Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Farewell, Big House

It's official. 
We have sold our big old 1883 Victorian Farmhouse in Missouri. Nostalgia washes over me even as I write that. What a wonderful and magical season we had there. Nine years. I love the big, open rooms with the wide gracious halls. I love the two staircases, the porches, the views, the Missouri farmland with its line of trees like green billows covering hills, the wind sweeping over hayfields like waves of an inland ocean, the line of stalwart Sycamores marching up the driveway.

This is the place my children spent the last years of their childhood. My oldest was married on its steps on a perfect October day. Christmases seemed like something out of a Dickens novel--not the sadness and the social injustice, but the lights across the way where our neighbor's lovely house (built in 1893) stood out like a castle in France, and our own Christmas tree filled the window bay with twinkling joy. Even the drafty old windows we remember with affection, and laugh at how on  cold winter nights, the icicles on the tree would blow in the breeze.

Recently I chatted with a friend. "You're putting down roots, here, then?" she asked, and I realized that yes, yes we are. We're sowing ourselves into this place completely and fully, for as long as that may be. 

I never thought we'd be moving from Missouri after 23 years, but again, I cannot see the future. All I know is that I am very glad to be here in Northern California, and that though I love the old house in Missouri, I would not trade it for what my life is now. It would not bring back my children's childhood, and though part of me is grieving for the season that now is past, I am not content to look backward, as if my best and dearest days are behind me.

Even now, in the quiet before the day begins, I catch the scent of this year's Christmas tree, and pondering the possibilities of the coming days and weeks, I know that the past, precious though it is, is past. The future is yet to be. But here, now, today--I live.

I treasure those things that have passed into the realm of memory. But I don't want to be stuck there. I want to keep adding daily to the treasures of life, and living now the season I will look back on with the same fondness I now feel for our time in the big house.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Wealth


Though I'm thinking that it's good that we have an official reminder of our many blessings, part of me is much more taken with the knowledge that every day is a day in which to be thankful. Thankful that I have a new morning, and as Anne of Green Gables so eloquently put it--a new day with no mistakes in it.

Actually, I'm not too afraid of mistakes, though I do make them periodically. I think what I really want to avoid is living a life looking backward with regret or forward with fear. I want to live this day fully cogniscent, fully engaged, fully connected to people with whom I have relationship, and at peace regardless of what may unfold.

I haven't done the greatest job of that today, actually. At peace, yes, but fully engaged, maybe not so much. I've cooked food, sipped coffee, worked on an article that is due, and carried on conversations with people at odd moments. But it is only now at the end of the day when all  the pie is eaten, the cold mountain night has descended, and I'm waiting for bedtime to arrive that I am focusing on thankfulness.

So here is a very partial list:

  • Thank You, Lord, for people I love and for those that love me in return.
  • Thank You for warmth, and shelter, and light, and for the hospitality of special people and their dogs, and a certain mountain cabin.
  • Thank You for food, for laughter, for a husband who is also my best friend.
  • Thank You for stalwart sons and lovely daughters (and grandaughter) and all You have in store for them.

Faces of Eire
Thank You that You love me, and if I have not lived this day to its fullest, it does not reduce Your love for me in the slightest.

You smile upon me, You sing over me, and I know that of all my very many blessings, only One I cannot live without: You.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cooking for Love

All  who love to cook will most likely not understand what I am about to say, and those who already cook for love will be like, DUH!, but for the rest of us, I thought I'd share a recent pondering about cooking.

I have cooked at least one meal a day for over 30 years. That's a lot of food. That's also a lot of work. I think perhaps (though it is a hazy memory) I once looked forward to cooking. Or not to the act of cooking, exactly, but to having someone to cook for. Enter Prince Charming, aka Dave. Definitely. But after the initial amazement wore off, cooking did not. I was basically the cook. That has been one of my jobs through the years, and actually, I think I can say without boasting that I am quite good at it.

But I can also say that cooking does not excite me. Cooking has been to me something that must be done, and since I usually have multiple things going on pretty much all waking hours, I have often resented the time cooking demands. To off-set this, I have accrued an arsenal of tasty meals I can prepare in record time. But the other evening I was watching the Pixar/Disney film Ratatouille.

In this animated flick, a rat, Remi, is a French chef. The movie is cute, but it was in the bonus features that I heard a little phrase that may have power to transform my cooking. Well, maybe not my cooking, but how I view it. In an interview, a chef made the comment that at one point in his training, it suddenly dawned on him that he was making food for people.

Okay, I know that is elementary. I mean after all--that's who most of us cook for, right? But it struck me: what if instead of cooking to get it done, I cooked with people in mind--people I love. So I tried it the other night. The dinner itself was nothing gourmet, but somehow as I thought about giving the gift of my time to create something that would bring pleasure to people--who are, after all, the greatest tresures in the earth--I found myself more intentional.

As I put in more care, genuine creativity kicked in. A little improvisation in the form of broccoli and cauliflower roasted in a smidge of browned butter and sprinkled with garlic salt---mmmm. Definitely better than plain steamed, (or my usual fast vege--plain raw).

Nothing earth shattering, eternal, or heart-rending. But on the other hand, the fact that one small phrase has the power to change a 30-year task from something that must be done to an opportunity to bless and create is pretty cool!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Update on Honor

In 2011, I began this blog partially to chronicle my journey with Honor, our Quarab gelding.
(Here's a link to read about that:)

It has definitely been a ride! Indeed, sometimes I've contemplated passing him on to someone more experienced than I. He is a beautiful boy, but I am not as unbreakable as I was at 19, and the more I endeavored to teach him, the more I realized that while I knew how to ride (or more accurately, how not to fall off), I did not really know how to advance him beyond the basics (and even some of those were missing).

Enter an amazing trainer in the Redding area. She has transformed this equine equivalent of a slightly snarky teenage boy into an attentive, collected, respectful mount. She has also transformed yours truly from a self-taught bareback rider into one who can give proper leg and rein cues, and command respect in the saddle and on the ground. Yes. And now I'm taking Honor out on the trails and we are having an idyllic time.

I know there are deeper meanings to this chain of events, which I could and probably will delve into at some point, but honestly, my brain hasn't had enough coffee for that yet, and really, I just wanted to give an update on Honor because I'm so thrilled with who he has become and the fact that I am able to go out riding under the endless October sky.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Morning Meditations

The early morning breeze washes over me like a river, tossing the trees under a sky not yet light.

Coffee, warm and fragrantly brown, doctored up with cream and sweetness, lends its magic to my quiet spot, the mantle clock which ticks too loudly has mercifully stopped sometime in the wee hours of the night, and Toots snoozes on the back of the couch.

It's a typical morning in so many ways--the same room, the same coffee cup, the same planet--yet different, because this morning I am taking a moment to breathe in: to hear, to feel, to smell these elements of my life. This is not because I am a great philosopher or incredibly poetic. Rather, it is a result of a recent conversation with my travel writer daughter who is training herself to pause. Pause to live, to experience, to capture the moment.

Even as I write this, I realize I've posted similar blog entries, and I wonder at my recurring theme. Does this "capturing-moments-living-dreams-making-memories" continually surface because

A: I hunger to fully experience, yet so often see only afterwards what riches went unnoticed even while I held them in my hands.

B: I sense a greater something, an unseen realm, that gives depth to the world through which I walk.

C: I am hoping that somehow the act of chronicling moments will enable me to fully experience them. 

D: God has put "eternity in my heart", as Job said, and I feel it in every breeze, every smile, every sky.

All of these, and more. I want to gaze with fresh eyes on familiar scenes. The weathered green of an
old cabinet sheltering special coffee cups from precious people and remembered places. The painted duck that belonged to my Granny. A trip to Samoa Beach near Arcata, CA--life is all around me, a familiar space and a frontier to be explored all at the same time. And so I savor the coffee, study the breeze, gaze on the sky, and am at the same time both content and longing.

Perhaps in its own way, this diving deep into the precious everyday-ness of life is like hunger. We eat our fill, but then we turn around and yet another scene spreads out before us, only to leave us yearning once again...
Youngest son braving cold water in quest of a perfect wave

Friday, September 20, 2013

Road Trip

A year and a half ago, I wrote down a dream. 
It seemed far-fetched, one I thought would take years to accomplish. But no! I just got back from living that dream--to further explore the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, Colorado, and to re-visit where I spent the first nine years of my growing up, hopefully discovering where my dad spent part of his boyhood, and then cap it off with a trip through Zion National Park. I was willing to do it by myself, if need be, but if I could have a sister along, that would be the best.

And it was! Our 2000-mile trip whizzed by, full of conversations, laughter, hiking, coffee, hiking, lunches from our little blue cooler bag, and did I mention hiking? Here are some of the things we experienced along the way...
Petroglyphs at Mesa Verde National Park

A 3-mile hike took us to the majesty of an empty canyon where the only sounds were the cry of an eagle on the wing and the breeze as it brushed by us on the trail.

There, far from civilization, we gazed in wonder at a story pecked in the wall--birds, lizards, spirals, handprints--and pondered the meaning of the tale that burned in the artist's heart more than 1000 years ago--burned hot enough to capture it for all antiquity.

A piece of captured sky...

After climbing like cliff dwellers ourselves, even traversing a bit of the path by hand and toe-holds as jauntily as if we did it every day, we stopped for a breather near this piece of earthbound sky. Mirrored in a pool on the mesa top, the water sat as crystalline and still as if it had been thus since the cliff dwellers inhabited this high green tableland. circa 1280 A.D. 

What caused these people to abandon their well-crafted dwellings and migrate south, never to return? The stones are all silent regarding this. Silent and serene, and in the many homes tucked beneath the caprock of the canyons, the answers rest, content to be unknown, yet willing to yield their secrets to the questing minds of archeologists and dreamers...

Old bridge?
Just over the border into Utah now, we went in search of our grandpa's homestead and of the canyon our dad used to talk of where he played a boy.

We found the canyon, inhabited only by birdsong and the occasional jackrabit. Additional finds included the remains of an outhouse; a plethora of pottery pieces; shell buttons; an old spoon; a stove grate. The thought that we were walking the same ground where nearly 80 years before our father worked and played, was both mystical and poignant.

Then on to the red rocks of Zion National Park, with its endless tunnel curving through soaring palisades, hiking trails that took us to the root of the mountains to gaze on emerald pools hard-won over miles of sandstone and granite .

We sweated. We almost got stuck on a deserted road of rain-wet gumbo. Remembered places had shrunken (as is the way with childhood memories), and some we remembered not at all. This was a dream that felt like a dream even as we lived it, and if I didn't have pictures to prove it, I would wonder if we'd really stepped foot in these places, now that I am back to normal life.

Funny, isn't it, how such times often arrive so incrementally that we can actually be living the very things we've longed and worked for, yet fail to notice in the moment that our dream has surfaced into realtime.

Even living the dream, we can get so focused on the next hill, the next goal, the next dream, that we can fail to stop and breathe in the rareness of it all. We can, but let's not, for dreams are far to precious to walk through unaware...
Kiva hole and ladder at Spruce Tree House

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meditations on the Sky

Morning in Missouri
Have you ever noticed how the sky is ever-changing, yet always the same? This struck me the other day when I was out for a jog. It was my last day in Missouri, and as far as I know, the final time I would travel down this particular gravel road. I was feeling the ripping of the fabric of life, wondering how my world would look when I pieced it back together, and mourning the loss of such perfection as the road crunched beneath my feet.

Sycamore Sunrise
Okay, I know that's putting it abit dramatically, but last times are like that, I've found. We wonder if we can survive. We wonder if, once we are irrevocably past holding on to the moment, we will have anything left in our hands. So I was jogging and emoting along these lines, when I happened to look up at the sky.

It took my breath away, that sky of early morning, streaked with the fresh rose and gold of sunrise; the heavens stretching broad and exultant above me. It seemed in that moment the most beautiful sky I have ever seen or ever would see, this last sunrise over the line of sycamores that march up our driveway

This was not a welcome thought, but on its heels came one of comfort: No matter where I am in the world, Missouri, California, or anywhere in between, I will always have the sky.

California Sky
Have you ever considered how very like God  the sky is? No matter who we are on the face of the earth, the sky is smiling down on each of us. He is yesterday, today, and forever the same. Constant. And yet, just as the ever-changing sky, He is different to each of us because we're each on our own journey, you and I.

You see a different sky--a different reflection of Him than meets my eye. And yet we are all encompassed by His care.

I'm so glad the sky is always there!

Sunset over Whiskeytown Lake

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Missouri Farewell

Home place
Here I am in Missouri, and this time of sorting and packing is definitely bittersweet. I love this state, our home for 23 years, with its lush green fields, billowing trees and misty mornings alight with birdsong and peace.

This gracious old house with its high ceilings and transom windows holds nine years of accumulated memories (and 30 years of accumulated stuff, I might add). But I am leaving all this--leaving it for good this time, and that is hard. Hard, yes, but as I sort and pack, if I think about staying, my heart sinks.

The trail leads ever onward
 I love this place, this house, these friends that are part of my history and who I am. But it is time.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven..."

This is what I ponder as I pack: there is "...a time to keep, and a time to cast away..." and it is comforting to know that the time of keeping--the accumulating and the dreams that accompanied that time--were good and right. It is not a commentary on the worth of a thing to let it go. It is a recognition of times and seasons.

Looking off toward the pond

Here now are the last golden days before the door closes on a season. Bittersweet. Precious. A time to weep, even mourn, as one mourns the ending of something lovely--something that will never again be here in this Missouri place. Those things are part of me, and though now perhaps they are passing into the realm of memories, those years are just as valid and valuable as today and tomorrow. In fact, they are what fitted me for today and positioned me for tomorrow. In those years, it was a time to gather. Now is a time to distribute...

Morning fog on a morning jog
I wish endings were more fun. This lying to rest of a myriad of things, this saying goodbye to an era that spans my children's growing up years feels at times like an arrow in my heart. But to stay on here in this beautiful place does not bring back those years. The children will not magically become babes again because I hold on to a house. And when I contemplate holding on, a different kind of pang assails me, one that feels old and tired and finished. A mortal wounding, a deciding to pitch my tent and watch while all the adventures and explorations of my future fade away and I am left with only house and land. And that is not enough for me.

Barn and granary
So though it is a time of farewells, it is also a time of beginnings, of new horizons, and memories to be made. With everything I "cast away", my hands are freer to receive what I have yet to know. Yes, it is a time to weep, but also to laugh and to dance for what lies ahead. A time to love what has been and a time to love what is to come. This season of farewells will pass, as is the nature of seasons, and I will remember with peace all the years and friends grown dear in this place.

Pond and barn, rolling fields, and wide-open skies

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blog Hoppin'

I don't usually blog about writing, but last week I was invited by my St. Louis, MO-based friend and writer extraordinaire, Sue Bradford Edwards, to participate in this "blog hop interview." The idea is pretty straightforward: She sent me some interview questions, which I answer (see below), and at the end I tag a couple of other writers who will in turn answer the same questions on their blogs next week. 

Please check out Sue's answers to the questions at her blog, One Writer's Journey. Feel free to leave a comment and tell her you heard about it from me. 

And now, without further ado--


1. What are you working on right now?
  • I am in the process of writing an article for Children's Writer Newsletter   on the subject of following up on submissions/queries. Then, hot on its heels, I have an article about writer/editor relationships to write for Writer's Guide to 2014. (The link takes you to WG2013, which also cantains an article of mine). In addition, I am  putting the final polish on my middle-grade historical fiction novel about the cliffdwellers of Mesa Verde--working title: The Flight of the Cliffbird--which is under contract with Royal Fireworks Press.
2. Why do you write what you do?
  • Because I like to. The articles on writing give me opportunities to interact with publishers, editors, agents, and other writers, and glean from their wisdom. Middle-grade fiction, though, is my favorite thing to write. You can dive in deep--into characters, setting, plot. I get enough starting and stopping from the articles I write, so a long-term project is great to keep on the burner to work on in between the shorter stuff.
3. How does your writing process work?
  • For articles, it usually looks like writing a set of interview questions, researching editors etc. that are willing to answer said questions. Once they send the interviews back to me, I pull the article together blending quotes and research in a hopefully writer-ly way. Fiction, though is a much more organic process for me, in which I alternate between times of inspiration where sentences flow so easily that when I read back through, I can't remember writing them, interspersed with sectors of revising and polishing, working on the overall structure and deepening characters, plot, pacing, and all those elements that go into making a good story.
4. What is the hardest part about writing?
  • Starting. That white computer screen staring back at me while I try to formulate the first sentence. It's funny, but I always want my beginning to be perfect, even though I'm willing for the rest of the article or book to evolve. But most times perfection doesn't happen right off the bat, so I'm like a kid teetering on the end of a diving board trying to pysche myself up enough to take the plunge, even if it's not a perfect dive.
5. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet?
  • I would like to explore poetry. It would help if I actually understood poetry, but mostly I don't, especially contemporary poetry. I mean--what makes a certain conglomeration of non-rhyming, non-metered words poetry?
So there you have it, even if you didn't ask the questions, you now have the answers. The writers I've tagged are posted below. Check out how other authors answered these questions and more! 

Posting July 4 – Cheryl Harness at her blog
Posting soon: Patricia Newman, SCBWI RA for Northern CA at her blog--

Saturday, June 22, 2013


I am drifting around here today turning a blind eye to several household chores that need to be done, trying to bolster my sagging morale by engaging in other activities. I want to:
  • Eat Chocolate
  • Check email
  • Read a book
  • Eat more chocolate while reading said book
  • And--
There is no and. That is where I find myself, and only the fact that I have no chocolate in the house and I do not want to make the effort to go get some is keeping me from my plan. 

Where is Mary Poppins when you need her?! A snap of the fingers and everything marches to its place, folds itself, and even shuts the drawers behind itself. My household seems to be quite the opposite--everytime I turn around, it appears that more debris has erupted from the baseboards, sinks, side tables and carpet. It drags me down and if I'm not careful I can end up forgetting all the things that are right in my world:

  • I'm getting to spend time with my granddaughter. Sweetest child.
  • I am surrounded by friends and people I love.
  • My husband gives me flowers.
  • I am living where I want to live.
  • Opportunities are opening to me.
  • Coffee is brewing which I will drink from a favorite cup.
  • I do not have to do the housework if I don't want to.

This is just the index!

And I'm noticing the direct correlation between what I focus on and how I feel. When I focus on housework that is not getting done, I feel bogged down and slightly resentful. But as I begin to recount my blessings, I see what an amazing life I really do lead in spite of dishes waiting to be washed and toilets needing to be cleaned, and my heart is lifted. Such a simple principle. What we focus on can give us strength for the day, or drain us until we see no silver linings and hear no words of hope. It reminds me of the verse, 

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things, and God's peace will guard your heart and mind..."

 I also find it interesting and rather irritating that focusing on the negative aspects of the day is so much easier than dwelling on the positive, and that negatives can so quickly drain us of hope and initiative, robbing us of the strength that good things bring, though in actuality, all our positives never changed. They just became obscured. Overshadowed. It makes me want to pick up a sword and start slashing at that invisible yet somehow tangible veil. I've got way too much good in my life to be dragged down by the few not-so-amazing aspects I may be dealing with. So I think that instead of seeking comfort in chocolate, I will pick up my list of thankfulness and do battle. Let's see. This includes:

  • Sleeping cats
  • Sleeping kids
  • Peace
  • Safety
  • A God who loves me
  • A new day stretching out in front of me full of unexplored blessings 

Yes, chocolate is awesome and I still want some. In fact, chocolate is on my list of excellent and praiseworthy things. But today I'm taking a large helping of thankfulness and not only does it taste very good, my whole day is looking up!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Memories in the Making

Today's experience is tomorrow's memory. 

Why, then, does it often feel so mundane in the here and now? I find this interesting, along with the fact that often the making of the memories is rather unmemorable or even not that enjoyable. For example, we recently went on a hike to a nearby lake, then panned for gold in a tributary creek after exploring the entrance to an honest-to-goodness goldmine from the 1800's and a nearby stamp mill  complete with gold sluices and ore crusher. Brilliant stuff.

Reality? It was hovering close to 100 degrees. Just standing brought a sweat, much less the mile and a half hike. Two out of three of the teens involved were ready to be finished befiore we ever set out, and not only did we find no gold, the water was so cold we went numb from the ankles down. The kids kept pressing to be finished and back at the car while my hubby and I lagged behind trying to soak in the moment. This was only partially successful--I find it hard to soak in a moment when I'm aware that not everyone is thrilled.

But in memory? I see blue skies and tall trees, hear again crystalline water tumbling over rocks and the singing of wind in the pines. Holding hands. Laughter. Wonder. The excitement of discovery. And the more time goes by, the harder it is to recall the negatives. In fact, just today I told the story to some friends and for the moment truly forgot there were any less-than-happy campers or less-than-ideal circumstances.

Sometimes we want to live in memories because they are much more comforting and comfortable than the here and now. One of the flaws in this practice, of course, is that life passes us by while we look backwards at what has become in our memory a high point in life. Taken to the extreme, this backward yearning can cause us to lose whole chunks of our timeline. You see this sometimes--people re-living, recounting, recalling their glory days, while their very life slips by them unvalued. What a waste, for if we spend our efforts seeking to re-live or re-create the past, we cannot store away as much of today. And
today is the fuel of tomorrow's memories.

At the same time, this phenomenon of only remembering the best moments seems like a very useful piece of information to keep in mind during the day-to-dayness or the harder parts of life. If I remind myself that one day whatever less-than-amazing thing I'm experiencing will be past, and that I will look back at it through the golden veil of  memory, then perhaps those elements will seem less like slogging it out and more like something purposeful and ultimately fulfilling. It reminds me of a favorite verse--

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." NIV

With that in view, it only makes sense to embrace this day--mundane or otherwise--in such a way that we have a foretaste of that glory, so that when tomorrow comes, we can look back on moments made richer and more intense by the value which we have given them in the now...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ground Manners

For what started out partially as a blog to chronicle my journey with Honor, my Arab/Quarterhorse gelding, my posts have been quite lacking in horse-related updates lately. So today I think I'll remedy that.

Honor is a pretty boy--a bright red dun, slick and shiny and brave as they come. He also needs some work on his ground manners, because no one wants a 1000-pound animal with very hard hooves stepping on their feet or bumping into them because he's too busy looking  for grass and is clueless as to his affect on those around him--namely me. He's been  on a nine-month vacation and reminds me of a teenage boy who just sort of grew up without much instruction: a whole lot of energy but a bit deficit in the department of social graces.

In the world of horses, it's commonly said that the one who moves the feet is in charge. That means if I'm moving to get out of his way, he's calling the shots. Not only does this make for sore toes, it can spell disaster in the saddle, for if a horse won't listen to you on the ground, he sure isn't going to be very tuned in when you're on his back.

So I'm working with him on basics--yielding to the leadrope without stepping on your leader. Standing still while getting feet cleaned out. Paying attention to the person holding your halter rope instead of dodging the noise off the the left, right or behind you, and I'm doing it through communication, horse style--teaching him to respect me, my space bubble, and pay attention to what I'm asking him to do. Whoa when I say whoa. Move when I ask him to. Stand still when it is time. It's really all about letting him know what is expected of him, how what he's doing is working for me, and being patient and understanding with hiim in the process.

I find it not so very different from human communication, actually, and Honor is like far too many of us-growing up with little or no instruction in how to make known what's happening inside us and what we need from other people. People long for connection, but often when they get close, they end up getting stepped on or stepping on the very person they're seeking to connect with. It's time for some remedial work! For Honor, this looks like me walking along beside him, pulling his attention back to me if it strays, poking him in the shoulder to move him out of my bubble if he moves into it, and teaching him to listen to me.

For people, we're probably not going to lead them around with a rope, prod them to get them to move over, and twitch their lead rope when their attention strays. But communication? Definitely need that. It's time to leave off the non-verbals--the sighs, the withdrawal, the angry or sad eyes (that don't work very well as communication tools anyway). Just say it. I'm feeling _____________ because ___________. I need ____________________--will that work for you?

It also sounds a lot like boundaries. Sometimes people don't know how to treat us in a way that safeguards our hearts. We keep hoping they'll just "get it," but like Honor, they have yet to learn effective communition or to pay attention to how they may be affecting others, so they continue in default mode--which is usually to reflect whatever type of communication style they grew up with--trying to get their needs met. Often, the truth is that we ourselves may not be much better than the other guy at communicating the inside stuff. Not only does this errode connection in our relationships, drain the pleasure and inject fear into the relationship, it's just a painful way to go through life!

How much better, no matter how scary or foreign, to work on ground manners: to communicate what we're expecting or what we need and begin to expect the same from others. Instead of an angry, blaming bluster to get a controlling person to back off, just kindly and patiently giving them some good information with which they can adjust their approach if they want to be with us. Rather than feeling stepped on and unseen, and hoping someone will notice our misery, we can take what's inside and share it in such a way that the other person gets the message without feeling trampled themself.

Groundwork: It's helping Honor's manners, and it's really saving my toes!