When we were on Guemes Island a few weeks ago, we watched a large sailboat come up from the south. Even without binoculars, I could see the sail straining as the wind filled it. The boat tilted slightly and then glided across the water. As it came around the tip of Samish Island, it stopped.… Read More Headwinds, Tailwinds, No Winds: In sailing and cycling, as in life
For the past week, I’ve been sitting on a beach on an island off the Washington coast. It has been glorious! If you know anything about the Pacific Northwest, you might think I’m crazy. It’s April. It’s been a wet winter and most of my friends headed for warmer climes for spring break. Not me.… Read More Two Rights Don’t Make Anyone Wrong
Real love, the kind that takes your breath away, is forged in the messier moments of a life together that is more like a Jeep ride on the tundra than a cruise through the Mediterranean. … Read More Largess Over Vases Every Day
Yesterday, it was 28° F. That was an improvement over the 10 days of rain preceding it. A decade ago, I wouldn’t have ridden outside at that temperature. I made that rule in the name of protecting my precious knees. I had so many rules: dry roads, no rain (or ice or snow or sleet… Read More Acceptance or Endurance? It matters.
Winter is waning. As I was waiting for my two Boxers to sniff every blade of grass in the back yard the other day, I took one look at my garden and started reviewing the offspring of all of my friends in hopes that one was the mother of a child with a penchant for… Read More My life is a garden, and it needs weeding.
I believe we are rocks. I believe there is a core to us that is solid and defined. I believe we are all born inherently good, beautiful, perfect, and valuable. Things happen to us. Whether it is an earthquake that sharpens our edges or a river that smooths them out, we are still that rock. We are still that good, beautiful, perfect, valuable being. #TrueSelf #Blog #SEL … Read More You’re not an egg. You’re not spaghetti sauce. You are a rock.
It’s quite extraordinary if you think about what the human body can adapt to. More profound is the ability of the human spirit to adapt to survive. But what should we adapt to? Let’s adapt to social emotional wellbeing!… Read More We adapt…. but should we?
I spent the last weekend with my daughter. She called it the Ultimate Mother-Daughter, Foodie, Coffee Shop Writing, Shopping, Rodeo Weekend. (We need to work on a catchier title. That’s never going to fit on a bumper sticker). The Adventure Days and Mother-Daughter Dinner Dates of her childhood have evolved into weekends at her home… Read More 282 Miles – Zero Distance
After more than a year of constant virtual meetings, my eyes are shot—bloodshot. For fear I was doing permanent damage, I made an appointment with my ophthalmologist. As part of the exam, he placed some dye in my eyes and shined a bright light directly at them. Suddenly, I could see every blood vessel in… Read More How a trip to the eye doctor helped me see the world less clearly
When we were at the beach, I noticed a stack of rocks on an old log. I have seen towers like these before, but I never really thought about them beyond noticing the inexplicably calming sense that I get from staring at them. I find rock formations, natural or manmade, relaxing. I must not be… Read More How a Box of Rocks Made Me Smarter—and Calmer
Some time ago, dear friends of mine retired and moved from Washington to Texas. I am terrible at goodbyes. That should be evident by the fact that this blog has been sitting half-written for nearly a year. I had intended to write it the morning after their going away party. I started to, but the… Read More It’s Never About The Furniture
It has been my experience that Boxers are particularly sensitive dogs. Every time my husband sneezes, for example, Buttercup rushes to his aid. When my daughter is sad, Delta refuses to leave her side. The mere sight of a suitcase throws them into malaise. So, you can imagine how mortified I was when, after just… Read More Boxers, Banjos and Bravery
Rejection doesn’t have to be evidence of failure. It can be a redirection toward a better opportunity. It is one of the most important lessons on the road to publishing. … Read More Rejection = Redirection
Last week, one of my former students asked on Facebook, “What is your signature dish?” I was tempted to write Take Out. It would be funny if it weren’t true. I am going to admit something very vulnerable here. These are my pancakes: This morning, I stood pondering why my husband’s pancakes are always fluffy… Read More You can learn a lot from pancakes.
I got up Monday and went for a ride, as I do every weekday morning. The skies were clear. I couldn’t see them, because it was too dark, but I could see stars for miles. I knew the sun would come up on a beautiful day. At the end of the ride, that is exactly… Read More Letting Clouds Get in the Way
We got a puppy a couple of weeks ago. The stars aligned, and we welcomed Delta, a brindle boxer, into our home. We had been planning it for some time. Buttercup missed having someone to play with since we lost her older brother, Buddy. The humans missed having a puppy to cuddle (and completely blocked out the… Read More The Truth – In Comparison
My daughter went back to college a couple weeks ago after being home for the winter break. I thought that she would be about 24 years old before I would have this feeling that is exploding from my heart. I can’t really put my finger on it exactly. Satisfaction? No, not big enough. Vindication? No,… Read More What every kid needs to learn before you give them tuition or luggage.
According to a US Travel Association Study released in August, Americans left 768 million (Yes, million!) vacation days on the table last year. They found that 55% of Americans did not use all of their vacation days last year (https://www.ustravel.org/press/study-record-768-million-us-vacation-days-went-unused-18-opportunity-cost-billions). That is mind boggling. I am not proud of this fact, but I have to admit… Read More Take the Day Off, America!
Have you ever had one of those dreams that is so real you wake up with a start, gasping for air, heart pounding, momentarily stunned to find yourself in your own bed, safe and sound? It happens to me. I have always had very real, very complicated dreams. If I could remember them all, I would probably have… Read More When Dreams are the Real Deal
Thursday night I got the game ball. It felt so great! In my dubious athletic career, I never got the game ball. I have thrown a game ball. I have caught a game ball- once, in the back of the head. I have dribbled a game ball, shot a game ball, even caught a game… Read More The Appreciation Equation (You might want to sit down. Turns out, it’s exponential.)
Suffering usually comes from wanting things to be different than the way they are. – Pema Chödrön I have always been a driven person. I don’t spend a lot of time bemoaning a situation. I am a hunter by nature. I see a problem. I hunt it down to the exclusion of all other things. I… Read More The pointless pain of wanting it to be different.
Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others. -John Maxwell Leadership is a burden. That is the truth. It is far easier to follow. It is even easier to do nothing at all. I remember, when I was a little kid, hearing other kids say that… Read More A Lesson in Leadership
I was awakened at 2:51 AM yesterday morning by the unmistakable rumble of an earthquake. It was a relatively small one, 4.7, but it shook me awake. My daughter shouted from the other room. I realize I have failed her in the Emergency Preparedness training department because she immediately ran to my room and jumped… Read More Living in the Moment
She skated into town in 10th grade. I always worried about the new kids. I had a lot of experience being the new kid. I knew that it was infinitely harder when you landed in a small town where lifelong friendships were forged in bassinettes. She didn’t strike me as a country girl either. She held… Read More Battles of Courage and Love: Cindy’s Journey
Last weekend, our daughter graduated from high school. I brought three packages of tissues to the ceremony and a camera with a 600 mm lens. I was not going to miss her face as she walked across the stage. I was prepared to weep openly, unapologetically, for two hours. I didn’t open a single package.… Read More Big Love
My career got off to a rocky start. The ink was still drying on my degree and teaching certificate, as I set out to find my first teaching job. With the optimism of Shirley Temple and the enthusiasm of a Mouseketeer, I combed the job postings. I soon discovered that the widely-advertised science teacher shortage did not apply… Read More Obstacles and Opportunities
I remember when my daughter finally got too big for the sink. She was lean and long, and came into this world with her tiny muscles flexed. Her mighty legs foreshadowed her inner strength. We knew it was time when she pressed her toes against the far edge of the tub, flexed her miniature quads… Read More The monsters under the bed are in your head.
About 20 years ago, my sister called me and asked if her daughter could job shadow me to fulfill a graduation requirement. Hopefully, I hid my surprise. After all, I was a high school principal. I could not imagine that any high school student, ever, in the history of mankind, dreamed of being the principal. … Read More Give It a Try
It has been my experience that kids hit certain milestones at different times. It’s tempting to think life is like school with its chronological march from Kindergarten to the senior year, as if time were the only determinant. The fact is that most of what happens in a child’s life is based on a whole… Read More You know, when you know.
Our daughter was a fighter from the first breath, maybe even before the first one. I swear she tried to kick her way into this world. She was willful and wily, and it was wonderful. There was a time, even before she could walk, when I could see her flex her tiny muscles as if to… Read More Worth the Fight
Our book club recently read the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Less by Andrew Sean Greer. It was a strange and beautiful story. Toward the end, the main character is reflecting on giving up a younger lover as he grapples with the disdain he has for his aging body. One of his friends points out that this lover did… Read More Seeing Through the Memories of Your Heart
I started my day in kindergarten yesterday. Every day that I get to be in a kindergarten is a great day. First of all, they are adorable. Right there, you are guaranteed to start your day with a smile. They bounce and bop down the halls, happy as clams that it is Friday morning and… Read More Kindergarten- Where we all belong.
This morning I PR’ed (Personal Record) on the Erg, or as I like to call it the “Magical Sliding Instrument of Pain”. I rowed 5881 meters in 30 minutes and my split broke the dreaded 2:30 by just seconds. Now, for all you flat-abbed, bicep-bulging, custom-calved whippersnappers out there chuckling at my sub-sub-sub-lightning speed, keep… Read More The downfalls of multi-tasking – or, as my Daddy would say, “Half-assing”
It’s 4:15 AM and my REM-induced travels are abruptly ended by my clock radio blaring Miranda Lambert. In silence, I get up, get dressed, and brush my teeth. In the workout room, I turn on the fan and put my bike shoes on. I spend 30 minutes on the bike, change shoes and put in… Read More Make a Habit of It
I do not like endings. I do not like finales. It is probably why I don’t watch the Oscars or stay awake until the last votes are counted on election night. I much prefer those hours and days before the endings, days that are thick with anticipation and ripening possibilities. Even as a kid, I… Read More Endings and Beginnings
I get a little nostalgic at Christmastime. I suppose I am not alone in that. Christmas is such a magical season. It brings back bright and twinkling memories of people and places long gone. I miss my father-in-law most at Christmastime. My father-in-law loved having Christmas morning with his granddaughter. We would travel to his… Read More Father (-in-Law) Christmas
I was staring out the dusty screen door of our canary-yellow, cookie-cutter rambler when I first realized he had superpowers. My bangs glanced off the cheap metal door as I followed his deliberate movements back and forth across the patio. My mother hooked me around the waist, dragging me back as she slammed the glass slider closed, “Come away… Read More The House That Built Me
Beliefs are an amazing thing. Though intangible, they have a weight and power all their own. They can propel us to great heights or they can keep us chained to the ground. What is a belief after all- it is just a thought you have over and over until you take it to be the… Read More I’ll see it when I believe it.
I was listening to a series of lectures by Pema Chödrön the other day. She is a Buddhist nun and teacher who I find very insightful and inspirational. In her lecture, she said something to the effect that we should never underestimate the human drive to avoid discomfort. I was taken aback by the sheer… Read More Growing Pains (There’s a reason why they’re not called Growing Joys.)
As soon as I shut the door, I knew. I heard the click of the lock and my stomach sank to my feet. I collapsed forward. My forehead hit the top of the window giving me an unobstructed view of my purse and both sets of my car keys sitting prominently on the passenger seat… Read More Empathy Gap – Don’t Fall In
She was three and a half when I spied her heading for the front door out of the corner of my eye. She shuffled down the hall in a pair of my black heels intently watching her feet. On one side, her tiny fingers were outstretched to the wall for balance. On the other, she… Read More Heading for the Door
Last weekend, my best friend and I recruited a few enthusiastic volunteers (our husbands and one of our dear friends) and we pressed 400 pounds of grape must. I have been making wine from kits for about 20 years with pretty solid success. In addition to getting about 30 bottles of delicious vino for my… Read More Of Grapes and Friendship
For the last couple of weekends, I have been shooting my daughter’s senior portraits. It was so special to me that I was able to do this for her- that she wanted me to do this for her. Though I have shot a number of senior portraits and I always feel honored to do it,… Read More Adventure Days!
I remember when we picked him up. After months of looking, we found him at a breeder in Omak. My husband has a knack for tracking down the best pups. Dog-less for a year or more, we finally decided it was time for our daughter to have her own dog. After much negotiations on breed,… Read More A Girl’s Best Friend
The summer before 5th grade, my father took me on a week-long backpacking trip in Glacier National Park. We planned the trip over the spring on our every-other-weekend visits. My dad pinned a map to the wall in the living room of his one-bedroom apartment. Back then, the map shifted from grey to a deep… Read More Making Memories Under the Big Sky
I have a confession to make. I have a box in my garage that I take out every time I am wondering about whether I am making a difference in this world. It’s not full of trophies. There are no framed awards in the box. Nothing is engraved or embossed. It is a box of… Read More Have You Thanked a Teacher Lately?
I’ve had so many friends over the years who describe gardening as a zen-like experience. I, myself, have had zen-like experiences but never while gardening. I don’t doubt my plant-loving friends. I find that zen feeling while cycling or painting or staring through my lens or doing yoga. I want to love gardening. I want… Read More Elusive Zen of Gardening
When I was a little kid, I felt strangely like two different people. In retrospect, I imagine that other children of divorce felt the same way. But it was the 70’s and divorce was rare in our Catholic community, so I didn’t have anyone to compare my experience with. You see my parents were diametrically… Read More Two Sides of the Same Girl
It was a spring, Saturday morning in Georgia. My father must have been away on business because, had he been home, I would never have realized my own true power. It was just my stepmom and me. Our blended family was new and more like a salad than soup. Still getting to know each other… Read More Stronger Than I Thought
I’m starting with the really big questions this week, which always seems to coincide with the end of a vacation in which I get a little breathing room to think big thoughts. This particular vacation was riddled with laughter and that, too, breaks up the log jams that clog my thinking. I read a beautiful… Read More Finding the Purpose of (My) Life
Next week, my husband and I will be celebrating 29 years of marriage. As our anniversary rolls around, I find myself thinking back to the year of our wedding. He proposed to me the weekend I graduated from college. We were supposed to be apart for the next school year as I moved to Seattle… Read More Wedded Bliss (and the not so blissful parts that make it truly a blessing….)
One of the great things about having a teenager is that I feel like I am cool-adjacent which is almost as good as being cool at my age. (I’m suspicious of 50-year-olds who are too cool.) I have learned all kinds of things that I would be hopelessly ignorant of without her – like the… Read More Everybody Needs A Walk -up Song
I thought this post would be easier to write. I realize that no matter how carefully chosen, my words will likely be inadequate. It is ironic since I have entitled this “Nothing Left Unsaid”, and yet, surely, there will be something left unsaid. I went to a celebration of life this week for a truly… Read More Nothing Left Unsaid
Despite sitting at one of those back-bending cafeteria tables, I found myself completed enthralled listening to a coach talk about his athletes this week. He spoke with such heart about the journey the team took together to win the state championship. He talked about each athlete’s strengths and contributions to the team. He talked about… Read More What the Best Coaches Know
If you visit our house, you will get a warm welcome from the four-legged creatures and, of course, the two-legged ones. Buttercup, our two-year-old Boxer (or The Toddler as we affectionately call her), monitors the door vigilantly. One must be prepared, after all, as friends can appear without notice. As soon as she hears someone… Read More A Warm Welcome and A Wiggling Butt
On a hot day in July in 1984 in Fairbanks, Alaska, I met the man, for the second time, who would become my husband. I had been baling hay on a Thoroughbred farm just northeast of Fairbanks that day. Fairbanks in the summer is beautiful. It is sunny and light all day. The landscape is… Read More Don’t Mistake a Flower for a Weed
I have been reminiscing a lot lately. I am not sure if it is the passing of my father, my daughter’s impending senior year or just the end of the school year. Whatever it is, I find myself smiling – a lot. I have such great memories. Rebuilding our fire pit reminds me of all… Read More Just Beneath the Surface
Sometimes things just happen, good and bad, that you just can’t predict. Despite my propensity for planning and my natural tendency toward being a hunter, I have learned that sometimes you have to roll with the punches and trust there is a lesson you need to learn. I didn’t always feel this way. No, this… Read More Change is hard but not changing is harder…
I was having coffee with some friends recently when, inevitably, the subject of our dogs came up. Three of us have medium to large dogs and one has a smaller, hypoallergenic one (which is brilliant since I think EVERYONE needs a dog). I mentioned that I grew up with Basset Hounds, but that these have… Read More If you believe you are a Labrador Retriever….
My dad had a second story apartment in the Casa Del Rey overlooking Broadway. I would visit him on the weekends and we would walk up the street to the corner QFC to buy food for dinner. He was on the road every week it seemed, so he didn’t keep much on hand. It was… Read More The Truth About Lying
This morning I awoke before my alarm. I rolled onto my right shoulder and felt that familiar ache from the base of my clavicle to my shoulder joint. I knew once I got moving, it would loosen up. I’m at that age where I swear I can pull a muscle while asleep. It’s disconcerting. Of… Read More Evidence of a Well Spent Youth
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to hear Manny Scott, one of the original Freedom Writers, speak. If you ever have the chance, don’t miss it. He is an extraordinary individual who really embodies the power and resilience of the human spirit. At the end of his speech, he said something that was both… Read More You Can Lead a Horse to Water
I found myself sifting through old Easter pictures this week. It’s not surprising really. I often find myself looking back when holidays roll around. This is one of my favorite Easter pictures. I keep a copy on my desk. My daughter was three in this picture and the youngest of a herd of kids at… Read More You’re Never Too Old for a Little Joy
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things was spending the night at my grandparents’ house. They lived in a small house on Queen Anne Hill. Though back then, from my tiny eyes, it was an enormous mansion. It was so different from our cookie-cutter suburban rambler in north Seattle. When we… Read More Grandpa’s House
My daughter is a junior this year. She is our only child. The good Lord blessed us with only one child but, in so doing, He blessed us every single day after. In just over a year, she will leave us to go off to college and start this new adventure. The part of her… Read More My Heart
Let me just say at the outset, I know that this story is going to reveal with lights and sirens the unhealthy relationship I have (or had) with my Jeep, Angus. Yes, I named it. Don’t judge. We were together for 10 years. A couple of weeks ago, I wrecked Angus. It was the one… Read More Rub Some Dirt On It
I was two months into my first year in a new school when I found myself hunched over a lunch table in the staff room praying for an earthquake. Not a big earthquake. Loss of life and limb was not necessary. I didn’t even want property damage. I just wanted everyone to get stuck in… Read More The Truth Will Set You Free
When I was a new teacher, I applied for a job in a small town in northwest Washington. I remember driving into town wearing my most professional skirt suit, firmly ensconced in my big old pickup truck. It was a beautiful drive from my house 52 miles away on country roads they brazenly labeled highways.… Read More Making Things Right
In the fall of 1988, I started my teacher training at Seattle University. Armed with a newly printed Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Alaska, I enthusiastically set off to change the world – one sophomore at a time. Every morning I drove my 1984 Dodge Ram pickup in rush hour traffic… Read More A Life That Fits
I had a very rocky start to my Tuesday morning. Keep in mind, I am a morning person. I jump out of bed no matter how early it is and greet my dogs (I even named one of my dogs Buttercup just so I could say “What’s up Buttercup?” every morning- that’s how happy I… Read More Get Some Perspective
I am going to preface this post with “No children were harmed in the making of the story” (well not permanently anyway). If you were a child of the 1970s or before, you will appreciate this story. If you are a Gen Xer or a Millennial, there is a chance you might be horrified- at… Read More There’s Something About Sticking with It
Over the course of this week, as we prepare to celebrate my dad’s life, we have all been poring over pictures. And I remember so much of what I forgot. And I see things I didn’t know but they are so obvious to me now. We know our family members because we have these long… Read More Looking at Life Through the Keyhole
I was sitting on a plastic couch in a hospital waiting room sobbing in that heart wrenching way you do when you are racked with grief. I had just finished making those difficult phone calls to friends and family, when one of my sisters sat down beside me. She put her arm around me as… Read More Lean In
I think at the end of a life, it is the little things you remember most. The seemingly inconsequential moments become indelibly written on our minds and hearts. Oh sure, every relationship has big moments. There are marriages and births, graduations and new homes. And every relationship has good times and challenging ones – even… Read More It’s the Little Things
I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I think it might be my very well-hidden but absolutely well-developed rebellious side. Oh, I keep it in check for the most part but a rule with no meaningful basis, even if self-imposed, brings it out in me. (Don’t get me started on the Don’t walk… Read More Old Year’s Reflection
I think people fall into one of two categories naturally. Oh sure, people can change. People can even change back and forth. But we all have a fall back type we are most comfortable with. I think people are either hunters or gatherers. I’m not talking about actually hunting (although I am not opposed if… Read More Seeing the River for the Rocks
Last night I went to my favorite Christmas party. I have been attending this party for 26 years, though it has been going on for much longer than that. In those years, I have missed it twice: once when my daughter was only three weeks old and once when that same daughter got sick (on… Read More Growing A Family
I am a very competitive person. Now, I know what you are thinking. You’ve heard that before usually from someone who is really nice and says it with a slightly self-deprecating laugh as if they are trying to warn you that Mr. Hyde’s appearance is imminent. So, no. I am competitive like one of those… Read More Redefining the Win
Last weekend, I found myself once again standing in the middle of a bridge at dawn. My youngest sister was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and I took her up to see the Eagles on the Skagit river. There was a brief misunderstanding wherein she thought we were going to see Joe Walsh at… Read More Standing in the Middle of a Bridge
Twenty-nine years ago, I was a student teacher in my home town. As you can imagine, I was so enthusiastic. I vibrated with idealism. I waltzed into my first Biology class ready to dazzle them with my knowledge, certain that I would hold their attention easily for 55 minutes. It was science after all. Who… Read More Gratitude: It’s not just for Thanksgiving
I think in just about every situation we can learn something. It has been my experience that it’s usually something we need to learn right when it is time to learn it. It is not always something we want to learn. It has also been my experience unfortunately that the universe is ready when it’s… Read More Live Your Passion
When I was a kid, my dad gave me Masterpiece for my birthday. It was a board game in the mid 1970’s much like Monopoly except that players bought and sold artwork in an auction. I don’t remember playing the game even one time. But I remember the game. I remember the cards. Each had… Read More The Eye of the Beholder
I’ve always wished that I could be one of those women who goes through life with nothing more than their cell phone in their back pocket ensconced in one of those really cute Kate Spade cases with a sleeve for their drivers license and debit card. A quick swipe of mascara and lip gloss, hair… Read More Lighten Up!
Last Sunday morning at 0530, I found myself next to an empty field on the outskirts of Concrete, Washington. No, I was not deposited there after an alien abduction. Also I am too old to pull an all-nighter (debauchery-filled or otherwise) so I was not in the clothes I wore the day before, if you… Read More A Different Light
I am a morning person. I love the stillness of the morning. I love the way the groggy silence envelops me. Everything slows down. Without the noise that fills every other space in the rest of my day, I can see so much more clearly. I can hear my own voice so much more loudly.… Read More Seeing in Silence
When my daughter started rowing four years ago, I had a lot to learn. And of course, the ink wasn’t even dry on the check for rowing camp before I was grabbing my camera and heading for the shore. Needless to say that even shooting wildlife, I was used to a much slower subjects. Everything is… Read More Learn… to Let Go
I’d like to tell you that I’m one of those photographers who gets a brilliant idea for a shoot and then instinctively knows all of the right camera settings, the perfect location, and just the right camera angle to pull it off in one shot. I imagine this hypothetical artist getting up before the crack… Read More Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
One Sunday morning – ok practically the middle of the night- I convinced my husband to accompany me on a quest to shoot the sunrise over the Port of Everett. I knew the exact spot. I had glimpsed in passing these abandoned pilings of piers unused for decades. They had an almost romantic quality. I… Read More Open to the Unexpected
If you’re old as I am, you probably remember buying film. Film was a relationship. Film was like giving up the lease on your apartment and moving in with your boyfriend. You committed. You committed to black-and-white or color. You committed to speed. You committed to brand. You loaded it into your camera and unless… Read More The Digital Experiment