Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Travel

My Air Force father kept us on the move throughout my childhood, which I believe led to my sense of adventure and love for travel. Each new town brought new friends, new scenery, and new challenges, some good, some not so great, but that life style formed my ability to go with the flow (most of the time) and to easily make friends. I never felt disadvantaged by having to pick up and move. As an adult, however, I found myself in the same small town for 24 years, with one three year detour up the road 30 miles. I enjoyed raising my boys in one place. They are still friends with some of their kindergarten playmates, a luxury I never experienced. I did introduce them to the world though, through books, movies, and some travel, but I'm not sure any of them have the same love for the road that their mom does!

If you are able to travel, even if only short trips in your home state, take your kids on a road trip now and then. Allow them to plan the trip with you and to map out the route. If you enjoy camping, don't be afraid to go it alone with the kids, just pick safe spots where you know you are fairly well protected, such as KOA campgrounds or National Forest campgrounds. Most of these close the gates at 10:00 p.m. and have enough other campers in close proximity to keep you from feeling isolated from help should you need it. Camping not for you? Try an overnight trip to a hotel with a pool. My sons loved to take the two hour trip to Lubbock, TX to stay in an Embassy Suites that had a pool. And if you are unable to travel anywhere at all this summer, then take yourself and the kids to your public library and pick out books on the countries you would like to visit. Be sure and find books with lots of pictures and spend some time sharing with each other adventures you would like to have. Keep your mind and your kids open to the world around you. Helping them to understand that there is a big world out there will keep them open to all the possibilities that lie before them. Children become hopeless when they have no sense of a future and of course adults can feel that same hopelessness too, so I encourage you to travel this summer whether by car or plane or virtual, just get outside your routine world and go for something new. And if you have no kids at home, don't be afraid to travel alone. I learned a lot about myself during the years I made trips alone. I enjoyed the sense of quiet and peace that allowed me to think deeply and make decisions. Take some books, your journal, and a sense of adventure. Life is short. Enjoy and choose to be happy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Art Projects

Well, I created a masterpiece of art, and ran off and left it at my cousin's house. She is sending back to me, so I will post a picture at a later date. We had a great time with our little pieces of art which I wrote about in my last post, and though hard to imagine how the process would work, when we got right down to painting the work was quick. I hope you have spent some time choosing some kind of art in which you would like to engage. There are so many fun projects to attempt, so many ideas in magazines, on line, in stores, that any one of us should be able to come up with some kind of art project at any given moment and the great thing about doing so is the fun you will encounter. If you have kids out of school for the summer, finding some simple art projects for them to do when you all come home at the end of the day can give everyone a moment to reconnect and relax. Sitting down to do something creative together can bring about conversations that might never occur otherwise as everyone flies about in their own little world. Yes, even teens can be encouraged to join in on an art project. I hope you will give this a try. I'd love to hear from any of you who give this a go. Write and let me know what you created. You just might be the inspiration someone else needs. Choose happiness by taking action!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Breast Painting!

I have escaped the heat of Memphis to Warrensburg, MO, on a road trip across the mid-states to Colorado with the final destination being Albuquerque, NM. My younger sister and I are visiting our cousin here in Warrensburg and having a great time catching up, seeing her incredible art (you can view at: and making our own art. After moving across the state to this beautiful city, she got involved with a fund raiser for breast cancer in which women are painting with their breasts. That's right, their breasts! We have viewed a few of the pieces and today will be making our own. We have painted the background canvas and will later today finish our paintings. I'll fill you in later on the experience! This morning our conversation centered around creative arts and how as a society we have somewhat lost our creative urges and buried them beneath television and busyness. When you think back on generations past they spent their evenings sewing or painting, making instruments or furniture, painting or playing instruments. Evenings were a time to visit with one another and often times revolved around just such projects as these. In my book, Choosing Happiness After Divorce, I talk about the importance of finding projects to creatively engage your mind as this helps us get outside ourselves and explore new ideas and have fun. If you haven't tried any kind of art project in awhile, why not give one a go? Even if you just grab some crayons and color, you might be surprised how stress relieving it feels! In your journal, make a list of art projects you would like to try and don't forget about using "found" objects around the house or bought inexpensively at a garage sale or flea market. Take some time for you and even if you can't give up your television time, try some art while watching! Choose happiness!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I recently spoke to the Single's Community at Hope Presbyterian and dating after divorce is always part of my message and always a question that comes up at the end. I always encourage people to date someone for two years before they commit to remarriage, but I am so often surprised by the reaction this receives. "Two years? Isn't that a long time?" My question in return then is, "What's two years compared to another divorce and the heartache that entails?" The reason I recommend two years is that anyone can be on their best behavior for a year, managing anger or control issues or any number of difficulties, but in the second year, as a couple moves into the comfort zone, that is when any real issues are going to surface, the "mask" comes off and the skeletons come out of the closet! On the other hand, if both parties are being honest and open with each other, the second year is when you move into the comfort zone of deeper commitment and understanding, bringing you closer together before you make the final move to marriage. However, this is only going to be true if you are actively and consciously considering what you want in your next relationship!

Attorneys will tell you 9 times out of 10 they will see the same person for their second divorce because their client has married someone just like their first spouse. Dating for two years isn't going to make a difference if you are not willing to do the work it takes to break from the familiar and seek what is best. In other words, you have to take action to make a different choice. I knew from my first marriage I did not want to fall into a relationship with a controlling or jealous man. I had been there and knew this had been the slow poison that sucked the life out of our marriage. When I went on a date with a man, one date, who became jealous and angry over a funny comment I made, I told him goodbye, that he was not the man for me. I knew then I had broken the barrier, that I was going to be able to make a better choice because I could really SEE what I didn't want and call it out. I didn't just miraculously arrive at this ability, I worked hard to get there. I wrote daily in my journal about what I wanted in my next relationship, what I wanted to bring to the relationship and what I wanted someone else to bring as well. I made lists of character traits and qualities, wrote about morals and values, and what I hoped to have in common. And then when I did begin to date a man that tentatively fit my description, over the course of the two years we dated, I realized as he revealed himself to me, that he definitely was the man I had been writing about. We have now been married for four and a half years and not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the blessing of a good man who loves me and adores me and whom I love with all my heart.

I encourage you to take the time to do the same. Don't let your heart  overrule your head and fall into a relationship based on emotion. Emotions are fleeting, but thinking and working on what you want and need is the path to a great relationship. Write and write and write in your journal about the qualities you want in a new spouse, but also write about what you want to bring to that relationship. It's not about finding the perfect other, it's about growing yourself and a relationship into a constantly forward moving connection! Choose to take an active part in forming a great relationship and choose happiness!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tomato sweet and easy!

One of my firm beliefs is that we all need to eat healthier. We live in busy times, but our health is so important and taking care of our health is vital to our happiness.  As a child, I remember well my mother's fondness of tomatoes, but especially of those ripe juicy off the vine summer tomatoes that store bought can't compete with, so this is in honor of her. Today I am sharing an easy salad to have along side  a sandwich or with an evening meal. Enjoy!

Slice a ripe tomato into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
sprinkle with kosher salt
cut 4 basil leaves into thin slices (kitchen shears work the best, but can be accomplished with a knife)
grate 1/2 ounce of mozzarella cheese over tops
sprinkle with the cut basil
drizzle with olive oil

Simple! Delicious! Healthy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


There is inevitable joy in a graduation ceremony and last night was no exception. I love the sense that life is just beginning for these high school graduates; there is such hope and excitement in what lies ahead for them. Watching my many students over the years walk across similar stages I always feel the frustrations, the upsets, the exhaustion of the end of the year, fade into the background, replaced with the memories of the aha moments, the class discussion that sparked a withdrawn student, the kindness observed between two in the halls or the reassurance from a student when no one else was around that he or she really liked my class. These are the moments that keep a teacher returning year after year to a classroom.

So what does this have to do with choosing happiness after divorce? Well, as I thought about all of this last night, I realized the end of a marriage is somewhat like a graduation. Something fraught with all emotions has come to an end and just like my seniors graduating with all the choices they must now face, we also have many decisions to make. We can be like those who go on to successful lives by thinking positively and taking an active part in their growth, or we can be like the students who never quite understand that they must take responsibility for themselves and make their life their own. Though divorce is stressful and hurtful and difficult, each of us has to choose how we are going to face this new season in life, and whether or not we will be happy. 

Take time to write in your journal, keeping in mind the idea of "graduation," and write what your plans for the future might be. There are endless opportunities in front of you if you open your eyes and your mind to all of that which you can conceive. Choose happiness!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


June  2nd! Where did the last month and a half go? Sorry I have been away so long, but taking on a teaching job again took some adjustment! I have found being back in the classroom energizing and fun. I didn't expect to find myself teaching again, however, the challenge has made me think that much more about choosing happiness. When faced with changes, they can often feel overwhelming, but deciding to make the best of changes is what leads us to still choose happiness. No matter the season you find yourself in, no matter the circumstances, you can still be happy. I encourage you to look at all the changes that have occurred in your life and look for what you learned from them, or how you were affected. Make a vow to yourself that if you have not accepted change well in the past, that any future changes will be different. Take time to really think through and write about even the smallest positive that resulted from change in your life. When you start looking for the positive, you will see more positive. A friend once gave me a card which said on the front, "Bloom where you are planted!" and I kept it posted next to my mirror for many years to remind myself to live my best each and every day. Are you blooming where you have been planted? Are you making the best of whatever your situation? Take the time to write in your journal and think this through. I need to take my own advice today as I have fallen short on my writing lately and I know how much this helps when thinking through our day to day challenges. Choose happiness today and meet change head on!