but when it comes to life, he is there for the banquet, and wants to sample all of the best that is offered. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

U Is for (Intentionally) UNintentional

As a proponent of INTENTIONAL living, you may think it odd that today my focus is on being intentionally UNintentional, if only for a little while. Before you turn away, thinking I've lost it, let me explain.

Do you know what happens when you marry a man who is going to be a first-time grandpa soon after your wedding? If you are very lucky, you are welcomed by the family, and you become a grandma. Thank you, Chris and Amy, for giving me this unexpected blessing!

This last weekend it was our privilege to have our one-year-old grandson in our home while his parents went to a wedding out of town. 

While our overall intention was to love CJ and keep him safe, we released any expectations we may have had, following his lead for when we played, napped, ate, and went to bed. A baby can be unpredictable, but we found spontaneous moments of joy by releasing any control we thought we might have over the situation. Chuck and I agreed that being intentionally UNINTENTIONAL was a good plan for our weekend.

If we had tried to force CJ to follow some schedule we deemed worthwhile, we might have missed out on some of these amazing moments...
Grandpa captured his infectious laughter.
CJ spent some time with his great-grandmother, too.

They adore each other.
Becoming a grandma was an unexpected blessing when I married Chuck.
CJ in his grandpa's shadow.
We wonder what he thinks about.

Lost in thought...

Always happy to share and smile.

One very unintentional choice with an amazing outcome this weekend?
Buying a drum set. But that's a story for another day.

There were so many unexpected, and delightful moments. The smiles, the snuggles, the laughter, the hugs. I hope you will agree that there are definite perks of being intentionally unintentional once in awhile, especially if you are a grandparent. I hope we get to do this again. Soon. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Savoring Dandelion Wine

"Dandelion wine.

The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered. And now that Douglas knew, he really knew he was alive, and moved turning through the world to touch and see it all, it was only right and proper that some of his new knowledge, some of this special vintage day would be sealed away for opening on a January day with snow falling fast and the sun unseen for weeks or months and perhaps some of the miracle by then forgotten and in need of renewal. Since this was going to be a summer of unguessed wonders, he wanted it all salvaged and labeled so that any time he wished, he might tiptoe down in this dank twilight and reach up his fingertips."

We were in the thick of my youngest child's junior year. Bridger had reluctantly taken my worn and dog-eared copy of Dandelion Wine off my bookshelf to read for English. Two weeks later, and he was only on page eight. 

"Want me to read it to you?" I offered.

"I wish you would."

So the two of us disappeared into Ray Bradbury's sweet summer's June, and we each became that 12-year-old boy who had just come to the realization that he is truly ALIVE.

“Tom!” Then quieter. “Tom... does everyone in the world... know he’s alive?”… I mustn’t forget, I’m alive, I know I’m alive, I mustn’t forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that..."[A] couple weeks ago, I found out I was alive. Boy, did I hop around. And then, just last week in the movies, I found out I’d have to die someday. I never thought of that, really."

"Don't you just love this book?" I asked Bridger, mid-chapter.

"I do when you read it."

I'm a big believer that it's not so much WHAT we read as HOW we read it. That was my second time through Dandelion Wine with a son who struggled to appreciate Bradbury's over-the-top descriptions.

Dandelion Wine cannot be skimmed and rushed. It has to be sipped and savored. I may have hooked Bridger that day. Here's to bridging the generation gap and strengthening relationships with good books. My days as a read-aloud mom sped by too quickly. Now my focus turns to the next generation: grandchildren!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T Is for Thanks

Thank you is one of the simplest things we can say, and yet it is so powerful. When we take the time to thank someone, it may make more of a difference than we realize. 

When I first noticed this verse in 1 Thessalonians about thanks, the scripture was written "Be thankful in all circumstances." How nice, I thought, but when I looked up the reference, I noticed most translations offer these words: "GIVE THANKS..." There's a big difference, if you ask me.

If I'm simply full of thanks, no one else may even know. I can sit around all day feeling thankful, keeping those good thoughts to myself, but if I don't GIVE my thanks to someone, it won't do as much good. It doesn't matter whether I give thanks to God, or my husband, or my kids, or to you, it can make a difference in my relationship with each of you. A state of being (being thankful) versus an action verb (giving thanks) ? Hmm...I'll take the action, please.

Within the last month, two of my former fifth graders thanked me publicly on Facebook. Wow. I was so touched. I may, or may not, have taken screen shots of their messages to enjoy later, on a day when my spirits need a lift.

Don't feel obligated to buy the perfect card, or pen the perfect note of appreciation, or buy a gift. Simply thank someone for what they've done for you. Your parents, your siblings, your children, your co-workers, your friends, or even a teacher from days gone by...just pick a person.

Thank someone today. Send that text. Make that phone call. Drop in for a visit. Maybe even post it on Facebook. 

You never know who might be needing a little encouragement and appreciation. 


May I take a moment right here to thank you who take the time to read my blog? My writing is so therapeutic for me. I don't make money doing it; I just do it because I love to write. The words of encouragement I get from my friends and family who read Randomocity are what keep me coming back each day. Thank you for reading, for sharing, for commenting, and letting me know when I've written something that made you think, or smile, or remember. Just...thanks.

So simple. Don't just BE thankful; GIVE your thanks to someone. Pass it on.

Friday, April 22, 2016


S is for silence. Writing silence. I'm tired of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Too tired to come up with anything better today.
Our regularly scheduled blogging program will resume tomorrow. Until then. Shhh...

This quiet time brought to you by the letter S. You're welcome.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R Is for Routine

As hard as I try, I can't quite seem to get my morning rituals into a ROUTINE. I wish I could know that I was always going to wake up at 5, sip coffee and have time with Bible reading and praying until 5:30, have breakfast and couch time with Chuck until he leaves at 6, exercise while talking to Chuck until 7, and then write my blog until 8. Then I'd have the whole day to get those "LIVE FROGS" eaten, and do the things I love to do the rest of the time.

What's a girl to do who suffers from insomnia, and when she can't sleep, she starts her day as early as 2:30, and when she CAN sleep, she wants to do just that, and start the day later? It's called being flexible. I just have to adjust things earlier or later, and in whatever order works, so I can do what is important to me. 

My priority is time with Chuck and our kids, depending on where I am and who is with me. I have some requirements for a really good morning, though, so these are the things I do each day, even though the routine order changes from day to day.


  • Rehydrate with water, at least 12 ounces, first thing.
  • Make a pot of coffee to enjoy throughout the morning.
  • Read the Bible.
  • Pray.
  • Make Chuck's breakfast and sit at the table and then on the couch with him before he leaves at 7:00.
  • Exercise (either on the stationery bike or walking while talking to Chuck during his 70 minute commute).
  • Restore order to the house: Clean up kitchen. Start the dishwasher and a load of laundry. Make the bed.
What about you? Are you a creature of habit, one who sticks to your schedule each morning? Oh, you're my hero.

Or are you more like me, doing the best you can each day, flexible with what gets done when?

What are the things that are non-negotiable for you? What are your morning rituals that make your day better for you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Q Is for Quiet

In the moments that I stood outside in the chill of the winter's morning air, I forced myself to breathe deeply, and surrender to the moment: the cold, the dark, the silence, the contrast of the brilliant stars against the black blanket of sky. The wisp of a moon cast a soft glow behind the silhouette of limbs. There was not a rustle of leaves; there was no city's glow. Just the stars and I were witnesses to the waning night. The faint beginning of a new day was erasing the blackness overhead, loosening its grip on the night.

How I love the early morning, and the subtlety of the changes, barely perceptible to my senses so accustomed to the blatant barrage of sights and sounds throughout the day.

Be still in the silence. Listen to the quiet, and notice the nothingness of the night. Allow yourself to experience this apparent emptiness until it starts to expand your spirit, and you become aware of the fullness and richness it brings into the depths of your soul. The quieter you are, the more you will hear. Sweet, precious night evolves into the dawning of another blessed morning.

P Is for Prayer

My husband bought a gift for me last week, one of the few Anne Lamott books I have not yet read. It is her book about prayer, Help, Thanks, Wow. Our library has a waiting list for it, and he knew I would be too cheap frugal to buy it for myself, so he offered it as a gift. Thank you so much, Honey. I revel in my time spent reading Anne.

What follows is not so much the Readers' Digest condensed version of this beautiful book, but some of my favorite a-has as I turned the pages, slowly, to make it last a little longer. My reflections are interjected here and there, so to set Anne's words apart from mine, her quotes will be highlighted in red.

"My three prayers are variations on Help, Thanks, Wow. That's all I ever need, besides the silence, the pain, and the pause sufficient for me to stop, close my eyes, and turn inward."


No one prays the prayer of the desperate more than I. Help me. Bless them. Heal him. Comfort her. We need you. 

Help. Help. Help. I am the beggarliest beggar. Anne wrote this prayer that she says will do in a pinch:

"Hi, God. I am just a mess. It is all hopeless. What else is new? I would be sick of me, if I were You, but miraculously You are not. I know I have no control over other people's lives, and I hate this. Yet I believe that if I accept this and surrender, You will meet me wherever I am. Wow. Can this be true? If so, how is this afternoon---say, two-ish? Thank You in advance for Your company and blessings. You have never once let me down. Amen."

As I write this, it is spring in Utah. Spring means rain (the farmers hope), and it means wind. Lots and lots of wind. I just have to share what Anne wrote about the wind because it made me laugh. My stepdad shares Anne's animosity for wind, and her words made me think of him. Forgive the language; it still makes me laugh.

"Another damn wind. I hate wind so much. It can make you feel hopeless, even in world-class beauty. 
So I prayed: Help me not be such an ass." (This is actually the fourth great prayer, which perhaps we will address at another time.)"



"The movement of grace toward gratitude brings us from the package of self-obsessed madness to a spiritual awakening. Gratitude is peace."

Thank You for amazing husband, our happy, healthy kids and grandson, enough money to pay the bills, that the MacBook was under warranty and will last me awhile longer, and that Chuck's camera survived its fall on the cement. Thank yous are easy for me. There is so much to be grateful for, everywhere I look.


"The movement of grace from hard to soft, distracted to awake, mean to gentle again, is mysterious but essential. As a tiny little control freak, I want to understand the power of Wow, so I can organize and control it, and up its rate and frequency. But I can't. I can only feel it, and acknowledge that it is here once again. Wow."

I need to step up my game in the WOW department. It's not just being amazed at God's creations, or recognizing his unfathomable gift of grace to us all. I need to stop and reflect more. 

Wow, that is one amazing sunset. Wow, You outdid yourself with the night sky. Wow, I feel great today. Wow, You accept me as I am, and you love me.

One of the times when Anne seemed to look into my soul, and talk just to me, she was talking about those times we may be feeling "buggy." She says we need to step outside and look up, and say "Wow." She talks about going to 7-Eleven to buy a large Hershey's bar with almonds, 

"to shovel in, to go into a trance, to mood-alter, but you remember the first prayer, Help, because you so don't want the shame or the bloat."  
"So you do the wildest, craziest thing: you change your mind, walk across the street to the health food store, and buy a basket of blackberries, because the answer to your prayer is to remember that you're not hungry for food. You're hungry for peace of mind, for a memory. You're not hungry for cocoa butter. You're hungry for safety, for a moment when the net of life holds and there is an occasional sense of the world's benevolent order."

Sigh. Yeah. I need to remember what it is I'm hungry for. I need to remember to ask for help, to say thanks when it comes, and to say wow when I realize I made it through my moment of need with God's help. 


"The Amen is only as good as the attitude. If you are trying to finish up quickly so you can check your cell phone messages, you are missing the chance to spend quiet moments with the giver of life and the eternal, which means you may reap continued feelings of life racing along without you. So as Samuel Beckett admonished us to fail again, and fail better, we try to pray again, and pray better, for slightly longer and with slightly more honesty, breathing more, deeper, and with more attention."

Amen, and amen, and amen.