A few days ago I mentioned two words that I was looking forward to - retirement eligible. Lately, I have been thinking about retirement in general. At one point in my life, when I was much younger and more naive, I looked at that stage in life very differently than I do now. I thought that one got to the magic retirement day, was awarded the proverbial gold watch, and slipped off into a life of relaxation and perhaps travel, and that may be the case for some.

My grandma (the only grandparent who lived long enough for me to get to know) never retired. She was widowed and left alone with three young children, destined to live a life of hardship as she struggled to raise her children in the Great Depression years. She lived in the same tiny house for the remainder of her years and there was never a formal retirement time.

My father never really retired because he was forced to stop working due to illness and the few years he had left after that point were filled with hardship. He had planned all of his life for retirement, carefully saving and planning, but in the end what should have been his "golden years" were not to be.

My mom, a housewife for most of her life, never retired. During the years that she should have been enjoying life with Dad, she was taking care of him and visiting him in hospital.

My own dreams of retirement are most definitely not of a life filled with leisure. In the same way that young people attend post-secondary school for a number of years to prepare them for the life ahead, that's how I'm partly considering my experiences right now. I see writing as something I'll spend a lot of time on in my retirement years, so now I'm taking the time to practice and learn and prepare myself for the day when I can call myself a full-time writer. (Sounds good, doesn't it?!)

Gerry and I also are spending a lot of time talking about what we what those years to look like. We envision a simpler, more self-sustaining lifestyle in a rural location where our children and grandchildren can spend time with us. I've just started reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I'm vowing that my grandchildren will understand that their vegetables come from farms and gardens not from perfectly manicured displays in a supermarket. I want them to have the opportunity to eat organically grown meat that isn't pumped full of hormones.

The point is that when I say I am looking forward to being retirement-eligible in four years, it's not so I can ride away into the sunset and live a life of leisure. Lord willing, it's so I can begin the next chapter.

Tell me, what does retirement mean to you?

The Power of Memoir

This morning I had something in my mind that I planned to share, but I decided to save that for another day after I came upon the following.

It is an act of courage and personal power to dare to write the truths you hold, to carve a space in the vast realms of time and dive in, using only words as ballast. To enter into memory, to find the body of the child you once were and to dare to listen to him or her–that is courageous, and in this act, new tendrils of self are launched across the abyss from past to present. As we balance on the fine lines of truth, memory, and story, we discover ourselves, we uncover layers that we didn’t know existed. The writing is the key, writing that comes from soul and heart, writing that launches us out from our comfort zone, and into the unknown. There we find wisdom, there we find who we really are.

These words were written by Linda Joy Myers speaking about her newest book The Power of Memoir.  Even if I hadn't read some of Linda's earlier work (Don't Call Me Mother and Becoming Whole) I would be compelled to pick up her newest book just based on this one quote. It inspires me to continue the work on my memoir which is, at times, difficult work.  As I've slogged away on this over the past year I have uncovered new truths about my experience that I had no idea existed before.
I will have the good fortune to meet Linda Joy next week at the Stories From the Heart conference in Austin.  Just one more reason that I'm counting down the days before the conference begins!

Birthday Milestones

Yesterday was my fifty-first birthday.  It was as quiet day, no fuss and no muss, just the way I wanted it.  Gerry bought me a big comfy manager chair for my office, there were birthday greetings from family and friends, and a special piece of turtle cheesecake after dinner, but all-in-all it was a day just like any other. 

My fiftieth birthday was similar in some ways, but it felt significant in that I was crossing over into a new decade.  There was a bit of apprehension as I considered what being fifty meant. Now that I've passed that milestone, I expect that birthdays will be fairly insignificant until I reach the next milestone.

Sixty, you're thinking?  No, fifty-five.  Why?  Two words: retirement eligible.


I'm working at home this morning. I've got some things to do for the upcoming Stories from the Heart conference, some personal paperwork to tend to, research to do, phone calls to make, and of course I'll be working on my book.

It's quiet up here in my office, where the click click of the keys on my keyboard is the only sounds I'm aware of. I just returned from downstairs with a fresh cup of coffee; down there it's not nearly as quiet as it is in my writing sanctuary.

Downstairs the washing machine bumps and grinds through it's cycle (we will never buy that brand of machine again), and the dishwasher hums quietly doing it's own work. From outside I heard the sound of the garbage truck approaching and when I glanced outside I saw all the green bins lined up on the street like silent soldiers standing at attention.

As I thought about how much was happening while I sat upstairs oblivious to the all of the activity, I realized how blessed I am to be living in this particular place at this particular time. A hundred years ago, my grandmother would have done her laundry and dishes much differently than the way that mine is done today and her trash would not have been disposed of quite so easily. A morning spent only on activities dear to her heart would likely have been impossible.

Certainly circumstances are not perfect in the way that we live our lives in 2010, in fact I dream about a simple farm life where I can grow a garden, have a few chickens, and hang my laundry outside in the sunshine. For today though, I'm thankful for the conveniences that allow me time to follow my passion.

All Consuming

It has taken over my life.

The book that I am working on has begun to consume almost every waking moment.  When I wake up in the middle of the night, as I'm prone to do, I find myself thinking about where in the story I am working and where I'm going with it the next day. 

When I'm in the shower in the morning, I am often reflecting a personal truth relating to my adoption experience.  When I'm driving I'm writing (Not physically, heaven forbid!  I'm planning and thinking.)  When I'm taking a walk, I'm writing.  When I'm cooking dinner, I'm writing.  When Gerry tells me he'll be late coming home, my first thought is that I'll have more time for writing.

I'm learning a lot about myself through this process that I started early last year, some of which I will share as time goes by.  My point this morning, is that writing a memoir is not for the faint-of-heart.  For me, it's not a once-a-month Saturday morning activity.  The experience of writing this memoir has become an all consuming task that I am constantly working on.

I hope that the finished product will be something worthy of all of this effort!

Signs of spring, and a new website

This weekend I was happy to see the first signs of spring. One of the things that is nice about living here in the Pacific Northwest is that spring comes relatively early compared to other places I have lived.

Over the past few days I've seen:
  • A flock of geese heading north
  • Robins on our back lawn
  • Bulbs that I planted last fall have begun to show
I am always relieved to see these first signs that winter is on the way out, aren't you? 

I spent time on the weekend getting a number of things organized.  Lately it's as if too many things have gotten out of control, and I don't function well in that environment. 

Today is a writing day for me and I'm looking forward to making progress on my memoir.

Along those lines, check out my new website at!

Two Trunks

I've got two of these.  The first, the larger of the two, is the keeper of many childhood memories I hold dear.  I can easily spend an hour or more poring over it's contents, and it's very likely that tears will flow before I reluctantly replace everything and close the lid.

Tucked inside are treasures like Mom's wedding dress, Dad's army uniform, love letters from Dad to Mom, pictures, baby clothes that I wore and that my children wore, and funeral books and cards from Mom and Dad's funerals.

The second one is smaller and came to me more recently; it belonged to my birth-mother.  It too contains a wedding dress, letters, pictures and baby paraphernalia. Truthfully, I have never thoroughally looked through everything that this trunk contains.  I've looked at faces in pictures, most of whom I don't recognize; I've looked slips of paper with my birth-mother's handwriting; I've read letters that have revealed surprises; I've touched her wedding dress, but never held it up to get a better look or tried it on the way I tried Mom's on.

The second trunk is a Pandora's box of sorts.  When I first received it I was reluctant to open it, yet it called to me like a siren calls to a sailing ship, and so I forced myself to take a deep breath and lift the heavy lid and smell the moth-ball scent that wafted from within.

I was surprised to find that having in my posession all of these items that belonged to the woman who gave birth to me meant little. Perhaps I hoped that I would find the essence of who she was and was disappointed when it wasn't there.

I remember being somewhat numb and disappointed as I looked through the trunk, about to give up, when I found something in the bottom that I knew was meant for me to have.

It's coming

It's coming.

In the fall I planted a selection of crocus, daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs around my yard and in my pots.  The other day I noticed that in one of the pots a little green sprout is poking out.

I left work yesterday and realized that it wasn't completely dark.

I noticed that the grocery story was selling potted daffodils and hyacinths.

Gardening magazines are appearing on the newsstands.

Spring. It's just around the corner! Hope springs eternal!

Dreams, Goals, Detours

Thirty-four years ago I finished high school with no clear direction of where I wanted to go in my life.  My dream was to be a writer but I had received no encouragement in pursuing a career in that direction.  In fact, just the opposite, I was told that "you can't make a living as a writer", and so I set that dream aside and entered my adult-hood witout a clear goal for my life.

Not surprisingly I followed paths that were not the best.  I found myself on a detour that deviated so far from my true path that at times I lost sight of what that true path was, let alone how to get back on it.

I will turn fifty-one in a few weeks and I can say without a doubt that I am back on the road that I should be on.  My progress is somewhat behind where it could be at this stage in my life due to the detours, but I don't mourn these delays.  The twists and turns of the detour worked together to help form the strength of character that I have today. 

Why do I share this with you? I want to encourage you to take a hold of the dreams and goals that you have, right now.  Whether you are seventeen, thirty, forty, or fifty-one, take ownership of your dreams and goals and don't wait for someone to hold your hand and show you the way. 

Spend time with yourself and determine what your life would look like if it were all up to you.  Pray about those dreams and goals, and then step forward!  Don't let anyone else discourage you; God put those dreams within you for a reason.  If you have a dream it's very likely that you have a special in that area.  Spend time honing those skills that you need to achieve your goals and don't lose sight of that vision that you have of who you want to be.

Are there things that you set aside in the past because life just got in the way? Are they things that you loved and found great satisfaction in at one time? I'll bet you'll find that if you pick them up again they will provide the same, perhaps more, satisfaction in your soul that they did at one time. These things just might be the ticket to helping you achieve success in a manner that you could not have imagined.

A Bittersweet Evening

My heart is filled with happiness and yet burdened with sadness this evening.

I have had such a good time over the past few days here in Grandbaby-Land!  It's such a joy to see these beautiful babies grow and change.  It astounds me how much difference just a few weeks and months can make.  They're both leaving behind the baby stage and entering the toddler stage already.

I consider myself so blessed in that Gerry and I have been able to spend time with them regularly since they were born.  Yet each time we leave to go back home I leave a little piece of my heart here with them.

The birth of these babies has caused me to reflect much on my life and my priorities, and I've made changes as a result of that personal reflection. 

What's important in my life?  Are my actions in line with what I say my priorities are?  Am I making progress toward future goals?  What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind for these little ones?

 My reflections continue this evening as, once more, I prepare to say good-bye to my precious grandchildren.


People Watching

One of the things that I enjoy about traveling is the opportunity to observe people.  I like to imagine what their story is and why they are traveling.

That older woman there with hair the color of peppermints carrying the beautiful Vera Bradley bag? She is a recent widow on her way to visit her daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren.  That beautiful bag contains hard candy and her current knitting project. She's feeling somewhat lost in this huge airport as well as in the life she is forced to build for herself now.

Do you see that other slender woman sitting by herself over there?  She's got her laptop out and she's deep in thought as she taps the keys.  She's a writer on her way to a destination she has never been before to do research for her latest book.  Now and then she looks up from her laptop and out into a space that we cannot see as her imagination takes her far away from the hard plastic chair she is sitting on.

See that young girl with hopeful eyes and chestnut hair pulled back?  She has a book and a highlighter on her lap; she is fiddling with her iPod right now.  She's on her way back to university after enjoying a Christmas break at home with family. There is a young man she's looking forward to seeing back at school, and she wonders if she'll find the nerve to try and get to know him better this semester.

I could go on but the point is that everyone has a story, and in thinking about the stories of others we can find inspiration for our own stories. And maybe, if we're fortunate, a measure of compassion for those other weary travelers.

Welcome, we've been waiting for you!

My granddaughter celebrated her first birthday on Saturday.  It's astounding to think about all of the milestones that this little one has passed over the past twelve months.

I could not help but reflect on that day when she was born and the anticipation we felt as we waited for her to arrive.  After she was born, her proud Dad came smiling into the waiting room proclaiming "It's a girl, and she's beautiful!" and I cried and hurried down the hall to meet her.  My first words to her were "Welcome, we've been waiting for you!".

Imagine just for a moment, that glorious day when you and I arrive in our heavenly home; we will have passed many milestones by that time as well.  There will be Someone there proclaiming those words over us as well.  "Welcome, we've been waiting for you!"  What a thought!


One of the things about the beginning of a new year is the opportunity to take a fresh look at my personal goals and priorities. I can do without the hype of New Year's Eve, or the traditional weight loss focus that January brings, and most certainly the list of resolutions that seem to spring forth on the first day of the year.

For me it's more about taking stock of where I am spending my time and attention, and taking stock of whether or not what I say my priorities are lines up with where I focus my time and effort and this year.

It's not acceptable to say that I'm too busy to spend time on the things that I feel are the gifts that God has given me. Rather, I need to get eliminate the chaff that steals my time and attention and takes away from time that I should be honing my skills. I am not the best writer in the world, I am not even in the top one thousand, but I do have some skill and interest in that area. This year, more than ever, I am putting writing at the top of my list of things to focus on. I am going to be deliberate about carving time out of my days and weeks to hone my craft, and to work on writing projects.

I'm also going to try and focus more of my attention outward; this will be a challenge given that I'm by nature an introvert who is very comfortable with solitude. My focus outward may not look like what the next person's would but it will be suited for my unique personality and character. I tutor a little girl in reading once a week; it's satisfying to see the growth in her and to get to know her more each week. There's something more there that I can do, something for me to think about. There are other areas that I am involved with on the fringe that I will be praying about to find out if I need to step up my involvement.

I also want to spend more time with friends and family. Sometimes I cringe at the thought of socializing and would much rather stay home with a good book, but I'm most often glad that I put forth the effort when all is said and done. I will do more of that this year.

Finally, included with my list of goals and priorities will be something about not over-extending myself. I will take time to just "be Linda". After all, isn't that who God created me to be?