Repeat, repeat, repeat …


I am afraid to look back through my blog posts to find how many times I have voiced my frustration and determination to learn something new or to develop a skill that I started to learn years ago. I feel like a broken record – repeating and repeating the same angst over and over.

My husband and I talked about this again yesterday. You spend your life working in an area. You build up an expertise and feel pretty good about who you are in your work life. Things are going well and you know how to problem solve and fix things when they don’t go as planned.

Then it all comes to a halt. You retire, let your shoulders down, you relax and slowly begin to take on new work. It could be work for pay or just working towards a new or old skill – learning to write fiction, learning to draw, learning to knit or sew – whatever you decide you want to spend your time learning. (Being from a teaching/learning field I just assume we all will continue to take on new learning after we finish working at our given profession. Right?)

Here is where the wall comes in. NO, not that wall – not a wall that stops people from coming in. It is the imaginary but all to real wall that we reach when we are learning something new. When writing it is often the little editor on your shoulder. When I am working on learning to draw there is that same critic that looks at what I am doing and laughs. The voice in my head that says “you can’t do this or you really don’t understand this, you know!! You are really dumb to even try! You are too old to learn something new. Your hands don’t work right, your vision is poor” on and on this little critic goes!!!

So here I sit on a cold, snowy, winter morning in my office. My drawing is sitting untouched on my desk – the critic is yelling at me about how I was terrible in class yesterday, it is reminding me how I avoided drawing and spent time looking at plants under the microscope (in my defense the dissected flowers were amazing to look at and it was part of the assignment just not the whole assignment).

I also know I am avoiding my drawing by writing to you.  Ok critic, enough all ready!

Well, here it is – the truth of the matter is it is hard anytime but really hard as an older adult to take on a new task. The act of returning to the beginning is at once exciting and also frightening. There are the wonders of learning, knowing you are keeping your brain going and the discover of new skills, new friends who are working on similar things and new adventures while learning.

There is also the discovery that learning at an older age sometimes takes longer than you want. You also find those aging issue you were hoping to not pay attention to. My eyes are not as good as they were. I need much brighter light (it is why there is a new lamp on my desk). My fingers, indeed, have arthritis and a few don’t bend they way they should. Is that causing issues with fine, detail drawing? – maybe! I can’t sit as long as I would like while working on a task – I get stiff and sore.

Last there is the issue of learning a new task is just plain hard for anyone. It takes work, time and patience. It takes repeating and repeating until the new skill sets in and makes sense in your thinking and in your body.

Yes, I am repeating my writing because it is what I am thinking about today but I also know that to hopefully get passed or over this “wall” of new learning I will need to keep trying. I will need to repeat what I am doing many times until I can feel it in my hands and see it with my minds eye. This is true with writing, yoga, drawing, playing music – really it is true with any new task.  It takes time!

Clearly, I am still working on patience and practice – I was not good at this as a little kid, now that I think about it. I can still here my Mother telling me “you won’t be good at the piano unless you practice – often and daily! and that goes from the multiplication facts as well young lady!”  So why I thought it would be different now is beyond me!

I am off to try again – to practice, to repeat, to hold that pencil and draw those lines until they feel at home in my hands. Wish me luck!

Are you (young or old) working on learning something new this year? How is it going?

Hang in there – learning is a good thing but can be hard!




Posted in behavior change, Reflection | Tagged | 5 Comments

Oh dear, it is Tuesday again!

downloadIt is Tuesday and I have not been writing. Where are the days going? How did I manage to get posts written each week when I was working full time? How is it that I can not seem to get a post up every week now that I am retired?

I missed last week all together. It was well past 11:00 pm when I popped my eyes open and realized it was Tuesday and I had not posted. I stretched out under my warm heavy covers in my mid western bed and wondered how did I miss this again? Do I crawl out from under the covers and into the cold dark house to write?  No, even if I could manage something it was past midnight on the east coast and the posting would be closed. I let it go slid deeper under the covers and drifted back to sleep.

Now it is Tuesday again, one week later – it is 1:00 pm and I have 10 people coming at 3:30 for a book club meeting (I have not finished reading the book), I have four more square I promised I would get on the baby quilt I am working on and also two new assignments for my drawing class. Oh and some computer work to follow up on from my part time job as a testing coordinator and garden planning to do with seeds to order. All of this is not going to get done today.

It is clear I am still over booking my days – just like when I was teaching. My to do list was always longer than the hours of the day. I was sure that was just due to the many tasks teachers have to do. It could not have been my fault.

Ah, but here I am again with to many things on my to do list and it is not the fault of the many teaching tasks. I just get so excited about things I want to do and then over book myself. I am indeed at fault here!!

So I stopped, took a deep breath and decided to write you a short note. I wanted to be sure I posted this week. Then I pulled out my calendar and took each task and gave them a day and time. I am slotting out my days just like my lesson plan book in the classroom. It was important in my classroom to write everything down so everything got done and it is still important to write things down in my “new” life. A old yet new behavior change for me.

I am including the tasks I want to do but I need to hold space for my writing as well. It is also a task I want to do but it appears that my writing is what is getting lost in the hustle and bustle of my weeks. I now find I must create a special time each week for writing my blog posts, for writing in my personal journal, for writing stories.

There really is enough time – I just need to get organized and use those old teacher skills to find the time.

My one little word (phrase) this year is – the auspicious wonder that lies at the heart of making!   Clearly, I am making and my heart is engaged in all of it and there is wonder to be found but just a little order might help me feel less stressed about not getting to the things I care about.

So, I welcome my new 2019 calendar as my “lesson” plan book for the year. Taking time to plot out space for each of the artful tasks I am engaged in so I can relax and enjoy each of them without worrying what is not getting done.




Posted in behavior change, Reflection | 6 Comments

2019 One Little Word

DSC03018.jpegthe auspicious wonder that lies at the heart of making –

I sat down this morning hoping to write a quick piece that stated my one little word. Simple! right?

Well, not so much. First, I will state the fact that I am way too tired to be writing. I wish I could say it was from over partying for NYE but not the case. We had an earlier dinner and a drink at a local restaurant and bar. We came home and curled up to read early and had a quiet night until it wasn’t. No really issues. It was just the ghosts of past and future that tend to haunt us in our sleep on this night of change. So sleep was hard to come by. The last I looked at the clock it was 4:00 am and I was just able to settle into a restful sleep – kind of!

Then when I sat down to write I realize there is much to think about as the new year steps up to the door.

  • Words I have used in the past –
    • Evolve, Developing, Breathing and Listen – are a few
  • What are the creative endeavors I wish to work on this year –
    • drawing, sewing, writing, garden, health
  • Changing roles and jobs this year
    • do I return to work at a local school next fall?
    • new family members are and will be an active part of this new year ( more on this in another post)
  • Health and health care
    • how to I keep my exercise (walking and yoga) going in the deep winter months
    • getting myself back on a more healthy eating plan – the holidays watched me slide into sweets, fats and carbs – not a heart healthy diet
  • Processes that lead to positive living I need to support
    • follow through – the ability to stay with a project – to finish things
    • patiences – slowing down to create with care and to see the details
    • compassion – seeing the world from many sides and working to understand a view point that is different from mine (this comes in the form of politics, family, work, etc.) It seems we all need to see the world from many sides so that we can empathize and create solutions together.
    • create – it is easy when things get hard or busy to slip into consumption mode – reading, watching but not doing, not creating. I think we all watch too much (social media, T.V., movies) and do not do enough – writing, helping others, making things.

Now, where does all this take me? It feels like doing – being active is important. It looks like creativity – the ability to create shows up in many places. There is also the connection to people and understanding those around us at home in the the world. It looks like any of my past words would work but I am drawn this the opening line of this post.

the auspicious wonder that lies at the heart of making

It is a line that I pulled from a 2013 post. It is a quote from an artist who I am sorry to say I didn’t not reference and now can’t find. It jumped out at me as I was looking up past little words I have used. It is not a word, it says so much and can be taken in so many directions but it seems to fill the needs I have to gather all my thinking under one big thought.

It is not a resolution, it is not a promise to do all these things. It is a call to reflect, to wonder, to reach deep into oneself to find what is best in the actions we take each day during this new year.

And so I leave you with this phrase that I hope to use to guide my year – a phrase that lifts our eyes up to action, and wonder.

the auspicious wonder that lies at the heart of making

Happy New Year and Best Wishes at the dawn of 2019


Posted in Reflection | Tagged | 4 Comments

It’s all in the experience

It is Christmas and we are celebrating with food and family. We are in a space and time where holidays are not about physical gifts so much as gifts of time together. It is about providing space for family and friends to gather. It is about providing food and drink so people have just enough to be active but still lots of open time to talk and enjoy each others company.

During Thanksgiving we did this with my husband’s family. Two different evening where people came to eat. The first night was a bit wild since all of us DSC05183.jpeghad not been together for a long time. So much to catch up on. The second gathering we had all calmed down a bit so eating happened and then we gathered in smaller groups to play games, chat, and draw (there were 9 kids present). It was lovely.

It is now Christmas and we are repeating that cycle with my family. We began Friday night before Christmas with a traditional Swedish meal of meatballs, rice pudding, rye bread and more. The first hour or so was wild talk – all of us having not been in the same place for awhile. As the evening moved forward we settled to small conversations and relaxed fun.

Christmas eve brought us a small gathering at my daughters home. There were 6 of us enjoying a late evening dessert (gingerbread and warm applesauce) while watching Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

(If you have never watched it you should. It is a quiet little story of Christmas past with beautiful language.)

Today (actual Christmas Day) we will gather this time at my niece’s new home and what I expect will happen is small groups, deeper conversations and food will be the connecting factor again.

It is these repeated visits that help develop the relationships and deepen the connections with friends and family. We all know this but for some reason the year gets moving and it becomes harder and harder to pull us together for a shared meal and conversation. Some of that is distance – several of these folks live about 5 hours away and some of it is just we have trouble breaking away from our daily routines.

We do still provide gifts to the kids (books of course – the teacher in me can’t help it.) Our own adult children get their stockings filled as well – again reading material, dark chocolate, fruit and socks – “always socks”.  ( Watch the movie and you will know why socks!)  Really that is all that is needed.

We skipped the bigger commercial mess for this year and are just enjoying the experience of the holidays – food, conversation and reflection. I fully understand that when little ones are involved the story changes and more of the gift giving is involved but for now I am appreciating the slower more quiet Christmas after years of working, hurrying to get gifts and running from family to family to “enjoy” Christmas. It is nice to just slow down and enjoy the stillness of a winters day!



(This is winter last year – right now we have a mix of grass and a light covering of snow.  Although, I hear snow is on its way for the next few days. I may have new winter pictures for you next week as we walk into the New Year.)

Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all and see you in the New Year!

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Waiting for it to quiet down

It is just past mid December. I am retired. I have finally gotten to a place where I have personal project I really want to work on. New skills I am hoping to develop and old projects I am determined to finish. All of this takes time. Quiet time of my own that I can use to draw, to sew or write. These tasks are slow tasks. They are tasks that require concentration, quiet and time.

I am retired! Did I say that! I was sure I would have plenty of time to do these tasks. I thought I would have lots of open hours, lots of days with nothing planned that I could work on the things I am hoping to finish.

Ok – so it has not worked out that way. Over that last two months I have found a few hours here and there to begin to think about these tasks but not really to settle into the work.

How did retirement get so busy? It is odd that the first few years of retirement I was so happy to be working a bit at a school. I wondered how I would fill all the hours of the day. I worried that I was crazy to have retired. I needed the structure that comes from the school day and the tasks that were so familiar to me.

Now over the years I have slowly changed. My personal tasks have grown more important. I have developed the ability to structure my time instead of needing or seeking that structure from outside sources. My days no longer need the outside push of others. I still enjoy showing up at a school building, working with students and having some tasks to do that I know help others. But …

IMG_3839.jpegThe but is a signal of the growth in me. I have become more internally directed. I have found comfort and joy in more time of quiet and time to be alone to develop new skills or hone the old ones. I now crave time to be alone to move forward on projects I have set before me.


So after a large family Thanksgiving, family wedding, a round of testing at the school I work for, and many holiday events still to come – all of it wonderful and joyous I am waiting for quiet.

I am waiting to wake up to a slow morning of yoga, a walk in the woods, tea and drawing. I am waiting to pull out my  unfinished quilt to continue sewing each square. I am waiting to plan the next years garden and the changes needed in the yard.

I am waiting to just be for a short time.

(I know it is coming – it is my Christmas gift this year – some time of quiet and reflection.)

Happy Holidays – I am hoping you get the gift of time and quiet as well!



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Love and Dear Friends

This last weekend we spent time with lots and lots of people. Some were family and dear friends. Some were dear friends of our sons and some were new to us and soon to become dear friends.

IMG_6795.jpgIt was a wedding! Our Son and his lovely partner got married on Saturday. It was a cold grey winter day but inside it was full of greens, flowers, lights, and the warmth of a million smiles.

There was all the usual wedding doings – the dress rehearsal at a local brewery since we couldn’t use the wedding venue until Saturday. There was the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready in her hotel suite. The groom and his men at a way to fun barber shop getting hair cuts and shaves or beards trimmed plus a few rounds of drinks.IMG_6779.jpg

Then late afternoon there were photos, the arrival of guests, drinks, a very non traditional ceremony with love, jokes and silliness. Later came food from a local food truck and speeches (with a bit of poetry), toasts and finally dissolving into many hours of loud music and dancing and dancing and dancing! IMG_6790.jpg

It was glorious to watch, to be a part of and to feel the energy that this young group of friends has for each other. The love, care and support that was a part of this event took my breath away. It was not only the wedding party but the families that came, the friends that showed up from all across the country and from London and Canada. It was not a huge gathering – all told with venders (food truck cooks, bartenders, wedding planner, photographer) and everyone we may have had 130 folks talking, eating, dancing and watching the fun.

I, mother of the groom, spent lots of time watching the fun, talking to my family members and friends and then on to the family of this beautiful bride and all of their friends. We found people who knew our people, we found people with very different points of view about guns and politics but became friends over dancing, and the union of these two bright young people who are important in both our lives.

At 11:00 pm the last song was played and the smaller group of friends who remained and a few of us old folks who remained found ourselves in a circle around the dancing married couple. A tight circle of smiles, hugs and on-going tears of joy for the new adventure these two have taken on and have chosen us to be apart of it.

We cleaned up, and headed out to either homes or to a local hotel in the downtown north loop. The wedding party found their way to a local bar with dancing to continue with fun for another hour or two. Not sure how they were still moving but they were!

Although this is our home town. Doug and I choose to stay in the hotel with the wedding couple, and a few of the family members from the brides side and our daughter and her partner. It was easy to want at this point to crawl in bed and call it a night but we decided to join the brides father, his brother and their wives for a night cap. What a joy to sit and reflect, to share stories and also to watch the busy world of young people out on a Saturday night. (Can you tell I am feeling old?!)

The conversations over the length of this day developed into a deeper respect for each others children, for different ways of being and ending in a dear and loving friendship.

I tend to like to see people in small groups and to be a bit of a loner. I am happy in the quiet of my garden but this day of large groups, loud music and small conversations shared ear to ear, so we could hear, felt just right. This group of people shared more smiles, more stories and more hugs than I have had or seen in a long time.

The morning after breakfast with the wedding couple, a few of Madison’s siblings, Doug and I and our daughter and her partner all struggling to process the night before also was just right. IMG_6804.jpg

There were more hugs, smiles and an assurance that we needed to meet again at some point. Relationships had been made and love had been established for all. There we were some of us 65 and over. Others 30 and under. We were two families who now feel more like one.

I guess that is what wedding are for – bringing us new family, dear friends and lots of love and hugs.


(Thanks Zoe Prinds-Flash Photograph for this stunning photo of love)



Posted in Reflection, slice of life | 1 Comment

December – the end of a year

DSC05127.jpegWe are in the first week of December and winter is here. The ground is frozen and white. The air to crisp and the gray clouds of Minnesota hang in the sky. This is our darkest month. It is often cloudy and the days are short. I find it hard to get my daily walks in with the ice covered sidewalks so I am missing the fresh air and cardio workout as well.  I have not become accustom to the bitter cold or to the short days so it is easy to fall into a dark mood even with all the push towards holidays.

I find this is a month to journal about what went well this year. It is a time to begindownload to take stock of what worked and where I want to build for next year. It helps keep my mind from spinning out about the negative stuff and the cold.

This is where making lists work really well. A list of ( and a few examples)

  • What events happened this year
    • gardening
    • trip to Duluth
    • purchase a new car
    • working at my school
    • drawing class
    • yoga
    • wedding of my son
  • Are there things I want to repeat
    • gardening
    • Duluth trip
    • yoga
    • drawing class
  • What worked but I want to change it up a bit
    • Working at my school – may need to change due to family changes
  • What changes make sense and why
    • need to think about whether I will work next school year or not
  • What was missing from the year that I might include in this new year
    •  more drawing – developing a regular practice
    • yoga – keeping my practice going even with out class
  • Who did I spend time with
    • new friends from yoga
    • family – in town and out of town family
  • Are there people I have not seen in awhile and would like to see (or need to)
    • need to spent time with my Aunt who is 97
    • would like to travel to see friends in the Southwest and West Coast
    • need to spend more time with old teaching friends
  • What events are coming this year that I already know about and can place in my thinking about changes for the new year
    • family reunion in Iowa
    • change in family –

Once I have a list going I can alway dig deeper into a topic but at least I have a place holder to help me remember what went on. Gardening is always I place I go deeper. There is so much that worked and didn’t work that it could be a list all on its own but I like to keep a big overview list going. It helps me to think about where my energy went last year and was I making wise decisions. Was I doing what I wanted to do?

While making the list I bounce back and forth because an entry will remind me of another one I might have forgotten. It just seems to grow on its own. I find it interesting to see what pops up as I begin to brainstorm about the year.

This process also helps me begin to think about my One Little Word. It leads me to questions like

  • Did I follow my OLW?
    • my OLW as Evolve
  • Is it one I should hold on to?
    • Not sure yet
  • Am I ready to move on to something new in 2019?
    • need to do a bit more thinking


So instead of letting the dark and cold of December take over I look to the New Year, the coming of longer days and begin the process of moving into the joy of new beginnings.

Do you have a process for moving into the new year?  Please share!




Posted in behavior change, Reflection | 5 Comments