Enjoy life? Too much to do first!

As we all go through life, we may look around us and try to justify why we should or should not allow ourselves to do things to relax and have fun, especially if there is something else that needs to be done.

So many of us were taught that being productive is the only way to live one’s life.  Anything else is “laziness.”

Sometimes, the things that we have been taught need to be reexamined.

The all-or-nothing approach to life is not a balanced one. It is one of the reasons that so many of us seem to have  issues with balancing the all of the things we have going on in our lives. We just cannot seem to win.

When we choose to do something that is fun and breathes life into us, even when there are things that stare us in the face that need to be done, we do NOT need to feel shame and guilt for doing so.  We may even hear those damned voices loud and telling us otherwise.

So many of us have come to believe that life is “black or white,” “good or bad,” “either (this) or (that).”  Others fall in the middle with a belief that life is “gray,” all being mixtures of the two.

I have learned (and am continuing to learn) that explanations are not all that simple.

Life is BOTH black-and-white, good-and-bad, this-and-that. Recognizing this as truth allows for us to face the difficult things AND enjoy ourselves in the process. Learning to rid ourselves of the shame and guilt of life is not easy, but by learning how to enjoy life in the midst of all the tough stuff is important!

Photo credit:  Pixabay, public domain


Do it before it’s too late

It’s been nearly eight years ago since a dear friend of mine died at the age of 41 from aggressive metastatic breast cancer.  I met her early in 2006 on a training walk. She had been diagnosed several months earlier, at the age of 37.

We spent some face-to-face time together from time-to-time, but most of our friendship was spent talking on the telephone. There was an instant connection between us, whether we saw one another at events, had lunch together, or talked for minutes or hours.

I was 13 years older than she was, but Kim was wise beyond her years, and I learned so much from her.

As the time came closer to losing her battle, I remember the weekend that Kim, her husband and young son, sister and brother-in-law, and mother went to the coast together to take Dad’s ashes to scatter them into the ocean.  Kim’s Mom had kept the urn in the bedroom for the 10 years, but as Kim told it to me, “She needs to let him go as she faces losing another family member.”

It broke my heart on so many levels. I was glad that they were able to do this as a family.  It certainly marked a moment of reality in their lives.  It was a remarkably bittersweet moment of love and family.

It serves as a reminder to me (to us all?) that family get-togethers are important to take when they are joyous memory builders.  The same can be said for friendships.

How often are we “too busy” to make time for friends and family? How often do we simply NOT take the time for those we say are important to us? How often can you “not afford” to share in moments that may cost nothing more than time and willingness?

At the point that I met Kim, I had not dealt with the loss of too many people, other than those who were quite old.  Losing young people I knew personally was new for me. I could not imagine having lost a child or a sister.

I was as involved as I could be toward her end-of-life. It was not easy, but I learned the pain of life and of death having gone through it with this woman and her family, all whom I loved dearly.

Since Kim’s death in 2010, I have lost some significant people in my life, ranging in age from their 20s to 80s. Each is loved as a child, parent, friend, friend and more. It escapes no one.  I have also know many other people in my life who has shared their heartaches of losing with me.

There is universal advice that I have heard throughout the years since Kim has passed…

Spend time together, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem to be…not just once a year on an obligatory holiday. Whether by phone, through regular mail, or face-to-face, take time to laugh and cry with one another. Let one another know your secrets.  Make memories. Include, do not exclude. Ensure that they feel loved.

Not everyone has as a family that was as intact as what I experienced with Kim and her family.  I was lucky to experience it and to be included in the family as a friend and extended family member.

We can choose friends to be the family we do not have. We can build on what we do have with family members who are important to us.

The important thing to remember is to get-together.  Laugh. Make memories. Love one another. Take time. Show love. Create. And, please…

Do it before “losing another…”

Kim 2009


Photo credit:  (Photo 1) My photo of Kim carrying the strength banner at the 2008 Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day.  (Photo 2) 2009 photo shared at her memorial.  Kim passed away in May 2010, just three days before her 42nd birthday.


Without forgiveness there is no future. ~~ Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of resentment.  It can lead to having compassion and empathy for one who has hurt you.  This does not take away someone’s responsibility for their actions that have hurt you. Nor does it justify what was done to wrong you. But forgiveness allows you a sense of peace that can bring about a certain level of understanding.

Forgiveness creates opportunities to show kindness and compassion, and fosters a willingness to grow past the transgression and work on building a healthier relationship.

There are times when you must also ask FOR forgiveness.  It requires an honest look at what you have done and how it has impacted someone else.  If you are truly sorry for something you did or said, it may be that you talk to the person that you have hurt and share your sincere regret and specifically ask  for forgiveness.  No excuses. But remember that you are human, and making mistakes are part of being so.

Remember, too, that not everyone will forgive you.  You cannot force someone to forgive you. Others will have to come to terms with the situation as they feel they can and move toward forgiveness in their own time.

Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect…AND….commit to treating yourself with the same.

Love Yourself on Half-price Chocolate Day!

So, you are like so many of us and did not get chocolates from a “special Valentine”?

Today is half-price chocolate day!

Of course, you do have to buy it for yourself. However, that might just be preferable to having to live with someone day in and day out.
And, if you did, they may not know the difference between good chocolate and bad chocolate. ( I do not subscribe to the idea that ‘Any chocolate is good chocolate’.)
So, if you are single and living by yourself, remember that…

You can still have your chocolate…and eat it too!

Love yourself and get it at half-price on all those special after-Valentine’s Day sales!

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today, I wanted to pick up the phone to talk to my mother. I wonder if it gets easier. Today would have been her 84th birthday.

I share this piece from five years ago (2013) to honor her again on her birthday.


I woke up this morning wanting to pick up the phone to call to wish her, “Happy Birthday, Mom!

She would have been 79 years old today. 

It still is hard to believe my mother is gone from this physical world.  It’s been nearly two years. I wonder if it ever becomes believable.

Though not “close” by what others’ definitions might be, my Mom and I had a unique relationship.

In some ways, we were as different as night and day.

But in other ways…

There was a time when I would have never admitted that we shared anything in common.

Nowadays, I often tell my friends,  “You’ve just met my mother, Marian!” as I laugh (or cringe) while recognizing her voice and  words coming out of my mouth.

And there are  times I see her facial expressions in photographs of me or staring back at me…

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18 years… no longer a little boy

I was not there for the birth of my grandson, as I was for my granddaughter three years earlier. Things were such in the family that I did not receive an announcement but heard the news from others. The estrangement had been solidified soon after my granddaughter was born.

Miles was born 18 years ago today. I met him for the first time when he was nearly two years old. He was in my life until the last time I saw him, nearly three years ago, shortly after my daughter left her marriage. He has lived with his father and things have been strained since. There is no contact with his grandparents, and it’s one of the toughest things anyone should have to sit by and watch or endure.

I am grateful for the times over 12 years I was able to see him and spend a little time with him. He was such a cute little boy and as he grew into a teenager has become a handsome young man. I appreciated his creativity and his sense of adventure through storytelling. He had a loving, Generous Heart.

Today is his birthday, and I have no way of reaching out to him to let him know that I’m thinking of him today and that I love him. We should be celebrating as a family these milestones.

I keep looking forward and trusting that someday there will be reconciliation. Life can be so confusing and so painful for so many of us from early ages into old age. I pray that someday soon we can all get together and celebrate those things that we have missed.

I love you, Miles, and I hope that you enter into this stage of adulthood with anticipation of wonderful things to come. I’m proud of you for your creativity, your generosity and your wit. I’m sure that in this next stage of your life you will do great things with all of them.

Happy 18th birthday.

Our last phone call

I remember the phone call. My sister-in-law was the the one that called me about 11 p.m. I was already asleep. It was three years ago tonight.   I offered to make the call to two of my other two sisters who had not yet been called.

Our father died that night. He had just had his 83rd birthday a little over three weeks earlier.

I had spoken to him for his birthday. It was the longest conversation that we had in well-over 40 years ago. It lasted for nearly 20 minutes. Through the years, the birthday calls lasted about two or three minutes.

There were decades that passed in our lives with little communication between us.  Oh, there were the obligatory phone calls, holiday cards he signed as “Neil,” and we saw one another five or six times in those four decades.

I always tried to be a “good daughter,” to mend fences, and always told him that I loved him, but always seemed to run up against a brick wall. I could not seem to break through, and he never seemed to be interested in helping to knock down the walls. I never did quite understand the reasoning behind it, and it is never something he ever cared to share.

At one point many years ago, I knew that I could no longer hold onto a fantasy of a father-daughter relationship that I wanted.  It was when I finally was able to let go and forgive the hurts of the past.

Back in June 2012, a few days after my surgery after my cancer diagnosis, my father called me in the hospital.  I was still dopey from morphine, but I remember him saying, “You tell that cancer to leave my baby alone!” 

I remember little more about the conversation, but I remembering him offering the words in return, “I love you, Coral.”   I had not heard those words in several decades.

When we spoke for his birthday, we spoke of music, health, and a bit more. It was a pleasant call, and he once again surprised me.  He offered, “I love you, Coral,” before I had the chance to say it first.

“I love you, Coral.”

These were the last words I heard my father speak to me. They were also the last words I spoke to him. He passed away three weeks later.


Though decades passed and what might have been in a family never came to fruition,  I am forever grateful for the two calls that helped to mend the many years of silent pain between us. My only regret is that we did not have more years to explore together.

I love you, Dad, and hope that you are resting in peace.

From (what you called),

Your #1 Daughter

To see life more clearly


…may be all it takes when you think you cannot handle one more minute of dealing with life’s situations, challenges, or difficult people.


…can be our code word…the one that we can say aloud to ourselves or  that a friend might say to us, in order to remember to inspire a thought and a smile.


…is one simple word with so many meanings.




Cell Phones, Technology & the Good Ol’ Days


In this world of technology today, it seems that everyone has some sort of cell phone. In fact, most of them are just handheld mini-computers. We check email, search the Internet, send text messages, call people, and so much more, using these devices.

Some people argue the point that they are “much more communicative (they) are in today’s world because of the cell phone.” I counter with the argument that these devices make us lazier and less communicative, because we are on information overload.

I like to think that I am reasonably current with using technology.

I know how to turn it on, do what I need to do, and figure out the solution, if I get stumped. If I cannot find the answer, I usually know who I can talk to to get more information.

To think that I grew up with an old, heavy rotary phone, I feel pretty darned smart with all this fancy-schmancy technology! I still remember my first phone number that I memorized at the age of five: EMpire 34076. I know there are some of you who will know EXACTLY what that means!

We didn’t have voice messaging back in those days. As children, in order to be allowed to answer the phone, we learned phone manners, how to speak clearly, and we were taught how to take complete and proper messages. When phone messaging systems came on the scene, we learned to check them, and transcribe them onto a pad and make sure that the intended received them in a timely fashion.

Nowadays, most do not have (what we used to call) a landline. If we do have a “home phone” it is through the magic of technology and attached somehow to our Internet or cable television service. If we have one of our older phones with the messaging feature, it sits quietly, as the feature is turned-off. Voice messaging through our provider fits that bill.

In today’s world, home phones are becoming more and more extinct by the day. All seem to opt for individual phone lines per person in the house. Instead of one family number ringing to the house, there are six cell numbers for Mom, Dad, and each of four children.

What I have noticed

What I have noticed recently among many of my younger friends and family, ages 35 and under. It is also true among the older ones, far too often for my tastes.

They do not:

  1. Answer their phones
  2. Listen to voice messages
  3. Return a phone call.

Instead, they:

  1. Screen the calls
  2. Tell you they did not get a call
  3. Text you to find out why you called

 I sound like an old person.  I guess now I am.

If I can change my old ways to accommodate some of the new ways that people are communicating in today’s world, why is it that others will not meet in the middle?

If younger people are going to brag about how much more savvy they are and are better communicators that the elder crowd, would it not make sense to use the devices for how they are intended? With a bit of patience, could there not be an opportunity for the youth to teach or help the elders with these newest gadgets?

If you want to mitigate communication with this particular old person

  1. If you are screening calls and don’t recognize my number or blocked call, then make sure you have your voice mail set up so I can leave a message.
  2. If you have voice mail set up, listen to your messages, and delete them after doing so. I cannot leave a message if your “mailbox is full.”
  3. Just answer the phone. I promise I can keep the conversation to a few minutes. I know you have things to do.

What I will try to do

I will do my best to remember to keep my cell phone plugged in and on my person at all times. I certainly don’t want to miss your text messages because I have no charge.

I just might, however, answer my phone that is provided through my cable company…that is, unless, the power goes out.

And, if that’s the case, please leave a voice message. I promise that I know how to retrieve them and will return your call.



Photo credits:  Pixabay, public domain.

Today she turned 21…where does the time go?

Twenty-one years ago, my first grandchild was born.

Twenty-one years ago, I took on the name of “Gramma” or “Gramma Coco.”  I was there when she was born.

It is a day that I shall never forget.  One never forgets something so profound as seeing your own daughter give birth to her own daughter.

Life has been such that for most of the 21 years, the dreams of what grandparent-hood might have been or the possibility of the Hallmark relationships between family members was not our reality.

There is an inexplicable connection between us, however.  We may not always feel it, or recognize it.  But it exists in the free-spiritedness that runs at her core. She is not afraid to challenge others and ask questions.  She takes parts of life on like a storm, not afraid to try new things.

There are so many other things I could say, but I would write a book.  Let me end by saying…

I love you, Marian,

and I am so proud of you! 

 Happy 21st Birthday, and…

STOP getting so old!  I cannot keep telling everyone I am only 49, if you keep having these milestone birthdays!