No Matter What – Day 8

It’s Day 8 of the No Matter What Game.  To find out how you can join in, see details below the post.

Crowd of Diverse People

G:  Pick two different coloured crayons (or something similar) at random. Tell us something related to each of the colours.

P:  This reminds me of an exercise we just did at Staff Development Day on Friday.  Twice a year our three colleges come together for day of reckoning and reacquainting.

To prevent us from staying in our comfort zone and sitting with people we already know at our own campuses, the organizers planned a mixer where we sat with others from across the district.  We were then asked to find four things everyone at our table had in common besides working at EICC.

While it was easy to come up with things all humans have in common, I was really hoping we’d dig deep and discover some uncommon commonalities.  Since one of the people at our table teaches Intro to Psychology, I felt certain we had a reliable life guard should we decide to wade into deep waters.

Sadly we stayed in shallow waters, which is always safe at a public pool.  (And a public school.)

But this goes against my nature.  Being the Queen of Quirk that I am, I never play it safe at the public pool.  I’m the one with the zoomers, hand gloves, goggles, and nose plug swimming slowly but steadily in the lap lane in a polka dot one piece.  I show up equipped and ready to make the most of the experience.

In the beginning, it used to make me feel a wee bit self-conscious.  One of the great things that has happened to me at midlife is I stopped caring so much what everyone else thinks and started daring to be my own brand of brilliant and beautiful.

This doesn’t mean anyone else agrees with me.  It just means I’m freer and have more fun than I used to.

This also means I don’t follow directions well and like to make exceptions whenever possible.  So, instead of relating this post to colours (if you are reading this the UK) or colors (if you are reading this in the US) or I’m not sure which spelling you prefer if you are in Australia, I decided to just write no matter what and see where we drifted.

I’m also committed to getting to bed early tonight so this is where I leave you.

Please feel free to answer the prompt in your own way and post it in the comments below. 🙂  Or if you’d prefer Gillian to send you your own prompt, email her at or

No Matter What – Day 5

No Matter What Game …. find out how you can play below post.

Woman is lost and wanders into a book with glow lights.

G: Your mentioned in your last post “I currently have 5 books begging to be birthed”. Give us a taste of each book.

P:  The theme that runs throughout all my books is the idea of “Lost & Found“.  I believe we need to get lost before we can truly find ourselves, our sidekicks, and our way in the world.

As cliché as it sounds, it really is the journey, the climb, the adventure that makes the man or woman. We need to set out on our grand adventures with the best of intentions so when we discover the road from here to there is under construction, we can see these detours for what they really are. Divinely orchestrated and unexpected side trips where we encounter the people, places, and experiences we need for our character (and stories) to emerge.  Joseph Campbell called this the hero’s journey.

One of my favorite phrases is part of a longer quote by J.R.R. Tolkien,  “Not all who wander are lost.”  That would be the title of choice for my stories about Santa Fe and why it attracts so many people who feel exiled from other places.

Another book about living the creative life in the Land of Enchantment would be The Dog, The Desert, and the Days that Define a Life.  My dog Malcolm and I had the most extraordinary adventures involving red racers, bulls, javelinas, hawks and a wide variety of other dogs as we hiked/housesat/dogsat our way through Santa Fe.

I particularly like stories of pilgrimages and hikes; works that explore inner as well as outer journeys.  I was thrilled to see Cheryl Strayed’s book “Wild” and Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk in  the Woods” become movies.  I also love books and movies about the Camino De Santiago. I especially enjoyed The Way with Martin Sheen.

At the same time I’m concerned the market will be saturated with these walking stories before I have the chance to write mine.

The Lost Ladies of Cumbria is about a week long hiking trip with poet David Whyte through the Lake District told from the perspective of seven middle-aged women.  The circumstances that brought each of us to that place and that time are themes I think many women at midlife can relate to.

We often hear about men’s midlife crises, but women’s stories have largely been left untold.  (Except for Stella.) This book gives those stories a voice while weaving in the incredible poetry and wisdom of a gifted poet.

I’d love to create a day book called A Penny for Your Thoughts which could be a compilation of blog posts and the Midlife Manifesto I crafted a few years ago.

And last but not least, I plan to turn a class I designed and taught 11 years ago called Read It & Leap! into an ebook that ideally you will be able to download on February 29,  2016.  Yes, approximately three Leap Days after I originally conceived of the idea, I’d like to finally birth this baby.  Long labor, yes?

So, there you have it.  The books demanding I write them into existence.  Which one would you like to read first?  Let me know in the comments below.


Follow along or play the No Matter What Game weekdays at  The world’s best coach Gillian sends me a prompt each weekday and I post a response no matter what.  You are welcome to use the same prompt and record your answers in a private journal, share with a group, or even better, share in the comments below! If you’d prefer to have your own prompts sent just to you, contact Gillian at

Shut Up and Dance With Me

Couple of blue footed boobies performing mating dance

Before discovering Sirius XM and the singers and songwriters on the Coffee House, I was stuck in the 80s musically.  Of this, I am not particularly proud.

Today I can easily sing along with almost any song because I absolutely love discovering new music. And let’s face it, I have a lot of catching up to do.

According to JibJab, the song of the summer is Shut Up and Dance With Me.  Although I prefer the less offense directive “shut it” to “shut up”, it’s a very catchy tune and often times the only way to get someone you love on the dance floor.

One of the benefits of having over seventy needles poked in my face, ears, fingers, toes, arms, legs, and belly on a regular basis is not just the elimination of my allergies, but the triumphant return of Mr. Sandman and the Technicolor Dreams. In other words, I’m sleeping like a baby after decades of disturbed sleep.

Like Joseph, another Technicolor dreamer, my dreams are worthy of a musical. Based on last night’s review, my musical wants to be called none other than “Shut Up and Dance With Me.”

Actually the precise words delivered in the dream were “Ah… but we were asked to dance.”

This came after a jam packed day of College for Kids, meeting with the local press, staying late to meet publication deadlines  for our fall catalog, and deciding to watch an artsy movie on Amazon Prime, since our satellite provider went out for the eighth time in two months.

The movie was called Still Life.  It’s a slow moving, sad story about a bloke who lives alone and works in a sterile and solitary bureaucratic environment.  His job is to find the family or friends of those who die alone so he can give them a proper burial.  Unfortunately, these are usually people who have lived their lives in such a way that they’ve alienated anyone who might care.

But our protagonist cares in his odd and autistic way. Despite the depressing subject and the maddeningly methodical pace at which he performs his job, something compelled me to keep watching.

Maybe it’s the thing that compels us all to keep plugging away.  The hope that what we do matters to someone. That at some point in our life someone will hear the same beat we move to and ask us to dance. Or we recognize it in others and ask them to dance.

The problem with watching a movie or television or engaging in media before bedtime is it’s much harder for me to quiet my mind. Especially if the information I’ve consumed is emotionally charged or unsettling.

When I finally got to sleep, my own version of Still Life unfolded.  In the dream I was following a little bird through all kinds of quirky conundrums.

Despite the craziness, I remember feeling very much alive and pleased with this peculiar path.  Just before I woke up someone joined me as we were  perched precariously on the side of a building Spiderman style.

Realizing it’s all an absurd adventure that could end any minute, he smiled appreciatively and said like a true guru, “Ah… but we were asked to dance.”

And then I woke up to a chorus of birds chirping and presumably dancing outside my window.

I’d love to know how you are being asked to dance these days and, with all due respect, if you would “shut up and dance with me“?

Share if you dare in the comments below.

The Cost of a Midlife Crisis

At this time of year it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the hassles of the holidays and costs of Christmas gifts, parties, and travel arrangements.

To keep this in perspective, I thought it would be interesting to look at the often untallied costs of what might commonly be called a midlife crisis.

A few months ago Daisy Barton was kind enough to share this infographic as a way to illustrate those often misunderstood course corrections many are compelled to make at midlife.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the graphics do the talking. However, I’d love to hear your comments below.

Midlife Crisis Costs

Who’s Your Daddy

Yes, I realize Father’s Day was last Sunday, but my dad’s birthday was yesterday and I figured after all he’s done for me, he deserved a day and a blog post all to himself.

Having a birthday on the summer solstice is quite convenient for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s easy to remember because the beginning of summer is usually something people celebrate more than the beginning of winter, at least in Iowa.  

Second, it’s more likely Dad will be able to spend the day doing the kind of things he enjoys doing, like fishing, watching the Cubs play baseball, or having a patio party with friends and family.

And third, it’s the driving force coercing me out of the comfort of my bed and into my writing room to post this while the day and my dad are fresh in my mind.  I swear I’m channeling the collective energy of all the midnight revelers dancing in the moonlight as they usher in the summer.

Whatever the case, it’s well past my bedtime.  However, the words will not wait so I will release them and maybe we’ll all sleep better for it.

I would like to get something clear from the get-go.  I’ve never been Daddy’s GirlDaddy’s Little Princess, or even the first name that came to mind when he addressed me.  Being the youngest, he often remembered my name only after reciting my sister and brother’s names first.  

Granted, I often got him so flustered or irritated thataddressing me in an ever increasing crescendo of Kellie-Kendall- PENNY was the most effective way to let us all know I was in trouble.  

While we each had our ways of  sending this gentle giant over the edge, I was particularly good at it.  Especially during church, I am told.

As anyone with siblings can attest, it’s not necessarily the one who started it who suffers the consequences.  It’s the one who gets caught.  Since there were three of us, it was usually two against one, and I was often the sacrificial lamb or black sheep.

I’m not saying my dad didn’t have reason to suspect me.  I did my very best to challenge him throughout my childhood.  Not intentionally, mind you.  I was just incredibly independent.  “Because I’m your dad and I said so,” might have worked on the other two, but it seldom worked on me.  

Even though I was the last on the family food chain, I was the first to try things that I considered to be brilliant, bold, and daring.  My dad didn’t see it that way .

Once in a fit of frustration he said in a loud voice, “You are the most independent woman I’ve ever met!”  To this day I consider it a compliment, although when I’m walking three dogs and Scooter exhibits his independent nature and leaves the pack to discover disgusting things to proudly bring back to us, I begin to see my dad’s point.

This is the thing with dads and parents in general.  They are wiser than we ever give them credit for and right more often than we care to admit.

Even though we live our whole lives in anticipation of their approval or in reaction to their rules, there is no denying the indelible influence they have on who we become, how we behave, even how we look.

I’ll never forget one particularly bad blind date that ended in a drive by drop-off .  The guy had never met me but had met my dad.  The first words out of his mouth were, “You look just like your dad.” 

My dad is approximately  6’3″, 280 lbs, and balding.  Although my dad is handsome to me, no woman with any sense of sexiness left after succumbing to the humiliation of a blind date is going to want to be compared to those height, weight, and hair restrictions.

I knew at that point, the rest of the night was pointless.  Seriously, men who might be reading this:  Unless your date’s dad has just been named Sexiest Man Alive, avoid that line.  And the drive by drop off.  Walk your date to the door at least.

Okay, so before you begin to think daddy issues are responsible for me not getting engaged until now, let me reassure you it’s more the independence thing. When the independence thing had run its course and I moved back to the Midwest, I became fiercely protective of my parents.   

Midlife has a way of softening judgments and expectations not only of ourselves but especially our elders.  When options begin to contract instead of expand, and there are more exits than entrances, there is a certain amount of grace we learn to extend to others.  For me, this began at home.

After years of being the yin to my dad’s yang, the “heck, yes!” to his “heavens, no!“, the left to his right, the open to his closed, I find myself appreciating the middle space we can meet in now.

I used to believe my dad would never understand me, let alone admit he had something to do with creating me.  But my mom told me how once he was busily bragging me up to strangers, telling them his daughter had written a book.  Up to that point, I wasn’t sure he knew what a big deal getting a book published was to me.

Then there was the day I decided to temporarily set my writing dream aside to take the respectable job I have now.  On our way to Maquoketa to look for a house my dad said, “This is going to be really hard for you, isn’t it?

My free spirit heart melted as I realized I had been living the dream for all of us.  My dad had his share of dreams he had to give up in order to be responsible, respectable, and do the right thing for his family.  Now he was witnessing me make the same choice.

The happy ending to this story is I’m now writing again while holding down a job and enjoying a family of my own with friends and animals that supply me with blogging material on a regular basis.  

I suppose if Bob would suggest I remind him of my dad, I’d take no offense to that.  After all, my dad is kind, intelligent, generous, and lovable.  And he can say his daughter dedicated this blog post to him, even though I suspect he may not know what a blog is.

What about you?  Who’s your daddy?  Share if you dare in the comments below.