A short time ago I started a simple yoga stretching routine in the morning. Yoga, I thought, something slow and simple like that I can handle. I was looking for something that would stretch my aching body, help with pain management and perhaps provide some relaxation and stress relief at the same time. Low impact, slow, nothing that I could injure myself at, right? Wrong!

I've pulled a muscle or something and now I am hobbling around like an old woman. Every time I stand up, with each step I take, I am in more pain than I was before I started. I am not even sure what exactly I did to cause this, but I've pulled something somewhere somehow.

But I do enjoy putting my yoga outfit on each morning, rolling out my yoga mat, and setting out my yoga block and strap, and putting on my yoga DVD. I can even talk myself into believing that I am doing somthing that will benefit me in the long run.

Gotta love this aging thing.

Grandma Time

I was out and about yesterday running errands. It was a pleasant day - no rain for a change - and I enjoyed listening to the light jazz playing on NPR as I made my rounds. First stop: the post office, I had a fresh batch of books to mail to SCBR reviewers. I am finally learning to navigate my way around the convoluted road system in downtown Auburn and made it in and out without getting lost or turned around. Chalk one up for me!

Second stop was the Natural Food Store in Federal Way. We are working on making changes in our diet both for health reasons and because we think it is the right thing to do. I stocked up on fresh organic produce, eggs, tofu, and a few other odds and ends before heading upstairs where they have a deli and other natural products like lotions and things of that sort. As I browsed the aisles (where I found a gorgeous cotton shawl that followed me home) a little girl and her grandma came running over to the essential oil section.

She must have been about two years old and her eyes sparkled as she reached up toward the oils. Grandma had promised that her good behavior would earn her the opportunity to smell each different fragrance. I smiled at the pair as I heard Grandma tell Little Miss that “Grandma has made pretty bottles like this at home. They must be thirty-five years old.” I doubted that the words meant much to Little One, but I considered that day-after-day, month-after-month, year-after-year, as Grandma told these stories to Little Miss they would become a part of her.

From the Natural Food Store I continued on to Barnes and Noble. I had learned that they had a Dummies book specific to the fancy schmancy camera that Gerry bought a few weeks ago. Though we have attended two classes, honestly much of the instruction was way over my head. I hope that the Dummies book will be remedial enough to help me to begin using this camera the way it’s intended.

I found the book and then headed over to the children’s section. How sweet it is to have a reason to browse in the children’s book section again! There, sitting on a tiny chair was another Grandma reading to her grandson. Little Guy was younger than the Little Miss at the Natural Food Story, and in typical boy-manner was having trouble concentrating fully on the story that Grandma was reading. Grandma continued to read, gently drawing his attention back when in wandered. I knew what a gift she was giving to Little Guy on that day as she read to him, and I suspected that she read to him often.

As I traveled home the longing for my own grandchildren intensified. Jaxon had his second birthday this week! It seems like yesterday that I held him for the first time! Now he likes Manny the Handyman, and hockey (true Canadian child that he is!), and even sleeps in a “big boy bed”.

Makiya is eighteen months old and can point out a plethora of animals and colors and shapes in her picture books, she says sweet little things like ‘tickle, tickle, tickle’, and best of all knows how to say “grandma”.

As a child I didn’t have the blessing of a grandma in my life who would read to me and take me shopping; it will be different for Jaxon and Makiya.

I am feeling very homesick this morning. It’s time to head back to the “old country” for some grandma time.


In this country we are very conscious of being sensitive to ethnic and cultural diversity. We pay close attention to the diverse nature of our workforce and believe strongly that a diverse workforce is a strong workforce.  We have come a long way.

I work for a corporate entity that is considerate of employee well-being and the diversity of it's workforce. If I were to break a limb I would get a preferred parking space at work; if I were to become ill I have the relative security of short and long-term disability plans; if I have a family emergency and need to leave work unexpectedly I don't think twice about it. I am fortunately to be able to spend my day with a great group of people, each one carrying his or her own degree of personal diversity.

I was taught at an early age to be considerate of those around me and I have tried to do that throughout my life, with varying degrees of success to be sure. I've read things about how we as corporate employees  prefer to send an email to a co-worker across the hall rather than taking a few steps into their office to talk to them face-to-face. I would say we have moved past that into thinking it's okay to yell to co-workers across the hall or even a few doors down the hall with little regard for those who may be trying to work around us.

People! If you have something to say to someone get out of your chair and go to them and have the conversation.  Be considerate of those trying to work around you!

Then there are the so-called teaming events and games that have overtaken us.  At first it was fun to spend an hour or so every few months taking a break from the stressful routine of work and do something different.  Now we have ongoing games that creep their way into everything we do. As always, there are those who are hard-wired for games and events and they are in their glory.  Others, at risk of being called out as not being team-players, have begun to rebel against the onslaught of "fun activities" and boycott activities. 

When I go shopping, almost without fail, I come across people talking on their cell phones while they go about their business.  It's rude and it's inconsiderate to continue a phone conversation while standing in front of a check-out person at the grocery store.  If the roles were reversed and the check-out person chatted away on a phone while scanning your groceries, would that be okay?  Come on!

Sunday afternoons: if it's sunny and warm I want to be outside enjoying the day.  I'm often surrounded by the sound of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, lawn edgers, motorized skateboards, and even music coming from the windows of cars as they drive past. When I was a girl there were bylaws about maintaining the peace and quiet on Sundays.

By nature, and by choice, I tend toward the quiet, introverted, and introspective sort and frequently I feel assaulted by the cacophony of voices and activity around me.  I can't be the only one!

"In quiet and confidence is your strength." (Isaiah 30:15).

Life Changing

Megan noticed first, my cute little hairstylist who looks so different every time I see her that I sometimes barely recognize her. This time, her hair was the same beautiful copper color as that of my granddaughter's, it was cut shorter than last time I saw her, and she wore stylish glasses.

As she prepared to start cutting my hair after shampooing and giving me the most heavenly scalp massage, she hesitated for a moment.

“Have you noticed the curl in your hair?” she asked.

Curl? My hair? Not a chance! Much to my chagrin, I’ve fought with stick-straight hair my entire life, but as I looked where she was indicating, there was a bit of curl! Now where in the world did that come from, I wondered. She began to play with my hair and fluff it here and there, and sure enough more curls began to form!

Can hormones change hair from straight to wavy? Perhaps it was the never-ending rain and cloudy skies here in the Pacific Northwest that caused my hair to change from its natural form (probably not, but I'm sure this ugly weather is changing something within me). Whatever the cause, I was intrigued.

This morning after my shower I did something I haven’t done since I was a girl; I let my hair dry naturally. Oh, I fluffed it a bit, applied some product, and arranged it and rearranged it, and then I left it alone and let it dry without the benefit of my blow dryer and round brush. And, you know, I think it looks pretty good! A light spritz of hair spray and I’m good to go!

This change in my hair routine could revolutionize my life let alone my morning routine! Just think of the extra time I will have for writing, blogging, yoga, catching up on email, or whatever I choose! This could be the catalyst that enables me to finish the next draft of my book according to my self-imposed timeline!

Take note all you writer friends of mine: check your hair tomorrow morning to see if you too have some newly formed curls that will give you some extra writing time too!

More Celebrating

I am celebrating with my friend Kim Richardson and with the fortunate folks at Behler Publications who have welcomed Kim and given her powerful book The Unbreakable Child a "forever home"!
Watch for the book to come out in October.

Your heart will break as you read Kim's story, but you will also be inspired as you read of her faith and forgiveness. 

Kim is a true hero.

P.S.  Guess who is honored to be working on putting together discussion questions to be included at the end of the book?


Gerry recently got a new DSLR camera and we took our first class last week. You know it's a good camera when you have to take a class to use it correctly. I have so much to learn, but spent a bit of time outside today playing around. The instructor said we would have to take 500 bad pictures before we started taking really good ones so I thought I better get started!


Yesterday I finished the latest draft of my memoir! The sense of satisfaction I had coming out of Office Depot with the printed spiral-bound copy was like none other.  I feel that I have nailed the structure this time and fleshed out what I want to communicate with this book.  The value-add for me is that I have learned more about myself, gained a new perspective on certain circumstances, and have a greater sense of gratitude about my life. Not bad for more than a year's work!

I'm going to set the manuscript aside for a few weeks before beginning the next draft.  I had set a personal goal to finish this draft before the warm summer weather arrived. (Mother Nature, if you're reading this you can bring on the warm summer weather anytime now!  We have had enough rain, honest!)

I did some quiet personal celebrating yesterday afternoon in the form of enjoying a Carmel Macchiato while shopping for shoes.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

I'm doing additional celebrating in the form of a blog makeover.  I thought that the Velvet Room could use a bit of a lift, after all we all enjoy a new outfit now and then don't we?!  I hope you like the new look!


It’s a popular concept in business: Value Add. It refers a marketing strategy that offers something that increases the perceived value of a product in the eyes of the customer. It could be something like a rebate, free delivery of the purchased item, a guarantee, or loyalty rewards. It is a term that irritates me in the same way as many other marketing tactics that seem to assume limited-intelligence on the part of the customer.

This morning I accidentally stumbled upon an application for the term that I can relate to; I had my own value-add epiphany.

I started new morning routine a few weeks ago that I alluded to here. My body has been crying out to me of late, and I’ve been wise enough this time to listen and react to what I know I need to do for my physical and mental well-being. I need to stretch; I need gentle exercise; I need to move.

One step I have taken is to start a simple yoga stretching routine every morning. I have shied away from yoga in the past assuming it was some kind mystical practice that I wanted to part of in my life. I have found, however, that a simple routine in the morning has begun to satisfy the craving in my body for stretching. Perhaps it is coincidence but I find that I am more emotionally balanced and my thinking is clearer these days.

This morning I realized another benefit of my changed morning routine.

Last night Gerry and I were up later than normal as we attended our first photography class. Truth be told, I was struggling to stay away toward the end of the class. (A class that goes to 9:30pm? It must be geared toward the younger generation!) This morning when I heard the voice of the NPR news commentator at 4:45 the time I normally rise, I reached over and hit the snooze button a few times until I found the strength to rise from my fitful sleep and begin the day. Bottom line: no yoga routine this morning.

As I stood at the bathroom vanity this morning and leaned toward the mirror to apply makeup, I discovered eyes that were puffier and more bloodshot than they were the day before, and skin that seemed to sag just a little more than I remembered.

I realized that for the past few weeks I have taken time for myself in the morning before putting my face on for the rest of the world. Whether it is a result of the grounding and relaxation, or whether it’s because I have not been immediately beginning my morning ablutions when I rise, I look better by the time I get to the bathroom mirror.

The physical and emotional benefits yoga is providing me are wonderful. The value-add is that I see a fresher, more relaxed, and younger looking face in the mirror in the morning.

That works for me!

Mother's Hands

I have worn contact lenses since I was a teenager and few years ago I got reading glasses to wear over my contacts for seeing things close up. 

First thing in the morning when my eyes are naked, so to speak, without the benefit of a corrective lens of any kind I see some things clearest of all and sometimes what I see startles me. Like the other morning when I saw my hands and realized that they are no longer the hands of a young woman.

At first I was somewhat dismayed to find that my hands have aged along with the rest of my body. Fine lines crisscross the back at all angles; flesh that was once taut and firm is now softer and lies in soft folds at the base of my fingers; a bluish vein snakes a prominent path from one side to the other.

I recognized the hands as those of my mother. Mom was almost exactly four years older than I am today when she passed away. It has been twenty-five years since I saw her, I barely recall what her voice sounded like, yet I recognized her hands when I saw them that morning.

They were the hands that fed me, bathed me, caressed me, played with me, and even occasionally spanked me. They were the hands that cooked for our family, cleaned our home, painted our walls, mowed our lawn, and planted gladiola bulbs in the spring. They were the hands that made crumb cake, banana bread, peanut butter cookies, and heavy brandy-soaked Christmas cake. They were the hands that sewed dresses and knit mittens and scarves. They were the hands that poured peroxide on my skinned knees and held me when I cried. They were the hands that smelled like Jergens hand lotion.

They were the hands that held my mother’s head in them as she wept when she was told that my father had died. They were the hands that held mine and my sister’s when we walked to the front of the sanctuary to stand before his casket on that surreal day when he was laid to rest.

My hands, the hands of a woman who is no longer young, have their own story.  Tucked within the wrinkles and folds is the story of my life.  What point would there be in longing for the youthful hands I once hand or despairing over the changes that have taken place? 

After all, my hands are also the hands of a mother.

A Goal Without a Plan

Recently, I've had conversations someone about our respective five-year plans.  I have a five-year plan for certain areas of my life and I'm realizing that I need to put together a concrete plan for other areas as well. 
After all "A goal without a plan is just a wish" (Antoine de Saint-Exupery), right?

I happened to glance up at my magnetic poetry board today and noticed that I had formed sentence fragments about wishing for something.

I long to write but .....
I long to garden but ....
I long to read but ....
I long to believe but ....

What wishes or longings are whispering to you right now? What is the "but" that is holding you back from having them? What goals do you need to put in place today to help you move closer to obtaining them?