Brushstrokes

So I painted this picture. The online class instructor suggested that we take pictures of the piece as we painted. That was excellent counsel. Looking back at the progression of this picture, I was reminded of the Master’s hand. I said in an earlier post, this grief art therapy is taking me to places I […]

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I’d Rather Paint

I’m finding the creative arts to be therapeutic during this season of grief. I’m exploring acrylics, watercolors, and writing. I’ve never been one to write in journals. But my heart needed to put my thoughts on paper. I couldn’t find a journal that suited me. I ordered several and returned them all. I created and […]

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Grief Witnessed

A few weeks back, I had to drop off some documents at a local business. The woman who took the papers from me talked briefly, and then tears rolled down her cheeks. She said, “Jon would walk in and come back to my desk. He was always so friendly, and we would just talk for […]

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Chaotic Cluttered Crazy Grief

It’s been eight months. I plan to clean out the bathroom today. All the shelves and all the drawers. It’s been on my to-do list for over a week. I keep “arrowing” it over to the next day. And then the next. But I think today is the day. And to be fair, 75 percent […]

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Beyond the Shadowlands

I watched Shadowlands this past weekend — part of the story of C. S. Lewis. I actually didn’t know what I was signing up for when I rented the movie, but recently I had watched Anthony Hopkins in another movie, The Father (also an ambush), and was intrigued by this actor. Shadowlands was such a […]

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I miss his voice

My husband had been gone for a little over a month, and the adrenaline shock was wearing off. No longer was I frantically finding “his” chores to do around the house. I had become lethargic and depressed, feeling lost and alone. A few days into my slump, unable to sleep and feeling distraught, I got […]

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It’s okay to just let it be hard

I have attempted to be pro-active when it comes to special dates and my grief. My husband always wrote hand-written notes inside of the cards he gave me as well as underlining anything meaningful. I have saved them all (all? I hope so. I’m praying I still find a box or two hidden away somewhere […]

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Who’s Driving my bus?

My bus is stuck in the mud this week. Fear, the bus driver, doesn’t seem to be very confident of getting out of this mess soon. He appears to be paralyzed by the situation. Maybe not completely idle; is wallowing an action? He has provided food and drink for those of us along for the […]

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It’s Hard To Hold All The Grief

[We]… equate healing with doing something. When we have a problem, we fix it, and we prefer to do it quickly. But fixing is not the same as healing; in fact it can easily get in the way of healing…Healing happens not through doing but through feeling. — E. frattaroli Heavy. Hard. Scary. Hope. Those […]

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recipe for raw grief

I’m reading a book by Joanne Cacciatore, Bearing the Unbearable. With her permission, I may from time to time post a passage that I find meaningful. I may write about my own grief as well, but right now my brain can’t fully compute and words are just jumbled in my head. Grief is a tricky […]

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Since We Have Never Traveled This Way Before…

I have two church bulletins from 2019 tucked in the back of my daytimer.  These bulletins are filled with handwritten notes. The sermons spoke to me then, and continue to speak to me to this day, and I occasionally pull them out to review the lessons. The interesting thing about these two sermons, which were […]

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Mind Games of Time And the Meaning of Urgency

Do you ever play games in your mind?  You know, like this is one… We relocated to a new city 8 years ago. 8 years!  It seems like 3. How did that happen? And so (the game)… when the next 8 years whiz by, it will be the year 2028 (almost)! That number looks odd. […]

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What Do I Do With I’ve Been Given

I have not had enough empathy for people in chronic pain. The week before Mother’s Day, I injured my back — somehow.  I don’t really know when or how, but trust me I’m down for the count. It toyed with me for about 6 weeks, mostly just disrupting my sleep, but in week 7, it […]

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Antonyms Can Move Me To Action

Joining up with Five Minute Friday this week (for the first time in ages) with the prompt: opportunity. A set of circumstances that allows me to do something I want to do or have to do. That’s how most dictionaries describe the word opportunity. That sounds simple enough, right? Here’s the opportunity, go for it! […]

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Distraction Produces Less Than The Best

We sat around the table reminiscing about childhood school experiences. And as you would guess, there was a mixture of laughter and shock as my daughters shared their memories. During a rare break in the chatter, daughter Number 3 said, “This is crazy, but one of the biggest lessons I learned in school was in […]

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The Sky IS Spilling Over

Joining up with Five Minute Friday this week on the prompt:  rain Those 4 letters were once just a common word in my vocabulary that described the weather.  The word was neither good nor bad.  It just was.  It rained.  Or it didn’t rain.  I never gave it much thought. And then my husband became […]

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I Listen Because I Call Them My Own

I caught myself sending up a prayer yesterday, “God….” I say “caught” because when I heard my voice, after that one word, I stopped.  Seriously?  Was I going to talk to God that way? I thought about that prayer the rest of the day.  Mind you, there is nothing wrong with addressing God by using […]

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Finding Their Creativity at 85 years-old

As I placed the watercolor paint pots on the table, I heard a few moans from around the table.  “Where are our markers?” was the question of the day. Earlier in the summer, trying to save myself some prep time for each class, I searched for a way to get my pictures onto the canvas […]

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Blessed To Do Art With My Favorite People

“Those paintings look so different,” my sister said when I showed her a recent photo from a Cookies & Canvas session.  That made me laugh because although Cookies & Canvas is indeed a “step by step, follow the leader” type of paint class, everyone’s finished picture is unique.  I tend to follow the rules and […]

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Sacrifice, Surrender and Survival

Recently I discovered a wonderful new blog, The Perennial Gen.  The creators of this blog hope to reach out to women in mid-life and beyond.  I copied part of their mission statement and  placed it below because I wanted you to understand why I was drawn to these women, and why I wanted to write […]

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The Wonder Years by Leslie Leyand Fields – Book Giveaway!

  I attended a conference recently where I had the privilege of listening to a dozen women recite the essay they contributed to Leslie Leyland Fields’ newest book, The Wonder Years.  It was such a fun evening, as women talked on aging, faith, beauty, strength — and training bras! In three thematic sections – -Firsts, […]

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5 Reasons Why I Love To Paint With My Mother

If you are following my blog, by now you know I’ve fallen in love with this simple painting class I facilitate at my mother’s assisted living home.   I didn’t want to do it.  I did it for her.  But the joke is on me because  I’m crazy about this class — and these women.  I […]

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Painting Atomic Age Art Stirs Memories For Seniors

During the last class in February, as I was setting up the art supplies, the administrator asked if she could talk with me for a minute.  As I laid the last of the paints on the table, I followed her into the hallway, assuming she wanted to talk in private about something concerning my mother.  […]

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Living Between the Summits

A few years back, my husband and I visited Colorado Spings for the first time. As we left the airport and drove south toward the city, the snow-covered beauty of Pike’s Peak came into view. And as most likely with first time visitors, it’s summit beckoned to us. We needed to get to the top […]

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Assisted Living Residents Color Valentines for Their Sweethearts

The forecast for Friday was daunting.  The news was calling for a winter storm with 14 inches of snow threatening our area.  I texted my husband on Thursday afternoon, saying, “I think I’m just going to cancel class.”  His reply was almost instantaneous, “just wait until morning.”  I think he gets just as excited about […]

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Snowmen, Firesides, and Bookmarks — Assisted Living Art

A Snowman picture just seemed appropriate for the first art class in January at my mom’s assisted living facility.  The roads were snow-covered and the trees glistened with ice.  Brrr.  I think we should have had some hot chocolate as well.  As Loraine took her seat, she told me her daughter had taken down most […]

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Assisted Living Residents Paint My Life With Joy

As I was setting up for our first art class since the holidays, Phyllis came into the room, saying, “Connie, I want you to see something.”  As she got closer, she opened up her walker seat, and pulled out the coloring book I had given her for Christmas.  “Look!  I’ve been working on these pictures.  […]

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God Is Choosing You

I am an Old Testament girl. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to live under the law!  I’m all about God’s amazing grace, but oh, how I love that older book.  I can get lost in the stories (and drama) in the lives of those men and women. I identify with Moses, and his […]

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Senior Artists Accept Whimsical Turkey Challenge

  There were only a few moans of apprehension when my class of assisted living artists saw my example of a whimsical turkey.  “You want us to paint that”?  But once I set the canvas down in front of them, each person took a large paint brush and began to paint the background.  That’s how […]

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Seniors Embrace Art Classes

“I turned down a birthday party invitation because I didn’t want to miss art class.”  That’s what Phyllis said as she took her seat at the table.  “Oh, Phyllis, I’m sorry you’re missing a party!  I hope it wasn’t a family member.”  “No, just a good friend.”  Oh my…. I am happy that the residents […]

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This Series Was For Me

When attending a writer’s workshop, I heard an author say, ‘writing a book is like birthing a baby.’  And now, even after just  17,000 words, I get that.  I have had some labor pains as I’ve worked on this series, a few sleepless nights even.  It’s bittersweet that today is my last post for Do You […]

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We Should Be Better Prepared

As I sit here at my keys, thinking about the last couple of posts I need to write for this 31 Days series, my fingers are silent.  I promised to close out this month with a personal story about my journey of searching to belong.  And even though I’ve tried to be transparent as I’ve […]

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I Am Like Them and They Are Like Me

Today is Day #28 in this Write 31 Day challenge, Do You Belong, and I’ve invited a friend to speak in my place.  I first met Elizabeth Murphy two years ago at a writer’s conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Elizabeth is an enthusiastic encourager of women, a gifted storyteller, and an accomplished public speaker.  Elizabeth […]

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25 Ways to not BE-long

Be the center of attention Be a conversation stealer Be thinking of your answer Be a bad listener Be thinking about yourself because it’s ALL about you Be bossy Be the expert all the time Be entitled Be manipulative with flattery Be a grudge-holder Be unforgiving Be self-righteous Be right all the time Be demanding […]

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It’s Good To Be Me

One day I had lunch with an old friend, and we were catching up with everything our young adult “children” were doing.  We had been close when our children were babies, but hadn’t stayed in contact as the kids grew older (we all know how that goes — life just gets busy.)  But that day, […]

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Afraid To Be Me

Is fitting in the same as belonging?  It might be interesting to “unpack that bag” and see what we find.  I’ve quoted Brene’ Brown several times during this series, but she is the expert in the field, and no conversation about belonging is complete without her valuable research data.  Today, all quotes are from her […]

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Let’s Buy Some Whimsical Pillows

As we look around and search for our place of belonging, the world can be a very confusing place.  How can we find a place to belong when people are so divided?  Do I have to be “all in” to fit in?  Is conformity the only way?  Everything seems very sorted out.  Black and white.  […]

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Get Out There and Meet REAL People

This past summer, I attended a writers/speakers conference in Grand Rapids.  Throughout the two days duration of the conference, we were able to schedule one-on-one conversations with authors, speakers, editors, and publishers.  I was privileged to talk with 5 mentors.  Three of the 5 were what you’d typically expect from such brief professional encounters — […]

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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

My grandson loves an app called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  Do you recall that name?  It’s a spin-off from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood (1968-2001) hosted by the endearing Fred Rogers.  Funny – his Mama LOVED Mr. Rogers when she was a little girl.  Even when I thought there were more entertaining, animated TV shows to watch, she […]

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What Makes You Tick?

Recently I was challenged to define my core values.  I mean really define them.  Put them on paper, and explain in detail why they define me.  I’m not good at these games.  I don’t really like introspection very much.  Or application questions.  I just like to fill in the blanks with generalities.  So this challenge […]

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12 Tips To Make That New City Your City

I read recently about a woman who was raised in Houston, and knew that city like the back of her hand.  A job promotion moved her family to Dallas, and with a trusty GPS, she traveled around her new city with no problems.  However, after 2 years, she still didn’t really know Dallas — she […]

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Don’t Steal Someone Else’s Perfect Place

I walked into the church cafe, and as I poured my coffee, I saw a woman who is normally in my small group on Sunday mornings.  “Hey,” I said, “we missed you upstairs this morning.”  She smiled and almost giggled when she said, “I’m trying a new endeavor.  I’m helping in the children’s department.  It’s […]

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Everyone Loves Good Fruit

You will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16       The Fruit of The Spirit   As I continue with this series, Do You Belong, I am reminded of the gifts God give His children as we attempt to find our way while we are here on this earth.  Spirit-led people have these wonderful […]

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Maybe Kindness is Within Our Reach

I typed “bullying” into the search engine on YouTube and over 9 million videos were listed.  9,360,000.  I just sat there and looked at that number.  Next I turned to Amazon’s book section.  After typing “bullying” again into the search engine, I watched as 101 pages of books were listed.  Not 101 books — 101 pages of […]

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Where Shame, Mercy and Grace Collide

Shame.  Mercy.  Grace. How do all these words tie together?  And do they have anything to do with our sense of belonging? These are deep concepts that are hard to handle in a simple blog.  By a simple person.  But because my post from last week (Does That Shame Really Belong in Your Baggage) touched on these […]

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When Your People and Your Place Are New to You

During this two day hiatus from the Write 31 Days challenge, I’d like to share two books that are valuable resources if your place of belonging has actually changed to a new location on the map.  These pages offer wonderful insight during times of transition.  Both of these books will help anyone move ahead in a […]

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Once You Are Real

On this 14th day of the Write 31 Day challenge, I am sharing a quote from Margery Williams Bianco’s book.  It is a wonderful reminder that it is always easier to be real, vulnerable, and risk takers when we know we are loved. “REAL isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a […]

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Does That Shame Really Belong in Your Baggage?

When I was a sophomore in high school, a boy decided a good nick-name for me would be Tank.  That’s right, Tank.  Just what every 15 year-old girl wants to be called.  I’ve never told another living soul that until now.  I use to hide from him at school.  If I saw him in the […]

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