We cleaned out the garage Monday morning.  It was Memorial Day. We were on the heels of moving in this place two weeks ago and were 1800 miles away from family holiday gatherings marking the start of summer.  It was time to tackle the boxes and belongings that don't fit in the house.  To create some order and condense boxes to make room for both cars.

Though we had scaled back a lot of belongings before leaving Indiana for our move to Arizona, there was a small of stack of "stuff" that just didn't really fit esthetically or space- wise with the dwelling we were now in.  As I repacked several boxes and sorted through a few things, I wondered why I bothered to move some of it across the country. I was struck with the mental picture of things that we don't have room for and yet won't part with.

Casually, and with great tenderness, I broached the volume of Christmas decorations we have.  There were in fact 6 tubs and one ginormous box which housed the tree.  I know collectively upon marriage what was mine became Doug's.  And what was Doug's became mine as well.  It literally became ours.  I loved that, all except for 6 tubs and one enormous box with a Christmas tree in it now taking up space in the garage.  I had lost the full basement storage space when we sold our house in Indiana.

Gingerly I mentioned that, due to the decrease in living space, we might not be able to put up "Doug's" big flocked Christmas tree.  I softly suggested that maybe, to not only conserve space in the garage but coupled with the fact that I doubted it would fit in the living room, now might be a great time to get rid of that big tree among a few other things.

Doug, or "Father Christmas" as my family refers to him for his deep love of Christmas and decorating, would hear nothing of the sort.  We had drug 6 big tubs and one ginormous tree across the United States to a dwelling that probably couldn't accommodate it.  He remarked that Christmas would not be the same without all those decorations.  I reminded him that when he met me I had a partial tub of decorations and a small 3 foot Charlie Brown tree and a bowl with Christmas balls I had gotten from Goodwill.  Christmas still rang in my heart - Jesus really didn't need "stuff".

Then I thought about what all I drag with me on a daily basis.  I might have the equivalent of 6 tubs and a ginormous tree weighing me down, taking up space that would be better served by letting them go to Goodwill.  I suppose there is a point with all things we carry, regret, wrestle with to quit hauling them around from place to place. Maybe to not even store them in the garage any more. They eventually just can't be rightfully worked into our present life if we are going to be fully present and connected to the now.

There were things that I had convinced myself were ok to keep holding onto.  I mean if I only visited them, were tormented or wrestled with them once in awhile they weren't taking up that much space.  They weren't really zapping that much mental, emotional and spiritual energy from me, were they? 

Those 6 boxes and ginormous tree box were essential to Christmas, right?  I really wasn't any different than Doug.  My boxes were just inside, but they took up valuable space.  Space in my "garage" was a bit tight.  I suppose it might be time to consolidate, sort and let loose of some "things" too.



I am not a gym person.  It's a bit tough to be when I am a bit of a germ-a-phobe.  Which is sort of weird because some germs and dirt I am ok with.  Gyms though have far too many people exercising, sweating and dripping on things I will have to both purposefully and inadvertently touch in my quest for health and fitness.

In January 2012 my husband and I decided to mix up our exercise routine a bit and add a couple of classes at the local YMCA to our fitness rituals.  It's good to do from time to time - a bit of muscle confusion to help keep the body guessing and reacting positively to new challenges.  Eventually I had to stop going to the YMCA, even though I loved the fitness challenge mix-up to my routine, because I couldn't stand picking up a weight or ball in a hope-you-don't-die cardio class  that someone just laid down when they exited the class before me.  I also had to stop because, on top of overly used and not cleaned equipment, there were just too many sweaty bodies in close proximity to me in a room designed for half that amount of people. 

I am a touchy-feelie person.  It's actually one of my love languages.  You can hug and kiss me and I love it.  You can stand close to me in my personal space.  It doesn't bother me at all.  I really don't get grossed out at blood and gore either.  I can see things that would turn most people away and be perfectly fine.  What I cannot do is have your sweat and fluids flying through the air for me to breath or touch.  That is my limit.

I went to the gym after work today.  It's a low-budget, no-frills gym called "Fitness For $10".  The name speaks its premise - you can join for 10 dollars a month.  Period.  There are a few higher packages I believe, like $19 a month which includes unlimited tanning.  Which, based on that price, clearly indicates those tanning beds and bulbs are ancient!  I think there is one more level that added some sub-par feature intended to deceive you into thinking that the place was some sort of country club.  It's not!!!!  It's like driving a Ford Fiesta compared to an Audi.

I don't chit chat with others at the gym.  I get in, get focused on running and get out of the world of C-rated fitness clubs and hyper volumed bacteria levels.  If I could wear an OSHA mask designed to filter dust and toxins during major construction, and still run and not scare the crowd, I would.

Very convinced I am that a small amount of bleach needs to be added to whatever is in the spray bottle of liquid that you are supposed to wipe down the equipment with when finished using it.  What is in that bottle anyway - Sparkle glass cleaner?  It has no smell and has not taken the color out of my clothes either, which clearly indicates it probably isn't powerful enough to destroy something-something-cocus!

This gym is so bare bones that when I signed up online and then drove there to get my swipe key card, the woman at the counter gave me no information.  I had to ask if they had a locker room - no.  I had to ask if I needed to wipe the machines down - yes.  I had to ask if there was a bathroom - yes, one person bathroom.  I had to ask if I needed to know anything else - yes, you get one free personal trainer session

There is usually a man the size of someone from the show, "The Biggest Loser" on the elliptical machine.  Kudos to him!  There are of course a handful of women that use the treadmills at about 2.5 MPH.  Not sure it even raises their heart rates.  There are without a doubt a bevy of can't-stop-looking-at-myself-in-the mirrors-while-doing-my-reps younger stallions whose lives revolve around themselves.  They are pure entertainment for me!  Age will get them too!!  And occasionally, you will see a handful of people who are shoving themselves to some next level of fitness in there.  I love that crowd and consider myself to be in that group.

Gyms and YMCAs I thought were designed to help bring health, fitness and hopefully a longer life to those individuals who partake of them. I though Purelled my hands in the car after exiting the gym.  I washed them in hot soapy water upon entering my house.  Gym fitness comes with a cost - BACTERIA!!!!  



I now live at 5100 feet above sea level. I came from a geographic location that was roughly 750 feet above sea level.  That's quite a bit of difference.   The other big difference, other than elevation, is the consistency of the temperature and the number of sunny blue skied days.   In this part of Arizona we see around 305 days of sun a year.  In the northern regions of Indiana (the Great Lakes vicinity), there is only about 127 days of sun a year. 

My wild and crazy love affair with nature gets overly stimulated daily here.  The big blue sky, the sun and the warm non-humid temps make my soul sing.  If I am in a bad mood now I cannot blame it on the rapidly changing barometric pressure of the Midwest, the endless days of low gray cloud cover, the humidity or the frigidness of winter - I can only point to myself.  I feel less constrained than before.  It's a wonderful freeing feeling.

Being an exercise-a-holic (an affliction a friend of mine cannot fathom having), I am finding this elevation (a mile is 5280 feet) and terrain of mostly hills and steep inclines is playing havoc on not just my capacity for exercise but my head as well. A few overweight-never-exercise-ever locals have told me "...those hills are good for you!"  I can guarantee that they have no scope of experience to be saying such words nor would they make it up one!

It's messing with my head.  It's making me feel out of shape.  Though age gets us all, I am battling altitude and inclines that I did not have in flat low sea level Indiana.  It makes you feel like you can't do the intensity you could before.  I've had to slow down in my runs.  Slow is not a word that abides well in me.  That in and of itself is counter clockwise to who I am. 

I continue to ask people here about when I can expect this amazingly hard and out of shape feeling while exercising will go away.  They assure me it will go away.  They say it in sweeping generalities.  I am not convinced and want an out date for it!

Out for a walk last night in our subdivision built on a mountain, we came across a couple walking.  They were breathing as heavy as we were though they were walking much slower than us. I will not succumb no matter what, short of death anyway!  My mind fretted and tried to figure it out..  [What if they are locals?  What if they have been here for years?  What if this out of shape feeling while running and walking never goes away?  What if I cannot push through it to the other side? Will I get a Kardashian ghetto booty from all these hills building my glutes?  I do not want ONE!!]

Today, after again asking my boss about this whole exercising struggle - wanting to really know how long it takes to get acclimated to it, he responded with a smile..."October 8th."  I questioned his random date in October. That was the point - it will eventually go away.  Maybe when I least expect it one day I will double knot my running shoes and take off up the hill with my normal and unrestrained 750 feet above sea level speed.  Until that happens I need a portable oxygen tank!



Part of my arsenal of swim wear in my top left dresser drawer is a blueish-turquoisesque boy short bottom. To say I am overly fondly in love with those boy short bottoms is an understatement.  If you are a woman, you understand finding any piece of clothing that you think you look good in, let alone a swimsuit.  Most swimsuits do none of the body types currently circulating and inhabiting the universe justice at all.  None of us are probably meant to be wearing the likes of anything made of swimsuit material irregardless of whether you are an apple, pear, or boy shaped figure.

I've had these exquisite boy short swim bottoms for about three years. I will not tell you where I garned them as a portion of my reading audience might wince just a bit.  Origin is of little importance to me, looks are:)

I find butts interesting.  They really do come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, jiggle ratios, densities and girths.  God must have thought, based on the fact that he created us with the ability to sit, that we needed some amount of padding there to protect our tail bones and give us a bit of comfort. 

Butts in bathing suits are even more interesting.  Some people seem to have the sense to wear something that is fitting for the shape and texture of their derriere.  Others seems oblivious to the unwritten but known code of not horrifying others by their swim wear choices.  I truly want to the cling to the fact [whether lie or not], that I belong to the first category of people.

My blueish-turquoise boy short bottoms, worn with one of two bikini tops designed for the pre-teen crowd (and myself) who haven't sprouted full grown boobs yet, are losing their elastic at the waist.  Still, despite an occasional top of the butt crack sighting or a look up the leg to the woo-hoo region, I refuse to give them up.  I can't give up something that I foolishly believe fits my body type though probably not my age any longer.

Today at the pool I decided to take a dip in the water.  I knew better than jumping in as those boy short bottoms are far too loose to jump anywhere, including doing jumping jacks or even reaching to a top cabinet in the kitchen for a dish.  Instead, I walked into the shallow end and then swam.  Immediately I realized being in the water in general was a major, and quite possibly, a disastrous choice. 

There was no way to swim, not drown, be somewhat graceful, or even climb back out of the pool while holding onto my beloved boy shorts.  I was faced with a dilemma as I reached the ladder at the other side of the pool.  How was I going to hold onto my bottoms and the ladder to get out without losing them or showing some plumber butt?

My too big bottoms hung precariously low with the weight of the water dripping off them and no elastic to tether them to my hips. I gripped them for all I was worth with one hand and held the ladder with other.  I continued to hold onto them as I plopped down next to Doug on a chair, hoping that the water weight would soon dry them off so I could stand up without fear of losing them.

What was wrong with me I wondered as I laid on the chair soaking wet!  No matter the risk of exposure, no matter that those bottoms needed to be retired, I still could not part with them! They would yet again take me through another sun season. 

I am currently googling alterations looking for someone to put new elastic in my blueish-turquoise boyshort swim bottoms that I think I look not half bad in.  [Please note:  if you have seen me in them and I DO NOT look good in them, do not burst my false vanity bubble!]



There remains, hidden in a desk drawer at my parent's house, a picture of me and my date for my junior/senior prom in 1983. Probably somewhere in the attic lies the prom glass with the theme "Come Sail Away" etched cheaply in the glass. 

I laugh hysterically when I run across that photo.  Clearly and distinctively after all these years I can still remember the thoughts and feelings of that evening.  The picture, and my face in particular, give away every thought in my head.  Really it started long before prom night - with my mom's declaration that she would make my dress:( 

Having grown up with a mother who sewed alot of our clothes when we were young, I was overly and unfondly familiar with homemade clothes.  I hated them when I was six, and at seventeen, I hated them even more.  I have a feeling she knew I wasn't really into this "making of the prom dress" thing so she tried to engage me in the process.  I had just about as much enthusiasm as you do when putting your feet in the stirrups at the gynecologist.
To the fabric store we went to find a pattern and material.  What came over me, I do not know.  My coping mechanism kicked in - a resolve to get this pattern and material picking out done as quick as possible - like ripping off a band aid.  I picked out a pale pink material with very tiny gray polka dots.  Why I say, why did I do that?  I'm not a pink lover, I hate patterns of any kind, and I was a sort of tomboy as well.  Most definitely I hadn't fully arrived at feeling, knowing and embracing who I am.  
Prom protocol clearly states (no written policy per say) you should let your date know what color your dress is for two reasons; 1) so they can pick out appropriately color coordinated flowers that will be pinned on or strapped to your wrist declaring boldly "my mom ordered these" and, 2) so your date can order a tux in some fashionable style and color to compliment you while letting you retain your place of greater beauty than him.  
When my mom got the dress nearly done, it was time to try it on, stand on a chair to have it measured to be hemmed. I took one look at that dress and wanted to start crying.  Not only was the material ugly and looked like something a missionary was given on the mission field dug from a box of cast away hand-me-downs, but the style was ridiculous!  Not wanting to hurt my mom's feelings for all the work she had done, I bore up under it as she hemmed that hideous dress.  
There was no flow to the dress - the material was heavy, the ruffle near my shoulders 
looked like something resplendent from "Little House On The Prairie" and the pink ribbon around my waist tied in the back made me feel like I was about six years old.  It was bad and I was in deep fashion trouble.
Prom night came and I was lacking most of the excitement that a person should hold for such a night.  The doorbell rang and there stood my date.  No joke [you can't make this crap up!], if I thought I looked unbelievably ridiculous, you should have seen him.  His tuxedo pants were about 2-3 inches too short (they gave his tux in error to someone else), his vest did not reach his belt line, you could see a full half of his calf when he sat down, and his jacket sleeves stopped way above his watch line.  
It was all I could do to not laugh hysterically as I opened the door and my eyes first swept over him.  We were indeed a matched pair, fashion-wise anyhow:)  The picture of he and I shows us on my parent's deacons bench in the living room.  I have 1980's permed hair, braces, a little house on the prairie dress, some gaudy flowers and a look flashed across my face that was screaming, "UGH! SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME I DON'T WANT TO GO!!"  My date is sitting next to me trying to look dapper in a tuxedo that was built for someone 4 inches shorter than him.  He is leaning over with one arm across his knee looking far more excited than I.  There is another picture of me pinning on his boutonniere with an actual scowl filling my entire face.  
I probably owe my prom date an apology for my lackluster presence that night.  So, Mike if you're reading, 29 years later - sorry I ruined your prom experience:)   



If I were to empty my head onto these posts totally and unabridged [Some of you think I already do!  Sorry to disappoint you but there is much I scale back on, don't talk about, clean up a bit for the reading audience of 4 or avoid altogether because of relationships, etc...] some may scream, "Blasphemy!"  Others, I like to think anyway, would nod their head in agreement, feel a sense of freedom that I expressed something they have thought but couldn't or wouldn't say out loud and feel like they had a release! 

I have often wondered if when we get to heaven [if that is where you are placing yourself in line to get to eventually] we will think differently. Yes, I know we will but that's not what I mean exactly. Our minds no doubt will be way more focused than they are able to be while we are still operating in our 100% human body and minds.

My mind whirls constantly.  It seems to not stop readily or easily.  The range of ongoing thoughts span from engineering sorts of views regarding much of what I touch or do to God thoughts.  Some are ridiculous in the moment thoughts, reconciliation-coming-to- peace with certain things life thoughts, worries, thoughts of zenishness, missing people thoughts, saying naughty words (ok those come out much of the time!) thoughts, thinking about the next step in writing/living/working/aging, wondering about people I meet/know/have known, thinking about how to foster present-moment living to the fullest, regrets, thoughts about what people are wearing and why, trying to figure out why anything is the way it is, and yes, some red-hot passionate thoughts about Doug.

Basically my head at times is much like a suicide fountain drink:) 

Entering the bathroom of my room in the Hampton Inn in Lawrence, Kansas I closed the door behind me.  Without really fully taking in my surroundings, I pulled my pants down and sat on the toilet.  It was at that moment that I looked up.  When I looked up I was gazing into a mirror mounted on the back of the bathroom door.  There I was seated with pants down and assuming the bathroom position that we only need to experience, NOT SEE!

I laughed sitting there looking at myself on the throne.  No one looks good like that.  I don't care who you!  As I sat I wondered firstly about; who in their right mind in the development and building of this hotel thought putting a full length mirror on the BACK of the bathroom door that only housed the shower and the toilet was a GOOD IDEA!  Secondly; that I was forced to look at myself was not appreciated.  Thirdly; why really did God make our digestive systems such that we need to evacuate in such ways - couldn't have there been a less gross way.  Fourthly; I know there were several famous people who died on the toilet (Elvis to name one), but I wondered how many numbers of non-famous deaths occurred while on the throne.

Just those thoughts alone took up several minutes.  Possibly wasted minutes.



This picture, taken just a few years ago, still looks alarmingly close to what it did some thirty years ago when I was a teenager.  The creek and small bridge were the location of many an adventure I had as a kid.  It was there, while walking through the creek in shallow water, that my sisters and I emerged with leaches on our legs.  I can still remember screaming loudly and flailing aimlessly as we frantically tried to get them off our legs. 

It was at that creek where I had a handful of picnics, saw plenty of snakes and tried my hand at panning for gold (Why, I don't know.  To my knowledge there was never any gold to be panned in Northern Indiana).  Occasionally, if there had been some rainfall, the creek depth would rise.  The increase in water allowed me to try my hand at catching a fish that may have ended up there for one reason or another. I jimmy-rigged many a homemade contraption trying to catch a fish without a fishing pole.  I was never successful.

It was the place I would run, walk or ride my bike to just to sit on the edge of the railing and think.  Think time included just being alone, sitting and pondering what was heavy on my heart or just escaping possibly having to do some sort of chore I was supposed to be doing.  It was where I went when I wanted to cry and didn't want anyone to hear or see me.

If that bridge could talk, it would have quite a few stories to tell.  If it were a sponge and could be wrung out, its contents would spill out of a glass easily.  It would tell you, among many things, that I kissed a boy on that bridge.

It was there that the young man who I loved, after telling me he was marrying another, drove to and etched the words . . . I LOVE NANCY.   I looked for those words on that bridge several years ago after finding that out.  After 30 years, I could still vaguely see part of NANCY there.  It was like finding a piece of a puzzle to my life. 

That bridge is almost exactly 1.25 miles from my parents’ house.  I biked by it, walked past it and ran over it on many an exercise journey.  It was a route I frequented growing up.  It was also a turnaround marker for walks with extended family on Thanksgiving Day aimed at easing the calories and stomach
discomfort after a day of overeating.

That bridge and the edge of the field above it is where my brother-in-law lost his car keys while hot-dogging it wildly on a four wheeler.  Those keys were never found.  

Somewhere mounted on the bridge was a marker from the county signifying what year the bridge came to be.  There was a marker number on it.   That bridge left its mark on me as well.  It marked many a significant moment in my life.  It did exactly what bridges are supposed to do - take you to the other side.


The most dangerous of all behaviors may consist of doing
things "because we're supposed to".
It just sounds like drudgery doesn't it?  If we have no choice in something there is usually not a ton of joy in it.  If we have no say so or passion for it to drive us, supposed to side steps our real feelings, our real desires.  Ultimately it short circuits the very way God created us to be. 
God does not love us because He has to - because He's supposed to.  He doesn't love us merely because He feels pity for the things He created.  He doesn't love us because we are less than Him.  He loves us because the people He created are designed to be in relationship with the Creator.  He gets a kick out of us.  We are like a new born baby in a mother's arms - amazement to Him.  We don't pause to think about that enough. 
I think God knew much about supposed to living.  He called the Pharisees on it back in the New Testament.  They were motivated to follow the letter of the law, the preciseness of obedience, without a heart of love.  It was no doubt an act of discipline to follow it.  But there was no connection to the reason there was a law to follow in the first place - to God.  
Sometimes it seems that people on the outside of a life of faith in God view it as a life of have tos and musts and supposed tos.  We have taken something that God gave us as a choice - to accept His offer of relationship with Him - and made it full of hoops, rules, and can't's, shoulds and supposed tos.  God isn't interested in that.  That type of living by a line doesn't show love necessarily. 
It's amazing when you love someone what you want to do for them.  Living in a love relationship is not about what you give up, but what you want to do for the other person. 
God could have made us have to love Him.  I mean He is God and can do anything.  Instead, He chose to give us a choice to turn to God in a relationship of choice and love. 
Butterflies are beautiful.  One was majestically floating around by the pool over the weekend.  I watched it free - choosing its patterns of flight without constraints, without have tos.  If I caught that butterfly and put it in a jar, it would still be beautiful but it would not be operating in the design it was created to be in.  By taking away its choice and freedom it ultimately decreases its beauty.  Watching that butterfly grace the world with his unbounded flight is what creates this thing of beauty in a butterfly.
Cake tastes better at a wedding if I have a choice of two or three flavors.
God modeled choice in Jesus giving His life for ours.  Love is a choice in all things.  Love is definitely a choice in a relationship with God.  It's not supposed to be any other way no matter what you think, were taught or have experienced up to the present. 
It's kind of like hugging someone who is stiff and awkward versus hugging someone who is embracing and connected.  One just feels way better!



Out and about lately, I saw an older woman painted up with way too much makeup.  Her hair was bleached (not a good look on her age), teased high and mightily and sprayed an unmovable even in a hurricane position.  Her coiffed and lacquered down with an aerosol can of Aqua Net hair was no doubt the reason for the widening hole in the ozone. [Did Al Gore know this I wondered?]

I tried not to stare.  I was not successful at it.  I couldn't take my eyes off the whole package she had created for my viewing pleasure. Maybe she was one of those that just wasn't ready, willing or even conceivably able to embrace age gracefully.  She was in all out war with age.  No matter though, it really was still winning though masked a bit heavily through make-up, the wrong hair color and immovable hair.

I felt a bit of panic rise in me.  [Was it inevitable then that I too, with gaining years, would begin to do things that were ridiculous looking to others?]  My husband must have seen what I did about the same time.  He commented about her mile high teased and overly processed sprayed hair, war paint, and style for a woman her age.  He declared that he would tell me if I started to look that like - if I started to tease up high my overly fine, thin hair and spray it so heavily that a match lit within two feet of it would cause an explosion. 

I wondered though if he really would.  Maybe it is unnoticeable when you are with someone day after day after day.  It's like a baby's growth - when you are with it daily you don't notice it as much.  But, when you don't see the baby for a few months you notice huge developmental changes.  [Would he really see it?  I don't think I could count on him to tell him.  Great, now I had two worries; that I would start to morph into something akin to the teased woman I saw, AND Doug wouldn't notice!!]

New to the community, we met a retired gentleman and his wife.  They were gracious and warm and very inviting.  He though had a horrific toupee.  Doug, feeling much like I did when I saw the sprayed and teased hair woman, asked he if temporarily lost his mind in the years to come and thought he needed a toupee would I please stop him! 

I tried to reassure him I would more than stop him.  But then deep inside I wondered again if love over the years cares way less about teased and sprayed hair and toupees than did the onlookers.....

"Well maybe Doug, I will just make sure you get a top quality toupee:)"