Coffee II

A few months ago I created a post called “Coffee” about the pleasures of sharing coffee with a friend. Today it occurs to me that I can enjoy similar pleasures when I’m alone, just me, with my hopes and dreams and a cup of joe.

It’s been decades since I lived in Richmond, yet most of those memories are as bright as the adventures I enjoyed back then. I was telling my son about them the other day, and mentioned that I’d like to visit some of the places I never did while living there – Tredegar, the Canal Walk, Brown’s Island – yet which he has visited with friends many times in recent years! So, now I have something to plan for.

Are you alone? Treat yourself to a little private pleasure that God provides. There are only a couple of rules: no negative thoughts, no paperwork chores. Let your thoughts wander like a child. Then plan something, even something small, to look forward to. This is very freeing and it’s good for the mind and soul. And it may lead you to your next creative endeavor.

Reading and Writing: Finding Community in a season of pandemic

We can feel so isolated these days. It’s difficult to visit in person and we feel less likely to call someone, perhaps because we got out of the habit when we were super busy in earlier days. However it certainly means more to me to talk on the phone now that it may be unwise to visit in person.

I’ve found community in another setting – the written word. I love ideas so I read a lot, mostly non-fiction. I read things I might not normally take time for and so learn a great deal. I love the exposure to other minds and encounters with unexpected information and ideas.

My church recently published a series of devotions highlighting pioneers of faith in the deep South. I learned a lot of history and found I was greatly encouraged and wanting more.

So I encourage folks to read – not just the news, but stories of people: their histories, their challenges, their hopes. Writing letters helps build community too, because that way you also receive letters and stories!

You could share family history over phone or online and then write about it. Try any creative endeavor that encourages community.

We are not as isolated as we think. There are people of ideas everywhere! For example, I belong to a Facebook group for writers of all sorts. It has members from around the world totalling over three thousand. Once I figured out how to login on my phone I was greatly rewarded. Ideas are shared as well as requests for book reviews. I am learning a great deal. It sounds overwhelming, but I recently stumbled onto a book of poetry the author would like us to review, “Winter Sun”. Of course one can’t follow up on everything, but if it’s ideas you’re after, try Facebook groups.

Wait for It!

This is an expression I’ve borrowed from my favorite streaming TV show of a few years back. “Psych” is an outrageous comedic romp featuring two friends who solve crimes for the Santa Barbara Police Department. Their style is unorthodox, their protocol often bungling, to the distress of the Police Chief and her colleagues, who have to rescue them regularly.
“Wait for It” is a new motto for me that applies because I am so very impatient and have been since birth. However, life has taught me I cannot have whatever I want when I want it, whether it is a job, a companion or a new car. I am grateful for that “Come to Jesus moment” that taught me God loves me and provides all I need, including patience.

I chose “Wait for It” from the Psych hero’s lexicon because it is hopeful. Detective Shawn is always looking ahead in anticipation and he’s willing to risk temporary setbacks for future gains. (Most of the time.)

I am an older American, still hoping that certain things will materialize in my life. If anything I should likely tend toward impatience. However, The Lord has told me that attitude will not serve me well. He has plans for me and work for me to do. In recent years I stumbled on this writing gig. (Well, its not a gig yet, but maybe someday soon).

Perhaps a fresh motto will work for you too…”Wait for It”.

Writing Saved Me

We are all weary of the pandemic and especially the lockdown it entails.   

Still, has there ever been a time in history when we have had access to so much entertainment and so many ways to communicate with each other? 

 I have a suggestion.  If you are bored or feeling aimless, try writing.  Seriously, no groaning, please.  I’m sharing what works for me when I’m down.  I find that ideas are among the most interesting things around, and that sharing them is stimulating and helps me connect!  This can be important in a time of social distancing.   

I was alone for several years after my husband died, until recently when my son came for a visit.  My motto during that time became, “I would walk a mile for a good conversation”.  I looked for opportunities to talk to folks, craved them, in fact. I visited my local friends often, an option we don’t have today.  Also, I enjoy writing to process my ideas, so I wrote letters and started a journal. 

I encourage you to write your own stories!  Your children and their children may enjoy reading about your life.  

P.S. : If you baulk at the idea of typing, there are some word processing applications, like Word Online, that create your document as you speak.  I just found this dictation feature, so I don’t know what others are out there.  Also, I have not tried it, since I enjoy typing.   

Borrowed Grandchildren

Yesterday I led the small group of children who learn better outside of the actual worship service. They are mostly younger kids under the age of six, but sometimes older children like to show up and ‘help’. We don’t discourage them, but we do confer with their parents beforehand.
I had a great deal of fun. It came to me that I could help them relax and entertain them a bit if tried to guess their names. This amused me too. I got all but one right!

Anyway, I got to thinking about the wonderful times I’d had years ago when my Grandma Bonnie lived with us. She spanked me often enough, it’s true, but I still cherish the times relaxing in bed when she would tell me stories about her sisters (she had four).
I talked about this and then invited the children to share their own family stories. They seemed to enjoy this very much.

One little girl, Ava, was four, and new to the group. She watched us in silence until there was a break in the activity. Then she began to talk and didn’t stop! I didn’t say anything, but gave her my visual attention, amazed at what was happening. I think she was mainly exercising her language skills, since I couldn’t discern a story in what she said. She was focused on some idea as she talked. I got the impression I was witnessing something special. She wanted to be like the others, and she had lots to say…at four!
This was a special time for me as well as for Ava. I had never thought I could relate so easily to younger children.


Human connections are important and meeting new people is fun.
Networks are useful in business, of course. There was a time in my life when it seemed I was always looking for a job. I worked as a contract engineering tech, and it was not steady work.

I’ve found networks are just as important in maintaining social engagement, generally. I’m referring not only to friendships but also to social connections that can become adventures in themselves and conduits for learning.
One day recently I decided I wanted to meet some writers. I mentioned this casually to a woman in my Bible study. She immediately suggested a name and a way to reach the person.

There’s more. Once I contacted the woman – who is a writer, a teacher and a mom – we met at a local pub to chat. She told me about the James River Writers, a dedicated group of writers I did not even know existed. So here was a whole bunch of people dedicated to promoting reading and writing in the Richmond metro area!

I’ve been to several of their events and even participated in their annual writers’ conference, which was held online this year. This is a wonderful group, nothing slows them down, not even a global pandemic. I applaud them for their dedication and accomplishments. ~

It’s to Laugh

I bet you think you’ll never laugh again. Well, guess what, you can.
I am fortunate because I have friends who find humor in life and in themselves. They cheer me and help me heal. Sometimes their humor is a bit irreverent, but that cheers me too, because I know they love me. One dear friend who lost her husband a year after Howard died, said to me, “What’s up with all these men dying? They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to!”
I try to enjoy every encounter where humor is likely to surface. I was with friends one day discussing black snakes. These snakes are harmless to us and they eat pesky rodents, but they have an unnerving habit of coming inside. My friend asked her husband what he would do it he found a black snake under the sofa. He said, “Place an ad, ‘House for sale fully furnished’”

Hey – Add your own story!

Recovering Your Energy after a Loss

You have lost a very dear person. The sense of aloneness is almost unbearable. You have almost no energy, even for ordinary tasks. Heck, especially for ordinary tasks. Putting one foot in front of the other is a chore. What on earth to do?
After Howard died, I was exhausted. Three years later when I lost my friend Steve suddenly, I was in shock for awhile, then I just wanted to go out and tackle a stranger to have someone to talk to. That impulse eventualy passed, when I realized my good friends were willing to be there for me.
I had to force myself out of the habit of doing nothing. Thinking and writing helped me a lot. This is when I began my journal. After awhile, I could step back and see my thoughts unfold. I became more objective about my situation, I was very lucky in this regard. Still, this can work for anyone. It can work for you, as you respect and honor your own thoughts and feelings. Accept them, all of them.

Write letters too! I find that my friends like to get letters, especially snail mail, the old fashioned kind you can hold in your hand, keep in a folder, and reread. Okay, that’s pretty retro, but my friends and myself are like that. I like to write letters to friends which highlight parts of my day which were meaningful or full of accomplishment. This lifts my spirits and motivates me to plan for the future.

Don’t give into the temptation to do nothing. Idleness and fretting can become a damaging habit, keeping you from healing. Instead, plan something. It can be as simple as a visit to a neighbor or your own lunch, or as complex as a road trip. I find the twin pursuits of daydreaming and planning keep me looking forward, and that is a good thing!

Another hint: Engage with people whenever you can. I found that isolation was my greatest enemy and that my friends and people in general were vital to my healing.

Journalling helped me chronicle my thoughts and became like a ladder out of a gloomy past. I acknowledged my negative thoughts but did not invite them to stay. I quickly regained my identity and sense of worth. I like the idea that I can preserve my best ideas and share them too, so now I have this blog that keeps me thinking and writing!
You can track your growth if you write your thoughts down, with dates. That is how I gradually became my own therapist.

Here’s a link to entertain and surprise you, as you recover your footing. I assumed I knew what “moxie” was!


People have become more and more fascinating to me over the years. I find remarkable folks in all kinds of settings and often have great conversations. Here I’ll write about my favorite group of heroes, Nurses.

I was in the hospital briefly, about a year ago. I had been having problems with my fussy gut, but ignored them because that’s part of getting older, right? Besides I was planning a yard sale for that Saturday. Even my neighbors were involved. Anyway, the evening of May 17 I was busily organizing for this yard sale, when my gut hurt more and I noticed some blood. I had the good sense to stop everything and call the emergency crew.

They were wonderful. So were the people at the ER, especially the nurses. We had conversations, even shared jokes. (My new motto is, “I would walk a mile for a good conversation”.) They put my antibiotic in an IV drip and admitted me to the hospital. I was there for 2 days, during which I got to meet lots of people and have many conversations. One nurse shared with me her frustration about technology and how often it changes. She was hilarious. I told her she should write, maybe create a blog.

I said that sometimes when I begin to write, it is as though the message is given to me. That got her attention. She stepped closer to my side. Then she asked me to write down my information before I left!

So, what was going on with my gut? Some inflammation, connected with food sensitivities. A colonoscopy and blood test helped me sort it out. And I talked with a good friend who had faced similar problems with her children years before. She suggested I keep a food diary to observe patterns on a daily basis. I’d like to note here the difference between food allergies and food sensitivities: Food allergies provoke an immune system response. In the case of food sensitivities, however, the reaction is triggered by the digestive system. I had tended to use the words interchangeably, which is not correct.

What I found interesting in my hospital adventure was the process of meeting new people. After Steve died, I felt very lost, but after journalling for awhile I began to get clear on what I needed. Wallowing in grief was not a good direction. So, among other things, I decided to set some goals. (God’s idea). One of these was to meet more people.
Lo and behold, He’s making it happen!

Lead with Curiosity

This year is volatile in many ways. Things can get ugly when we disagree about things, especially politics. I am not writing to promote one candidate over another, or one policy over another. I am writing to consider how to maintain friendships while having the discussions we are bound to have in an election year. I write from experience because I recently had to disagree – gently – with a good friend. My personal preferences were not important, nor was my view on the future of our country. The important thing was the future a a precious friendship.
A calmer approach also opens my mind and allows me to learn. Let’s say I disagree profoundly with someone, even someone I barely know. Now it’s not about preserving a relationship. I could tend to get emotional in such a discussion. I’ve discovered this accomplishes nothing. Political discussions can never be ‘won’. Looking back, I see it’s all about ego: “Can’t you see I am right?” Another good friend corrected me on this a few years ago, and while the criticism stung, I appreciate it now.

So, how are we to talk to each other in a hotly contested election year? Consider one idea, see if you think it has merit: Put your curiosity in the drivers seat. Ask the person, “Why do you think this candidate (or policy) would be the best choice? Ask other questions.

Here is where it gets interesting, because you have just initiated a discussion. The person may want to know what you think. But you are prepared, not just because you have a position, but because you are calm enough to have heard what the person just said. I suggest that you refrain from arguing, even if you do have a host of facts to support your view. Instead you might phrase your ideas in words less threatening to your listener, for example, “My understanding is…” Why do this? It’s about keeping lines of communication open, which I think is more important than the illusion of winning. The benefits of this are great. We begin to learn things. I may learn things of value without having to change my mind totally. I think all this is helpful in an election year!