It always starts with a choice. Choices begins when your mom says to you (at an age when you’re  beginning to understand such questions)  – “It’s up to you. If you behave  yourself, we can go in the store. If not, we can just go home.” ( I am sure I said that to my kids upon occasion…) Do you want your blankie? Do you want more juice? How about when you finally got to pick out your own clothes – or voice what kind what kind of sandwich you wanted for lunch – or say if you wanted a kitty or a puppy. There is one choice X a million in those formative years.

Then the choices graduated to BIGGER issues. Ah, the teen year choices  – SO many it makes a teen’s head spin, which IS why we need to walk them through this time with some grace and mercy – it is like the whole world has appeared on their doorstep demanding – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? There is one choice X a million in those years

Fast forward past childhood and teenage years, into adult hood and all the moments and seasons and circumstances that hurl at you without warning and unexpected – CHOICES come with every food group, every bill, every child, every vacation, every belief you follow, every single item placed within your home, and on and on. There is one choice X a million in those years.

So you find yourself on the OTHER side of critical life changing choices. Maybe you now only answer to your self. Maybe on the other side of marriage, is now widowhood. Maybe now on the other side of parenthood, is now an empty nest. Maybe on the other side of happiness, is…..wait. Other side? There is another side to happiness? Yes. Happiness comes from the outside of your life – things that make you happy ~ they can be big or small ~ such as a vacation on a cruise ship can make you happy just as well as a bowl of pine  cones or a favorite coffee creamer. The other side of happiness is NOT based on things, and is not contingent on tangible things or even your feelings.

The other side of happiness is JOY. And it IS a choice. Hit song – “Happy” ~~~WHY is this SO popular?  BECAUSE WE ALL JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY.  The irony of this is – I can have a big house and find no satisfaction. I can have a ton of friends, and still feel alone. I can have all the ‘toys’, power, fame, bank accounts, and prime vacation spots and STILL be depressed. Happiness is fleeting. That is why you see people who you think SHOULD be happy, and they are not. The definition of HAPPY is:  pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness,  enjoyment, satisfaction. See the word JOY? It IS part of being happy; truly happy. Joy itself means: delight, gladness, triumph, ecstasy, exuberance, euphoria, bliss, rejoicing. The two go together. But ONE is a choice. So, choose JOY. Embrace life….NOT only allowing things to determine your level of delight…joy is an INSIDE thing. It is that peace in the storm thing…it is what holds you together when by all means you should be falling apart. It is MORE than a feel-good fleeting moment that ends when that Pumpkin Latte is gone.

Do I always feel happy? Nope. But in its absence, I can still have joy. I can still have an inner glow in my soul that assures me All Is Well. JOY is a matter of the heart. It is NOT determined by outside forces and if you protect it, it can NOT be stolen by outside forces. After the house is gone, the car is gone, the mate is gone, the family is gone and even the family pet is gone – we can STILL rejoice. joy imageThis is my ONE choice  in these years – after all is said, and done, and gone, I still choose JOY.



courageI just left home. No, I am not 18. I am 57. 🙂 I am moved 3000 miles away. AND it’s my first time ever, to live on my own. My journey thus far ~ from a family home to college. From college to marriage. From marriage to 6 kids. From there, loss of husband, and now empty nest. There is my life in a very small nutshell. So, nope. NEVER lived on my own. Till last Saturday. Just me. 2 heavy suitcases, and 2 carry ons, and “20 seconds of insane courage”! haha! (Favorite movie quote from ‘I Bought A Zoo’.)  🙂

20 seconds to walk on to the plane, to move 3000 miles away. Is this a forever move? Probably not. I am guessing it’s just another chapter in the book of my life. Am I excited? yup! VERY. Am I scared? yup! VERY. Did I  chicken out? NO. 🙂

Telling anyone this, just to say ~ sometimes the only way to break out of your comfort zone, is just to do it. It is so easy to do the easy thing; to stick with what is familiar, and secure. And for sure, there is nothing wrong with that. There are times and seasons where we are meant to stay put, and others when we are meant to do something different/change/move. It takes wisdom to know timing.  If you are a mother of 6 kids, you just can’t decide to up and move away on a great adventure. Definitely NOT time. But, when your 6 kids are on their own, sure! Another quote from ‘I Bought A Zoo’ ~”Why not?”


Having just come through a 10 year loss of my husband, and facing the proverbial empty nest (after raising 6 children), I find myself with a lot of questions about what to do next. Quite honestly, I have no clue. I was fortunate enough to be given a great gift of TIME; some much needed away time to think, pray, regroup, a little panic of course, and a whole lot of writing. This past year I had 2 knee replacements. I had the knees of an 80 year old (that’s what the x-rays showed), but inside of me I knew was still beating the heart of much younger, still had a lot of life left woman (I am just in my 50’s. I like the word JUST:)). Fast forward to now, 12 months later, I feel like a million bucks! (I even played out in the snow yesterday, and I am pretty sure I have NOT done that in years!)I am officially pain-free, after a good 18 years of increasing pain. The physical pain is gone, but the pain of losing my mate, is a part of  me; there is no heart replacement. And you know what? If there was, I wouldn’t want one. I earned this pain; this pain reminds me of the amazing life I had with my amazing one-of-a-kind husband! With every stabbing pain of loss, is attached a happy memory – I am learning to give and take with this pain experience. Yes, I did say I lost him 10 years ago, and No I am not over it; nor will I ever be. How can time erase something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with time? Love is a matter of the heart, and it remains exactly as it ever was. I have found this very healing; I have found I can laugh and cry within minutes of each other, and know that its normal, and I am not losing my mind. When you lose a loved one, the worst thing you can do for yourself is to compare how you think you are doing, with how you think others are doing. The journey is yours, and yours alone, and as you learn to breathe again, love again, dance again, and dream again, it doesn’t take away from the face that that person is not there. So, maybe you can walk some roads with me in this blog, and see that the pain and the joy go hand in hand, and that someday you will be okay with that. Maybe not today, or tomorrow. but, someday……I know I am.