A thread a memory

Here we are starting a new week. I find myself awash with memories and stories. It is funny. When I look at the tapestry of my life thus far, I see connecting threads that didn’t connect in real time. Only in retrospect do I see it. For example, there is the way my family did something simple like family birthday parties. There were no huge bashes. Just mom, dad, my 2 brothers, and me. The birthday person picked what would be made for dinner and what kind of cake would be made. The birthday person didn’t have any chores that day. Dinner was a grand time. Party hats were worn and reused every year. At cake time; the candles were lit. Happy birthday was sung …. and then candles stayed lit. Then each person around the table sang a song or told a joke or recited or read a poem aloud. Then Happy birthday was sung again. Then candles were blown out. It was always our tradition. Why? Mom and dad said it helped us participate, gain confidence, and make a contribution. As the family expanded, the tradition continued. Some people rolled their eyes and didn’t like the tradition as much as others. But, each person was listened to with respect.
I can see now that this simple tradition stood me in good stead for participating in class and in business meetings.
Sure I get tongue tied at times. Sure I feel shy. BUT, with my vicarious birthday hat on, I can take my turn.
It especially helps to think of setting someone else at ease.
My high school speech team coach counseled us to look around at audience members. He said to look at the ones who seem anxious or ill at ease or even bored. He said smile, move, draw them in.
My goodness! With all of that on my mind I can change my anxiety to happiness.
It began all because of the thread that started with family birthday parties before I even went to kindergarten.
So many simple threads. I love the tapestry of life.
~ Simply Kate ❤

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Link arms at the campfire

Always have hope, dear hearts. Despite the things or people that tear your heart apart, believe anyway. There is always someone in your corner. Believe anyway. Go to the campfires where the loving people are. Sit beside them. Link arms. Laugh until your sides hurt. Sing with them. Listen. Watch their eyes sparkle when you arrive and when you share your heart. Your tribe can be pieced together like a beautiful quilt. You are a work of art and a work of heart. Simply you. Simply me.
Simply Kate ❤

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So Awkward!!

Go ahead and be your own weird self. If you feel awkward in your own skin some days, how do you handle it?
I either cocoon until the feeling goes away, or I reach out to someone (eventually).
I think many of us have awkward days (or have had in the past). I don’t know why I feel that way some days.
Oh gosh, in looking back, there are many points in time I felt that way for a little while. … maybe you have those times, too.
Did you have times like that?
One stage of life I felt this “awkward not fitting in feeling” was h.s. sock hops. Oh gosh, NONE of my friends went, but my folks thought it was important to go. So I went. But I felt suddenly very shy. Spent the evening hiding in the bathroom. I just couldn’t approach people I didn’t know and try to hang out with them. And it felt awkward to stand alone.
It took me by surprise that I felt like I had to hide. In my classes and at my youth group I was never at a loss. I was in my groove, confident
Sock hop? Nope. Going to the community swimming pool? Nope (except in swim lessons).
At those awkward times I didn’t feel like myself. I felt adrift … buffeted by the winds of feeling alone in a crowd. I had no urge to connect across perhaps a sea of people who all seemed to fit with each other.
At those “unfamiliar territory” times, I freeze like a deer in headlights!
Isn’t that odd? I mean I am a perennial optimist. I have God as my best friend.
Yet, I am never prepared for suddenly feeling like a fish out of water!! And I am pretty aware.
In many situations like this, I REALLY don’t fit in (not my imagination).
Now, in many of those past instances I quickly extricated myself. That turned out to be WISE.
But boy do I DISLIKE that awkward feeling.
Now, if you have those awkward times, respect your own feelings.
I am telling myself during introspective times today ~ don’t go into shock when awkward or painful times come. Adjust your sails. Ride out that storm.
Hang on. No storm lasts forever. Sock hops end.
Youth group retreats bring healing. There is joy in finding your way.
Sending you wishes for hope and healing.
~ Simply Kate ❤

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Not just a chore: a chance for gratitude

I hope your Thursday goes well. What is on your mind and heart today?
Are you filled with wonder at God’s creation?
When I hear the birds singing in the trees in my yard and see the sunny sky, I try to just stop and soak it in.
Doing that reminds me to be mindful …. simply mindful.
I think today I will try to stop many times and observe. Then I will add to my grateful list.
Here is an example.
Chore: emptying the dishwasher… thank full for a plethora of things behind this task. Ready? Here we go ~
Normally I might turn on the news. Lately, this blocks my Grateful heart. Today I will put on some calm music. Boom. ⤵️
Grateful for my ears. Grateful for composers. Grateful for dishes and silverware Grateful for running water, dishwashers, and electricity. Grateful for each person who invented, manufactured, and transported all of that. Grateful for the families of all these people.
Grateful that I have the opportunity to move my arms and legs so I can do this task!
Now that the dishwasher is empty it is time to expand my thankfulness list. ⤵️
BOOM. I am thankful for counters, drawers, cupboards, the sturdy walls that hold the cupboards. If it wasn’t for that, my arms would surely be incapable of forever holding all of that.
Time to be thankful for carpenters, drywall installers, painters, electricians, and flooring.
Do you see what I mean?
One simple chore (emptying the dishwasher) is a chance to be grateful for countless people and things.
Everything we do is a chance for gratitude.
I just have to stop and notice. Rather than zone out and go through my day doing things on automatic ~> just notice and thank. Take it down to minute details of gratitude.
Open the door to let the dogs in and out a zillion times? Yes. Grateful for dogs. Grateful for glassmakers, truckers, door installers, hinges, rags to clean the door, lockmakers, and so much more.
This cascade of people, things, and the beautiful things in nature is mind boggling, don’t you think? God gives us countless ways to be grateful.
What do you think of this approach?
I would love to hear about some simple thing you might do today and the interconnections for gratitude!
Simple task ~ major gratitude.
Wishing you a day of hope today and everyday.
~ Simply Kate ❤

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Do you ever wonder if you’ve still got it

Do you sometimes wonder if you’ve still “got it”?
Do you add multiple paths in an attempt to do great in some area?
Does your heart long to make a difference like a deer thirsts for water?
I can identify with all of that. When I hit those points I must fall back and regroup.
As a result, I refocused on just tutoring and writing. Really, I doubled down on tutoring.
I find such joy in tutoring math. God finds me the most wonderful students.
It is more than the math. It ALWAYS is. It is also about building esteem, confidence, and belief that dedication and diligence make a difference.
It is about working with the student’s strengths to help the difficulties.
And then it happens.
Progress. The light comes ON!
And today it HAPPENED.
Yes, my wonderful student went from an F to a B!
OH gosh!! Yes. I thank GOD for my student (who shall remain anonymous). I thank God that she learned well.
I thank God that HE moved me onto this path, in time to help.
So tonight, I did a major happy dance.
Simply tutoring matters. Fills me with joy in indescribable ways. Being wife and mom has had similar effects on me.

But my point is I got to be His conduit!
Soooo what makes you feel that way? By simply being you, what works?
Simply Kate ❤

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The view will be spectacular

“Do i prefer to be as young as my hope or as old as my despair? It is in the shaking off of the despair and the cynicism that we claim or reclaim joy. I wish you messages of hope, beauty, and courage today. No matter what, we shall climb our mountains. I hear that the view from the mountaintop is spectacular.”~ Kate Henderson Kresse

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Sail on

Get your rose-colored glasses ready! We know that optimism has been linked to better mental and physical health, and even to a longer life.

How, then, to quiet optimism’s opposite: the naysayers in your mind that tend to dwell on the negative aspects of a given situation, day, or life in general? Mindfulness, and prayer in which you practice simply noticing thoughts and feelings and handing them to God can help to reduce negative thinking and worry.

You can also try giving events a positive spin before they even happen. Simply imagining that an upcoming event will go well can lead you to remember it in a positive light, after the fact. Trying to tweak your perception may smack of denial, but it doesn’t have to.

Focusing on the positive can help you stay enthusiastic and engaged and find solutions to problems.

Suppose you have an upcoming work presentation that you’re nervous about. Visualize it going well, and imagine how good you’ll feel afterward. Do the same with an upcoming trip, a challenging workout, a holiday with extended family, or just an ordinary weekend.

Besides that, putting your anxiety and worries in God’s hands reduces panic and that overwhelmed feeling.

See whether prayer plus thinking positively seems to affect your experience, your memories of the experience, or your attitude in general. Then keep the optimism ball rolling –> sail on. God is with you, always.

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Joy girl

How are you doing tonight? I am feeling “up”, which is good. A few days ago, I was feeling a bit down. It happens to all of us. There are times when I am just dragging. On those days, I just want the burdens weighing on me lift or fly away. There really is no rhyme nor reason to the feeling. It isn’t that suddenly there is a whole lot weighing me down. Perhaps I just get careworn. Jesus had times like that, too. He would leave the apostles and go to a quiet place and regroup. He would go and commune with the Father. I have excuses regarding why I cannot take that time. You
know how that is. I have multiple things I need to get done. But if I do not take the time to regroup, it does not go well at all. That is when I reach the end of the day and I have no sparkle.

So I took a few days to regroup AND get some things done. As a result, going into this next week, things feel positive. Oh how I love that feeling.

My family and I sat down to watch the movie “Inside Out” today. My husband hadn’t seen it before and we snagged the DVD from the library. As we watched the movie, it struck me how strongly I could relate to the character/emotion Joy. Oh my, how she works at seeing the joy in everything. I do that too. She discovers some interesting yet simple truths during the movie. She discovers that Sadness played a vital role. It was a significant revelation. If you have seen the movie, is there a character/emotion you could relate to?

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Wishing us all a mindful Memorial Day

Today I wish to thank all who paid the ultimate sacrifice, losing a family member while serving in the military. I did have family members who served. Many of them passed on, but none passed on during wartime. My heart goes out to all the families who did lose someone.

My prayers are with you as you remember. My thanks go out to you for the freedoms that I have, because of their immense sacrifice.

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The need to feel at home

Roofs – by Joyce Kilmer

The road is wide and the stars are out and the breath of the night is
And this is the time when wanderlust should seize upon my feet.
But I’m glad to turn from the open road and the starlight on my
And leave the splendor of out-of-doors for a human dwelling place”.

I was introduced to Joyce Kilmer’s poetry in grade school, when we read his poem about trees. This part of his roofs poem rang true to my heart today.  I could really relate to leaving the splendor of out-of-doors for a human dwelling place. The weather here has been glorious for weeks. The mountains and sky look so pretty, and the stars seem extra-twinkly.I have felt the need to cocoon lately. I get that way sometimes. Do you? Eventually, I just need to STOP!

So today is tiny task day. Today is for crossing off just one or two things from my procrastination list. That helps me feel at home within myself.

What helps you?

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Rise and shine! Don’t be a droopy-drawers

So, it began when I was a kiddo. “Rise and shine. Make today one of your very best days,” my dad would say, every day. How did your day begin today? Mine began with my sweet dogs showering me with kisses. How can anyone be glum after that? “Rise and shine”, I told myself. I am determined to find joy today and to hold on to hope and optimism. It is easy to fly towards pessimism like a moth to a lightbulb.
But that attitude makes me GRUMPY. Pessimism fits my soul like a size zero dress. My mom used to say, “Kate, don’t be a droopy-drawers”. Of course, she was right. Staying in that mindset is not a good fit for me. My family doesn’t need me focused on pessimism, that is for sure.
My strategy today is to be mindful. By that I mean to declutter my heart and mind when negativity crops up!
Perhaps I will figuratively poke myself in the ribs and say, “come on! Are we 2 years old today? Don’t be a droopy drawers! Be a joy hunter!”
So, on this glorious Wednesday, I want to be a perennial optimist. Nothing fancy here. I am …
Simply Kate

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It is hard to believe

It is hard to believe we are already in the double digits part of May. When I was a kid, May meant dance recitals, piano recitals, final exams, making summer plans, getting book recommendations from teachers and librarians, the scent of lilacs, jump rope, jacks, and softball games. I enjoyed those times. When the threat of snow and freeze passed (which in MN and NJ meant after Mother’s Day), we planted annuals. In my family we planted petunias and marigolds. We picked lilacs and put them in vases, giving the house a glorious scent. In NJ, I planted impatiens. I loved the look of those.

In the Phoenix area, May means the arrival of 100 degree days. Oddly enough, although I spent most of my life in the north, I love the warm weather and sunny days in Phoenix. It is hard to believe how much of an impact sunny days has on my psyche. Since I tutor, May means final exams for my students. You see, most school districts here begin school at the end of July or the beginning of August. The school year ends right before or right after Memorial Day. A few districts are on year-round school. They start back to school in the 1st half of July. Districts here have a one week fall break, 2 weeks at Christmas, and a 1 week spring break. The theory is that with a shorter summer break, more material will be retained.

What I do know is that when I was in school, that summer break meant a lot to me. It meant swimming, playing, reading, daydreaming, extra time with friends and family, and vacations. In these pandemic days with school structure and schedules all akimbo, I do hope families are able to provide that joyous cushion for their kids.

I hope kids can play and daydream and get their hopes restored if they have been worn down. But do you know what? I hope that we ALL can have some time during these days of extra daylight to get outside and get some extra vitamin D. I hope we can laugh and sing, maybe even skip. You see, it may be hard to believe, but our hearts still need to fly and dance. Our minds need affirmation and peace. We take time each day to refuel our tummies, charge our phones, and get some rest. Our hearts, minds, and thoughts need regular reassurance and affirmation, just like our phones need to be recharged. I know things are difficult some days. Even if things seem dismal, try to believe anyway. It will help recharge your heart.

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bill + settlement house



Bill’s legacy lives on in coffeeshop

Bill Sackter has been gone for more than 20 years now. He died in 1983. But his spirit lives on here at Wild Bill’s Coffeeshop in Iowa City, Iowa. Look around and you can see so many memories from the days when Bill was behind the counter.

The “Bill story” began early in the 20th century in Minneapolis. Bill was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who ran a small grocery store in a neighborhood just north of downtown Minneapolis.

By the time Bill started school it was clear his mental development was not progressing like the other children. He had the mind of someone who was about five or six. Bill later called this “cracked-mindedness.”

Life was never easy for the Sackter family. But it became even harder after Bill’s dad died.

Because of Bill’s limited development, it was recommended that he be put into an institution. So for nearly 50 years, Bill lived at a state mental hospital in Minnesota.

Bill was released in the 1960s, one of hundreds of people who were returned to
communities around Minnesota. Bill was sent back to Minneapolis and lived in a group home.

A few years later, Bill met Barry Morrow, a college student at the University of Minnesota and community worker at Margaret Barry House, a settlement house in Minneapolis. Barry and his wife, Bev, actually lived at the settlement.

Bev worked in the restaurant at a country club, also in Minneapolis. Bill worked there, too.

Barry would come to pick up Bev from work and would see Bill in the front
window. They eventually met at a party for all of the country club employees.

A friendship blossomed and Bill became a part of Barry and Bev’s family.

During this same time Barry was finishing up some classes at the University of Minnesota. One of his teachers was Tom Walz, who headed up something called the Living Learning Center.

(There are many stories about Tom Walz at Minnesota; perhaps as many as there are at the University of Iowa. Many of those stories are true. But that’s a topic for another column.)

Tom Walz left Minnesota and came to the University of Iowa to head the School of Social Work. He recruited Barry to come along.

Barry and Bev came to Iowa 30 years ago; Bill followed shortly after. At some point, they all decided Bill should have a job in Iowa City.

That led to the coffeeshop inside the School of Social Work — the one which is still here today.

It also led to a movie called, simply, “Bill.” It was Barry’s first movie and
eloquently tells the story of Bill Sackter’s life up to the opening of the
coffeeshop. A second movie, “Bill On His Own,” followed two years later in
1983. It focuses more on Bill’s life in the coffeeshop. Mickey Rooney played
the part of Bill in both movies.

There is a book about Bill, too. Called “The Unlikely Celebrity,” it was written by Tom Walz and published in 1999.

Bill’s story has also been told as part of theater productions in Minneapolis and in Iowa City. The Minneapolis show was at the Capri Theatre; the Iowa show at Bill’s coffeeshop.

Barry today lives in Santa Barbara and continues work as a screenwriter. His
best-known film is “Rainman,” which is the reason for the poster of that movie
at the coffeeshop door.

Tom Walz has retired from the UI School of Social Work, but has started a new career as director of Uptown Bill’s, a crosstown cousin of the original Bill’s Coffeeshop. Now three years old, this venture includes not only a coffeeshop but a bookstore, an antique shop and other businesses.

Continuing in the spirit of Bill Sackter, both original Bill’s and Uptown Bill’s employ individuals with disabilities from the community. Both Bill’s also offer volunteer opportunities for students and others interested in strengthening their “abilities awareness.”

That’s the “Bill story” up to now. There’s sure to be a lot more to come.

posted by Tom Gilsenan @ 4:08 PM


  • At 5:23 PM, February 24, 2006, Anonymous Erica Hardy said…
    Bill’s legacy lives on in the coffeeshop is a neat story. I have never heard of something so amazing. Bill sounded like an amazing guy who looked at the world from a different perpective. Bill had limited development, I wonder how he survived in an mental hospital. I have heard if you are in a state mental hospital that you most likely would not get better, but sometimes even get worse. Most patients who are in there arelifers. Bill was able to keep a good relationship with Barry and Bev’s family. Thank you for sharing this remarkable story. These stories about “Abilities Awareness” are enjoyable to read and to share with other people. This makes people look at their life and realize that they really don’t have it that bad.
  • At 8:31 PM, February 24, 2006, Blogger Tom Gilsenan said…
    The original idea of state hospitals was to teach life skills and then return individuals to the community. We’ll talk more about that original vision in our class. We’ll find out about Dorothea Dix, who was a pioneer in this field.
    Unfortunately, most people who ended up in those big hospitals never left. We’ll talk about why that happened, too.
    You are right, IQ tests of those sent to state hospitals generally went down the longer they stayed. That has actually documented in the case of Bill.
  • At 1:01 PM, March 22, 2006, Anonymous becky heintzman said…
    the book started off on a slow note in my perspective. once i got into it i liked the story. he was a strong man and i thought it was neat how even though he had a disability he stood up and took care of many others. he would often put others before himself, he would eat cold food just so he could make sure the others got to eat. he took better care of others than the workers did. he didn’t seem to get down on himself or other things. i don’t think i would have ever survived living in a place like that. i also thought it was great how people would step up and care for him and didn’t act like it was a burdon to them.
  • At 9:28 AM, March 24, 2006, Blogger Tom Gilsenan said…
    I wonder if Bill’s “helping role” — taking care of others — is one of the reasons he stayed so long at Faribault state hospital. He played such a valuable role in humanzing the institution.
  • At 11:21 PM, March 28, 2006, Blogger Reyanne Nicole said…
    While reading the Unlikely Celebrity it was hard for me to imagine what Bill went through all of those years. I have searched different websites about the Faribault Hospital and not to my surprise there was not much negative to be said about it. I find it so interesting that sometimes the real truth is hard to find unless you read a story like Bill’s. Another good example of what went on in state hospitals is Christmas in Purgatory. I have seen the horrific pictures that were taken in these institutions and could not fathom ever having to have lived there.

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Just one cup of coffee a day?

I was thinking about coffee this morning. I love coffee. I come by that honestly. My dad’s side of the family is 100% Norwegian-American. My mom’s side of the family is 100% Irish-American. Both sides loved coffee. I don’t recall anyone drinking tea, other than an occasional iced tea in the summer.
I never drank coffee until my junior year of college, during the semester I spent in Rome. My very first cup of coffee was an espresso! I know, hard core!! I quickly switched to cappuccino, I loved the sweetness and foam. Ever since, I drink coffee with milk, or cream, or unsweetened almond milk.
My dad’s family and my parents drank their coffee black. My mom’s parents used milk. I don’t recall how the rest of her family drank their coffee.
What I do recall is that my dad’s family drank a LOT of coffee. In all honesty, I do, too. By early afternoon, I do switch to decaffeinated. I don’t think they did.
I saw something the other day that said to have just one cup of coffee a day. IMPOSSIBLE, I said. And then I remembered I can do anything if I set my mind to it.
TA-DA!!! I have an ENORMOUS mug ~ it is meant to be a BIG soup mug or popcorn bowl. Yes, one cup a day!

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How are you today?

Today i am feeling reflective. I have been thinking about the ups and downs of life. With all that is going on in the country and the world, my perennial optimism has been squeezed and squished, ALMOST eliminated.

The emphasis is on almost. The more I see on social media and the news, the more i realize how important it is for me to have a personal filter. My personal filter is based on faith, love, hope, and wisdom.

I do not want to get into any specific political views. Why? My reason is that I just want to hope. I want to live my life with kindness and love.

All I can do, in my own life, is to stick to my own path. I must continue to believe that God has me in His sheltering arms, no matter what.

It is of paramount importance to me that I focus on the good in people.

My parents raised me to make a difference. If I griped to them about things not being right in the world or people being nasty, they would remind me that I must go first. They said maybe others would change, improve, become kinder and more loving. Even if they don’t, the balance of the world shifts with each person who loves.

Anger, cynicism, and bitterness do not serve me well. They rip my heart, soul, and spirit apart. So each day throughout this past 12 months, I have been attempting to wrap myself in faith, hope, and love. Some days I find myself shivering in a world that feels cold at times.

Of course, I keep all of you in my prayers. Be the light, my friends. The light keeps us warm.

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Mama’s Counterpane and Me

I started reading when I was very young . I was 3 or 4 years old. I credit my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents for this. They were all voracious readers. They were all huge fans of libraries, as they didn’t have the money to buy many books

Since I was the first born on both sides of the family, someone was almost always reading aloud to me. My mother loved stories and poetry. Longfellow and Stevenson were two of her favorites.

One of her favorite poems was “The Land of Counterpane by Robert Louis Stevenson. You see, when she was a young girl (elementary school age) she was quite ill and was convalescing at home for almost a year. Thus, this poem had special meaning to her. Her mom recited or read it to her many times that year. As a result, it is one of my many favorites, too. Do you have any favorite poems? Here are the first and last stanzas of the poem.

The Land of Counterpane.

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head.
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane

The very first book I ever received as a gift was “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson. I still have it and thoroughly enjoy reading the long ago words of a marvelous wordsmith. When I re-read it I am transported. Sometimes I can literally hear mom’s voice and see her smiling.

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Ballet transported me

When I was a toddler my pediatrician recommended that I take ballet. Apparently, I was extremely uncoordinated due to the fact I was born pigeon toed. I was falling over, tripping and running into things. I didn’t even walk until I was 17 mos. But I was very verbose well before I was a year old. Anyway, the doctor knew ballet would help. The “turnout” that comes through ballet could counteract my pigeon toes. I felt like a princess in my dance shoes and tutu. I took dance from age 3 or 4 until 16. I have said many times that I have no idea if I was actually any good at dance. What I do know is that I felt like I was dancing exactly like my teacher. It was marvelous and heavenly. I loved it. i joyfully practiced every day. We ALL should have something that makes us feel that good. Recently I spoke with an aunt on the phone. She was recalling my toddler dance days. She said watching me dance was the funniest thing she ever saw. She said I was obviously clueless as to how “not with the program” I was. That took me by surprise as I have said, in my own mind I was a fabulous dancer. Was I hurt by her comment? I was shocked to discover that I was a little surprised, but I wasn’t hurt. I realized what mattered was how I felt as I danced. I was transported. Nothing removes that feeling. What transports you?

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Do you remember who your first friends were?

In these COVID days, I have been thinking a lot. I have been thinking about friendships and family. It is funny. Sometimes friendships begin because your teacher’s seating chart places you next to someone who turns out to be “a kindred spirit” as Anne of Green Gables so aptly expressed it. Sometimes you meet in a shared extra curricular activity like sports, scouts, dance, band, or youth group. Naturally, your siblings (with any luck at all) — and their spouses are friends as well.

But really, some friendships begin because they are siblings or cousins. For me, I had cousins for 5 years before I had brothers. I was the first born on both sides of my family. My parents adored their siblings and their children, as did I. So my first cousins (all 45 of them) and their spouses, and their children, and in some cases, their children’s children are my forever friends.

You had better believe, in this day and age that when of them cries, I taste salt. When one of them hurts, I want to comfort them. I learned from my cousins and brothers what love, loyalty, and friendship really mean.

Until I breathe my very last breath, this tribe gives me strength. This tribe modeled for me what a true tribe is. Thus, the friendships I formed outside of my family follow a similar pattern. Constancy and seeing the best in each other helps cement friendships and family. These tribes know my heart. They know my shortcomings and stumbles. Of course they do. But they also know my good points.

Today I am especially grateful for cousins.  I pray that you have tribes who affirm you exactly when and how you need it.

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Mama’s Button Tin

When I was growing up, my parents “made do”. My mom made all of our clothes except for socks, underwear, and shoes. She did make our slippers, though. She could see an article of clothing in an ad or hanging on a rack in a store and she could make it.

They found free or almost no cost activities (dance, (acrobatics for my brothers), piano). My mom and her friends and relatives would pass clothing back and forth, handing them down to the next kids. Often mama would do various tasks like typing report cards, handling billing, mimeographing, sewing costumes in exchange for lessons. Any article of clothing that wore out was cut up, using the unworn fabric for other articles of clothing, napkins, or quilts. To that end, every single button, reusable trim or elastic,  and zipper was reused. At her side throughout my childhood I got to remove the buttons, zippers, lace, rickrack, eyelet, and elastic! I would take each button and place it in this totally amazing tin.

Mama’s button tin was shaped like a hexagon. It said America the Beautiful on it. It had various scenes on it ~ such as “beautiful mountains majesty” “amber waves of grain”, and “sea to shining sea”. Oh how I loved that tin. We would talk about God’s beautiful creation, imagine what it would be like to instantly go to each of those places. Sometimes I would take many of the buttons back out and we would talk about what article of clothing they came from. Buttons are expensive to buy and so are zippers and other notions. So each thing we saved and repurposed had meaning and value. Meaning because of the memories. Value because of the memories and the money saved.

When I imagine that tin to this very day, I can picture my mom and me. I was usually sitting on the floor at her feet. I just liked that. We would merrily chatter away about anything and everything. To some people it may just be a pile of buttons. To me. . . it is a heart full of hope, joy, dreams, and memories. I do not have the tin, but I sure can picture it and the buttons.

Memories are sometimes all we have. Mama’s Button Tin held a lifetime of memories. That makes them all the more precious. Do you have memories like that?

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What renews your mind and heart

I was talking on the phone with one of my uncles today. He is so sweet and kind. So are all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. At certain parts of my life I have been blessed to live in the same town as some of my extended family. At other times in the same town as my own parents and siblings. What strikes me is this. At those times, Sunday dinner, birthday celebrations, and other holidays were celebrated en masse. What renewing times those often were. I have often said that cousins are the original best friends. In looking over the years at my own cousins and my husbands cousins, I cannot recall a single disagreement. I can recall total acceptance. I recall feeling uplifted and encouraged. I feel the same way about my aunts and uncles. They all renew my heart and mind.

These days I do not live in the same town as any of them. Phone, letters, facebook, and text are the only way we connect. As a result, I feel far less renewed. Granted, there are always people who judge me and you. Life gives you no shortage of those. Some people just make you feel like you aren’t good enough or important enough. But then along comes a call with my uncle Ray, my uncle Jim, my sister-in-law Jayne, a text from various cousins a cool Pm from my brother, Mike, various messages from so many…. how can I not be restored, renewed, and rebuilt?

I am blessed so deeply. I have been messaging back and forth with a dear friend of mine. We have been girlfriends since we were young teens. She is in a health battle right now and oh my goodness do I wish I could dissolve the miles between us and cook for her and just be there beside her in this battle. Another friend is in a similar battle thousands of miles away as well. I want to lighten their loads. I want to help them renew and restore from afar. Prayer, texts, and  the like are all I can give. Aren’t we blessed by technology at times?

Laughter and nature renew and restore me as well. Music, art, relaxation, cooking give me a boost. In this crazy year, we all need encouragement. So today I send you as much encouragement as I can muster. Be gentle with yourselves, precious readers.

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The wonder of sweet dogs

Copied this, it touched me..i see my friends and relatives who have dogs (and cats) in this …

When I am old…

When I am old…
I will wear soft gray sweatshirts…
and a bandana over my silver hair…..
and I will spend my social security checks on wine and my dogs.

I will sit in my house on my well-worn chair and listen
to my dogs’ breathing.

I will sneak out in the middle of a warm summer night
and take my dogs for a run, if my old bones will allow…

When people come to call,
I will smile and nod as I show them my dogs…
and talk of them and about them…
….the ones so beloved of the past
and the ones so beloved of today….

I will still work hard cleaning after them, mopping
and feeding them
and whispering their names in a soft loving way.
I will wear the gleaming sweat on my throat, like a
jewel and I will be an embarrassment to all…
especially my family…
who have not yet found the peace
in being free to have dogs as your best friends….

These friends who always wait, at any hour, for your footfall…
and eagerly jump to their feet out of a sound sleep, to greet you as if you are a God.
With warm eyes full of adoring love and hope that you will always stay,
I’ll hug their big strong necks…
I’ll kiss their dear sweet heads…
and whisper in their very special company….

I look in the Mirror…
and see I am getting old….
this is the kind of person I am…
and have always been.

Loving dogs is easy,
they are part of me.
Please accept me for who I am.
My dogs appreciate my presence in their lives…
they love my presence in their lives……
When I am old this will be important to me…
you will understand when you are old….
if you have dogs to love too.

~Author Unknown

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God not forget

If you are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, downhearted, or even apathetic, please remember that no desert is infinite. Deserts end, mountaintops are reached, storms and floods end. Perseverance is a challenge. But we can persevere. Even though our deserts continue today, along the path there are and will be some shaded areas and oases. These moments of respite, and supportive times with understanding people do help us endure, don’t they?
Reach out, open up, offer support or ask for support from those who care. Remember, too that it is in giving that we receive. So if you feel alone, help someone. Volunteer somewhere. It will give you new direction and purpose. There are so many people in need, and it is good to fulfill a purpose outside of yourself or your own problems.

Sometimes feelings precede knowledge. Sometimes knowledge precedes feelings.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones”. (Proverbs 17:22)

So during our tough days, if we try to find something that makes our heart merry, it is good medicine. It could be something as simple as gazing at something beautiful in nature like a flower, bird, or tree. It could be making some cookies to a shut-in, or just a neighbor. It could even be something like cleaning a room, organizing a cupboard, or planting some flowers! If our hearts become a little merrier, the sorrow will lift a bit, and we will be strengthened. If we haven’t been able to sense God standing near, we may be quite surprised to realize that He is there!

Many years ago, a friend of mine reassured me with these wonderful words: “God not forget”. He was right. God does not forget. He sees our skinned knees. He picks us up; we pick each other up. We know how to be like the Good Samaritan. We know how to be like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son. Others know how to do that for us, too. We are in this together. We are not alone. I wish you love and hope today.-
@kate henderson kresse

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here comes the 4th of July

The 4th of July was a BIG DEAL in my family. My family had so many traditions, so many traditions. I could write multiple posts about that. There were 5 of us when I was growing up. My parents, my 2 brothers, and me. Only one brother and I are left now of the fearless 5. So some of the traditions mean even more, especially since they are gone. Anyway, in this covid, quarantine year, I wanted to repost a special blog post. I hope you like it. I hope you are in good health.


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Welcome to Phoenix in Summer

This is how you know you are in Phoenix in any summer month when…

*The birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.
*The trees (same height as fire plugs) are whistling for the dogs.
*The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
*Hot water now comes out of both taps.
*Your electric bill is higher that your BMW payment would be.
*You can’t fry an egg on the sidewalk, they only burn.
*Planes are actually grounded for excessive heat.
*You can make sun tea instantly.
*You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
*The temperature drops below 110 and you feel a little chilly.
*You discover that in July it doesn’t really take fingers to steer your car.

*You discover that you can get sunburned through tinted car windows.
*With no A/C, it is still hotter with the car windows down than up.
*The weather service doesn’t issue excessive heat advisory til we pass 115F.
*You actually burn your hand opening the car door.
*Your car key is burning hot when you remove it from the ignition.
*You walk outside at midnight and it is still 112F
*You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 6:30AM!
Your biggest outdoor fear is, “What if get knocked out and end up lying on the *pavement and cook to death?
*You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
*The cows are giving evaporated milk.
This is a great place to live. god bless Phoenix. God bless whoever invented air conditioning!!


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Poems that my parents taught us

When I was growing up, my parents often quoted poetry to us. They did this to inspire, reassure, and at times bring humor to our lives. When they were in school, they were required to memorize all kinds of poems. In school we did this as well, but not as often.  They remembered these poems forever. In addition, they passed on other poems. My mom was especially fond of Stevenson and A Child’s Garden of verses. That was actually the first book I owned. She dearly loved Longfellow’s The Children’s Hour and recited it so often to and with me that it is forever in my heart.  Daddy LOVED Shakespeare. He had a wonderful sense of humor and dearly loved The Cremation of Sam Legee.

Both of my parents loved and recited Invictus. They quoted it frequently to kick us out of doldrums or help us be stronger. Today, a friend posted that her mom just passed on and that Invictus was a favorite poem of her mom  too. Isn’t it funny how poetry, music, and art weave our life tapestry?

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

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Yay! Thursday is my favorite day!

Starting sometime in high school (a LONG time ago), Thursdays became my favorite day. School was pretty much always my happy place. I loved it. I loved the give and take between teachers and students. Teachers inspired me. Academics came pretty easily to me, especially in high school. College was much more challenging and grad school … was a constant marathon!

Back to my point. Here is why Thursday became my favorite. By Thursday I was typically completely in my groove! Plus I still had the joy of being there 2 more days (Thursday and Friday). I loved the structure of school. I suppose that is odd to many people. But to me, it was perfect! I love books, desks, office supplies, raising my hand and getting to answer questions! In high school, I especially loved rainy or snowy Thursdays. They seemed especially cozy. However, in later years I lived in Ohio for many years. It happens to be cloudy there a lot. So now, I am no longer enamoured with clouds. I love my sunny Arizona. As a matter of fact, in Phoenix we get over 300 days of full sun. I love that!!

These days I am not in school, nor am I in an office.  For that matter, all of my business is currently conducted online. so the rhythm is  different. Yet, my love for Thursday remains the same. Perhaps it is because I see that mental finish line coming up and realize I am about to complete another race. This morning it really hit home as I was walking my dogs. We got out early because it was GORGEOUS out this morning. Later today it could reach over 100 degrees again. That is pretty hot for their sweet paws.

I do my cooking ahead of time. My freezer is stocked with precooked proteins. What do I mean by that? Early in the morning, I may cook some chicken or a roast (beef or pork). Once it is cooled I slice it up. Some goes in the fridge for lunch or dinner for that day or the next. The rest I put into portions, label it and pop it in the freezer for a future date. I then use it some other day. I might use it in a salad, or alongside some veggies. You see, the “plan” we are on for electricity charges way more to use electricity from 3pm to 6pm weekdays. Thus, we try not to do things that will require more air conditioning during those times. That is my solution. Plus, there are just 3 of us, so I often cook a large amount and save some for another day,

Do you do something like that these days? We aren’t going out to restaurants these days and only very rarely do we get takeout. Thus, we are doing a lot of cooking! Fortunately, we have been able to get the food we need.  So this Thursday, I am especially grateful for the chance to cook, have meals ready for my family, and the chance to be at a slower pace.

Staying at home definitely has its benefits, as far as I am concerned. I hope you have a FABULOUS Thursday. Sending you prayers and safe distance hugs. xo

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A guest post

do you like photography? Did you like fairy tales and using your imagination when you were growing up? This guest post will appeal to you.



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Sometimes my inner tigger gets eeyore ish

I suppose it happens to all of us. There are times when I am just dragging. On those days, I just want the burdens on my back or in my heart to lift or fly away. There really is no rhyme nor reason to it. It isn’t that suddenly there is a whole lot weighing me down. Perhaps I just get careworn. Jesus had times like that, too. He would leave the apostles and go to a quiet place and regroup. He would go and commune with the Father. I have excuses regarding why I cannot take that time. You know how that is. I have multiple things I need to get done. But if I do not take the time to regroup, it does not go well at all. That is when I reach the end of the day and I have no sparkle.

That is definitely not me. Those of you who have known me for a long time (online or in real life) know that these valleys and hilltops are regular patterns. I just get so busy being a caretaker, or running my business, or just the usual tasks of life that I put myself last. Yes, it is a necessity. But really, I need to reprogram myself. By now I do actually realize that I have lost my inner Tigger because I forgot what makes me bounce with joy.

Do you know what it is? It is being truly aware with my whole being that God is walking beside me. I am never alone. Yes, lately I have felt alone. Why? I have felt alone because I have isolated during this pandemic. I have felt alone because there are many more responsibilities weighing on me than usual. Note, I am not getting more done! I am procrastinating more!

This is laughable because I know doggone well that when I procrastinate, I feel like a failure. When I feel like a failure, I turn into an Eeyore! Yet, if I take some time in prayer and outdoor activities, such as exercise and just getting sunshine, I still have not completed my procrastinated tasks, but i have lifted my stress.

In order to live joyfully, we have GOT to take care of ourselves, too. These days, that can mean interacting on a blog, facebook, zoom, on the phone. We need each other more than we ever have before. At least that is the case for me.

I am struggling with all of this, because my mom and dad are now long gone. One of my brothers is gone, and that sister-in-law is occupied with so many responsibilities. My other brother and his wife are in a new town and have so much to handle. My husband’s brothers and their wives have so very much to handle as well.

I feel more isolated than I expected to at this point in my life. I have more cares and responsibilities these days yet many of my past sounding boards are no longer available. I just keep barreling along and I keep running out of oomph. So if you have been feeling this way, I understand. Boy do I understand. I hope and pray that you do not stay isolated. I hope and pray that we each rebuild any lost joy. I hope that this evening finds you aware that there is hope. I am meandering in my thoughts, so I will just end it here. You are loved.

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Make music with what we have left

The Greatest Generation came of age, of course, during the Great Depression. They sacrificed. They went without  They made do. They did what had to be done. When things got better, they never took affluence for granted. The following story really struck a chord with me.

A very dear friend shared this this morning and I just had to pass it along. Life, it’s what we make it, right? We all have challenges, it’s how we face them. I know so many times in my life I’ve just wanted to escape, and then I read a story like this and it helps me remember just how blessed I am.

This post I am sharing is from a Huntington’s💙 disease group I belong to, since May is Huntington’s disease💙 awareness month, and with what is going on in the world, this story is beautiful, the words in it hold so much meaning …..
Enjoy and be inspired⤵️

Since May is HD Awareness month I want to share an inspirational story that I use whenever speaking to HD groups or for inservice presentations. It continues to inspire everyone who has lost their 4th string to HD or JHD. I hope this true story will inspire you too!

Three Strings

“On November 18, 1995 Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches.

To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is a sight. He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.

By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.

But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap – it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.

People who were there that night thought to themselves: “We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage – to either find another violin or else find another string for this one.”

But he didn’t. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. You could see him modulating, changing, and recomposing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.

When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering; doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.

He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said, not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone, “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind ever since I heard it.

And who knows?

Perhaps that is the way of life – not just for artists but for all of us. Here is a man who has prepared all his life to make music on a violin of four strings, who, all of a sudden, in the middle of a concert, finds himself with only three strings. So he makes music with three strings, and the music he made that night with just three strings was more beautiful, more sacred, more memorable, than any that he had ever made before, when he had four strings.

So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left.”
(Jack Riemer, Houston Chronicle)

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A conversation with God

I chat with God about so many things. I bet you do, too. I saw a post recently that really comforted me. I find that some days, I need comfort and inspiration. Thus, I assume I am not the only one who needs comfort and inspiration. This may help.

Much needed words:

Me: Hey God.
God: Hello…..
Me: I’m falling apart. Can you put me back together?
God: I would rather not.
Me: Why?
God: Because you aren’t a puzzle.
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.
Me: You don’t understand! I’m breaking down!
God: No – you don’t understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You aren’t falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don’t need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don’t fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?
God: Only the very best pieces of you.
Me: I’m scared of changing.
God: I keep telling you – YOU AREN’T CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don’t change! … Become! Become! Become who I made you to be. I’m going to keep telling you this until you remember it.
Me: There goes another piece.
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So … I’m not broken?
God: Of course Not! – but you are breaking like the dawn. It’s a new day. Become!!!
~Author Unknown

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God needs our hands

Happy Sunday to you. Are you feeling adrift or directionless?

These first words were written by St Teresa of Avila, in the 14th Century.

“God has no hands but our hands to do his work today;

God has no feet but our feet to lead others in his way;

God has no voice but our voice to tell others how he died;

and God has no help but our help to lead them to his side.”

Lord, today help me to be your hands, your feet, your voice, your helper.

You might feel that you do not or cannot make a difference.  I beg to differ. I am betting that you already have made a difference. I hope that today you get the chance to do something for someone. You are a treasure. Take care of yourself.

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