Thinking about moving mom (or an elderly relative or friend) to assisted living? As a special offer, I am making one of my popular blog series available free as a PDF to my newsletter subscribers. Current subscribers will receive their free copy in the February newsletter. New subscribers will receive their copy when they sign-up.
This short guide offers insights on factors to consider when you face moving an aging relative. Many of us will have to make this call for our parents. Our culture does not make this an easy conversation. This guide helps you identify the signs that your relative or friend can no longer live independently. It offers suggestions for the tough conversation ahead and a checklist to help you manage your new responsibility.
Written in anecdotal form with warmth and humor, Moving Mom offers the words of an encouraging friend, letting you know about the blessings that abound at the end of this difficult road.Read More»
Are you preserving your family stories? They say that after we die, we will live on in cyberspace. I heard this in a TED talk: unlike past generations, we have a digital footprint that will last an eternity. Certainly technology has allowed us to be present to our family and friends, even beyond death. We continue to post comments on the Facebook pages of long buried loved ones. But is it really so different from talking to them prayer? Only in the sense that our conversation is public.
Private or public, we have stories to tell–memories of mothers and fathers we miss, or young people who left life too soon; perspectives on how we came to be the people we are; documentation of the people, places, and things that have formed the culture of our individual tribes. We are the caretakers.
Collective wisdom holds that we remember our forbears to the third generation, but genealogy records now grant access to ancestral events we can use to create stories that help us understand who we are. And that creates a challenge. How much digging do we want to do, and how seriously do we want to take a responsibility to tell our own stories to the generations to come?Read More»
Five months into my great giveaway project, I am lighter by approximately 150 household items. In the process I’ve freed up shelf and drawer space that I’m not refilling.
Add to the list of stuff I’ve tossed the accounts I’ve closed, subscriptions I’ve stopped, and apps I’ve deleted. I’ve freed up a bit of mind space as well.
Life is starting to feel a little less insane.
As a bonus, I’m learning lessons about motivation that I’d like to share.
Bend the rules to adjust to new realitiesRead More»
Seeking my best self, “I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” Remember that ditty? I had a flashback to the Sixties when writer and educator David Dark challenged those who, in their quest to be widely read and greatly admired, evade the hard work of discovery. He exhorted us to dig more deeply into our attention collection. “Have you experienced your experience yet?” he asked.
We sat on uncomfortable chairs in the majestic chapel on the campus of Calvin College, light glinting off warm wood wall paneling, pens chasing furiously across notebook pages dense with run on sentences, the length of which were completely inadequate to capture the inner workings of the Dark mind.
Finding your best self is slow work
Dark suggested we take time to narrate our own lives, to listen for our voice in the stories others tell. In an I Heard the Owl Call My Name, moment, I heard my own voice reflected in “What’s It All About, Alfie” existential despair.
To prepare for the Festival of Faith and Writing, I was watching a small film, Something, Anything. Stretched out in 90 degree weather, in Arizona, on an overstuffed leather couch that squeaks, I emerged from a heated stupor when the main character Peggy popped the exact same question I had asked at her age, one I’d never heard anyone else voice before. What is the point of pouring your life out in menial labor to raise the next generation, only to have them turn around and do the very same, et cetera, and so on, and so forth? (My words not Peggy’s, but same concern.)Read More»
Reading books written in or about past eras brings perspective to present day conundrums. Is America more polarized than ever? Not according to Lidie Newton’s experience in the Kansas Territory of 1850. At that time, the issue that divided the country was slavery. Smiley’s engaging narrative explores the challenges of trying to live peacefully among people who are passionate on two sides of an issue, where morality, social and economic drivers, family relationships, and self-interest are hopelessly tangled.
Smiley does a masterful job of presenting her young heroine’s dilemma against a backdrop of history. How do we communicate in a hostile environment? What is at stake? When is it time to take action? Lydie’s reluctance to commit one way or the other may not be admirable, but her confusion is genuine. Readers who enjoy the adventure of survival against the odds and the challenge of thinking through moral dilemmas will like the book.
Jane Smiley has just written a sweeping new saga that spans 1919 to 2019. Read about it on LitHub
Creative Adventure–Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Sometimes we get bogged down by expectations–our own and others– and we forget our first love. Does the world need another writing book? Perhaps not, but I needed this book to remind me creative expression is the love that drove me to write. Elizabeth Gilbert gives us bite-sized readings in six sections that map to attributes of creativity.
I used this book in my morning devotional reading. The readings inspired me, reassured me, and made me laugh. At once reverent and irreverent, Gilbert tackles the myth of suffering for one’s art with cheerful aplomb. If you have lost your joy, you will find it again among these pages. Gilbert tells stories that a poke us in the ribs and invite us to lighten up. her dialogue between the Martyr and the Trickster is a hoot! Big Magic is big fun–conversational in tone, engaging in manner, and energizing in purpose.
Places I call home stretch from the California coast to the Sonoran desert. The textures of my worlds are soft redwood bark, gnarled oakwood, and crunchy pine needle carpets, sand and sea, spiny cactus that house wrens, sport vivid blooms in season, and give mute testimony to nature’s resilience.
The north central part of Arkansas features woodsy ridges, stone bluffs, and quiet cow pastures dotted with ponds. Except for the early spring dogwoods that show off like debutantes assured of the spotlight, there’s a preternatural stillness in the countryside. In town, there’s a sameness that mystifies me. Little changes year to year.
In my world, speech rapid fires information at people. I can’t be in the Ozarks for five minutes before my speech wants to shift into low gear and enjoy the ride. Words stretch out in the air, elongating around the vowels. Sentences hang out a bit or repeat themselves for effect, inviting listeners to “come on in and set a spell.” If you adjust to the languor, it can be delightful change of pace.Read More»