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Why March?

A wise kindergarten teacher taught this lesson every January. She would gather her students to play a game. Then she would have them look at their shoes. She’d tell them if they had any blue or red on their shoes they weren’t allowed to play the game. They had to sit and watch. Of course, the students that had blue and red on their shoes got very upset. The teacher would introduce a picture book about Rosa Parks or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and read the story to the children. They’d discuss how it felt to be excluded, not accepted, not equal. Then everyone was welcome to join in on the game.

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There are two things I must do. One is write, and the other is run. The problem is there are days when I don’t feel like doing either.  On days when I accomplish both, I feel complete. I feel like me. Yet, for as many miles as I’ve run each time I begin, I must fight the demons that tell me to stop. Every step I take fuels me to keep going until I reach a stride where my mind focuses, and running is enjoyable. The first two miles are always the toughest. It’s the same for writing. Getting started can be a battle. I’m working on my third novel, and it’s not any easier than the first. Actually, it’s harder because I’m learning more. When I sit down to work on my manuscript or to write a post I go through an entire Facebook, email, Pinterest ritual before I begin. The longer I wait, the more I torture myself until finally, I focus. And it is torture because I let the fear swirl around in my mind growing more intense with every minute.

The lesson I’ve learned from writing and running is the importance of doing something–anything when faced with fear. Taking that first step toward doing the very thing that frightens you is empowering. It teaches you to get up, get courageous and go! It’s not easy. The things we feel the most fearful of are the things that are the most important to us. We can choose to let fear immobilize us or we can walk confidently in the direction of our fear and do something.

My mother-in-law was sitting outside a store in her power wheelchair drinking a cup of coffee waiting for her ride when a stranger walked by and dropped some coins into her coffee cup. Imagine her surprise! She had no idea she needed help.

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between happiness and joy. Happy is what most people say they want to be. Happy is ripping open presents, enjoying our favorite meal, or watching our football team score the winning touchdown. Happiness is dancing and singing. Happiness is an emotion that fills us, makes us smile, laugh, and emanate an energy that others respond to. However, sometimes happiness can be tied to an outcome we are seeking. I’ll be happy when….  If our goals aren’t met, or things don’t go exactly the way we planned, or we don’t get the gift we were hoping for then we may not allow ourselves to be happy.

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Driving in Cape Coral, especially during the winter, can be an interesting experience. We have drivers from all over the country and around the world. This time of year the roads are crowded!

Not long ago, I was running errands. I had been to the gym, stopped at a local shop to buy Roscoe and Smudge’s  treats and was on my way to the next stop. My holiday music played, the sun was bright, and the decorations lined the street.

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A quiet house

Door opens to smiling faces

My babies are home

Laughter

Music

Food filling the fridge and spilling onto the counter

Lasagne

Cookies

Pie

Chocolate

And a giant pan of mac-n-cheese

Familiar voices fill the living room late into the night, teens that have grown to adults

My heart content, feeling a peace I never fully understood I’d lost

All is well

Conversations at breakfast, mugs of coffee refilled

Sunny, crisp air, days with books in our hands for hours

Decorations pulled from bins, scattered throughout the house

Icicle lights sparkling

Pups tails wagging, waiting by their leashes

Memories fill the space we call home. Our separate lives become one.

We are family. We are love. We are together.

The gentle unease returns

Backpack full. He’s leaving

“Text when you arrive.”

“I’ll see you soon.”

Waving, watching the wheels drive away

Pain

Pups tails are still

Three remain

One last movie

One last morning coffee

One more goodbye

Breathe

The hum of the dishwasher

The shuffling of paws on the floor

A peace is missing

My babies have learned to fly

A quiet house