Lament of the Empty Nest COVID-19

Today, hunkering down in my apartment in my paradise of Veracruz, Mexico during my 90-day retreat that– due to the coronavirus– has turned into a 5-month retreat; I’m not sure why, but I’m feeling unusually sad. Maybe because it’s Sunday and church of course is still canceled. No church, no family all under one roof to draw close and be one during these uncertain, scary days.

The kids are grown with their own homes; they are one with their own families. I’m on the outside looking in and it’s not anything like the same. It used to be them, one by one, gradually growing up and separating themselves from the family unit. Now it’s me separating myself, trying to decide where to live independently and be happy.

As much as I love my children and grandchildren and wish them well and pray over them and rejoice in their successes and happiness and growth as individuals and families, I can’t keep on living in their homes. I think it’s time to get out on my own.

But I have enjoyed staying with Nathan’s family, who made such a loving and welcoming place for me.

This morning I kind of wish I were back with them.

But what I really wish for I can’t have– that would be going back in time, to when everything was beautiful and perfect for a moment.


Christmas in Illinois, 1989: Left to right Donny, Joseph, Liesel, Alice Jane, Billy, Jay, Baby Nathan. Mom and Dad in the center.


“Creating Something Wonderful”

Steve Jobs said, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me…Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.”

He made this statement in 1999, well before his cancer diagnosis. At the time of his death he was worth $10 billion. His estate is now worth $30 billion. He could have been much richer but he sold shares of Apple when they ousted him. He used the money to create something else wonderful: Pixar Studios. Continue reading

Merry Christmas from the Land of Nada

I was layering on the decorations on the Christmas tree at the hotel in San Pedro where we live now. Adding more lights, more shiny balls, beads, red and gold wrappy things. One of the workers came by and complimented my work.

I said, “Is it too much?” He said, “No, it is pretty. It’s good that you are doing that.” I said, “In the U.S., Christmas is a time of excess. It’s all about too much. Too many decorations, too much food, too many sweets, too many presents, too much everything.”

I asked him if it was like that in Guatemala, although I already knew the answer. He smiled and said, “Nada.” (nothing) Continue reading

Our First Christmas in Guatemala

Bruce and I had no clue what this special time of year would be like away from family and everything familiar.

One of the big differences and something we both really missed was the lack of Christmas music. Even at church, there was no special program filled with hymns and scriptures about the birth of Christ. Another bi10881427_10203149636763671_1015032410_ng difference we noticed was the lack of decor and lights everywhere. Continue reading

Afraid of Everything

I’ve got a new book coming out soon, hopefully in October if I can get through the final edits and let it go. It’s a novel, Afraid of Everything, and you can see here the cover and summary, followed by a little story on how the idea came to me.

Helena Carr is afraid of everything. After a crisis at work, she quits her job and feels lost. It’s time for a serious change, to beat the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. Something different, unplanned and radical. Sell her house, move to a foreign location, turn her life upside down in an effort to end the emotionally paralyzing fear. 

Before Helena can act on her options, however, she has a terrible accident on a Southern California freeway. Instead of going on an exotic vacation, she is in a hospital, in a coma, traveling to strange worlds of another dimension, meeting people who seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.

As Helena explores this intriguing new world, she realizes the truth about her past and the purpose of her future. And she is no longer afraid. Helena is at last ready to live. But first, she must wake up from the coma.

This idea came to me shortly after I finally admitted to myself I was afraid of practically everything.  Anything I accomplished in life came after first facing the horrible anxiety that preceded it. Continue reading

Writing from Guatemala

My last post was in January. Since then, my husband and I have moved entirely to Panajachel, Guatemala. For more on our life and routine in our new location, see my Coming Down the Mountain blog. I never post here as often as I do there since people sign up via email to my website, and I don’t want to inundate reader emails with constant updates.

268But seriously, I figured after six months, the author website is due for an update.

What am I doing in Guatemala? Besides enjoying a complete change of environment, food and culture, I am writing, writing, writing. I have two books in the works and another one planned. This move has been very good for my creative life. Continue reading

Downsizing Like a Rock Star

Years ago I read an article about a couple who, after the kids had grown and moved out, downsized from the large family home in the suburbs to a one bedroom apartment in the city. They gave away or sold nearly everything they owned, including their car. When they wanted to travel, they took a taxi to the airport.

I remember feeling so envious of the unknown couple and deep inside, my desire to downsize like this took root. When the opportunity came for us to move to Guatemala and embrace the expat life, it didn’t take long to say YES! Continue reading

Merry Christmas, 2013

Our parents loved to take photos of their four daughters, especially at Christmastime. The traditional Christmas photo in front of the tree is scattered in our old picture collections.

In this one, I got to hold the new baby, our youngest sister. I remember feeling so special that I was the one to hold her for this picture. You can see a much bigger smile on my face than usual. Normally I just stared at the camera with big eyes as though to say, “Huh? Really?” Continue reading

Making My Own Greek Yogurt


Homemade thick, rich whole milk Greek yogurt

I am addicted to full-fat Greek yogurt, but it’s not available in my location. And even if it were, it’d probably cost a small fortune. The fat-free Greek yogurt is expensive enough, at about $6.00 a container at Costco. Fat-free is good but doesn’t satisfy that dessert craving for me like the Greek yogurt made from whole milk. Continue reading