Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Gift of the Present Moment

In my morning readings and meditation, I contemplate an awareness.

Instead of dreaming about tomorrow, I fashion it with the choices I make today.

I am living in the present moment.

My world is rich with blessings and challenges. Challenges that strengthen and prepare me for a better life.

Is it worth then to deny these gifts by wishing them different?

I gladly accept life as it is and be humble for the rich life in this very moment.

An awareness that I have been graced with in my midlife adventure.

Happy Mother’s Day

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tail of Trust

Picture this. A leap of excitement chasing a squirrel, landing in a busy median strip on a highway far from home. Fatigue and hunger quickly settling in, drudging every step, miles away from familiar surroundings, trusting that you’re moving in the right direction.

Fast moving traffic on each side, not having enough energy to cross the highway to safety, just pushing yourself to keep walking.

“Oh my goodness, we have to stop!” The first attempt, we passed him, not a safe place to pull over we feared. Cars whirling past us in a quick gust heading somewhere. I gasped at the thought witnessing an accident of a beautiful large tan Lab being struck.

We try again. We didn’t have a plan only needing to save him.

Circling around again, gently landing on a small area, teetering halfway on the busy highway, giving him enough room so not to scare him into the fast, approaching traffic.

No plan. Yet.

Our knee jerk reaction is to tempt him with water. Not thirsty.

So we sit and wait.

He hesitates, slowly turning around, reluctantly, carefully inching his way towards our vehicle. Tears of joy welling up while witnessing a grateful dog, wagging his tail for our willingness to stop and help.


At this point your logical mind wonders, ‘what are we going to do next?’


“He’s going on a camping trip!” my friend celebrating him going with us.

I immediately thought of a wish being granted, envisioning a dream I had camping with a dog. 

Wish granted!

We quickly jump in the car and we’re on our way to St. Francois State Park in Bonne Terre.

A sense of relief envelopes us watching this grateful, happy dog safe in our car, enjoying the freedom of safety.

We both giggled with a what-just-happened awareness, waiting to see where this journey is taking us.


His sense of faith, courage and kind spirit soon inspired us to call him, St. Francois, naming him after our impending camping destination.

We welcomed the unknown excitement of an adventure. Why not? Fear can dampened the fun out of anything, so breathe and see what happens.


I noticed there is a deep passion in people’s hearts when helping a rescued animal. Everyone we met wanted to help. Facebook helped to spread the word.

We met very nice people eager to help; Sheri and Jim on the trail, Debbie and Paul at our campsite, all are posting it on Facebook and also we were greeted warmly at a local vet to check for a chip to identify our rescue’s owner.

Denise volunteered to take home St. Francois to temporarily foster him when later that night a message came from Sheri that she found the owner on Facebook.

The owner drove late that night with faith that it was her dog and success!

Owner and canine reunite!

St. Francois’s real name is Max. His journey started in Farmington on Thursday chasing a squirrel. On Saturday morning, we found him going in the right direction heading home to Bonne Terre, 20 miles away!

What this adventure showed me is that when you’re lost, it takes determination and trust to find your way home and all you have to do is to decide which direction that you’re going in and just keep walking!

A tail of trust.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I'm Concerned About Your Symptoms

Typically on a delightful spring day you can find me anywhere but here, sitting in a sterile, patient packed room waiting for my name to be called. I pride myself having a healthy lifestyle in my midlife adventure; hiking, backpacking and watching what I eat. A chronic cough is the culprit why I’m sitting waiting for treatment, thinking a quick fix at an urgent care first but then heading straight to the emergency room because they are concerned about my symptoms.

How did I get here? The scale is a good beginning of my awareness having that number surprise me how abundant I’ve been living. I try to live a good, natural lifestyle but it may have caught up with me.

Here I am.

A hurried distressed couple moved past me, a gruff, hoarse-sounding, bearded, unwell man belittling his pregnant woman displaying his displeasure being here.

Living this long I am aware of some choices I made (love sugar) and justifying my behavior (just one more piece of cake) could result in why I am sitting here.

Am I willing to accept the responsibility?

It is discerning to see the convalescent suffering looking for the same help and struggling with the idea that I am among them.

A young, thin girl displaying a glittery PINK message on her back, trotting in house slippers trailing her lanky, young, ailing boyfriend talking on his cell phone, searching for someone to come to their aid.

Amongst the ill in this level 1 city emergency room, a few of the worn shuffling about looking for some direction and the general public of the ailing looking for immediate medical attention. 

The whole experience is heightened by code blue alerts and church-is-in-session announcements heard over the intercom.

I search to understand this methodical feeling of an evolution, thriving, hustling, bustling get-together of people accepting this as a run-of-the-mill part of their daily routine.

Am I one of them?

Am I next?

These situations call for a reflection of some sort, doesn’t it? Become a vegetarian? Lose a few pounds? I noticed the rules have changed since arriving to this point of my life. The energy level is not what it was 20 years ago as my food intake gathers around my hips and not those skinny legs I remember.

So what am I learning from this experience? My body calls for the individual attention like an older woman having to face the second part of her life. Certain foods can’t be digested like it once did; my stomach is not 20 years old. Am I too busy? My thought process feels very young but it doesn’t match my aging body.

People shuffling along in one door out the other, clustering, rebelling, consoling and disoriented. We all have a common thread.

I want to be next!

I come from the belief that if you take care of yourself with a good lifestyle and a regular routine doctor visit then there is no a need for an emergency room visit.

Am I next?

What am I taking away from this experience? A reality check. A gratitude list.
  • When you’re here long enough and tired of waiting, you start to mingle with interesting people having an insightful conversation. We have more in common then I thought!
  • I noticed a hungry patient having a problem with the vending machine accepting her bill and someone offering their debit card to complete the purchase.
  • A friendly conversation started when someone wanted to exit a locked security door and another came to her rescue.
  • Giving up my seat offered me a chance to feel helpful.
  • This has given me a chance to blog this experience when I haven’t been inspired to write lately.
  • A chance to feel the gratitude seeing others in worse situations then I am.
  • Consoling each other how much time we have to wait and listening with compassion.
  • Finding humor in having to wait to see how much longer after questioning to see how many people are ahead of me.
  • A young father sharing pictures of his babies.
  • A sincere announcement…. “Sorry about your wait”. A compassionate voice to a sterile atmosphere.

The results are in. It took 7 hours of waiting to be told that I’m spending a night for observation. 

Haven’t I seen it all? 

I have a better understanding of life from having this experience.

In this world there are basically kind people doing the best they can with what they have been given.  

It broadened my understanding of the variety of souls it takes to make the world go around and it heightened my awareness to take better care of myself, no matter how old I am.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tree Climbing To The Summit of My Life

At one moment high in the trees while dangling from the strategically placed ropes, I purposely took a deep breath, relaxed my body enough to outstretch my arms and wiggle my legs. It can be done! With intent, I held the focus of my thoughts in the present moment.

At this crowning point in my life, I am learning freedom, facing my fear, putting an end to age restricting thoughts and understanding the ease of a task with companionship.

It’s interesting the people I meet on my midlife adventure that brought me to this high rise adventure at this point in time. I met Jon from Vertical Voyages by a chance meeting while walking down a nature trail, catching a glimpse of him guiding a climber to the top of a tall tree.

I was inspired and afraid at the same time. I was instantly reminded of my beliefs that could hold me back from this tree climbing adventure; my aging, my limited physical ability, and just believing I will freeze at this pinnacle.

The love of trees and my ambition to face my fears drove me to say yes!

The process of suiting up with harnesses, helmets and ropes with fancy knots was intimidating. Jon properly fitting me was a challenge asking, ‘is this comfortable?’ was not in my ‘feeling normal’ vocabulary. Nonetheless, I suit up and showed up with determination.

I faced my fear trusting his directions while I carefully stepped into the leg openings of the harness securing my torso and a chest apparatus, all being joined on a rope dangling from a strong trusted limb.

My head leaned back as far as it could to get a glimpse of my rope hanging from the summit of a distant branch. ‘I can do this’, I reminded myself reluctantly.  

With a few instructions under my belt, learning the ropes, I was pulling myself up with a simple procedure of pushing/pulling my arms and legs accordingly. No turning back now.

Jon encouraged me with his wisdom and comfort to face my fear of heights by focusing on my climbing technique and the present moment. I felt inspired by Jon who is adamantly passionate about climbing in nature and his appreciation for the outdoors.

I was persevering my way slowly in a northerly direction. In this heightened position, I gazed all around me at the surrounding lush trees and its branches and I felt a breeze and heard, “don’t worry, I’ll protect you”.

While swaying securely in my harness I had a choice to experience this moment by gripping with fear or letting go of being in control.

What I’m learning is trusting in the unforeseen.

Fear, if I was acrophobic, could easily show up by the awareness of how high I was, hanging without placing my feet on a tangible place for security. My worry could have easily taken me to a paralyzed feeling wanting to get off this scary carnival ride.

Climbing to my destination, upward closer to the top of the tree, a different perspective came to me about my life. I was secure in my harness, hanging down from strong ropes and at the same time I felt taken care of, protected. All the things I worried about were not going to happen. The questions popped into my mind, ‘Are all of my needs met in my life?’, ‘Do I have all it takes to live a full life?’ Gratefully I answered yes.

I almost made it to the top but didn’t, not because I couldn’t, because I decided not today.

“How are you doing? Ann”, Jon checking on me.

Assuredly responded, “Wonderful”.

“I’m ready to come down”, I confidently said.


Reluctantly, looking within for the truth, I paused and said, “I’m tired….?!”

“Needing some help?”

Pondering to myself, ‘did I ask?’.

Reality check. Was I really tired or experiencing any fear? Not sure but I guess I’m willing to move forward.

Then a strong feeling of determination came over me and I said, “YES!”

Jon then boosted me from my rope on the ground and we pulled my suspended rope together easily moving up a few more feet. Easy with somebody’s help I discovered.

It was the same time that my fellow climber, Tim was descending. He made it easily to the top for his first attempt. We were parallel at the height of our ropes, close enough where we had an insightful conversation.

A peaceful moment between two adventurers forty feet suspended by ropes on a huge white oak tree in a lush forest. Wow. I felt an overwhelming feeling of relaxation with another human being sharing our experience. All of this felt a little silly to me, reminding me of where we were, in a harness, hanging from ropes, very high off the ground. I felt protected and taken care of in an unexpected way.

For a moment in a great height in the trees, I noticed how peaceful it was. I felt the freedom of the branches swaying in the wind and the leaves keeping rhythm of the serenity. It was then I felt the heaviness in my body going away, the worrying, stress and all the tension. In the distance I could see trees mingling together in a sense of lightness that you could hear in a breeze. It reminded me that I could, too, feel the freedom of letting go.

I come to grips with wanting that freedom while in the trees; I loosened my tight grip of my arms stretching them wide open and released the chokehold my legs were in, wiggling them into the emptiness below me.

I felt freedom!

Ascending up each part of the climb and coming to the summit of my life, I arrive at a breathing space where serenity could be found in the present moment, facing any fears, and accepting help along the way.

Descending, I came down with a better sense of serenity, having faced any aging apprehension, learning to live in the present moment.

Grateful to learn another lesson of love from Mother Nature and her trees.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Where Am I Going?

A funny thing happened to me on the way to pick up information How To Use A Compass at a ranger office. 

I got lost!

It gave me an opportunity in my midlife adventure to find some humor.

I allowed myself enough time to find my destination.

Circled a few times in the wrong direction.

Made every stoplight.

I encountered every slow driver barely looking over the steering wheel.

In such a hurry that I turned down a homeless person.

I guess I had good reason to get that information. I felt dazed and confused.

In its own time I've learned.

What I came away with is to slow down and take pleasure in the ride.

It's not the destination but the journey that we should pay attention to.

Even if it takes a few turns to find it.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lucy and Ethel Take a Spiritual Road Trip

While rolling down the highway, the antics of the popular 1950's television series, Love Lucy, came to mind.

My friend Melissa (Ethel) and I (Lucy) agreed to cast an exploring eye at the house of my son and his wife of unwanted spirits making their presence known by their shadowy mischievous presence, creaking around making their homestead uncomfortable. With my GPS in hand, we’re ready for a midlife adventure down the highway in an unfamiliar area.

Ethel Mertz, “I’m not gonna do it!”
Lucy Ricardo, “You haven’t even heard my idea!”
Ethel Mertz, “You thought it up. That’s enough for me.”

And the adventure begins!

Lucy shrieks, “Ethel, did we just pass Exit 141? Turn around over there at the roundabout and don’t go over the curb.”

“I’m following these directions from your robotic GPS woman who keeps yelling, “U TURN… U TURN!”, Ethel cries out as they go around in circles.

“Do you think maybe we’re going where we’re not wanted?” Lucy puzzling over their wild ride adventure.

“A fine mess you’ve gotten us into now, Lucy” taking them through an unexpected maze that made them dizzy.

Our turbulent journey’s end came to a screeching halt when we arrive suddenly at a dead end road. Looking at the house and then each other, we cautiously take steps out of the sedan with a watchful eye.

The home appeared to be weathered by time, the landscape unkempt and a lone tree guarding its fenceline. Ethel hugs Lucy’s arm, moving up the sidewalk, closer to the entrance  when she spotted a beautiful green butterfly clinging to the window screen and says, “Lucy, look up there!”

Lucy embraces the fate of the butterfly who is opening its wings, “yes, I think this cute little thing is giving us a message.”

“Oh Lucy, that’s just a coincidence!” Ethel muttered. They were taken aback by this vibrant insect’s appearance in what appeared to be a lifeless homestead.

Lucy responds, “I know there’s nothing to it, but I want to know what it is there’s nothing to.”

“Ugh, I’m not sure why I came, but let’s just go in” surrenders Ethel.

The friends' detective work stopped cold when they bellowed together, “There is no key here!” “Dang it”, we chanted together. Pass key was absent from the designated hiding place.

“Time to go home, Lucy!” Ethel said.

“I have a plan” her friend snapped back.

Ethel grunted, “I’m still recuperating from your last plan. If I had known THIS is what friends were for, I’d have signed up as an enemy.”

Lucy surmised, “I’m not giving up, it’s just a feeling I have. There may be a better way to move those spirits where they need to go!”

“I’m just not feeling anything, but I’m here, so let’s just hear your idea!” Ethel responds. “what are you pulling out of there?”

Lucy reached into her bag pulling out healing crystals and sage explaining, “if we can’t go in then we’re gonna eliminate those unwelcomed spirits from the outside.”

Just then Ethel begged, “What’s the matter?”

“I felt the darkness coming from the door!”

“Oh no, Lucy, you must be wrong!” Ethel bellowed.

“No, I’m not and we have what we need to finished them off.”

As the sage billowed smoke around the area and the crystals laid assuredly in the dirt, the friends ran to their car leaving, accomplishing what they set out to do.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Name Is Herman

Meeting some inspiring people on my mid life adventure

I saw him from time to time at the neighborhood park we frequent. Herman is a kind gentleman making the world a better place to live.

His green Kawasaki can be seen around the park cleaning up the grounds and doing it with pride.

This park employee could be seen lending a hand with visitors doing it gently and heartfelt.

As I walked past his truck I noticed a weathered, black elongated lunchbox sitting on the front seat among other work items he kept nearby.


It was something that I haven’t seen in years! It brought me back to my childhood memories, remembering my dad going to work with this black vintage lunchbox in tow.  

It was before the cool insulated totes and the expensive coffee lattes we required in our daily lives today. A slower life when we took the time to make a bologna sandwich and put our coffee in a thermos. I can still envision my dad putting on his weathered, work bib overalls over his suntan pants, plaid flannel shirt and well-used work boots, getting prepared for a full day’s work. His pockets overflowing with essentials like a flat carpenter’s pencil, a wooden fold up ruler and a white folded handkerchief. A send off farewell after he gave my mom a peck on the cheek. An early morning memory that I cherish. Monday through Friday, never taking a sick day, he climbed into his jalopy station wagon filled with tools and lumber and headed out for a honest day’s work.

Striking up a conversation with Herman was easy. He reminded me of a slower lifestyle, taking the time to have a heart-to-heart exchange with others about their day. 

Herman was happy to talk about his ‘walking foundation’, which he called his lunch box. Inside was an enclosed wipe his wife wanted him to use to clean his glasses instead of using water to wash his spectacles. He showed me the handwritten notes he saved from grateful visitors. Some food in a can and crackers to snack on. Any little trinkets of toys he found, he was happy to give them away to children he would meet. A little blue bag had dog treats inside if there was a need.

It reminded me of when life was simpler, feeling the worries of my day melting, my body relaxing, just because I took the time to meet a man with a heartfelt passion to enjoy his life to the fullest.