A Deliberate Act

23 07 2014

Several weeks ago, I read this interesting little snippet of language: a beautiful and clever woman named Danielle Duffy said she was going to “create deliberate joy.”  Isn’t that a lovely idea?

Create Deliberate Joy.

I am a happy person. I wake up each morning with the feeling that the day is going to be a great one.  Of course, some days, that feeling is slapped out of me by some unexpected unpleasantness, but that does not stop me from arising with the same positive feeling the next day.

Create Deliberate Joy.

Something turned over in my mind, the moment I read those words.

Yes, I am a happy person, but the idea of creating joy – consciously – actively – is different and exciting.  It’s wonderful to be happy, but how thrilling it is to go from being happy to “doing” happy, to look for ways to grow more of it and to share it with others.

Danielle’s declaration, Create deliberate joy, has set me on a path that has improved my already damn fine life.  I am taking every opportunity to engage with my happiness. I am not taking it for granted. I am noticing the goodness, paying attention to all the wonderful things around me.  I am also – and this is not easy for me, for, even though I wear an extrovert’s clothing, I am truly an introvert at heart – reaching out to others to create deliberate joy for them, too.

If this sounds a little bit too intangible, are you ever mistaken!  One of the surest ways for me to create deliberate joy is not only tangible, it’s smell-able and taste-able – Orange Creamsicle Cookies, a recipe I’ve, in my opinion, perfected and share with you, here, so you can create some deliberate joy of your very own. I can tell you, it created some deliberate joy at the neighbor’s house, yesterday!


Orange Creamsicle Cookies  – PKL

2 ½  c  flour

¾  t      baking soda

1/2  t    salt

1 c       unsalted butter, softened

¾ c      sugar

¼ c      firmly packed brown sugar

2          medium eggs

1 t        vanilla extract

The zest – outer orange part, only – of 2 large oranges

2        Ghirardelli white chocolate bars, hacked into approximately quarter- to half-inch chunks (Yes, the chips are cheaper,

           but do NOT substitute. The bar is much better quality!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Cream butter and sugars until light. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Blend in orange zest. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in white chocolate chunks.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake about 8 minutes or until golden brown around edges. Do not overcook! Cool for a minute on cookie sheets before transferring to rack to cool completely.

Store in airtight container – who am I kidding – eat them all, immediately!

Boy, am I Full!

16 07 2014

My heart is broken. That’s surely an odd phrase; what does it mean?

For me, when I lost my sweet Jessica, it meant I needed to wear a cast made from the love of my family and friends and a sling of fond memories until it healed.

My broken heart has mended. There is still a big nasty scar and I find I rely on that sling when it feels particularly heavy, but it works.

My heart works.

When we feel the wound of great loss, for a while, it surely seems as though it could be a mortal blow, but it isn’t. Our hearts are not meant to die with our loved ones; they are meant to rebound with renewed appreciation for what we had, what we have, and what is yet to come.

My heart is full.  This is an equally interesting one.

To me, it means to be so aware of all the love around and within us that, like a toddler with a full glass of juice, we can’t help but slosh some out and get it all over the people around us. That’s why hearts full of love always have the ability to hold more.

Splash that love around.

Jump into it with both feet.

Litter your neighborhood with it like cosmic confetti.

Even if your heart is broken, the exercise will do it good.

My broken-mended heart is full.  If your heart needs some love, I hereby give you some of mine.

purple pavement a 6-24-14

This post is dedicated to a dear friend and his sweet mother.  Love and strength and peace to Big Henry and his family.

I Left My Heart (in Boiling Springs, while I was) in San Francisco

9 07 2014

An all-expense-paid luxury week-long vacation in San Francisco???

You are so lucky!

Yes, I am lucky. I have the most wonderful family anyone could imagine – including a sister-in-law whose stellar career success is surpassed only by her generosity.  San Francisco is just the latest in a long line of wonderful family getaways; she spares no expense and is tireless in her effort to find something great for every family member to experience.

Yes, I am lucky . . . so why do I find myself gazing out the window of my gorgeous hotel room on a grand California morning, watching the water in the bay rippling gently, the fog playing tag with the sun and clouds, and wishing with all my heart to be looking out my kitchen window at the weeds in my own back yard?

It must be that I am just shallow.  I am not sophisticated, so I can’t appreciate all the wonders of travel. Yeah, that’s it. I’m shallow. Well, no, that’s not it. I am the opposite of shallow.

My roots run deep.  Home nourishes me; it is where I flourish.

I understand that some folks crave new places and experiences.  They need to travel. Every glorious nomadic creature, each of Nature’s migratory jewels, though, needs stable places to rest on the journey. Butterflies and birds are magnificent, but they would be in real trouble without their deep-rooted tree buddies.

San Francisco, you’re beautiful, but my heart belongs to home.

Shall We Play a Game?

2 07 2014

I come from a family loaded with avid board game players.  From Sorry and Yahtzee, as kids, to Trivial Pursuit, 25 Words or Less, or anything else that might induce a brain cramp in our decidedly un-athletic, but extraordinarily competitive pack; our family motto is “Play to Win, but Play Fair!”

What I like about board games is that there is a specific intended outcome and there are clearly defined available moves. The tools and choices available are the same for every player; to win, you just have to use those tools more skillfully than your opponents.  Level playing field, clear goals, well-defined sequence of play, fixed parameters: these are the ingredients of a good game.

Seems that we could use that clarity of purpose and step-by-step approach in other, more important, areas of life, especially in cases where lots of us (even all of us) are expected/required to do something . . .  say something required by our government . . .  getting health insurance, for example.

I am good at following directions, playing the game by the rules.  I am not at all comfortable playing a game that I don’t know where the goal is and the rules are subject to change without prior notice. That’s the experience I felt, when I tried to change my health insurance coverage.

The details of my skirmish are not important. What is important is that if I –a pretty well-educated person, a person with twenty-five years’ experience in the insurance industry (!), a person who is perfectly capable of handling every other aspect of keeping my stuff together, a person who is pretty much un-intimidate-able – can be made to feel helpless; what does it portend for the poor folks with less time to “Hold for the next available associate?”

It’s all fun and games, until someone gets hurt – and finds out, after the fact, what their insurance does not cover.  Play fair, Big Healthcare. You’re going to win, anyway.

For the very young (under 50): watch the trailer at about 0:46, to get my title reference. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0011EQBOS/ref=atv_feed_catalog?tag=imdb-amazonvideo-20


The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

25 06 2014

Tomorrow, my dear husband Ken and I will have been married for twenty-nine years. So far, we have shared lots of laughs, a few very rough patches, and one enormous gaping hole of a wound that will never heal in either of us – the loss of our daughter.

The constant through all these things is that we love each other.

The change over all these years is that we love each other.

“What is she talking about?” you are likely wondering. How can she claim the constant is the change?

Because it is the absolute truth.

I remember the moment I first met my husband. My mouth went suddenly dry, I lost the ability to focus, and I was really sure I did not like him; he made me feel uncomfortable.  I tried desperately to talk myself out of accepting the only reasonable explanation, but, I had to face the fact. It was scary, exciting, dangerous, unpredictable, and tempestuous.  It was not easy, but, there it was.

Yes, I am still glad to hear his car in the garage.  I still smile at the thought of him coming through the kitchen door.  I really do like him; he makes me feel happy.  There is no other explanation for this. Here are the facts.  It is lovely, steadfast, still a little unpredictable, and magnificent. It is easy and it is forever.

So, this is how our love is both the constant and the change:

The love that is the constant is the continuation of the love we had since the beginning.  While fierce and true, it does not compare, though, to the love that’s the result of twenty-nine years of burnishing by mutual respect, shared trials and joys, matching senses of humor, and kindness.

The love that has been the change – that’s the love that outgrew its fears; the love that is confident and strong. If you are fortunate, you will understand, because you will have the same wonderful experience in your life.  I hope you do.

Alright! Who Said That???

18 06 2014

Everyone I know – myself, included – has Twitter and Facebook feeds and Pinterest Boards that are overflowing with fonted-up, fancy-margined, bannerized witticisms.

I really like a lot of them.

Some of them are so impressive, I find myself wanting to read more of the originator’s words to be further dazzled . . . or to discover the context of what I thought was brilliant changed the whole damn meaning . . . you know, to learn.

This is not about copyright or plagiarism or anything so “legal.”  It’s about sharing the wealth of the quick-witted, deep-thinking, earth-changing minds, to which we’ve been introduced by a meme-d, posterized, or otherwise quoted bon mot.  If you post without telling me who was the first thinker of the thought, it will be hard for me to find more of those thoughts. That would be like me sharing a delicious box of chocolates with you and then refusing to tell you where to find more – not very nice.

Please credit the original source.  It is the right thing to do, not just to respect said source – which is a fine reason, by the way – but to help foster discovery and discussion and learning while we check our pins, posts, status updates, and tweets.


Did I say that?

Friendly Fire

11 06 2014

Note: this Father’s Day week post is for my dad, whom I miss very much, who never lost his self-respect by resorting to any type of bullying behavior toward me or anyone he knew and for my father-in-law who raised two sons who are kind and confident and who have no need to prove they’re tough guys.

Ever been to a family picnic and encountered kid who’s just hit max testosterone; the kid who, since last time you saw him, has grown stubble and deltoids and at least six inches taller?

Wow, Junior, you’ve become quite the young man since last time I saw you. You must be able to bench press a VW, huh?  While Junior smiles sheepishly at your acknowledgement of his fledgling adulthood, his dad chimes in -

Sure, he’s getting big, but his old man can still kick his ass!

How many times have we heard some version of that one?  What makes some dads feel threatened by their sons, when their boys start to look like men? I’ll venture a guess and say it’s likely the dads who asserted their “parental authority” via their size advantage – when they had one.

Dads who raise their sons with respect and honor and love – and not with threats and fists – have nothing to fear from their man-sized children, because those sons will always be on the same side of a struggle with their fathers, not against them.

Thanks to all the fathers who are always in their kids’ corner.  Your kids grow into magnificent, compassionate, and brave adults.

Happy Father’s Day.


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