Saturday, December 30, 2006


Giving makes me happy.
Giving is easy.

I love this time of year. I love to shop and wrap and give; tremendously self-serving as it gives me such happiness to please. I give at church and give to charities and give donations of all sorts: to school functions, fundraiser and such.

I am not selfish.

I love to share.

I model giving to my children and hope to teach them the joys of sharing. One of my children is giving by design. My daughter is the first one to offer help, to take in a stranger, to make everyone feel included.

Cadence was brought into the world with direct instruction from God. I remember debating the recommended tests while Cadence blossomed in my womb. I remember the morning that I discussed the testing relative to my age with my husband. At thirty-seven, it was recommended I have amniocentesis to rule out downs syndrome and other birth defects. We had rejected these tests in the first two pregnancies, knowing the information would not change the course for us. This time, my husband hesitated; suggested perhaps it would be a good idea.

The discussion was unpleasant. I felt divided. I retreated to the shower to clear my head. The hot steam circled and I looked down at my swelling middle, watched the water caress the baby within.

Loudly, a voice spoke in my head, “I created this child. Why are you doubting me?”

Chills covered me in spite of the heat as this voice, not audible, yet louder than thunder filled me.

The voice was not mine.

The thought was not mine.

I dashed dripping down the stairs to the kitchen to inform my husband that I had heard from God. Without hesitation, he nodded, “Skip the tests.”

Cadence has a purpose and I have known that since my shower that morning. She has delighted people with her smile, her friendliness and her exuberance since she was tiny. As a baby, she welcomed all strangers with a smile and offered love to all creatures. She has a bold and brave spirit and compassion for everything; a tiny lady bug trapped in the window and the child at school left out of the game at recess. She is the first to offer when she sees someone in need and is easily moved to tears in hearing of another’s pain.

She quickly and faithfully turns lemons into lemonade. Presented with a problem or disappointment, Cadence automatically turns the adversity over to find a gem beneath. Her cup is always full, her compassion spilling over.

Her gifts, I have always told her, are her big voice and kind heart and God expects her to use them together. Using her big, bold voice without kindness could be hurtful; her compassionate heart kept silent would serve no one. Cadence knows she is commissioned in this way and is never to stand as a spectator to injustice of any kind.

In kindergarten, this natural path revealed a speed bump. I was the mommy helper in Cadence’s class. Her teacher read The Rainbow Fish; a story about a fish who was beautiful and the envy of all. He was happy with his glorious sparkling scales until one day a little fish asked him for one. Shocked and angry, he retreated from the others who coveted his glory and wanted him to share it.

Ultimately, the rainbow fish lived in isolation, unhappy in all his beauty as he had no love. Finally, he decided to share one scale with the little fish who asked. He felt so wonderful watching the delight of the little fish that he shared again and again until he, like all of the others, sported one shiny scale. Messages of sharing and belonging and kindness were discussed and the children were sent to draw and write about a time when they felt that tingling, wonderful warm feeling that came from giving and sharing.

I roamed the room to find children who needed help, careful not to gravitate toward my own. I noticed, however, Cadence sitting, chin in hand, staring at a blank page. She rose and went to her teacher and firmly stated, “I know the feeling you are talking about, but I don’t get that feeling for giving.”

Suppressing humor or judgment, her teacher spoke of examples to help her conj our up that warm and loving feeling. How about when you donate something to charity?

“No,” Cadence clarified, “that’s stuff I don’t need anymore.”

“What about when you share your favorite toys with a friend?”

“Pretty much when I do that, I just am waiting for when I get it back. I don’t get that good feeling you’re talking about.”

Well A+ for honesty.

No speaking the rote the lines expected here! I cringed with the reality that my sweet, helpful, loving, kind child was apparently selfish.

Three years later, Cadence is a precocious and grounded third grader, fortunate enough to be involved with a “Girl’s Group.” This group was formed with the intention of guiding girls to relate on a deeper level, different from typical, clicky third grade style. They come together once a month on a quest for deeper relations with “soul sisters.”

They discuss feelings, relationships and caring while exploring cultures old and new. Native American traditions, cultures from around the world and various religions are intermingled to give the girls a deeper meaning of relationships.

The December meeting was to be about ‘giving.’

The story this time is shared in advance to help the girls understand.

The story, The Giveaway Girl, is about a little girl, the sister of the little drummer boy in Bethlehem, who is anxious and worried about visiting the child laying in a manger. She is worried because she has seen the kings coming with their valuable gifts under the bright star; anxious because she is poor and has nothing to give to this important new comer. Her brother has his drum and will play a song for the baby God. She has nothing to give.

She stands under the blinding star and looking for guidance in the cool night air. She wraps her sweater around her for warmth, seeking inspiration. It is suddenly clear. The sweater, her only beautiful possession made by her late grandmother. She decides that it is filled with love from her and her grandmother. She cuts off the sleeves, mends the remains into a beautiful blanket to warm the baby.

The story touches Cadence and she takes the edge of her pajama sleeve to absorb the tear collecting in the corner of her eye. I then read the commission letter. The girls in the group are to bring something ‘special’ of their own, wrapped anonymously in a bag, to the next meeting to give away. It should be something that is meaningful: a favorite toy or object, perhaps something given by a Grandmother. Cadence begins to pace around her bed, piecing the words together in her mind.

“Mom, I know how this is going to sound and I know that this probably means that I am selfish, but I like my things and I don’t want to give them away!” Our eyes meet and she huffs, tapping her hand on her thigh, “I can’t give away my tamagachi, it’s on its third generation and its part of my family! It would be like you giving me away!” She looks up, brown eyes wide and troubled, “and I can’t give away Alex,” she pleads, cupping the sparkling stuffed turtle in her hands, “he’s like my child.”

“You don’t have to give away your most special thing,” I reassure her, stroking her silky brown hair hanging sadly across her face, “but it should be something meaningful. You have four days to think about it. No need to decide right now.” She hops off the bed renewed and determined to figure out what she can part with.

“Perhaps something from one of your collections,” I suggest. Brown silky hair swishes back and forth as she scans the room. A smile spreads, one finger pointing forward with a head nod and she slips into her dressing room. Quickly she emerges with a vase from her dresser, a dreamy look on her face and in an Academy award-winning voice announces, “This is it. It sits on my dresser and every day when I look at it, it makes me think of all the people who love and care for me.”

I say nothing but gaze at her through the top of my eyes, raising one eyebrow.

“What?” She looks at me, holding the passionate expression a moment longer. “Okay fine it’s not that special but its pretty and I don’t want to give away my special things!”

“Give it some thought,” I say as I stand to leave, “you’ll know the right thing when you find it.”

“Aha!” she bellows as she jumps over her bed and dashes to her desk, “This is it! It’s from you to me and so it has both of our love. I’ll give this!”

My stomach clutches as I swallowd hard and rolling my lips tight to keep the word ‘NO’ inside.



She victoriously holds high a huge chunk of amethyst that I had purchased in Newport when I was in college. At the time, I bought it because I believed it was a powerful source of energy. Over the years, it represented many things to me. It has been packed and unpacked, move after move, from this life to that one; from college to marriage, through divorce to independence, from remarriage to mother hood.

It sat, through all phases, in a prominent place in my bedroom as a symbol of hidden beauty. It is proof positive that what appears ordinary, even ugly on the outside, contains beauty and magic inside. Its final role, before I passed it to Cadence, was as a focal point during my labors to deliver these three beautiful children to the world. It only seemed fitting that Cadence, my grand finale who embodies the spirit of finding the gem inside the rock, should be the recipient.

“Are you sure that’s the right thing?” I squeaked out in a voice too high pitched.

“Yep! It’s perfect!”

I breathed deeply, exhaled and managed to say, “Whatever you decide, you have four days.” What else could I say? Wasn’t the lesson being taught how to share and give away something meaningful? What lesson would I teach if I were to say that object was too special? How could I model self-less giving if I restricted her decision? I began to wonder who this lesson was for.

Two days later, Cadence appeared beside me at the kitchen sink, fiddling nervously with her turtle in her hands. “Mom, about this giving thing, I know I am supposed to give away something that is special to me and I know that I will come home with something that is special to some other girl, but if I give a way something that I care about a lot and it means nothing to the other girl, and I take home something of hers that I don’t care about but she’s sad not to have it, what is the point?”

I put down the dish in my hand and looked out the window for an insightful answer. “I don’t know,” I said honestly. What is the point exactly?

For two more days, Cadence pondered her selection and finally landed on a stone angel from her collection. It was from a collection I gave her grandmother over the years who in turn, gave the collection to Cadence. There were two identical angels; twins sitting on opposite ends of the shelf. She decided that this was meaningful because the angel not only came through several special people, but that it had a matching partner which tied her to her soul sister as two parts to a whole.

She came home from the experience with a small dinosaur skeleton that her soul sister won at a science fair. It had meaning to both girls in that they are both lovers of science and animals.

The exchange was successful.

The lessons that came out of that week were profound.

We give in many ways, but it is only giving from the heart that has true meaning.

I could give away all of my possessions and live in poverty, but if the purpose is to be a martyr, to be glorified in self-righteousness, then it is not true.

Giving out of obligation is dove-tailed by resentment. Cadence seemed to know this all along. Giving because you ‘have to’ is void of joy and therefore is an empty gesture. My ‘give-away girl’ is not selfish, but true in her intentions. She gives easily in love and with kindness, but to give without truth of heart is as bad as being selfish.

When we give of ourselves because we care deeply, because we are grateful, because someone is in need, because we want to, that is love and that is true.

True giving makes me happy.

True giving is easy.

Real giving feeds my soul.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I wrote and posted earlier today about thanks for kindred spirits. You will have to have read it to understand the significance here.

Fifteen-year-olds are not warm and fuzzy.

Fifteen-year-olds are not communicators.

Fifteen-year-olds see their parents as clueless.

In fact, fifteen-year-olds are closed doors and closed windows with a muffled sound coming from within; that is of course unless they are screaming heavy metal music.

My fifteen-year-old is text book.

After running from one kid event to another, I came home around 7:30 pm, changed my hat to that of the homework police, tossed pizza onto plates and checked my email. A comment on my earlier post stopped my hurried pace to something slow and speechless.

Fifteen minutes later, I slid back into my car with my fifteen-year-old to run him to his 8:00 pm athletic practice. I rolled into my excited monologue to share with him my meaningful day. I summarized from memory my Kindred Spirits post from earlier. I told him how people in my path on this journey of writing have been everything from fire starters to life preservers and that most likely, they had no idea how a quick email or word of support might have dramatically influenced my course.

Most importantly, I told him about an anonymous comment posted to me in response to Kindred Spirits. A person, signing as ‘Grateful to know you' shared that my being touched by a workshop piece fueled the courage for this person to seek and find publication. I rambled on to my son about how our actions, big and small, have ripple effects unknown to us and that these examples were illustrations.

As we pulled into the high school parking lot, my fifteen-year-old said to me, in an audible voice, “My heart is smiling for you because I know that yours is and I don’t know when I’ve seen you this happy. Way to go Mom.” and out he slipped.

I am not only having dessert in spite of a still full plate, but it is ala mode!


Giving is big this time of year; gratitude, the natural response. It’s the giving that thrills me, not the getting. My gifts remain untouched while I watch my family light up with excitement; that is the joy for me. But this year, I am humbled by a gift that I received and continue to receive by a web of kindred spirits.

To be honest, the foundation for this magnificent gift was built by my mother and her mother before her. My mother is a spiritual giant. Her faith moves her to ways of reaching out beyond herself, beyond her loved ones, to total strangers. Her recent “adoption” of a Burmese family began with teaching them English and has moved to a relationship akin to family. Her mother before her, living in extreme poverty with ten children, always found a way to give to those “less fortunate.” It suffices to say that a lineage of giving and gratitude have equipped me with the tools needed for a caring life.

Irish women, at the same time, are self-sacrificing and inherently deny themselves true fulfillment. It was that way with me and writing. It gives me such immense pleasure that my Irish psyche deemed it as indulgence. Perhaps it is, but I was convinced it was an indulgence I should be denied; after all, there are limited hours in a day and much to do. For years now, writing has been the dessert at the end of a meal. If you clear your plate, you may have dessert. My plate was always full.

In August, I was rescued from the doldrums of the life that I had created. Not an empty life, but a busy one filled with work and chores and the idea that I had to get it all ‘done.’ Suzy called me on fire with excitement. It had been a long time since I had heard from her and this person on the phone was newly created. She was exploding with enthusiasm on a journey of writing after attended a workshop in Oregon. Having known Suzy since my childhood, the thought that she hopped a plane and attended a “group” anything was fairly surreal. The author and workshop were coming to our area and she insisted I find my way to it. It had been years since I had written anything. I thought perhaps writing had gone out of me. Suzy was persistent.

Fighting my way to Jennifer Lauck’s workshop was not an easy task. Appraisal classes to study for, my daughter’s eighth birthday that weekend, car trouble, the financial component, and of course the Irish guilt that this was ‘for me.’ I knew one hour into the workshop that I was being infused with magic. I felt like an empty vessel being filled with validation, inspiration, enthusiasm and wisdom. I left committed and directed. I felt connected to this group in attendance; diverse backgrounds, different styles, different motivations, yet all the same in our passion for words.

Until this point, writing was for me and me alone. I shared with my family and in no way minimize their enthusiasm or encouragement. They said things like “You should be a writer!”

Should be a writer.

I didn’t know how to ‘should be a writer’. Their kind words stroked my ego and this was good but lacked credibility. After all, they loved me. They had to say nice things. Moreover, they were not themselves writers.

I began my blog shortly after and was suddenly immersed in a circle of support from the women of that workshop who also entered the blogosphere. Reading and commenting on one another’s works, we stayed alive in the spirit launched at the workshop. Our individual blogs took on definite styles and flavor and each one was like an on-going good book.

I cannot thank Carrie enough for her diligence in reading and supporting us, in spite of the monumental tasks she is called to accomplish each day. Her devotion kept the embers of the workshop fire glowing. The flow of writing seemed to be coming more easily and I still found myself giddy every time I was alerted that a comment was posted. With each comment, I was still in awe that someone, somewhere not related to me found the desire to look to see what I had to say.

In spite of all of this reinforcement, life continued to assault me with too much to do. The pace of my business quickened and deadlines meant giving up writing, and even sleep, to keep up. My blog remained quiet. My visits to others, halted. Old ways took hold.

An email from Terry, an incredible writer from this workshop, with a one line compliment and a request to “link” our blogs sparked renewed determination. I had been quite content on my island blog, floating with an occasional shout from neighboring islands… but a link! This was like a blog bridge from one to another, a tangible connection. Flattered I agreed whole-heartedly and felt this bridge could not be a path to no where, and so I posted.

My enthusiasm was short lived, however, as I could not justify the time for this ego petting. So much work tied to quantified compensation beckoned. My energy zapped from numbers and forms and deadlines. Dead lines. My writing must wait. I really began to slip back into the old routine. No dessert with a full dinner plate.

I was swamped with work and just managing to stay afloat. Sitting down to the monotony of my work, I opened an email from Susan from the workshop, with whom I felt an indefinable connection. She was just ‘checking in’ to see if everything was OK since I had not posted in a while. She told me that she looked forward to my writing and hoped all was well. I cannot explain my amazement. The idea that someone actually visited my site frequently enough to notice I had gone quiet baffled me. Susan, I am sure, did not realize at the time that her email was a life preserver, tossed in at a critical moment. I started treading water and then swimming. Work could wait one hour. In fact, one hour a day would not make or break my business. I felt as if I had been pulled from a riptide.

Channels unblocked and inspiration seemed to be everywhere. One morning, I opened to find a comment from a woman I had never met in Missouri. I ran to my husband like a kid on Christmas morning after seeing evidence of Santa; I have readers!!! Someone I had never met!

And then another.

And another

I soon discovered that Carrie had made a suggestion to her readers that they check out my blog. The circle widened and the gifts of inspiration and support expanded. It is as if a tiny thread connects us in a web that spans from sea to shining sea; Kindred spirits, all on a journey to seek inspiration, to uncover the truth, to share our lives in a meaningful way.

This web of kindred spirits is a gift greater than any I had ever hoped for. If I am never published, I will not be unfulfilled. I am so filled and so grateful to this circle of women who give and give and give. You have given me courage, inspiration and insight. I am blessed and grateful to all of you and this Christmas; need not a thing under my tree.

Thank you, you have given me the best gift ever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Not long ago I sat in my car, parked in a driveway in Southbury waiting to do an inspection. The woman was 15 minutes late to meet me and would be 15 minutes more. The familiar clench of anxiety twisted in my stomach as I knew it was near impossible for me to make it back in time to pick up my daughter.

Having whipped up plan B and plan C, I sat back in my car, opened the windows and took notice of what a beautiful autumn day it was. I made a promise to myself to carry a book from this moment forward for times like these, as sitting idle feels uncomfortable. I began to make lists of things to do, ideas to write about and then moved on to organize my briefcase.

Through the tall trees and proceeding up an endless driveway, I saw a young mother with a baby in a stroller, a toddler by the hand, a kindergartner bouncing ahead and a golden retriever trotting contentedly at her side. Instant melancholy flashbacks overwhelmed me of my own offspring and the days gone by. I missed those years. I really loved that time of our lives. It was so very simple; so uncomplicated. I wish I could go back from this hectic, challenging time of too busy schedules, too heavy problems, so many unknowns.

For another five minutes, the flashback family trudged up the long hill to their home and I could hear the chatter and squeals from the little ones. The mother held tight to the dog’s leash as it strained in the direction of a squirrel, readjusted to push the stroller one-handed and raised her elbow to fit the kindergartners backpack under her arm; the juggling act all too familiar. I remembered being right there, wishing I had two more hands; longing for the day when they all walked independently. Had I known at the time about the kind of juggling I would be doing ten years later, perhaps I would have realized the beauty of those moments.

I remembered the other side of those times; feeling like there was no ‘me’ in the picture; searching for a few minutes here or there of ‘alone’ time. I wish I knew then how quickly that would all be gone. Fleeting moments.

It occurred to me that I have spent most of my life looking forward, and now here I sat looking back. More importantly, there was something very real between sweet memories and hopeful futures; something called now. Memories are beautiful and plans important, but the only tangible part of life is now, this moment. This hectic time of teenagers and middle-schoolers would, too, be gone in a flash. I am guaranteed that 10 years from now I will miss this running around and the energy of my household. Living in what was or what might be allows a robbery of what is.

There are people in this now that I am not connecting with as I scurry quickly along to what comes next. Now has tastes and smells and feelings that I miss as I rush on to the next moment. I sat quietly in this state of revelation, teaching myself to enjoy the peace of a delayed schedule and marveled at the leaves.

This morning, God sent yet another reminder. Being up everyday before I would like and before the sun, I slipped into my office to grab my camera. Listening to the coffee pot gurgle and drip, I step out into the cold morning to greet the sun.

“What are your doing?” my teenager mumbles as if I am a mystery.

“Catching a moment.” I answered, slipping back in for my coffee.

I look at the image on my camera, realizing that it is still a little dark and decide to return in a moment when the sun is a smidge brighter. Relishing my first hot sip of coffee, I return to my place on the steps only to find the stark reminder that “in a moment” isn’t the same as being “in the” moment.

A wise man once said “life is what happens while we are busy making plans.”


Well its up... now how do I get out?

No problem Dad, We've got your back... well leg!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Universal debate confirmed by tree parking lot survey...

Women like the fat trees, men like the skinny ones.

Brad: "It will never fit in the door!"

Nancy: "Don't be a scrooge, its perfect!"

Brad: "Absolutely not! You have no concept of space! It's too big!"

Cadence: "Please Daddy... you can make it fit, I know you can!"

As we dismount the flat bed of bailed hay, families and trees are gleefully removed. Brad stands sheepishly by the tractor, his tree alone in the tractor shovel. He avoids the faces of the other men, feeling their pity from afar.

Several men heave the green giant into the netting machine; two more join in to force the tree through.

The women in the parking lot gaze with envy, eyebrows raised in a gesture of approval.

“Nice tree,” they smile at me with a ‘you go girl’ tone.

“Nice tree,” one man comments to Brad, eyebrows raised in a ‘how are you going to fit that in the house’ way.

“You caved,” comments another. Brad points his chin in the direction of Cadence skipping toward the cookies and hot cider with eight-year-old joy.

The men nod and shake their heads at the same time, offering understanding to their fallen comrade.

“Good luck.” they offer in a ‘wouldn’t want to be you’ tone.

I look at the tree and realize it does look a little bigger than it did in the field, but it does have to fit into the doorway eventually, doesn’t it?

Friday, December 08, 2006


Much attention is given at this time of year to gifts. The dictionary describes a gift as something given to somebody, usually to give pleasure or to show gratitude. Gifts are a hot topic in my house; in fact, my twelve year old son emailed to me his Christmas list in alternating red and green letters with links to web sites reflecting the best prices. Although we all reach a point where the giving is more the emphasis, my children are still in the receiving phase and are clearly concerned with the fact that, with little more than three weeks until Christmas, I have not yet begun my shopping.

Discussions of non tangible gifts have also been a topic in my house lately. I have been talking with my children about being blessed with God given gifts; all different from one another. Each of them possesses wonderful strengths in obvious weaknesses. I truly believe that the key to happiness is to recognize our own strengths, our gifts, and to use them for good.

As Cadence and I list the different gifts people are given, I am challenged to stretch from the obvious to make clear my point that everyone of us has them. Some people have talent in art or singing or dancing. Some are brave and become our protectors and leaders. Some are thinkers and become inventors, doctors and scientists. Some are strong and help build things. On and on we ramble and it occurs to me that so many people go through life not opening the gifts they were given; choosing to keep them wrapped or hidden or simply unacknowledged.

By midday I am motivated to brave the cold and to begin my quest for tangible gifts for Christmas. I realize that I am late starting, but remain determined not to let that steal the joy of gathering the objects I will use to give pleasure or show gratitude. The parking lot is crowded and the temperature 20 degrees. The wind whips as I open the door and I wish I had been more thoughtful about my choice of jacket. I notice a woman with long curly black hair and a long camel-colored coat shuffle her bags in order to cover her face with a scarf, leaving only her squinting eyes exposed.

I begin to cross the lot and see a man driving a blue van slow his hurried ascent across the lot in hopes of grabbing a nearer spot to the door. He halts, tosses his hand flippedly upward like “go ahead” to me while rolling his eyes and banging the steering wheel. I realize that the gifts being sought, although perhaps to give pleasure or gratitude, are not being gathered happily by all. I walk holding my sweater-jacket closed, shoulders pushed forward and head lowered to the wind. I can’t help but notice him.

He wears a red plaid flannel shirt sticking out of the top of his navy blue ski parka. He wears blue jeans and sneakers and on the exterior, looks like everyone else. There is nothing about his appearance to give a clue about his intellectual challenges. There is, however, one tell-tale sign that he is indeed different from the rest. As he pushes a long line, perhaps 20 carriages in the direction of the store front, he wears the biggest smile I have seen in a while. His eyes sparkle as they meet mine and I smile back and comment on the cold.

“Oh it sure is cold!” he bellows with glee. “Somebody’s happy!” he yells pointing to himself, as he forges ahead with his train of carriages. With a wind chill of 5 degrees, he trotts on smiling and waving.

Some would say his life is hard.

Some would say he recieved little in the way of gifts.

Some would say he is handicapped.

I say he is more gifted than most.

He holds the secret to happiness. It doesn’t matter if it is cold or if his job is hard. His gift is pure untainted joy and he uses it to light the parking lot of hurried and joyless shoppers. Of all the skills, talents and gifts we collectively posses, his outshines the rest. Few of us can feel that kind of joyful heart by simply being here. I wish for a moment that I could step inside of his spirit and know what it is to find real happiness in saying hello to a stranger. I feel humbled by this man, who does not know how to complain or feel frustrated. My spirit doesn’t come close to this kind of perfection.

I take his enthusiasm and wrap it around my shoulders, suddenly feeling warm in spite of the weather. Receiving this gift has indeed given me pleasure and I accept with gratitude.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


At Jennifer Lauck’s “Writing for Life” workshop, she shared the concept that little nuggets of information, of wisdom, would come to us day to day and that we need not worry about writing them down. They would, she said, be there when we needed to pull them out. They are sort of pieces of a tapestry to be woven together later when the time is right. I chuckled at the time, knowing that so many things float in my busy mind as I whiz through life, dashing as if to win a marathon. I pictured these little ideas on post-it notes on one wall of my brain.

I spin and juggle and organize and reorganize, writing down my schedule in fifteen minute increments, knowing that if I don’t, something will fall out of my head and be lost. I know this because in spite of my attempts to control my hectic life, this information fall out happens often. I felt insecure about my post-it note wall of ideas, envisioning them caught up in the craziness in a post-it tornado.

But Jennifer knew that little seeds of wisdom somehow pass through the tornado and plant themselves in the deeper soil of the mind. Unconsciously, I planted three of these seeds together, collected from three wise women. As good seeds do, they sprouted and strengthened and climbed the walls of my mind they have changed the way I view life.

The first seed came from Terry Whitaker, who shared in her writing that everything we do is a choice. There is only “I choose to or I choose not to.” In this theory, “I’ll try to, means I choose not to.” This is quite a revelation to me.

Most of my life has been spent believing that “I have to….”

I have to work.
I have to make a deadline.
I have to do laundry.
I have to bring my kids to functions.
I have to exercise.

I choose to?

Choose to?

I watered this seed with great care as its potential was enormous!

Living this way carries the weight of tremendous personal responsibility, everything around me there because I choose it. But it is balanced with weightless unburdened freedom of choice. I think about everything that makes me feel pushed and pressured. I feel that I ‘have’ to do so many things, dictated by a life filled with deadlines, business and obligation. It is as if life is being done ‘to me’.

And yet…

I don’t ‘have’ to clean the house.
I ‘choose’ to clean it because I like to be surrounded by order.

I don’t ‘have’ to go to work.
I ‘choose’ to work so that I can live in this house in this town surrounded by stuff I choose to buy.

‘Choosing to’ rather than ‘having to’ is a concept that will require complete reprogramming. There are of course things that we are not in control of choosing. We cannot control others or the weather or illness or the many injustices that surround us, but we can choose how to respond.

Busy-ness bombards me as my business increases and I choose to engage and work through it, leaving little time to spend with my newly sprouted vine of wisdom.

So busy that I hardly noticed the next little seed pushing through its shell and stretching out its fragile, but determined roots. This seed came from Jennifer Lauck in a recent post where she writes about Time. Jennifer speaks of reprogramming her mind to believing that she “has” time rather than being in a state of “not having enough time.”

“I don’t have time” is a phrase I use no less than twenty times a day.

I don’t have time to see that property today.
I don’t have time for this computer problem.
I don’t have time to get to the grocery store.
I don’t have time to listen to you kids fighting.
I don’t have time to write.

I have too much to do!

And yet…

I have the same amount of time that everyone has. I have every minute of everyday. I have now. God willing, I’ll have tomorrow. Time is the one thing I never run out of until I die!

I have been fooling myself into believing that I was somehow ripped-off on the time thing. That somehow, others got enough and I was short-ended.

But I have every minute.

Every minute is mine.

I have time.

What to do with my minutes is my problem.

How to fill my time is my problem.

How I choose to use my time is my solution.


I watch as these little sprouts take hold and grow. They wrap around one another and grow as one vine and I do not try to separate them.

My choice, my time.

The phone rings, the assignments are faxed and busy-ness reaches a new level for me. More work than ever and I choose to take it. I slide other things over for now, knowing the work will fade away after the Holidays and it is time to ride the wave. I am choosing to let go of some things to make room for the busy-ness this moment. The laundry piles are clean and unfolded, the dinner plan take-out again. My choice for now. So busy that the third seed, quickly tossed and forgotten, goes unnoticed as it forges beyond the neglect of the gardener. This seed was grabbed in haste from Carrie Link, cast quickly to the soil and forgotten.

Carrie wrote recently that ‘who we are’ does not equal ‘what we do.’ This is a concept I have toyed with for years, not having the courage to call myself a writer. What I ‘do’ for a job is different from who I am. I have been a waitress, an appraiser, a teacher. None of those things are who I am at all. But Carrie’s insight went beyond my old debate with calling myself a writer. She talks about how we can ‘do’ so many things without a joyful heart, leaving the doing empty.

I surly can list miles of self-sacrificing deeds as a mother, wife, daughter, friend.
But ‘doing’ without ‘being’ is nothing.

I can give to charity, but if it is out of obligation, it is a taking.
I can fold my husband’s sox, but if I am resenting him for it, they would be better left unfolded.
I can engage my children in activities, but if I am complaining to them about it, I am doing them harm, instead of enriching them.
I can volunteer at school, but if I am angry about giving the time. I am a hypocrite.

The sprout grows and weaves its way in front of my eyes. Its leaves shine and shimmer as it winds it way toward ‘Time’ and ‘Choosing. The three commingle into strong and magnificent growth.

My time.
My choice.
With Joy.

The pace of life will be set by me. I can choose chaos or peace.

I can choose frustration or joy.

I can over-fill my minutes or be gentle with my time.

I can allow busy-ness to become who I am, or I can write.

I am grateful to three wise women for providing these life-changing seeds of wisdom that growing in my garden of thought. I choose to water them, spend time nurturing them and will joyfully fill my life with their blossoms.