Baby Steps and Independence

Since last summer, my husband has been talking about getting a bike so the two of us could start riding together. I received my beautiful royal blue Trek bike about seven years ago for my birthday. 

For Father’s Day my boys and I bought him that bike. We asked him to come out to the front porch where we were standing with the shiny new bike, complete with big blue bow, and smiles all around. He was surprised. 

We went on our first ride together last Sunday. We are not 30 or 40 or 50 years old, so we are taking it slowly. Our first ride was about 30 minutes long and we were tired. 

On Monday we decided that on this Fourth of July morning we would load up our bikes and drive to a well-known, local bike path.

The Little Miami Scenic Trail, affectionately known as the “Loveland Bike Trail”, is over 70 miles long. There is free parking, picnic tables, rest rooms, coffee shops, ice-cream shops, restaurants and entertainment. 

It is truly a lovely place to bike. Much of the trail follows an old railway line of the Little Miami Steam Railroad, circa 1836. President Abraham Lincoln road the line to his inauguration in 1861.

Most of the trail runs along the banks of the Little Miami River. The trail is a dedicated, car-free zone with an adequate width that allows runners, cyclists, moms pushing double-wide strollers, and even an occasional horseback rider to feel comfortable. 

It is truly lovely with sparkles of sunshine and plenty of cool shade along the paved, flat trail. 

Today we rode a bit longer, about 55 minutes. We even integrated a bit of interval training, riding hard and consistent for three to four minutes, then slowing to a pace of that seemed to please our heart rates a bit more. 

We have the right gear. We wear safe helmets. We are set with squeezable water bottles that fit snugly into our attached holders. 

For us, it is baby steps. Baby steps that will, if we stay consistent, lead to big steps of endurance and freedom. 

Baby steps toward independence. How fitting for this day. 

Scrunchies and Hair Ribbons

Two things. This morning I was carrying my overnight bag, my computer bag, my purse and another small box to my car from Mama’s apartment. A gentleman stepped onto the elevator with me and he asked if I was moving in. Wait, what?

He thought I was MOVING IN!! “Do I look old enough to live here?” I was dying to ask! I’m sure a part of me was afraid to ask, fearing his answer. Though, the truth is, the minimum age to live in this retirement village is 55. So, technically I could move in…but still, c’mon on. 

Next, I stopped in the café on my way out the door to sit at a table and send a few work emails before I headed out. An 80ish year-old lady walked briskly past me (presumably a resident). She had her blond-trying-to-hide-gray neck-length hair pulled into two little ponytails, with patriotic scrunchies on both. 

I said to myself: “Girl, that is you in 20 years.” Yep. I will be the one still trying to fool everyone with my non-gray hair pulled into festive little ponytails with the closest holiday print scrunchies or ribbons tied around them. I will think I look cute bouncing down the hall in my saggy yoga pants and Easy Spirit white sneakers.

And the man in the elevator, well, I’m guessing he is a soothsayer and already envisioned me doing that very thing. 


Mother’s Day

The modern version of Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. 

Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. 

Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and set aside a day to honor all mothers. 

One of the most important statements in this blog is part of the above sentence, “…continuing the work she [her mother] started.”

Isn’t that what all mothers do? We continue the work our mothers started.

The two women who surround me in this photo have done exactly that, surrounded me with their love and support. They continued the work their mamas started in them.

I have never been able to relate to “mother-in-law” jokes or women talking negatively about their mothers-in-law.

Mine is a gem. The Lord was gracious in gifting her to me. She has modeled patience and joy and grace and unconditional love in the midst of difficulty. 

She also taught me how to make perfectly creamy mashed potatoes.

My mama, though she now struggles with dementia, modeled perseverance, strength and faithfulness, in life events that could justifiably produce a thin faith. 

I am thankful this day that I am in the ranks of motherhood. My three sons are brilliant, caring, passionate and compassionate men. They are three of my dearest friends.

I read a quote today bout being a mother. It is this:

The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.

How true that is. When my little boys put their chubby, warm (and often messy) sweet arms around my neck, nothing else mattered. I would not trade one, not even one of those priceless moments for the richest strand of pearls or The Heart of the Ocean necklace.

For this 60 year old mother, Mother’s Day is a time to honor my past, enjoy my present, and anticipate the future.

Happy Mother’s Day to to these two dear ones. And Happy Mother’s Day to myself, as I continue the work they started. 

Cuatro de Mayo

We ate perfect shredded beef burritos and corn and black bean salsa. We ate stuffed bell peppers and guac and queso. We devoured scoops of taco salad and drank margaritas. And we finished with sopapilla cheesecake squares. 

It was delicious and delightful. 

We also laughed till we cried and then cried until we laughed again. Difficult words and admissions and honesty and healing. 

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration to commemorate the Mexican Army’s difficult victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. 

We celebrated on cuatro de Mayo and commemorated our continued victories over the difficulties of this life. We are better together. And we will continue the fight. We are an army that will not be defeated. 


Bunny Hops

Easter Eve. This is traditionally the day my side of the family celebrates. We get together around 1:30 for a big, “eat-till-you’re-sick” lunch, try to visit with everyone, hide eggs for the little ones, drink cups of coffee all afternoon into evening and oh yeah, think about why we are together.

I was talking today with my niece-in-law, a lovely brunette with a warm smile, who was telling me what it is like to be a mother to her eight year-old son, Winter. I had had a brief encounter with him earlier in the day when I went to put my jacket and purse in the guest room. He was in there, alone, considering a Lego construction. He was sweet and polite and well-mannered as we chatted a bit about school and other eight-year-old things.

I told his mother what a certainly pleasant boy he is. She appreciated the compliment and told me that she believes firmly in teaching your child early about respect for others and to answer with “yes’s” rather than “uh-huhs”. She smiled shyly and said what buddies they are and how special are their evening, pre-bedtime routines. She said it is their time to read together and talk and snuggle.

Last night she was telling him goodnight and he said to her: “Mom, I love you so much. I love you like a bunny’s first hop.” He then proceeded to create a story on the spot, about a bunny learning to hop with his mama at his side. So sweet.

That little story is one of many I could have collected this day. The house was full of young mothers figuring it all out and achieving it very well.

How clearly I remember being the young mother at these family events. My three boys and all of their cousins were the ones standing eagerly at the door, awaiting the grown-ups to finish hiding the eggs so they could begin their search.

And now, little Winter and Talon, Peyton, Kai, Ava, Ryder, Lila, Ezra, Isla, Wren and Jayden are my great-nieces and nephews, those present today.  I am that “old aunt” who nibbles their fingers and kisses their noses and gives them cookies and pats their bums and loves them all so very much.

The torch passes. It was passed to me by my aunts and I am now the one handing it off. It is a precious, precarious, tenacious, mysterious relay. Yet, it is so full of love that it is always, always, always like a bunny’s first hop.


St. Patty

Saint Patrick’s Day is a religious and cultural celebration held on March 17, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in Ireland in the early 17th century. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.

Patrick was a fifth century British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. It is believed that he was born into a wealthy family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration, which Patrick allegedly wrote himself, at the age of 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and it was during that time that he “found God.” The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.

According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. And he did, converting “thousands”.

Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to pagan Irish. I love that.

What courage. All heroes are full of courage. When God says a thing is a certain way, well, it is that way. The real courage is saying “yes” and joining in.

Today I attended the funeral of a good man. He was not a missionary. He does not have a day named after him. He is not honored by a country.

But he was a hero, the biggest kind of hero. He first and foremost loved his God. He then lived his entire life, of 84 years, serving his family every single day.

I did not wear green today. I wore black.

But in St. Patrick’s honor, I am going to make myself a steaming cup of green tea. I am going to thank God for choosing this man to do good work. I will also thank God for Govel Thornberry who lived his life as heroically as St. Patrick. I will lift my mug of green tea in honor of them both.

Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Valentine’s Day

I have amazingly delightful childhood memories of Valentine’s Day. I’m sure some of you remember finding a shoebox at home and decorating it with red construction paper hearts and pink tissue paper and cutting a little slot in the lid for your classmates to stuff your box full of cards. Oh, how fun that was!

I’m a bit of a romantic, so even in second and third grade, I believed that those valentine cards were carefully and intentionally selected by certain boys in my class. Yeah, right. In reality, those cards were done under duress the night before with a mama standing over that boy forcing him to write out those cards. He randomly chose those cards ~ bang, bang, bang. Done.

By fifth grade, I think we were still doing this. At that time, my crush was Robbie B. I remember being appalled when I discovered that everyone in the class received a smattering of about four different varieties of cards from him (and everyone else). You know how they went, something like “Carrot you see that I’m plum crazy about you?” I thought that was a special message just for me. Be still my heart. And be still every other 5th grade girl heart in my class. C’est la vie.

I still love Valentine’s Day. I have been making a heart-shaped cake every Valentine’s Day for the last 15-20 years. Mike loves it. He brings me home red or pink roses. I love the color red but when it comes to roses, pink ones are my fave. I also give the boys Reese’s heart-shaped candies and often a pair of socks or magnets or something fun.

I have a little wooden sign that I hang on a door during Valentine’s week. It is red with white and silver hearts and simply states: Love is all you Need. Well, you certainly do need love, but a little income and shelter from the storm and food on the table, is also kind of important. Although, true love should bring those things naturally.

The Robert Bringhurst poem, These Poems, She Said, states this:

Love means love of the thing sung, not of the song or the singing.
These poems, she said…
You are, he said,
That is not love, she said rightly.

It is not the song, as Robert Bringhurst said, love is of the thing sung. It is not the flowers or the heart-shaped box of chocolates, it is the heart behind that heart. It is the motive, the thought, the soul. Anyone can buy a ‘thing’ representative of Valentine’s Day. The real show of love is what happens the other 364.

Chew on that this Valentine’s Day. It is far less fattening than a box of chocolates.

Cyber Monday

Today is projected to be the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. This year, Americans are expected to spend $6.6 billion (that is BILLION) online on this Monday following Thanksgiving. That is a 16.5% increase over last year’s record-setter.

The first Cyber Monday was in 2005. Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation came up with the term. Other suggestions were Blue Monday, after the color of web links, or Green Monday for the money being made, but she liked the clarity of Cyber Monday. Obviously, it stuck.

In 2005 online sales were new. At that time, between 10%-30% of shopping was done online. People were used to going out shopping on Black Friday and waited until Monday to shop online, when they got back to work. That was, at least in part, due to the fact that most people were still using slow dialup connections at home. At work they had access to high speed internet connection.

Side note: Employers, do not expect much productivity from your employees today. You may think they are crunching numbers for the end of year report, but they are crunching numbers for the savings at Best Buy. Just sayin’.

Within a year, Cyber Monday became a household term, even though its original reason had faded. Today, 73% of U.S. households have broadband and 75% of Americans have smart phones.

According to research, there are other reasons that Cyber Monday is a good shopping day. It also means that the in-laws have gone home, the Christmas lights are up and you have a little time to breathe before the next wave of holiday mania.

It is predicted that U.S. online shopping sales will reach a whopping $107.4 billion this holiday season, with Cyber Monday kicking off the spree.

Deloitte predicts that total holiday spending in 2017 may exceed $1 trillion.

I actually had to look up how many zeros that is. And my friends, there are 12. Here is what it looks like: $1,000,000,000,000.

Just for fun, let’s break it down. One thousand thousands equals one million. One thousand millions equals one billion. And one thousand billions equals one trillion. A trillion can also be thought of as a million millions. My head is spinning.

As I sit here sipping coffee and clipping Kroger coupons to save 50 cents here and there, it feels quite pointless.

Though…I am calculating that if every U.S. adult saved 50 cents at the grocery store today, we would collectively save $133,500,000. That is a lot of cable knit sweaters online at Old Navy.

Happy Cyber Monday, and clip those coupons.


Beauty in the Messes

In the midst of a mess, we must still find beauty.

The Hendrixson family is known for beginning a major home project before Thanksgiving. That is good and that is bad. We talk about a remodel and then get extremely enthusiastic about it mid October. It sounds so doable then.

This year we decided to knock down a wall and expand our kitchen into our non-dining, dining room. In true pollyanna style, we were certain all would be beautifully completed by November 23. It is November 21. Unless the tale of The Elves and the Shoemaker is true and that tale could be twisted into The Elves and the Kitchen Maker, we are sunk.

The wall is down. The new drywall has been (laboriously) nailed up by Mike and me. The new floor is mostly down. Done? Far, far, far from it.

I’ve had moments of frustration, disappointment, late nights and sore shoulders.

Today I was cleaning up so that I can clean. Only those who have worked on their own homes, understand that. Shop vac-ing sawdust and wood shavings. Removing a layer of dusty snow from EVERYTHING. Finding a place for three hammers and four wonder bars and seven screwdrivers and power tools and levels and drop cloths and saws and hundreds of nails and multiple pencils.

And there in the middle of it all, sat a glass vase of lovely sunny yellow flowers.

And it reminded me that in the midst of a room remodel and large mess and large frustration, is a lovely, strong family who are incredible humans.

Thanksgiving is 27 hours away. I have 55 guests arriving to sit down for a feast. My ceiling is open to wooden studs. No trim. No paint. And for a cherry on top, my bathroom is not yet finished from last Thanksgiving’s project.

But my house will be filled with laughter and hugs and warmth and so very, very, very much love. In the midst of a mess, I will still find beauty.



What frightens you? The dark? Snakes? Spiders? The unknown? Scary things trigger familiar feelings. Our first response is usually to keep absolutely still. Then we run away, as fast as we can.

Both of these reactions helped our ancestors stay safe. Dangerous animals see movement more clearly than they see shapes. Ancient people survived attacks by keeping perfectly still and then seeing their chance, made a mad dash to safety.

Buried deep within your skull, on each side of our head, are the amygdalae. Each amygdala senses threat before you are even aware of it. By the time you are aware of danger, you may already be running! How fascinating is that?!

Your body is then flooded with hormones to prepare you for action. There are six amazing things that happen. I will mention only two.

Your pupils get bigger and you lose vision around the edges. This helps you spot threats in dim light. It also helps you concentrate on the danger staring you in the face. Crazy awesome!

The other thing is your amazing spleen. I know, right? Yes, your spleen, a deeply ignored important little organ (sorry spleen). In a state of fear, the spleen makes extra red blood cells. These cause blood to clot, stopping bleeding in case you are injured. What???

We are so amazingly made.

Fear is often described with an acronym; False Evidence Appearing Real. I agree. Most often, fear is simply that, worry about what might be.

However, occasionally fear is this acronym; Freakin’ Events Are Real. I’m all about positivity. I have been called a pollyanna. But I am also a realist. There ARE things to fear. And when those real fears appear, remember how amazingly made you are and trust your strong body and mind.

Plato said “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

Another acronym for fear is Failure Expected And Received. Ah…now we are getting to real fear.

May we fear truly frightening things and not fear ideas and worries. Let us continue moving away from the dark. Step toward the light and embrace it fully.

Happy Halloween! Better yet, Lux et Veritas!