Finding Treasures in Each Day…Even Now

Struggling to carry on in a climate of uncertainty has expended most of our patience and enthusiasm. With many of our expectations regarding this global situation having as yet gone unresolved—it’s understandable that some of us feel like throwing in the towel. As each day offers up yet another round of political volleyball, hopes of improving the situation seem to evaporate. With many of us feeling vulnerable, and with no end in sight, the list of things we “know for sure” dwindles on sometimes an hourly basis.

Finding ways to handle the resulting stress is quite “essential.”

I usually head for my quilting room or my writing desk when I need to decompress. Quilting is my art, and because I’ve  done it most of my life, it’s a “muscle memory” experience…To make it more challenging, I select patterns and projects that I’m unfamiliar with. Freestyle writing has the effect of freeing up mental real estate by dumping a ton of wandering information onto a page. Regularly releasing stress and anxiety can open the soul to the possibility of light. 

 The image of the whimsical bicycle on this post is the result of my needing a focus project. I saw the pattern and it was love at first sight…I knew I had to create it. I also knew just by looking at it that it would be difficult, but I bought the pattern without hesitation. As expected, the process was labor intensive and at a level of difficulty I didn’t know. So I decided to make a practice quilt—which is the one pictured here. After its success, I made one more—for a special gift.  Practicing saved me countless hours and disappointment as it reduced the number of mistakes I made in the second quilt. I can only tolerate starting over so many times… 

Have you ever imagined  how your life could be happier by expecting to find at least one treasure in each day? 

In his book, The Little Book of LYKKE (pronounced Loo-ka): Secrets of the World’s Happiest People, Danish author Meik Wiking suggests that becoming aware of simple pleasures can be the start of a happy life. He suggests the following to get one’s creative juices flowing: 

    -Volunteer—find something you believe in, and lend yourself to it 

     -Seek opportunities to practice random acts of kindness

     -Be a good listener

     -Take care of your health

     -Try to find balance in your life by focusing on things that matter most         

     – Move your body every day.  Intensity isn’t the goal—just get the blood flowing 

     -Enjoy time in nature as much as possible

     -Smile—even if it’s hidden by a mask, if you’re smiling, your eyes will light up!

The inclusion of Wiking’s “list” is meant to offer suggestions. Don’t take it as absolute, and be flexible by making it your own.  It’s included to spark imagination and variety, not for any kind of evaluation…personal or otherwise.  Intentionally begin to identify what makes you happy.  Jot your thoughts down, and keep them wherever you can retrieve them easily.  As you keep the intention fresh and the motivation alive by adding new thoughts and feelings each day, you’ll begin to watch your ability to spot treasure in your life that otherwise might remain unrecognizable.

Keep Going… “Anyway”

As I listened to the song “Anyway” for the first time, I felt a wash of hope and renewed determination regarding the brutal situation I was facing at that time. This song/poem helped me to reconnect to the goals and dreams, that had been laid aside for an awfully long time.

Fast forward nearly 15 years to today. This global pandemic has stretched us in every imaginable way—truly it has rocked our world…making us question things we’ve believed and held on to for decades. Circumstances beyond our control have brought unfamiliar and difficult changes to our collective and individual versions of “normal.” Things that once defined us—shaped us continue to morph or disappear, leaving us dangling and unconnected. While our days feel endless…the months have clipped by. In many cases, we’ve made valiant effort without much reward.

So what now? Throw in the towel on the hopes and dreams and goals that have always motivated us? Complain bitterly about the unfairness of it all? Throw blame wherever it will stick? Seems prudent that we don’t “throw the baby out with the bath water” as the saying goes.

So how shall we regroup, brush off our resolve and carry on—”Anyway”?

The message of hope and determination that we desperately need is the focus of McBride’s rendition of the song “Anyway.” Take a listen and maybe sparks will ignite what you need to find your direction in an impossibly difficult time. Hopefully its message will resonate and become a source of light and energy—

Recently I’ve learned that this song started as a poem (written by Kent Keith) which Mother Teresa of Calcutta treasured. Now when I read the original poem or listen to this inspirational song, I can imagine in my mind’s eye how it must have inspired Mother Teresa to continue her life’s work—blessing the lives of the poorest of the poor.


You can spend your whole life buildin’

Somethin’ from nothin’

One storm can come and blow it all away

Build it anyway.

You can chase a dream

That seems so out of reach

And you know it might not ever come your way

Dream it anyway.


God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good

When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should

But I do it anyway

I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe

That tomorrow will be better than today

Believe it anyway

You can love someone with all your heart

For all the right reasons

And in a moment they can choose to walk away

love’em anyway

You can pour your soul out singing

A song you believe in

That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang

Sing it anyway

Yeah, sing it anyway

I sing, I dream, I love


Mother-Daughter Book Club: Building Reading Skills and Relationships

When schools closed in mid-spring, “summertime” began.  Now that the calendar tells us that summer is actually here, many of us are exhausted and longing for an overdue vacation—but due to the reality of our ongoing social situation, there might be fewer getaway options this year. 

My daughter Lauren in 1997

French novelist Marcel Proust said: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” Hmmmmmm….maybe he’s on to something…something hiding in plain sight.  Maybe if lounging on a warm and wonderful white sand beach isn’t in the stars, an invitation to refocus on what we can do might be just the ticket. Learning to find the possible in our often cluttered lives is still worth cultivating. In 1997, I found a book called The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Shireen Dodson.  While thumbing through her book, a sentence from the introduction grabbed me: 

…It’s surprising what emerges from your children when you slow down from the hustle and bustle of the usual school and extracurricular routines, step back, look, and listen. I am amazed at how much we can discuss in the absence of normal everyday interruptions…

Without reading anything else (while in the store) I bought the book. Within a few weeks, my daughter and I began our own mother-daughter book club. Our intention was to invite a few like-minded friends to a monthly discussion about a pre-selected book.  A marvelous unexpected benefit of our club was that we regularly got together with people we enjoyed to discuss a particular book, and we ended up enjoying the camaraderie and out-of-school connections just as much. Relationships became the heart and soul of this group.

Our first book choice was The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes—a story that has never been out of print because its message is as urgent today as it was when it was first written. 

Jessica, a friend from our book club

After ten years Dodson’s manual was updated. It still includes everything from how to organize a club, to an extensive book list, to the specifics of leading a discussion, and every other little thing.

With today’s unique circumstances and challenges the material may yet require another more personal revision…taking into account current challenges with gathering. Decisions will need to be made regarding in-person groups, or if necessary how to meet virtually.  Other boundaries can be considered by the participants.…Regardless, your book club can reflect the personalities and needs of those who make up the membership. 

Please leave a comment if you like this idea, and if you think you’re going to give it a go.  After it’s up and running in a way that works for you, please check back in to let us know the details—things you’ve done, things you’ve learned, etc.

You can find the revised version of The Mother-Daughter Book Club on Amazon.

Books Children Love

If you answer to Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Auntie, Uncle or any other term of endearment, you may agree that finding that perfect gift—something meaningful for the kids in your life—can feel a lot like a scavenger hunt.

For lovers of books, the magic of words can be a great choice. Stories can transport readers to far-away places, ignite and invite a vivid imagination, make time travel a possibility, and build vocabulary or increase one’s knowledge about anything. Reading is a “passport” allowing anyone to go anywhere and learn anything. It becomes the vehicle that empowers exploration into the unknown, allowing the reader to dive into places they’ve never been and consider ideas they’re not familiar with.

Even before I wrote Chubbs: A Blind Cat Learns to Trust, I’ve loved the world of children’s books and have had the chance to discover treasures to share with my children and grandchildren. Below are a few choices of some great stories that just might spark a life-long reading habit that will fuel one’s curiosity and cravings for discovery.

Pick and choose something just right for you— and let the journey begin! Have books you’d like to recommend? Share them in the comments!

Young Readers (Assisted)

Audrey Bunny: Smith, Angie, Brookshire, Breezy: 9781433680458 ...
  1. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
  2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  3. Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith
  4. You Stole My Name by Dennis McGregor
  5. Hazel’s Amazing Mother by Rosemary Wells
  6. Pignic by Matt Phelan
  7. Never Let a Unicorn Scribble by Diane Alber
  8. Bad Monkey Business by Michael Hale
  9. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Early Readers

It Will be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change (Little Seed ...
  1. What Do You Do With a Problem? and other books by Kobi Yamada
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  3. Captain Underpants and Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
  4. Read and Find Out by various authors
  5. The Princess in Black by Dean and Shannon Hale
  6. What Should Darla Do? by Ganit & Adir Levy
  7. Seeds and Trees by Brandon Walden
  8. It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst
  9. Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty
  10. Robins! How they Grow Up by Wileen Christelow
  11. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Independent Readers

Pay Attention, Carter Jones: Schmidt, Gary D.: 9780544790858 ...
  1. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
  2. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  3. Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary Schmidt
  4. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  5. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  6. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  7. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Oldies but Goodies A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet) (9780312367541 ...
  1. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  2. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  5. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  6. Fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson
  7. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  9. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Contact me

My Book is About to be Born

Chubbs: A Blind Cat learns to Trust is a faith-based, inspirational story about a cat who learns to trust her rescuer. The relationship between Chubbs and Grandma Sandy is a comparison to the relationship we have with God. Literally blind, Chubbs must learn how to navigate her world just like figuratively blind we must learn to depend on God’s Spirit to help us navigate our lives.

I’ve been “pregnant” with the idea for Chubbs’s book for over four years—longer than an elephant’s gestation period. I can’t imagine any woman wanting to endure a single day past the nine-month mark. And kudos to all those elephant moms out there hanging on for two entire years. 

I wouldn’t consider any of my actual pregnancies magical—especially the one where I produced two strapping boys, a month early, weighing in at eight pounds each. I’ll take that merit badge now, thank you. Though each of my pregnancies was different, all required daily dedication, infinite patience, and endless endurance. 

The writing process for Chubbs has been much the same. Again, not magical, but the result of daily dedication, infinite patience, and endless endurance. The learning curve for publishing this book has felt, on more than one occasion, like birthing those twins—painful but also hugely rewarding.

The “labor” has intensified as the “due date” nears. Much like the anticipation of a child makes pregnancy and labor worth it, the anticipation of producing something useful in written form makes its creation and production worth it. 

Because this story started as a personal message for my grandchildren, the labor felt manageable. Publishing the story instead of copying it at Kinko’s makes it important on another level. And you know what? Having the book available for anyone to read actually does feel a little magical.