Monday Musings: Memorial Day

Remembering and Honoring on Memorial Day

As Memorial Day approaches, we are reminded of the significance and solemnity of this occasion. It is a time to honor and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces. This day holds a special place in our hearts as we reflect on the valor, bravery, and selflessness displayed by countless individuals throughout history. Let us take a moment to pause, to remember, and to express our deepest gratitude.

Reflecting on Sacrifice:

Memorial Day serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by our military personnel. It is a day to reflect on the lives cut short, the dreams unfulfilled, and the families left behind. We remember the heroes who gave their all, answering the call to protect and defend our nation and its values. Their courage and dedication are a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human heart.

Honoring Their Memory:

On this day, we honor the memory of the fallen. We visit cemeteries adorned with flags, pay our respects at memorial sites, and participate in commemorative ceremonies. It is a time to come together as a community, united in our gratitude and reverence for those who have served. We share stories, shed tears, and hold each other close, cherishing the legacy of these brave men and women.

Expressing Gratitude:

While Memorial Day can be a somber occasion, it is also an opportunity to express our gratitude. We can show appreciation to the veterans and active-duty military members in our lives, thanking them for their service and sacrifices. Additionally, we can engage in acts of service, supporting organizations that provide assistance to veterans and their families. Small gestures of kindness can go a long way in demonstrating our unwavering support.

Continuing the Legacy:

Beyond Memorial Day, we must carry the spirit of remembrance and gratitude throughout the year. We can strive to understand the experiences and challenges faced by those who serve or have served in the military. By acknowledging their sacrifices and supporting their well-being, we can ensure that their legacy lives on. It is through our collective commitment to honoring their memory that we keep their spirit alive.

Monday Musings: Affirmations

It’s been a minute since I have come here to write. I have slowly learned NOT to beat myself up when I set a goal or intention and it does not happen. I am not saying that I give myself grace all the time, but I am getting better at it.

It is good to be back and sharing my March Madness with you. Along with my morning reading, my “newer” hobbies have included weekly Italian lessons and ballroom dance. I am preparing for a trip to Italy and spending time in school there. I am also preparing and practicing for my first dance showcase coming up the end of April. Stretching myself, putting myself out there and not being afraid to try something new and even fail is a good thing. I am leaning in to find joy, to be kind to myself and to live as full a life as I can.

This past month as I have taken time in the morning to read from a series of devotionals, I have added a step. With a small sticky-note, I write an affirmation from each reading that I carry with me during the day. Then each night before I go to bed, I have taken a moment to give thanks for those words and trust that a seed was planted.

I don’t know how long I will do this exercise, but just like this blog, allowing myself the grace to let it be and even let it go is ok. I don’t always say the same prayers. I don’t offer up the same yoga classes each week nor do I practice the same meditations so I am letting go of the pressure.

I hope you too will give yourself a bit more grace.

Monday Musings: The Love of a Puppy

Toward the beginning of last year we lost a very special member of our family. Our beloved Chewbacca, a 16 year old Shih tzu rescue had cancer and we had to let him go over the rainbow bridge. If you have ever lost a pet, you know how hard it is and the hole it leaves in your heart.

I soon realized our tribe was not complete without another little dog to balance out our lives with Waylon, our Pit-mix and Willie, our cattle dog. The search was on for a puppy to love.

We were blessed to find a Shih tzu-Lhasa-apso mix! Rex came into our lives in March and is inching toward his one year birthday.

Having a puppy around this past year has been just want the doctor ordered. The energy, love and joy he shows makes us smile and giggle and we feel lighter every day when we get to play with Rex. They are our BEST FRIENDS. They love us unconditionally.

So these amazing animals not only help our hearts grow like the Grinch’s heart, but they do so much more.

  1. Walking and physical activity increase.
  2. A decrease in cortisol levels.
  3. Lowers blood pressure.
  4. Lower risk of heart attacks.
  5. Mood lifters – depression stoppers.
  6. Memory booster as we age.
  7. Ease lonliness.

I wish you all a wonderful Valentine’s Day. I have so many people and pets in my life to love and I so grateful to each one of them!


I have a tag line in my email that reads: “We are all just walking each other home” Ram Dass. I have many little phrases like this one that I hold in my heart because they have resonated so much with me during my life. People come and go along our path or our journey through this lifetime. Today, I wanted to recognize the friendships I have formed over almost 60 years of life.

If you go a google search of the word friendship you can go deep down a rabbit hole of different definitions, types, qualities and more. I am blessed and so very grateful for the friendships I have today. Some are new while others are almost as old as I am! These women are truly remarkable and in each one I see qualities and virtues I wish to emulate. I honestly don’t know what my life would look like today if these women were not in my life.

I don’t have to talk to them daily to know they are there. I don’t even have to see them regularly, although when we do manage to get together it is such a gift! Life is busy. We have to work our friendships around obligations, work, family and our own needs. So even though I get bogged down in the day in and day out rhythm of my life, I know in my heart they are with me.

My friends listen to me, they show up, they hold me accountable, they want me to be happy and they are just people I want to be around. I am honored too that they have chosen me too!

Today I just needed to focus on a blessing. My friendships are one of my biggest blessings so I am sending out love to all my dear friends today and saying thank you and I love you!

And I had a hard time choosing a photo…. The smiles and boa’s spoke to my this morning but you guys don’t need a photo to know who you are and just how much I love you!

Monday Musings: What Dance Are You Dancing?

I read somewhere our lives being described simply put in two parts – the first half of our life and the second half of our life. If you are a golfer that second half can be described as the “back nine.” (Maybe that was a Carl Jung idea.) Now within these two halves there are ideologies and practices we engage in which, if we can move though them, bring us full circle to a completion in our lives. Call it a sense of wholeness, wisdom and understanding.

Last week as I was watching my dance instructor work with a chorographer to create a dance for me that I will perform in a showcase in April, I began to ponder the idea of our lives being a dance in two parts. The first part being a dance of survival and the second half being a dance of the soul. Two parts – survival and sacred.

As I get older I feel that shift from the doing or task part of life to wanting more of the soul part of my life. I wish I could say that I am there happily dancing the soul dance but more often than not, I am still dancing the survival dance. When I can allow myself the time to simply slow down and be quiet I can feel that soul dance bubbling up but our world has a way of pulling us back to a more base, a more basic rhythm that keeps us stuck in survival and we begin to lose site of the “task within the task” or our soul.

So what does this look like? The survival dance is task oriented. We are focused on making money, getting an education, raising children, and paying a mortgage. It’s about tradition, law, structure, authority, and identity. It’s about why I’m significant, why I’m important, why I matter, why I’m good. If we stay there and don’t move out of the “ego” how then can we ever really get in touch with the soul?

There are many things pulling me, even at almost sixty years old to remain in my perfect survival dance. I say perfect because by now I have the routine down. Remember it is all about the tasks – the doing NOT the being! How then do we move from survival to soul… here are a few things I do, or try to do, to help me get more comfortable in my new dance. The dance of the soul for which I would like to spend more time.

  1. meditation and prayer
  2. having a sense of gratitude
  3. spending time in nature
  4. listening to music
  5. practicing the pause
  6. exercise, movement and dance
  7. appreciating others
  8. spending time with friends
  9. supporting the community
  10. showing myself grace

So, where are you? Which dance are you dancing today? Is it the right dance to be practicing or, like me, is it time to learn a new routine?

Monday Musings: Learning Something New

Whether we notice or not, most of us tend to repeat the same tasks day in and day out.

This constant repetition can make life boring and monotonous. Don’t get me wrong– routines are good and I live with a man who embraces the good routine with open arms! Routines are comfortable and predicable. I know from experience that a certain degree of routine and comfort can help me get through a day without feeling too overwhelmed by stress and uncertainty. The older I get, I see how easy it is to lose out of opportunities for personal growth and to end up in a rut that can affect my happiness and my quality of life. Those Covid years actually had some benefits believe it or not.

Recently and forever ago, I have had some challenges that leave me complaining, emotionally conflicted and overall drain my love of life. I made a decision to learn some new things and accept a few challenges to help reclaim some joy and lightness in my life.

I take time every day to practice Italian and have a trip planned later this year to immerse myself in the language and culture I love so much. I also needed to find something physical to tackle, so I dusted off my dancing shoes and began ballroom dancing again. In fact, I will be performing this April in a showcase!!!

I am learning that pushing myself to learn something new has incredible benefits….



Learning new things is a great way to break you out of a mundane routine. It shakes up your life and wakes your brain up from the slumber of monotony.


Learning a new hobby or trying something new out will teach you something you didn’t know about yourself. You may try a cooking class and realize yup you never really liked cooking! LOL


Learning a new skill is often an extremely rewarding experience. If it’s something you like, you’ll quickly notice yourself improving, which can give you a great confidence boost.

In most cases, trying something new is often about overcoming fear. Fear of discomfort, fear of failure, fear of ridicule…But every time you actually go and try something new, this fear is shattered, which in turn also helps boost your confidence.


Trying out something new can teach you a new skill. This skill can be just be a hobby, but it can also be something marketable that you can use for professional growth!


Highly creative people push themselves to learn new skills in order to innovate and express themselves in new ways.

When you try new things, you force your brain to exercise in a new way. This stimulates creativity, which eventually rubs off in other areas of your life. As a result, you begin to see the world and think about things in new ways.


So now you know the benefits of learning new things…but one question remains: how do you let go of your insecurities and actually start learning new things?


The first thing you need to do if you want to start learning new things is to change your mindset. I am here to tell you that you can teach an old dog new tricks! It may take a little more time, patience and ability to forgive yourself for mistakes but if you can let go and enjoy the process the rewards are great. When we grow we change. When we listen to that voice that says this is all we can do then we start to believe that little voice and we lose out in the long run on some amazing opportunities here on earth.

Go forth and learn something new today!!

Monday Musings: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

What is a prophet? Let me try this as a definition: one who names the situation truthfully and in its largest context. When we can name the situation truthfully and in its largest context, it cannot get pulled into interest groups and political expediency. Martin Luther King Jr. was a biblical prophet.[1]

 In Latin [sub specie aeternitatis] means, “In light of eternity.” To consider things in light of eternity is a great clarifier. Maybe it comes to us on our death bed, when we think to ourselves, “Is this going to mean anything? Does this really matter? Is this little thing we’re upset about now and taking offense at going to mean anything in light of eternity?” The prophet or prophetess speaks truthfully and in the largest context. [1]

In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, he spoke from the “big frame” to call for a revolution of values based on love:

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all [humankind].… When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I’m not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is of God. And everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.… If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and [God’s] love is perfected in us” [1 John 4:7–8, 12]. Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. [2]

LOVE is the great clarifier. If we can learn to turn our hearts and minds to what love looks like and then act according to that higher vibration, we would have heaven on earth.

“Love is the greatest force in the universe. It is the heartbeat of the moral cosmos. He who loves is a participant in the being of God.”

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

“One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.”

“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

“Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.”

“I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

[1]Richard Rohr Daily Meditation: Big Picture Thinkers

[2] Martin Luther King Jr., “Beyond Vietnam,” in A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard (New York: Warner Books, 2001), 160–161.

Monday Musings: Rain

I often get in the shower or sit in the tub when I feel stressed. I stand there, imagining I am washing away all the troubles and stress while asking for a freshness, a newness to come over my life.

The other day I was out running errands and it started to rain. I did not have a raincoat on and I was not carrying an umbrella. Some voice in my head told me to pause there in the parking lot and lift my face up to the sky. The drops were cold (it is winter) but the intentional choice of allowing the rain to hit my skin did create a momentary change in me.

I decided to spend the next few seconds just breathing in and out while the rain fell softly on my head and dripped down my face. Then I sat in my car and watched as each individual raindrop hit the windshield in a continuous rhythm and pattern. I sat there recalling summer rains where when you walk outside you can smell the air, fresh and clean. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound the rain was making imagining this symphony of nature. Just sitting there in my car I felt a connection to nature, to the world around me and to my innermost self.

This simple act of noticing is meditation. Our life, each breath, hour, day, month, year, all are like those raindrops creating the whole of our existence. Think about each action, each choice and accomplishment like a drop in the bucket of your life. It is in these small and sometimes seemingly understated times that we grow. Nothing is in isolation. Everything somehow works together along with us. Maybe the next time you listen to the rain you can allow it to speak to you too. Rain is not just water that you need as physical sustenance, you need it to nourish your spirit as well.

“Consciously using our senses to feel nature’s healing energy as it comes to us in the form of rain is an act of internal cleansing. Just as the rain physically washes over the earth and rinses out any impurities and imperfections, so it also bathes our spirit in the joy that comes from knowing that we are in fact one with the world around us.”

This short poem is about saying goodbye to regret.

washing day

her regrets were dust.
they cocooned her
in an arid cloud
of failed feelings
and missed chances.
she was gasping for breath
when a gentle rain
washed them away.

Author Unknown

Monday Musings 2023:

Word of the Year – KAIZEN

Kaizen is a Japanese word taken from words ‘Kai’, which means continuous and ‘zen’ which means improvement. Some translate ‘Kai’ to mean change and ‘zen’ to mean good, or for the better.


This is how I wish to approach 2023! With small, incremental and consistent improvement. Although Kaizen is better understood in the context of Japanese business philosophy, I see this “change”/”good” as something we can apply to life in all forms.

Kaizen strategy counts mostly on human efforts to improve results which requires process improvement. Kaizen teaches you to discipline yourself by living in the present. Much like the practice of yoga, kaizen encourages you to visualize attainable goals and set smaller milestones to maintain motivation. With time, the desired destination will come closer until you reach the finish line. Kaizen follows a process-oriented approach: PLAN – CHECK – ACT/DO

Principles of Kaizen

Kaizen can be broken down into 10 major principles.

  1. Strive for continuous improvement. Things can always get better no matter how good or bad they may be now.
  2. Always questions tradition and, when necessary, discard the old to make way for the new.
  3. Acquire wisdom by consulting with many people rather than relying on one expert.
  4. Don’t waste time making excuses but focus on finding solutions.
  5. Make sure you base your decisions on facts rather than opinions.
  6. Get to the root cause of a situation or problem by asking “Why?” at least 5 times.
  7. Before spending money to fix a problem, look for simple and inexpensive solutions.
  8. Always question the status quo.
  9. Start making improvements right away, even if you don’t yet have all the answers. One day at a time.
  10. Make sure everyone is involved.

Toyota came up with the 5S System implementing Kaizen and it is easy to transition those principles to work/life balance too:

Seiri: Sort and Eliminate

Eliminate ‘wastefulness.’ I am identifying those things that I do in my life that are pretty useless and time consuming. I am restructuring some and replacing others with something meaningful instead.

Seiton: Organize My Workstation & Home

Organization skills go hand in hand with productivity and efficiency. Life is a mess, but my work and home don’t have to be! Thank Marie Kondo-style organization for this one! I am discarding objects that do not ‘spark joy’ in my life. Declutter to increase mental focus to allow more creativity and concentration!

Seiso: Aim for Healthier Life Choices

Seiso (or cleanliness) can help maintain an ideal work-life balance. I can use seiso to cut out unhealthy habits and mentally draining activities and replace them with healthier and valuable lifestyle choices that cleanse my mind, body, and soul. I actually have to give myself a little credit here as I am always trying to work on healthier choices and a better quality of life. Yoga, dancing, reading, eating well and exercising, spending quality time with amazing people are things of great value to me. The difference is, I am going to work harder on stopping the head trash to move in and to not be so hard on myself.

Seiketsu: Set High Standards

Applying the Kaizen philosophy in personal life often means developing standards.

Step one: Cut out those toxic friendships to make room for meaningful relationships and mind-stimulating hobbies.

Step two: Spend quality time with my support systems to uplift your spirits and mood.

Shitsuke: Maintain Discipline for Continuous Improvement

Lastly, get rid of the biggest vice of them all, aka procrastination.

Procrastination is a form of self-harm that thrives on lazy excuses and bad moods. 2022 was sadly a big year of grumbling and negative self-talk, and as a result, I lost time, joy and feared taking risks. I also lost sight of my purpose and goals because I gave in to irrational thoughts and negative emotions. These harmful choices stopped my from seeing my value and worth.

My Commitment

I see the spirit and application of Kaizan in my personal life by embracing the present and looking for ways to continuously improve. My desire is to aim for micro improvements daily, visualizing attainable goals and setting smaller milestones to keep myself motivated. You know, more like the tortoise and less the hare! By working toward living and staying in each moment, prioritizing productivity over instant gratification, and honoring my true self, I will continue upward progress with efficient, tiny steps instead of only focusing on the big picture.

Here’s to an amazing 2023! Are you ready to join me?

Oh, and to start my small goal setting list, I am committing to posting here once a week. Look for a new blog post each Monday in my 2023 Monday Musings.

Disappointment . . .




  1. sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.
  2. a person, event, or thing that causes disappointment.

A full out rollercoaster of emotion around my circumstances that left me in bed, for days, not wanting to do anything. Disappointment is more than sadness. It’s an offshoot, a complex emotion that stems from sadness. It is much more powerful. It’s what we feel when our expectations for a desired outcome are taken away. The feelings of anger and being let down, of frustration and sadness collide when we thought what we deserved didn’t happen.

I was sitting in a comfy chair having my pedicure when the call came. It was my pulmonologist. Yes, I had been expecting his call with results from a broncoscopy that had performed the week before, but I had not been prepared for his words. As I choked back tears (I didn’t want the lovely Korean woman worrying too much) I listened, wiped, made a few noises, listened some more and then asked the question I didn’t want to ask…..

DOES THIS MEAN I SHOULD NOT GO ON MY TIRP TOMORROW? please say not problem please!

Well, Mrs. Austen, it would be in your best interest to cancel your trip and I will see to getting you an appointment with an infectious disease doctor as soon as possible. This is beyond asthma and pulmonology at this point. … DISAPPOINTMENT BEGINS

I had been planning to study abroad to learn a new language and immerse myself in the culture for a long time! This is a big bucket list item and a lifelong dream and it was crushed like an ant under my foot in a minute flat. What did I do you ask? Well, first, breathe. Then, upon leaving the nail salon I hunched over the steering wheel and bawled my eyes out. I drove home and began to unravel all the plans I made one by painful one.

I am on medication to help my lungs right now and will see the doctor later this week. The medication does not make me feel very good – in fact, it is messing with my vision terribly (not great being a photographer and loving to read and study) so I spend too much time with my eyes closed. I would not have been at 100% for this trip and would have had a good time but maybe not the BEST time so I will reschedule when I can. But, last week! Last week was a bear. The feelings of disappointment, sadness, frustration, lack of control, and hopelessness was overwhelming to me. My friends were amazing. Calling, texting, sending flowers and things to cheer me up. (I have the BEST friends in the world) Even still, it was hard to get up this time.

Today, I still feel a small amount of disappointment but nothing like the ride of last week. Family and friends telling me to list my blessings, look for the good, all the things I know and do and teach but boy was it hard. I didn’t WANT to. Not just then – not yet anyway. I needed to allow myself to move through the feelings as awful as they were.

5 Stages of Grief, Change, Disappointment

  • Denial.
  • Anger.
  • Bargaining.
  • Depression.
  • Acceptance.

I felt them. All of them. And now I am at acceptance. So let me share the good news now.

Disappointment means passion for something. Every cause has an effect. Think of disappointment as an effect, where the cause is your love for the thing in question.

Disappointment means an opportunity for growth. Every time we feel disappointed, it means there is an error in our framework of reality. Disappointment comes from the mismatch between reality and your expectation. Yet, the reality has been this way all along — reality did not change in that one second leading to your discovery of the truth. The world did not conspire to bring you down. The reason you feel disappointed is because you discovered the truth — and this truth is not what you thought it would be.

Disappointment means you are stronger for going through it. When you go through a harsh emotion like that, you become tougher. You learn to process and work through your emotions. You become more resilient to life’s hardships.

I hope the next time you find yourself disappointed (I know I will) that you allow the emotions to move through you, to feel them and release them so you can move to all the benefits that come in the end! They are there. PASSION, TRUTH, GROWTH, STRENGTH

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