Journal

Choose Love

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Journal

Stay Weird


I was hunting in my closet for something to wear. At one point in time my closet was organized so all clothing of a particular color were together. It has now returned to a multi-colored mess. As I reached for a white blouse I thought, “No, it’s past Labor Day, I can’t wear white.” Who made that rule and why?

I have very long blonde hair that I am told should be short because I am older. A teacher I worked with actually said, “When are you going to get a hairstyle? You should cut your hair. You wear it up anyway.” I have no idea who made her the hair police, but I actually like my hair and wear it up because working with second graders means I lean over to help them with their work. Why do I need to explain? In retrospect, a simple, “I don’t want to cut my hair” might shut down all judging. What happened to, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything?

At my age I will wear anything I want! Rant over.


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Welcoming The New

For six years I have taught an online course for a university. I enjoy staying connected to education by instructing teachers who are earning a Master’s Degree. So far I have only taught one course on Literacy and Reading and enjoy it very much. Today I was asked to teach an additional course on The Art and Craft of teaching. The university’s confidence in my abilities mean a great deal to me.

I am grateful for the additional course and the opportunity to instruct undergraduates. I genuinely hope I can continue to be a part of guiding future teachers.

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Journal

Rest

It’s good to take an inventory of how you’re doing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Taking time to rest is an opportunity to recharge our batteries. If we don’t get enough sleep at night, we need to rest during the day. That’s a luxury that most people don’t have. It takes determination and commitment to stop all activity, turn off all devices, and go to sleep.

I discovered that apps like Headspace and Aura offer soothing music and meditations that assist in restorative sleep. The difference is remarkable.

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Unplugged

I did it. I booked a flight to England to visit my granddaughters, daughter and son-in-law. I wrestled with the idea of flying during the pandemic, but felt that with two vaccines and a booster, I am as protected as I can be. The thought of being with family washes over me as I remember the laughter, silly jokes, heart-melting hugs, and general sense of wholeness. I love everything about the life my daughter has made in the UK. There is magic in the way she cooks for her family. Love in every serving. My son-in-law made it a way of life to include belly laughs with the banter that happens the moment he is home from work. My granddaughters share their day at school and everyone settles down for the evening in a very cosy family room.

The flight is my least favorite part of the journey. I try to make the most of it by listening to books on tape or writing in a journal. To truly unplug, I generally prefer not engaging in conversation with strangers. Books and journaling help me pass the hours. I think about places in Wales that I have been shown that literally took my breath away. If fairies exist, surely they live in Wales. The times I have been there have always given me a sense of peace. I so need that. I need to come back home with a renewed hope for happier days. I will have made new memories to hold onto.




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Journal

What’s Important

I got to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters from Wales. It’s been years since we were together. My husband took our 10 year old out to the beach to teach her to surf.The little ones played in the sand and got their feet went in the ocean. I couldn’t wait to see the cousins meet for the first time. To hear my son and his youngest sister laugh took me back to when they were children. We kayaked, took walks, saw sunsets together and watched their children play. Our otherwise quiet home was filled with sounds of love and joy. These moments are what is important.





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Truth

I said goodbye to my family from Wales. They came for a short visit as we have not seen them in years. I stood in line at the airport waiting for their turn to put their bags on the scale and show their passports. I looked at how much my granddaughters have grown since I last saw them. The tears came with intensity. Their presence brought life, laughter and love to my otherwise lonely, quiet house. I prefer a messy house full of love and life to being alone in a quiet, tidy house.

They divided their time in California to accommodate divorced parents. The stark contrast in climate and lifestyle was quite dramatic. They saw the high desert and the beach on their visit. We learned that time spent in a car to travel to any attraction is not worth our time. It was a unanimous decision (after the fact) that enjoying our beach town offered all the excitement that we could ask for. We made the long journey to Big Sur, and it is breathtaking, but being together at home was a much better use of time. The oldest grandchild learned to surf.

I can still hear their laughter. Cousins meeting for the first time is magical. I have a greeting card that says, ” She said she usually cries each day, not because she is sad, but because the world is so beautiful and life is so short.”

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Journal

Grow Your Mind

Ever since I was a child I have loved books. I found the joy of traveling in my mind to exotic places where I could experience adventure, and become someone else. I could be a scientist, an explorer, a hero or a villain. Each book brought new possibilities.

Everywhere I went I would be sure to bring a book. Being called a bookworm was not offensive to me. I preferred reading to interacting with those who didn’t share my fascination with books. I can only assume that a person who doesn’t enjoy reading has not found the right book that captures their interest. To this day I carry a book with me (sometimes on the Kindle app on my phone).

I like to explore various genres to broaden my choices and gather information. There is much to be gained by selecting a book on a topic that has been on your mind. I knew I liked pictures of New Zealand, but reading about it and learning customs, culture and history has increased my knowledge base substantially. When discussing a topic it is always better to have facts from reliable sources. I never realized how much I would enjoy nonfiction books, but the information enhances my vocabulary while strengthening my knowledge base. A real win!

Historical fiction and thrillers are the latest genres that appeal to me. I have had the pleasure of joining two online book clubs and have engaged in discussions with a few authors. It opens up an entire world once your mind is open to learning from an author’s perspective. It’s often surprising when I find myself challenging my own long held beliefs. In that way books are helping me grow my mind.

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Family Time

I like to think that even if you did not have the opportunity to grow up in a loving, nurturing, healthy home, you can still create that kind of home for your own children. It is never too late to start building the kind of life you want. I am blessed with great kids and like to think I am much wiser as a grandma than I was as a mother. Time and experiences along the way helped to shape my priorities. I know how much laughter, forgiveness and feeling confident are essential elements in every day life.

My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters are visiting here from Wales. Every second with them is a treasure. Sitting at the dining room table as I listened to my daughter, I thought of how proud I am of her and her capacity to love. My oldest granddaughter helped me in the kitchen. The little one celebrated her 5th birthday here, in the US, complete with a unicorn theme. These moments are precious. There aren’t enough of them. All I want to do is make memories that they will cherish and pass on to their children one day.



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Journal

Stay Safe Out There

I was in the grocery store to pick up a few items. I wore my mask and assumed that others would also. Not so. I pushed my cart through the produce section and a very large man yelled at me, “You don’t need a damn mask!” He scared me. I got out of the store quickly. The sign on the entrance said, “Masks required.” About half the people I saw were not wearing masks. I am fully vaccinated, and even got a booster shot. I am protecting others, as well as myself. What if I had a kidney transplant? What if I had a compromised immune system? The what ifs are endless. I should not have to respond to such an unfiltered verbal assault, and to be honest, I was too frightened so I did not respond.

The cases of Covid are going up in our little area. I am being responsible and this is a public health emergency. Hopefully we can all see that. We will all die someday, but if you know there is a vaccine that will provide some protection, why not take it? I watched my mother die gasping for air, and I imagine that being on a ventilator isn’t much fun. I lost an aunt and an uncle to covid. I hope that we all make it through this horrible virus. I hope we care about our fellow citizens enough to do what will help them survive.



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Journal, Teacher Tips

Don’t Be Afraid to be Silly

It’s good medicine to laugh. It’s even better to have a belly laugh. This is a great way to begin the day, a meeting, the school year. According to Psychology Today, “A hearty chuckle releases endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters and endorphins are part of the reason laughing is so contagious. Laughing also has many health benefits such as increasing blood flow and improving mental and physical resilience. In fact, it’s not unlike a vigorous workout session.”

Interesting facts:

“The eminent psychologist on laughter, Robert Provine, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland, agrees that laughter isn’t really about humor. He contends that it’s more about relationships. Cutting-edge humor straight out of Comedy Central is great, but people actually laugh more in conversation and through interaction. Provine has unearthed a few facts on laughter including:

  • Laughter bonds people through prosocial behavior
  • It’s a contagion
  • Women laugh 126 percent more than men
  • Mating would be nowhere without it
  • Men want to generate laughter and they need women who will laugh
  • Women are commonly laughter appreciators”

Here are some research-supported tips for using humor to increase retention:

Do

  • Use humor to enhance classroom joy
  • Use humor to develop a sense of community
  • Use content-related humor
  • Use age-appropriate humor
  • “Sandwich” humor between instruction and repetition

Avoid

  • Sarcasm
  • Cruel or inappropriate humor
  • Forced humor
  • Off-topic humor
  • Too much humor



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Journal

Life is Good

I spent part of the day with my grandson. It was just the two of us. When it was time to take a nap I asked him to select two books that I would read to him. He ran into his room and brought back two of his favorites. I always say, “Be sure you are comfortable so you can enjoy the story.” He got a pillow and put it right near me. We looked at the pictures first and found things we liked. We talked about what the story might be about. He snuggled next to me as I read to him. When I finished, I told him that I was very tired and needed to rest my body. He looked at me and said, ” You’re a good grandma and I love you.” He put his arm around me and fell asleep that way. I think I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. I thought about how good it is to be alive to witness those kind of moments. In spite of all the bad times, events that make me want to disappear, there are moments that are precious beyond words. I am grateful that I lived to have moments like this; to see that there are sparkling moments in life that are just around the corner.



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Kayaking on the Bay


Today was the perfect day to take out our kayaks. My son, daughter-in-law and grandkids joined us on this sunny day. I paddled with them out to dunes to let the kids explore the dunes. They are no strangers to the area as their home is very close to the bay. We were treated to otters and seals who seemed to greet us. There were lots of families who had the same idea on this gorgeous day. The kids love to climb the hills and slide down. They both love to wade near the shore, and there were a few tears when it was time to leave. Such a lovely way to spend a Saturday.


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Disconnect


My husband treated me to dinner at a very nice restaurant recently. What did I do the moment I sat down? I pulled my phone from my purse and checked emails and Facebook. It’s become a habit, even though I know it’s not only rude, it robs me of being completely in the moment. I have been making an effort to stow my cell phone in another room before I go to bed. It’s not a coincidence that I am sleeping better. I made a list of things I could do rather than checking my phone:

  1. Write a letter to the person or business that you appreciate or are concerned about. It could be a family member or a friend you haven’t heard from in awhile. Write a compliment to a business that is doing good job during a pandemic. Make their day.
  2. Read a book that you have been meaning to get to (not during dinner).
  3. Go through your closet and drawers and donate items you do not wear. Put the bundle in your car to remind you to drop it off.
  4. Clean out your refrigerator and make sure you dump outdated food.
  5. Clean window ledges, and your windows while you’re there.
  6. Plan out your next vacation. List possibilities.
  7. Go to dinner without your cell phone. Leave it in your car. Enjoy precious time.



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About Me, Journal

Grandma’s First Contact

Featured Post

My youngest daughter lives in the UK. I live in California. When she shared the news of her pregnancy, I began a series of Letters to My Granddaughter. I felt the urgent need to capture all my emotions and keep a living record of my joy and hope for the future. I wanted my words to wrap her in love, and assure her that I will always be grateful for her life. This tiny girl reminds me of her mama; so sweet. As I held her I thought about how love is limitless. She is in my heart wherever I am.

Here are a few letters I wrote before she was born;

December 31, 2011

Dear Granddaughter,

Right now you are preparing for your entry into the world.  We are all very glad that you got this far and we are anxious to meet you.  Your mom and dad smile when they talk about you. I got to see your movements across your mom’s belly via a wonderful invention called Skype.  I knew that a baby in utero can hear sounds outside the womb, so every time I talk to your mom, I tell her to say that I love you. Soon I will get to say that myself.  Your cradle is amazing, complete with fairy lights all around your room.  You are so loved already.  There are a billion things I want to show you!  I live near the ocean and plan to show you tidepools and teach you what I know about the sea.  Summers will be our time. 

   I love you,

  Grandma

January 2, 2012

Dear Granddaughter,

     It is New Year’s Eve and I don’t like to go out of my house on this day.  Some people think that to celebrate you must drink and alter your mind.  I think it is not a good idea to begin the new year with anything but a clear head full of hopes for the future.  I hope you will have an easy birth.   Our celebration will be clear-headed joy and we will be drinking in the moment.  We are anxious to dance with you, sing to you, and hold you.  Birth is the greatest celebration of all.  

     I love you,

     Grandma

January 12, 2012

Dear Granddaughter,

 2012 is the year you will be born, so it is already filled with hope.  I have so many things I want to accomplish this year.  I want to be the best grandma a child could ask for.  It will be a year of changes for your parents because they will be on a new journey, one in which there is no guidebook.  Being a parent will be their primary job.  They are both busy professionals, but you will be their reason for living, and making a living.  They don’t know it yet, but every single second they spend with you is worth more than any time doing anything else.  It goes by so quickly.  My hope for the new year is that I can get to see you as much as possible.  

     I love you,

Grandma






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Journal, Wisdom

Outdoor Play

I used a card table and a sheet

This picture brought to mind how my cousins and I would make do with whatever was handy to create our own environment for play. We didn’t need expensive toys or electronic devices to entertain us, our imaginations did the work. Our creativity flourished in our grandmother’s garage that housed boxes of old clothes that we used to put on plays. We draped a sheet across the wire that held the garage door and it instantly became a theater. We didn’t care if we had an audience or not. A refrigerator box became a puppet theater.

I remember learning about the lifecycle of frogs long before second grade. The little stream near our home was host to tadpoles, frogs and dragonflies. We were keen observers and had conversations about our discoveries. Holding a caterpillar or a snail was a science lesson. The lessons and experiences gained from outdoor play are stored in longterm memory. I think the most important aspect of outdoor play is that it supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.


Nature promotes the use of executive function skills. Executive function skills are the life skills we use at every age, and that help us stay organized and independent. With unstructured play in nature, children are using creativity to solve problems and working memory to make up stories. They work their flexible thinking skills by testing boundaries and learning how to stay safe while exploring, creating, and having fun. They are strengthening and challenging their own life skills just by playing!






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Growing in a Glove and Dem Bones

Quite a few years ago when I taught a 4/5 combination class

My fourth and fifth graders loved experiments. This was a fun way for them to get a close-up view of germination. We planted sunflower seeds by pressing them onto a moistened cotton ball. We used clear plastic gloves and taped them to the windows. The students documented the progress in their science journals. Great fun!


Dem Bones

When we studied bones we got a bit creative and used qtips.






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Seaglass = Mermaid Tears

After a light rain, I thought about walking on the beach to look for seagrass. I identify with seaglass. I have been broken, beaten against rocks, swept away by winds, and over time my sharp edges have been smoothed by the battering of the elements. I have emerged triumphant and reformed.


Click here to view a video about seagrass.


Seagrass began as a bottle of some sort (perfume, soda, whiskey, etc,)


The rarest color to find is pink, and some purple.


All shapes and sizes


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About Me, Journal

My Beach Life

So many tourists visit our little town, and not just during the summer. The cooler ocean air brings many people from the valley to our area to escape the heat.

The roughed coast of California offers sights that visitors from other areas seldom, if ever, see. I live in a place that is an escape for many. Being a desirable vacation destination means it gets unusually crowded with tourists on holidays. The rest of the time it is peaceful and quiet.

Up the coast we have a viewing site for elephant seals, and if you look up into the nearby hills, you will see Hearst Castle, where zebras, cows and llamas roam the area. The sunsets cause drivers to pull over and to stare in awe. I’m grateful that I live in this beautiful, peaceful place.

Having lived in the high desert for too long, the 23 years I have been on the Central Coast have given me a firm belief that being near the ocean restores body and mind. I am grateful to be lulled to sleep by the waves. Some nights I can hear the seals on the rocks.





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Dream Big

I used to live in the high desert where it can reach 120 degrees F in the summer and sometimes snows in the winter. To be honest, I never felt like it was where I belonged. I longed to live near the ocean where I could feel the cool ocean breeze. I am sure that the high desert has its own charm, but I never saw it. I used to dream about someday living so close to the ocean that I could hear the waves crashing on the shore. I remember a trip north and stopping at The Rock in Morro Bay. The parking lot was packed and the surfers were lined up waiting to catch waves. I sat in the car and wondered what kind of work might afford me the opportunity to someday live in this incredible coastal area. It was a dream I held in my heart.

It sounds trite to say that we never know what the future holds, but I do believe that setting an intention and moving in the direction of your dream, coupled with prayer and doing the legwork, results in positive outcomes. I had lessons to learn and there were many. I always kept my dream of living near the ocean.

I have been a happy coastal resident for 25 years. If you are going to dream, make it big, hold tight to it, be open to change, work hard and give thanks in all things.



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Son of My Son

I was still a teenager when I had my son. I had no idea how to raise a child. I only knew that holding him was the best feeling ever. I knew that loving him would be easy. I had the luxury of staying home and caring for him while his dad went to work. My son received my full attention. I read to him from a variety of books. Teaching him was my full-time job. Playing with him, singing to him, and resting next to him are sealed in my memory. The number one song at that time was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I sang it to him at every nap and bedtime.

When my grandson was born all those sweet memories were visible in his beautiful face. He is inquisitive, fearless, and incredibly loving. I know my son will have the joy of his life with his own son. I am a blessed grandma.

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

The Talmud







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Journal

The Sense of Wonder

Ok This photo of my granddaughter serves to remind me to savor the images and times when I was captivated by someone or something. The sense of wonder is a cause for celebration. She was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and stood inside a tunnel that allowed her to see a wave breaking above her. That sense of awe is something that children encounter often as they have new experiences, ones I have taken for granted. They unabashedly show their feelings, and it is beautiful to watch.

I think it is my grandchildren that opened my eyes to a renewed appreciation for nature. They most definitely savor new experiences. They are expressive and inquisitive. The newness of everything and their sense of wonder is contagious. I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of being a part of their lives. I hope they keep their sense of wonder and embrace new experiences with the same curiosity and enthusiasm.






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Seeing The Light

Many years ago I went through some rough times. I was a single mother living in the high desert. There were times when there wasn’t much money and very little to look forward to. I was in a dark and lonely place with little hope, and blinded to possibilities that were available. At the time I didn’t know where to turn. The feeling of isolation and hopelessness engulfed me. I remember spending days wondering when this endless, trapped feeling would end.

I took a class at the community college to build my confidence. I learned about grants and loans I could apply for that would help me pursue a career of my choosing. I wondered what I was good at (other than cooking, cleaning and raising kids). I thought about teaching because I loved teaching Sunday School. Before I knew it I was completing coursework that would lead to a teaching credential. I learned that education unlocks the door to opportunity and a life of possibility. For me it was life-altering.

I encourage anyone who feels like they are trapped and feeling hopeless to investigate what opportunities await them through coursework. Baby steps enable the confidence to take giant leaps of faith. Go toward a better future.






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Take Me back

If I could go anywhere in the world, I would choose Wales. Hands down it is the most magical, natural, serene land of peace I’ve ever visited. When I read Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth in college, so long ago,
I knew that one day I had to see this inspiring place. Little did I know that my daughter would marry and move to Wales. She and my son-in-law took me to see Tintern Abbey. Stepping inside the ruins, I immediately felt drawn to the beams of light that streamed through the remains of windows. The sense of holiness is overwhelming.

There are a variety of landscapes and landmarks that are scattered throughout Wales. Each one is impressive historically as well as aesthetically.

 Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales. Snowdonia’s magnificent scenery is accentuated by stark and rugged rock formations, many of volcanic origin, whereas the Beacons generally have softer outlines. In the winter it is a wonderland. There are plenty of waterfalls. The uplands are girdled on the seaward side by a series of steep-sided coastal plateaus ranging in elevation from about 100 to 700 feet.

There is a village, Eyam, where the villagers isolated themselves during the plaque. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-35064071 I spent hours looking at the preserved village realizing how selfless the people were to protect others from the deadly disease.






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I Wish






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My Daughter

Dr. Katie

I don’t know how many people can say that their daughter is their best friend, but I can. Katie was a quiet, loving little girl who collected rocks that caught her eye. Her bedroom closet was home to an assortment of rocks that very quickly became a quarry. I used to beg her to clean her room. If I had a crystal ball I may have been able to predict that later in her life she would find archaeology fascinating. I passed by the bathroom and heard her singing in the shower when she was eight years old. This quiet little girl never sang for anyone in her family until I heard her sing. She was part of a singing group in High School where she performed many solos. She aspired to be a rock star (rocks again). My beautiful daughter fell in love in the mountains of Santa Cruz where she met a young British man. They were both camp counselors for the summer. After high school she moved to England to go to college and be with her love. She earned a PhD in Anthropology and Steven is a medical doctor who also has his PhD. They have two lovely girls who are as inquisitive and caring as their parents. Katie has grown into the smartest woman I know. Her capacity to love is limitless. She is wise beyond her years, someone who I call on for advice and validation. I am in awe of her kindness and patience. Today is her birthday and I think I received the greatest gift when she was born. Thank you, God, for this sweet baby girl of mine. 







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Moods

There are mood changers all around us if we look for them. Here’s my list. I encourage you to make your own.

  1. When you smile at someone and they smile back
  2. Fresh flowers on the kitchen table
  3. Find an intact sand dollar
  4. Iced tea on a hot day
  5. Lay in a hammock
  6. Look at old photos
  7. Setting out a hummingbird feeder
  8. Sing in the shower
  9. Keep a journal
  10. Baking bread
  11. Watercolor painting
  12. Volunteer
  13. Walk outside for 30 minutes
  14. Look at the stars
  15. Donate unused items
  16. Plant vegetables
  17. Visit the animal shelter
  18. Write thank you notes
  19. Read a classic
  20. Listen to your favorite music







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Journal, Wisdom

Finding Joy

I have taken a break from any kind of “must do” or social media that tends to take me down a rabbit hole. I have been taking an internal inventory of my values to make sure I am living in alignment with them. It has been a journey of the soul, one that has opened my eyes to the many missed opportunities to right the wrong and stay true to what is important to me. My daily routine includes time on the treadmill listening to music that I love. I put flowers in a vase on my dining room table to remind me of the beauty outside my door. An afternoon nap recharges my energy and reminds me that rest is restorative. I now make my own frozen yogurt so I know exactly what is in it. My experiment in eating 90% plant- based food has proven to be beneficial. I discovered how good cherry tomatoes are as a snack. I squeeze a lime into my water and add crushed ice. I am making simple changes that heal body and mind.

My grandson turns two on Monday and he tugged on my blouse the other day. I turned around and he said, ” I love you, grandma, so so much. You’re a good grandma.” I picked him up, held him, and wanted to freeze time. It really is the little things that feed our soul. There is no doubt that when you stop to acknowledge the good, actively move in the direction of your values, and disconnect from anything that gets you off track, you enjoy the little things. I wish you joy.








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Journal

Rescued

Who Rescued Who? 

I was on my way home from work when my husband called me to ask how I like the Pyrenees. I told him that I absolutely love them. I thought he was referring to the mountain range I saw while traveling through Spain and France. He meant the dog breed. He told me he was at the animal shelter and he wanted me to stop by. What I didn’t know is that my husband had spent hours in an outdoor pen playing fetch, petting and getting acquainted with what I thought resembled a small white horse. I couldn’t say no when he asked if we could take him home.

Once inside our house the giant white dog galloped upstairs and took a bite out of the edge of the coffee table. Not satisfied with that, he went for my Ugg boots and tore them to bits. We chased and yelled, until he came to a stop near my rocking chair. We tried to get him downstairs by enticing him with treats, but not before he bit the legs off my rocking chair. I just cried. My husband kept saying, “ He’s scared and hasn’t learned yet.” I named him Max because he reminded me of the naughty boy from Where the Wild Things Are.

We thought we would try putting Max in the backyard. He chewed the top of our spa cover. I told my husband that either the dog receives training in order to extinguish bad behavior or we find a new home for Max. I obviously lacked the same patience and optimism that my husband had. My husband attended training classes every Saturday and after two months we had a different dog. Max is my husband’s best friend and they are inseparable. It turns out Great Pyrenees are very loyal, protective and gentle.

As for the tiny fur ball, she did not get along with her siblings so I rescued her. I did not name her, but Tootsie seems to fit. She is quite the alarm system when anyone approaches our house. I learned about Great Pyrenees; they are guardian dogs for sheep. I think Max considers Tootsie a baby lamb and he is very protective. Can you tell which one is the trouble maker? Fortunately we have a lovely dog park at the end of our road. The dynamic duo are the best of friends.

Tootsie and Max

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Confidence

More than just thinking positively and with confidence, you have to put it into action. Action, actually, is the key to developing self-confidence. It’s one thing to learn to think positive, but when you start acting on it, you change yourself, one action at a time. You are what you do, and so if you change what you do, you change what you are. Act in a positive way, take action instead of telling yourself you can’t, be positive. Talk to people in a positive way, put energy into your actions. You’ll soon start to notice a difference.

I have learned to stand up straight, literally and metaphorically. I have the worst posture so I make an effort to imagine a strong magnet pulling me upright. I look and feel better when I stand straight. It draws my attention to the fact that bad things can be corrected with determination and actions. I liken it to being in alignment with my values. I don’t want to be pulled down! Onward and upward for me.

Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable. – Walt Disney

https://zenhabits.net/25-killer-actions-to-boost-your-self-confidence/

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Journal, Wisdom

Name Calling

Children will own the names you call them. Choose your words carefully. This is good advice for teachers, but especially important that parents know this too. They are a child’s first teacher. Call them scholars, call them friends, call them writers, call them mathematicians, call them scientists, call them teachers, call them helpers, call them readers, call them thinkers, call them loved.

I don't ever... EVER call people names or say things to bring them down.  I've been there, I've been call… | Words quotes, Quotes about love and  relationships, Words

A book
I highly recommend to build a child’s confidence.




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About Me, Journal

Quilts for Grandkids

It gives me great joy to put my love into each quilt. They sleep under a blanket of love. I have a Babylock Spirit Embroidery Machine that I use for the designs.

Hooded bath towels

I make hooded bath towels for kids of all ages. If you have a special character in mind, email me (Caysunset@gmail.com) and I will see if I can make it for you. $30 each and mailing within US is an additional $10.

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Post retirement activities. So fun.



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Tradition


One of the pleasures of summer is that I usually travel to visit my darling granddaughters in the UK. I established a tradition of buying new shoes for the girls at my favorite shoe store, Clarks. Once they were able to walk, we would go into a city center to get their feet sized properly. The clerk would take a photo and present it to the parents. I extended the shoe buying to include their parents. There is comfort in knowing that I left them with something useful that plants their feet firmly on the land we all love so much. I love the idea of establishing traditions. It’s my hope that the memories will be a source of joy and that they will continue this tradition or make their own. I can’t wait for our next trip to Clarks.

Quotes about Building a tradition (19 quotes)





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Journal, Wisdom

Feeling Safe

Feeling protected provides us with warmth, confidence and security. Feeling wanted leads to feeling safe. Being safe is the absence of beating yourself up or feeling that all that is good in your life is a moment away from vanishing forever. When you are protected, you know deeply that you deserve to live in a safe space and have the happiness that it brings.

To help us be safe, a part of the brain, the amygdala, monitors the environment. Anything unexpected or unfamiliar causes the amygdala to release stresshormones. Though the amygdala may be reacting to something that is harmless, the hormones cause feelings of alarm and the urge to escape. What happens next depends on whether a person is secure or insecure.

Feeling secure is a basic human need in several ways. Firstly, there is the physical security – we need to be protected from the elements and other dangers. But mental security is just as important – we need to feel that we belong and that we have control of our lives, that we are safe.

Being safe is the state of being protected from harm or other non-desirable outcomes. Feeling safe, which is also called psychological safety, means being self-assured that we are not in danger. Having a sense of well-being can’t fully happen if we don’t feel safe first. A lack of psychological safety is a major trigger for many of our unwanted emotions as fear and anxiety, which can really block the pursuit of a healthy and calm mind. 

Try to notice how your body responds when you start to feel unsafe. You may feel like your heart is racing, you might feel like you are losing control, or even going into a full panic attack. The reality is that most of the time we are not in real threatening danger, and those reactions are only a sensation created by how our minds perceive the environment to be.

  1. Don’t deny your feelings. Awareness is key. If you feel unsafe, afraid, or anxious, don’t try to fight these feelings. Don’t try to convince yourself you are not scared or anxious, instead, accept and calmly plan how you can shift away from those feelings. Avoid those who do not share your values.
  2. When you feel unsafe, speak with someone, seek support, don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. A human voice can help you calm down, organize your thoughts, and think more clearly on an action plan.
  3. Seek out these who lift you up, share your values, and have an overarching spirit of positivity.

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A Little Love

Don’t we all need it right now?

More important than me loving you, is you loving yourself. I’ve been thinking a lot about self-love and how it is not selfish to love and care for yourself. Sadness, loneliness and despair can keep you trapped in a downward spiral. Self-pity can wrap around you like a poisonous vine. I love a quote from Susan David’s book, Emotional Agility: ” Don’t believe everything you think.” Begin each day by saying three things you are grateful for. I can start you off with number one, you woke up to see another day. Be patient with yourself. Get outside even for a few minutes. Take deep breaths and let them out slowly while thinking of who you could help this day, even if it is yourself, and even if you share a smile with someone. Take care, my friend.





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Find Joy in Simple Things

Grandma’s kitchen holds a variety of interesting things.

I had the pleasure of having my grandson spend the night at my house for the first time. I think my son sensed that I could benefit from a break in my routine. It’s obvious that time with my grandson always makes me smile, so when he asked if I would care for Maverick overnight I eagerly said yes. I don’t have many toys that would capture the interest of an almost two year old. At least I didn’t think so.

As I started dinner, I made sure he wasn’t out of my sight. I also wanted to keep him occupied. Drawing on my memory from when his daddy was his age, I began pulling unbreakable items from cupboards. To my delight he found the random objects fascinating. He may be a musician someday because he kept banging things and shaking a maraca while humming. My small kitchen was filled with joy! When he said, “Sing grandma,” I couldn’t resist, but after one chorus of my version of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, Maverick said, “Don’t sing, Grandma.” So I will leave the musical talent to my grandson who made me laugh all day. He showed me how great it is to find joy in simple things.







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The Ride of my life

Proud owner of a Gordon and Smith surfboard

The palm tree out my window reminds me of my trip to Hawaii almost fourteen years ago. Two weeks before our planned adventure my husband bought me my first surfboard and wetsuit. Being an avid surfer himself, he wanted me to know how thrilling it can be to ride the waves. He made it look easy.

When we got to Oahu, we couldn’t wait to get into the warm water. Here on the Central Coast the water can be numbing. There were already more surfers out than I could count. I did exactly as he said and carried my board like a pro. My husband told me he would be watching me and to remember what he taught me. I didn’t tell him that I forgot it all.

“Go have fun. I’m going to be watching you.” Off he went to join the line up of surfers while I remained close to the shore. I spotted an old man giving lessons to kids and started paddling to get within earshot. I later learned the old man was “Rabbit Kakai” who is a famous surfer. As I paddled, a beautiful Hawaiian girl paddled toward me and shouted, “Howlie, stay in the channel.” I didn’t know what the channel was so I nodded and paddled on. I listen as the old man told the kids what to do. I followed each command from a distance. The people on the sand seemed miles away. When the old man shouted, “Stand up,” I did exactly as he said and I was riding a wave. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was actually upright and surfing. I will never forget the feeling.

The waves would seem to end, yet reform and I was still surfing. It was gloriously exhilarating and I was so proud of myself. I kept thinking, “I hope my husband is seeing this.” I did not remember how to disembark and I saw the shore drawing close, so I jumped off. Later he told me that he saw me surf and our next lesson will be on how to turn around and go back out. He tends to lose all track of time when he is surfing. Now I know why.

This has been a very tough 15 months. The future is looking up. This summer my husband will teach one of our granddaughters to surf. The beat goes on.

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A Much Needed Drive

Just south of Big Sur

The sun broke through the clouds turning a dreary morning into a prelude to the perfect spring day. I knew I had to get out into nature. My husband and I have had both vaccinations, so we decided to take a drive up Hwy 1. We were 10 miles from home when we realized that neither of us had a mask. We turned around, went home and made sure we had our masks and water for our Saturday drive. What struck me the most is how much I love the beauty of the California coast. The hills seemed greener, the yellow flowers greeted us around each bend. The lighthouse seemed to signal our return. When we reached Ragged Point, we walked the path to the overlook. We were the only ones there so we removed our masks to breathe the crisp salty air. I offered a silent prayer in gratitude for simplicity and freedom.

I thought about how much our world is changing. I wondered what it would be like for my grandchildren. Would we leave a mess and trust that they would figure it out? Would they speak of us as those who made a difference? Certainly something to think about.







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Gifts From The Sea

Most or these were found on the beach here in our little town. Some are from The Shell Shop.


My granddaughter’s name, Kaia, means “Sea.” She loves all things ocean. Of all the books
I have, and two toy boxes of toys, she prefers to sort my seashells. We spent more than an hour deciding how to sort them (color, size, uniqueness). When it was bath time, she insisted on taking some shells into the tub. Why not? She extended her curiosity to include how seashells are home to some tiny creatures and how they travel from one place to another. Bonus: I even got to shampoo her hair.

After bath time there was more sorting to be done. This time she wondered about texture. So many learning opportunities inside Grandma’s box of shells!

My son and daughter-in-law know the importance of outdoor exploration. Kaia is encouraged to seek answers to questions, and check out the beautiful areas around her.

Play hard, sleep hard. That’s how she rolls!!

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Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Journal

Books Anyone?


If you are like many people today you use your cell phone, Ipad or laptop to get updates on news and happenings.
I encourage you to make time for reading a book instead. The benefits are worthy of your time and attention. You have heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it.” Well, it applies to your brain. Reading stimulates your brain and allows new information to get lodged in longterm storage. The physical act of turning pages makes reading tactile, activating an area of your brain. Reading also allows you a break from stressful situations and provides an opportunity to experience places and have adventures in your mind. You gain new information that can be come in handy at some point.

Moreover, reading expands your vocabulary and helps improve critical thinking skills. There is a strong connection between reading and writing. Exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work. So next time you are inclined to grab your phone or ipad, pick up a good book and enjoy the benefits of turning the pages.

Here are some suggestions:

Set Boundaries, Find Peace presents simple-yet-powerful ways to establish healthy boundaries in all aspects of life. Rooted in the latest research and best practices used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), these techniques help us identify and express our needs clearly and without apology–and unravel a root problem behind codependency, power struggles, anxiety, depression, burnout, and more.


While there is no such thing as an “Authenticity Expert,” you now have a viable alternative. Morhaf Al Achkar obtained his Ph.D in education and is currently a practicing family physician at the University of Washington. He was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, his research has focused on the experiences of patients living with cancer. His first book is based on interviews he did with 39 patients who live, like him, with advanced illness. He explored how these patients find meaning, cope, and build resilience. Using his own experiences and deep knowledge of philosophical concepts, Morhaf shares his understanding of authenticity from the perspective of someone aware of his own finitude.

◆ By following along with his fascinating life story, Morhaf invites you on a journey of dialogue and reflection to live a more authentic and purposeful life with integrity.


A Life Without Water can be read as a standalone, but is part of an overarching three book A Life Without Water Series. It is women’s fiction that pulls at your heartstrings from your new favorite author Marci Bolden. If you are seeking awell written, heartbreaking book about forgiveness, and finding peace amidst a tragedy . . . this book is for you! 


The book looks at the most serious issues and helps the reader process them. From the instructions: ”Write about what keeps you awake at night. The emotional upheaval bothering you the most and keeping you awake at night is a good place to start writing.”


A charming, clever, and quietly moving novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.


 A revelatory look at the complexity of Gandhi’s thinking and motives, the book is a luminous portrait of not only the man himself, but also those closest to him—family, friends, and political and social leaders.


Five shots on Saturday morning change their fate forever…

Shurka is a happy young woman who lives a fairy tale life with her beloved husband and their two young children, in a pretty house in a village in Poland.

She believes that nothing can hurt them. Or so she thinks…

Then, World War II breaks out and the happy family quickly understands that their happiness has come to a brutal end. The family is forced to flee their house and find shelter in a neighboring ghetto, where they come to realized that the Gestapo is taking Jews away on trucks every night, never to be seen again.


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Quit Now

I would add smoking to this list as I watched my mother gasp for air as she died from emphysema.

The time to hit the redo button is now.



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Tea Time

A child’s imagination is fueled by experiences. Play fosters all kinds of opportunities to engage in cooperative interaction. My granddaughter loves to make tea for me. She started when she was almost two. She would ask me if I wanted some tea, and I would reply that I would love it if she would add a lemon slice and a dash of cinnamon. When she would bring me my tea, she would ask me if I would like something to eat. The teacher in me thought I could slip in a culture lesson, so I told her about how people in England like to add a bit of milk to their tea, and they enjoy having a biscuit with delicious jam. She set about making all kinds of treats for me to enjoy with my tea. From that day forward she has had a keen interest in what her mother is cooking and wants to help out in the kitchen whenever there is baking involved. Such a simple thing, a cup of tea, but the lasting memories and the spark of imagination will live on.







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My Baby Girl’s Baby Girl

Katie with Winnie

To me there are indescribable moments in a mother’s life that are forever in her memory. My daughter, Katie, is my youngest. Unlike me, she waited to have children. She was focused on college and a career. She established herself as a lecturer in anthropology and my son-in-law completed his studies as a doctor. After being in secure positions, they were blessed with Winnie. I have watched Katie sing to Winnie from the time she was born. Books and creative play have been a part of family time. My son-in-law, Steven, makes sure the house is filled with laughter. It is a joy to be in their home.

Winnie is 10 years old now, a bright, lovely, avid reader, mathematician with a caring heart and inquisitive mind. I am pleased to say that Winnie has a sister too. Josie is going to be five in August. She is a creative, lovely, inquisitive, adventurous spirit with a love of singing- just like her mum.

It is the greatest joy of my life to watch my children with their children.

It looks like a heart.




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Making Rock Towers

Who says kids need expensive toys? There’s joy and fun in nature.






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