Necessary Changes


Sometimes you just need to make changes. The great thing about reinventing yourself is that it’s not a one time thing. Throughout our lives, we are reinventing ourselves. Sometimes it’s just minor changes and sometimes it can be much more. Often it is because of changes that happen TO us like graduations, marriage, birth of a child, etc. Sometimes the changes are internal.

Every now and then, I find myself “off track.” I’m either not where I want to be or too overwhelmed to really know where I am. That’s when I need to take a step back and reassess. Then it may be time for a little reinvention!

“There’s always room to be a better person. Always”~Sonya Teclaz

So, once again, the journey begins……

A Birthday Wish For My Beautiful Daughter

A Birthday Wish for my Daughter


“A daughter is a miracle that never ceases to be miraculous…full of beauty and forever beautiful…loving and caring and truly amazing.”~Deanna Beisser

I don’t know if I tell you often enough how beautiful you are….or how smart you are…or capable…kind and loving…a great mama to Jace …and of course my favorite daughter! More importantly, I don’t think I have told you enough how incredibly proud I am of you. How I am constantly amazed by your skills, your ability to stand by your convictions and your fierce love for those of us who are important to you.

Sometimes when I need a miracle, I look into my daughter’s eyes and I realize I have already created one.

I also don’t feel like I thank you enough….for your love, affection and loyalty. For being a good girl and for so generously allowing me to  be such a big part of Jace’s life. What a selfless gift! But more than any of these,  thank you for being you!

My Wish For You

So, here we are, another birthday, a new job, an emerging toddler and a whole lot more great experiences to come! I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard a song that brought tears to my because now more than ever, I hope you dance! Because I know you’ll soar!

"If you get the choice to dance or sit it out...I hope you dance"~Lee Ann Womack
“If you get the choice to dance or sit it out…I hope you dance”~Lee Ann Womack

I hope you have a wonderful birthday and a beautiful year! Eye <3 u, 1-4-3, I love you! tandmebabyshower

My birthday wish for my beautiful daughter…

Be healthy Be happy Be strong Dream big.

There isn’t anything you can’t do.

Letting Go

Letting Go

There are so many ways of letting go. We let go of things… ideas… dreams…people….sometimes all of those at once. To me, letting go, mostly has a negative connotation, but, truly, it is often good. Letting go can be a sign of growth and better things.

Tomorrow, my oldest child is moving away to start a new career, his first and I am, again, in the position of letting go.

“A mother who is really a mother is never free.”~Honore De Balzac

 I remember his first day of daycare…..his first day of pre-school, kindergarten, first lost tooth, etc, etc. I remember, way, way back, to day one, when they whisked him away so fast, I barely got to see him. Even then, on his first day of life, I had to learn the bittersweet lesson of letting go.


Other than those first few precarious years, most of the letting go has been for good reasons, natural life events.

3ofussmallFive years ago, when I helped move him into his first dorm room, I was thrilled, excited and proud (and a little sad!)! Four short, very short years later, I was even more excited, thrilled and proud as I watched him march to pick up his degree!

Benand me grad



When he came home again, the shift began. While many of the roles were still the same, he had become an adult. We were able to be “friends”. He introduced me to TV shows and movies that I never would have watched on my own. He explained politics and electronics, and became my hiking buddy and midnight snacker as he searched (and searched) for a job.


Last May, he took on a new role, as uncle to Jace. I’m not sure that any of us knew how much love existed before this little man joined our lives.



Instead of letting go, it seemed our lives were getting fuller and fuller, including the addition of two more fur babies. We were back to our original unit of three plus one amazing addition. Not only did I NOT think about letting go, I actually began to be complacent. Why not? I had a full house.


And then it happened! He found a job. And not just any job, but a job that will help him to launch his career. A job that is only the beginning of this next exciting phase in his life….the real world, where he truly can begin his life…as an individual. An individual in a new career, new city, new friends and responsibilities. A new life! He is embarking on an amazing  journey and right now, it is all about him. My role will shift, again. I will be letting go, in the most bittersweet of ways, because I have to. And…I couldn’t be prouder, more thrilled or excited than I am for him today!

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, is wings.”

~Johaan Wolfgang Von Goethe

So, yes, it is with all my heart, and much courage, that I am….

letting go

The Miracle of the Oil.

The Miracle of the Oil


At Hanukkah time, we are reminded of some of life’s mysterious miracles. Most of us can add some of our own. While I have had some great miracles in my life, I marvel at many of the small ones. These are the ones that I call the “Miracle of the Oil.” If you are not familiar with the original “Miracle of the Oil”, please check out my hub, “What is Hanukkah?


“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”~Mother Teresa


Being in the situation of “too much month” at the end of our paycheck way too often, we often pray at our house for just a little more time, a little more food, a little more money, etc., etc. Calling it the miracle of the oil first came into play for me about two years ago. We were struggling a bit and were still a few days shy of payday.  Our “pay as you go” electric box said we had enough electricity for only two days. We began to seriously conserve our electricity. By day two, I gathered candles and and flashlights. I checked the meter, it gave us only one more day.  By day three, we still had electricity! Day four, payday, I left for work, worryng that the kids would probably be in the dark until I came home with our filled card. Miraculously, we still had electricity when I got home. That was my first Miracle of the Oil! Since then, there have been several more,  from medical supplies to baby formula. Fortunately, our financial situation has improved, so I haven’t had to give as much thought to the Miracle of the Oil. Until….a few weeks ago.


Family road trip!

We decided to go on a spontaneous trip to see a little fall foliage. It turned out to be a beautiful day, complete with amazing sights and….a restoration of faith, my reminder of the miracle of the oil and all other little miracles.

After a full day, we began the almost two hour trek down the mountain. We had, altogether, made three stops that day where we fueled  our bodies and  replenished our souls. Yet, somehow, we forgot to refuel the car. Unfortunately, we didn’t remember until the little red light came on. No worries, we’ll stop at the next gas station. Right? Wrong. Apparantly, there was no exit for at least another 40 miles!



What were we going to do? First came the great debate…did we already pass the closest stop or are we coming to it? A critical question. Unfortunately, we had already passed it. In our blissful ignorance, we hadn’t even noticed it. We began searching on our phones, trying to see when our next stop really was. I sat quietly thinking about our options. They weren’t looking very good.

We could:

1) Pull over and hope for help.

2)Phone a friend

3)Have one of us walk for help

4)Keep driving until we finally run out of gas.

The temperature was dropping, it was pitch black outside and with the divided highway, even if we had a friend come  to help us, they wouldn’t be in the right direction. We had no choice but to keep driving….and praying.

What a dangerous situation I had gotten us into. I couldn’t help beating myself up as Ben announced that typical Chevy Cavaliers can go 28-30 miles with their reserve of gas. 30 miles!!! The next stop was at least 40 miles away! What would we do with a baby on the side of a lonely highway in the cold and dark? How could any of us safely walk 10 miles for help?

I called upon all my powers of positive thinking. I said to the kids, “Now would be a great time to pray.”

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”~Khalil Gibran

We continued down the mountain, knuckles white on the wheel, barely talking, hardly breathing, afraid to waste any energy, lest it add more weight to the car. About 35 miles nearer, I began to breathe. I knew I could walk for help if I had to. A little further and we saw something even better…..lights! Now even conversation began again. We all knew that the situation was no longer as dire. We should be okay, but….there was still the matter of a couple of miles.

We began, once again, to hold our breath, still no signs telling us how far we had still to go, but the lights were getting brighter, the speed limit was getting slower and our moods were getting lighter.

We made it, finally! We had gone about 42 miles from the time we first noticed the fuel light! That Chevron gas station was our oasis in the desert!

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”~Voltaire

This was my “Miracle of the Oil”

Golden Opportunity

A Golden Opportunity

Ashley_Rangel copy How often in life do we get a golden opportunity? Most of us, hopefully, at least once. The big question is…..Did we take it? If, yes, pat yourself on the back. You are way ahead of the game. If not…why not? What held us back?  Was it a job, family, finances….fear? “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”~Confucius Today, I want to introduce Marshal Uhls. I met his amazing mother, Wendy, when we volunteered together on an eye clinic in Ghana. Through Wendy, I saw what a talented artist Marshal is. When I read about his acceptance in the exclusive Imaginism course (only 4 out of thousands of applicants selected!…read: Golden Opportunity!) and his need for funds to get there, I knew I had to help. My small donation may buy him a meal or two while he is there so I decided to help him further by putting this out to you.

MarsThis is Marshal.

First, let me tell you a little about Marshal. I asked him to write me a short biography. When I read it, I thought, he’s a great writer as well! Another golden opportunity, he can draw AND write! In his own words: “I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil. I think my mom and uncle still have sketches of mine from when I was very small. They must have seen something in me, because they both encouraged my endeavors as I got older and really started buckling down and trying to learn as much as I could about drawing and painting. So from an early age I knew I was going to be doing SOMETHING related to art, I just wasn’t entirely sure the specifics.” Cut to the present. Marshal has a Bachelor of Arts from the Art Institute of Phoenix with a degree in Media Arts and Animation. He has been working for almost three years as a digital painter and a 2D animator for a third party developer of casino games. Marshal also spent 5 summers working at Kings Island as an airbrush artist!

Marshal's brother, DJ.
Marshal’s brother, DJ.


Marshal's brother, Levi.
Marshal’s brother, Levi.

Family is important to Marshal, as you can see by these beautiful portraits of his brothers.

There is so much more to Marshal’s story but he and his artwork speak so elequently on their own! I encourage you to visit his blog, as well as the other links I have provided. He has truly been offered a rare and Golden Opportunity! I, for one, can’t wait to see what he does with it!

Next month, Marshal will be on his way to the Imaginism Workshop, check it out! Here is a link to Marshal’s Blog: mars2imaginism I would like to end this with one more of Marshal’s amazing sketches. I must admit to being a bit partial to this one!

My little Ella!
My little Ella!


A beautiful surprise from Marshal!
A beautiful surprise from Marshal!

,     Don’t Pass up being a part of a

Golden Opportunity

Which Road Should I Take? Finding the right direction.

Which Road Should I take?

Finding your direction

How often do we ask that question, both literally and figuratively. It is a common theme, so often written about and discussed. How often do we come to a fork in the road? Whether we are trying to find our way to a restaurant, a store or someone’s house, we are looking for directions. There may be some debate over the fastest, most direct route. There could even be some conversation over the destination choice, but still, we know what we are looking for and where we are going. We simply need to figure out just how to get there.  But what happens when we are not sure where we are going? Or when the path to where we are going isn’t clear?

Sometimes, when we reach a fork in the road, a simple right or left won’t suffice. Sometimes, we never even get to that fork.

How interesting would it be to run into the Chesire Cat from Alice in Wonderland?:

One day Alice came to a fork in the road. She saw a Chesire cat in a tree. “Which road should I take?” She asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”~Lewis Carroll

This quote is often misrepresented, but aptly used as “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”~Anonymous

How true is that? Making decisions can be hard enough but if the goals aren’t clear, you can pretty much forget about een reaching the point where you GET to choose the right road!

When my kids were younger, we used to play a game. We would get in the car and drive. Sometimes we’d go left, sometimes right and many times, we would go straight. We didn’t have a strict set of rules. The initial goal was to get out and maybe see something new. The end result was much more. It provided a life lesson. Here are some of the things this exercise taught us:

1.) You have choices!

2.) You can manipulate the outcome.

3.) Sometimes you may have to leave your comfort zone to find what you are looking for.

4.) Things look different when approached from a different direction.

5.) You can discover many other treasures on the journey.

6.) There are many ways to get to the same place.

This is not all that we learned but it is a good start. The first one is to always remember that you DO have choices. There are very few situations that don’t allow options. They may be limited, but take advantage of them if you need them.

Sometimes on our discovery journeys, we would take turns deciding which way to turn. On a few of those trips, we would end up (surprisingly!) close to the mall or our favorite frozen yogurt shop. Coincidence? I don’t think so. It was one (or more) of the kids subtle way to guide us to their desired destination. (A littl passive persuasion?)

If we were truly looking for someplace we’d never been before, we would leave our own neighborhood and drive somewhere new before we would begin the game. This was sometimes a little scary for me. I often felt uncomfortable with new roads to maneuver. It was also scary for the kids because it was harder to manipulate the outcome when they didn’t know where they were!

In any new area, it took us a while to become familiar. Sometimes, even years later, when I drive by some of our old “haunts”, I remember my very first impression of it and I appreciate how differently I look at it now!

So many little nuggets of information that we glean, is discovered by accident! Well, not so much by accident as not sought after. If we take the blinders off in our pursuits, we can reap so much more from our journey than just the destination. Enjoy the “getting there.”

Like any roadblock in life, sometimes it is not a direct route. That does not mean you won’t get there, it simply means, you will be taking a different route. Don’t let these bumps deter you from your ultimate ideals.

 So often in life, we find ourselves wondering:

Which Road Should I Take?

I hope you find the right direction.



A Very Special Mother’s Day!


A Very Special Mother’s Day!

So much perfection in one tiny foot.
So much perfection in one tiny foot.

On May 8th, 2013, my daughter gave birth to a perfect baby boy. It was a Wednesday. The following Sunday was Mother’s Day. It was his mother’s first Mother’s day and my first as a grandmother and  it was Jace’s first full day at home. Being the seemingly prolific writer I tend to be, I imagined my words would just fly off the page. My beautiful, Tori, Jace’s mother, bought me a perfect notebook to jot down all my thoughts. I bought a new bag to carry my laptop around so I would also be “hospital ready!” What I didn’t imagine was that this depth of love gave me an enormous inability to articulate. There is just so much beauty and perfection being a part of the birthing process. I was, once again reminded of the existence of love, faith hope and ALL that is good. Even though this is the most profound miracle, I did start to feel a bit guilty about not being able to write about. Then  I realized two things. The first, I didn’t write about his momma right away, either…and the second, I am ready now! So, I will share with you my open letter to Jace.

“It’s as if, in the mother’s eyes, her smile, her stroking touch, the child first reads the message:’You are there!'”~Adrienne Rich


“What children take from us, they give… We become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply and love more deeply.”~Sonia Taitz



To Jace:

You were born on a clear, sunny day. When I walked into the hospital that morning, I had no idea how much my world would change. Within 2 hours, I watched the miracle of your birth. I am honored to have been one of the first people to lay eyes on your perfect self. And I knew, from this day forward, my life could only be better. I have a new hat to wear: The grandma hat! The grandmother of Jace Isaac! This is not an honor I take lightly. You are, in simple terms, everything that is right with  my world. Maybe it took me so long to write this because in the last three months, you have become more and more a part of our lives. We now mark time with “before Jace” and “after Jace.” It is very hard to remember that “before Jace” life. It was a life that we no longer want to go back to. You fill us with joy and no matter how angry, tired or frustrated we may become, you make us smile!

Here are some things I want you to know:

  • I will not lie to you. If you ask me a question that I cannot answer, I will tell you I cannot answer it. I will also tell you why (unless you are trying to weasel informaton about a surprise for you!)
  • I will always do what is in my power and control to do for you. I may not be able to move mountains, but I will always go to bat for you!
  • That being said, I will be your own personal cheering squad, right next to your beautiful mother!

You are loved.

You are cherished.

You are perfect!



I love you!

A very special Mother’s day!

Missed Opportunities

Missed Opportunities

or opportunities not taken?

There are admittedly, opportunities that we simply miss in life. We get to the store a day after the big sale ends. We find out about a great job, only to hear the position is already filled when we call. These things happen. We call them chance. We didn’t have any control over the outcome. In fact, we weren’t even involved.  But, there are  things that we blame on luck or chance but in reality, the result is dependent on us and our actions, not chance. For example, if I had known about the store sale and still got there a day late, I would need to take some ownership in why I didn’t make it on time. It’s the same scenario for the job. If you are looking for a job and someone offers you information, don’t wait.

Missed opportunities come in many forms. I remember as a child being torn over whether to go to the grocery store with my mother or stay home and watch TV. Both had their rewards and I was so afraid of missing out on one. I still have that problem. There are times when I simply can’t decide which to choose. It is usually my fear of the missed opportunity that helps me decide. I believe that choices are in front of us for a reason. We may not always know the reason but we should heed the signs.

Many of us  fear of new situations. That fear can cause us to miss opportunities. Have you ever arrived at a place only to turn around and drive away because you didn’t have the guts to go in? How many times have you  not sent an application, or made a phone call or tried out for a team because you weren’t sure you were good enough? These are missed opportunities.

“When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break.”  ~William Hale White via Quote Garden

I attended a conference not too long ago. I didn’t know anyone else that was going there. It took me a while to RSVP because I was vacillating so much. I waited until the last possible moment, then decided to go for it. Then came the day of the conference. I drove with confidence until I was about five minutes away. Then the “What ifs?” started.

 *What if they don’t like me?

                                        *What if no one talks to me?

                                                                                 *What if I have to sit by myself?

                                                                                                                  *What if this really isn’t appropriate for me?


what if

Rather than allow my anxiety to build, I came up with different set of  “what ifs

                                                                *What if I meet some interesting new people? 

*What if there are people I already know there?


And the final, what ifs….

                                            *What if I don’t go in?

                                                                           *What if I give in to my fear of being alone and miss something valuable to me? 

Another missed opportunity.

The last “what if” won.

 “Seize every opportunity along the way, for how sad it would be if the road you chose became the road not taken.”  ~Robert Brault,

If you are given the chance, the opportunity to do something different, something life changing or even something small, take that chance, weigh the pros and cons. do reasearch, “phone a friend”, just don’t put yourself in line for a missed opportunity.

Loneliness Comes in Many Different Forms


This month I participated in a writing series called: Perspectives. This is a team of five diverse writers who write their own perspective on the same theme. There is a new theme every month and I participated as a guest writer on this month’s theme, Loneliness. While writing my article, How to Accept Loneliness, I found myself going off into tangents. There is, decidedly, a whole lot to say on this subject, so, I am going to continue it here.


I have talked about lonely vs. alone,. I have written about it, too in Alone but not Lonely. It is truly important to know the difference in being alone and being lonely. I happen to enjoy being alone. I love the time to write, cook, watch tv or just relax. I like being able to talk on the phone or paint my toenails with no one needing something from me. That isn’t to say that I am not lonely sometimes. There are times  when I wish I had someone to go somewhere with or sometimes it isn’t even a specific thing, just a feeling of missing someone and it can hit me with a pang that drops me in my tracks.

Sometimes loneliness can be confused with something missing in our lives. Single people often long for a significant other. There are times when they long for someone to “take over.” to help them shoulder the responsibility or to rub their feet when they are sore. This is also loneliness, a different kind of loneliness. My life is full. My activities are abundant. I have a loving family, a loving extended family, a job and friends. Still, there is a missing piece and it gnaws at me like a loose tooth that I keep on jiggling and twisting around! 

I consider myself lucky. While I don’t have an abundance of family and friends, I have family and friends that are abundantly wonderful! The biggest issue I have in terms of being with them is that we are spread out all over the world. Whenever I get close to someone, either they move or I do. I wrote a little about this in Good-byes. Still, with all the ways we can communicate, we don’t have to be too lonely. We can call, we can Skype, Facetime, Google Talk, im, text…you name it…it’s available. It’s not the same as being there, but it’s the next best thing!

Put an end to the…


Breathe: Stress and how to Deal

How to breathe

through your


The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, 
Gang aft agley, 
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, 
For promis’d joy! 
(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!)

Robert Burns


A couple of months ago, I went to spend a week with my family. Not wanting to go a week without posts, hubs and everything else that goes along with staying abreast of a website, I borrowed my daughter’s laptop. Kudos to Google Chrome for making the experience fairly flawless by syncing everything for me! I had an hour to wait for my flight….no internet connection:(

At my mother’s house, no wi-fi ….double :(

At my sister’s house, no internet connection. Now, I’m beyond the sad faces and feeling frustrated, approaching mad! By the time we figured out how to fix it, I was able to log on only once in the entire week! Oh, well! Far worse things have happened!

Purple Blooms


Just breathe

Unwanted resentment

My friend has a hectic schedule. Most of her days are scheduled to the minute. Last week, she had an unexpected half day off of work. She raced home, put on her jogging clothes and went for a run before  grocery shopping, then out for an early dinner and a movie. She was about a block away from home, and SURPRISE! an unexpected visit from her son. Her run was cut short, her grocery shopping was cancelled, dinner was late and the movie was nixed. My friend was not a happy camper, needless to say. But the part that upset her the most was not the change in plans, per se, it was that she didn’t want to feel resentment for her son that she did.

“Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.”~Natalie Goldberg

What’s happening?

One of the main reasons that these things upset us is that we are stressed. And stress begets stress! Most of us have too much on our plate. We stretch ourselves until there is no bounce back. In many ways,  I have learned to roll with the punches a little better than some people but I still have my moments. I tend to sweat the small stuff and deal well with the major crisis. When I couldn’t get online, I was frustrated, worried and disappointed…for about a day. After that I figured, what the heck, it’s only a week and I AM on vacation. It was ok. As long as I didn’t think too long on the predicament, then my stress level would sky-rocket! When I met my friend for dinner the other night, all she could talk about was her guilt for resenting her son’s visit. I understand completely. As parents we are always torn. I decided to do a little research and see what I could come up with.

I believe that stress management is key to being able to handle any problem. You may be reading this and thinking you don’t get stressed. That may be true but it’s probably because you are doing many of these things already.

First and foremost: Breathe

We can’t always change the things that happen to us but we CAN change the way we deal with them.

Click here for a pretty concise guide for stress management.


Learn how to say no. Check out Oprah

and dealing with guilt

“There are thousands of causes for stress, and one antidote to stress is self-expression. That’s what happens to me everyday. My thoughts get off my chest, down my sleeves and onto my pad.”~Garson Kanin

I agree wholeheartedly!

Find Your Center

I have never been the best at sticking to a routine. I have always been better suited to rolling with the changes! But, lately, I am beginning to sweat the small stuff. Last year I started lifting weights. I am not talking about anything major, just 10 pounds. But I noticed that the routine, the repetition, the posture and the need to breathe correctly also worked to calm me down and focus me. When I am in a tense or painful situation (ie: dentist’s chair) I go over my routine in my mind and it calms me down. If I am walking into what I consider to be an intimidating situation, there’s always my routine! I also have a collection of songs that keep me centered. That habit has become so popular in our family, that everyone has since added to my collection! My advice to you is to find what works for you and use it. Whether it’s a morning mantra, a time out, yoga, music or a combination of all of the above…it doesn’t matter, just let it work for you…and breathe!

Lay back, look up at the trees and just breathe!
Lay back, look up at the trees and just breathe!