Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Need. — Who Am I To Decide?

At this time of year, we are often compelled to give.

Give to others.

Others in need.

We give canned goods for the local food pantry.

We buy presents for children on Angel trees.

We tip better and make lists of gifts to buy for others.

We put together baskets of holiday meals for local families.

I have participated in these collections, in these canned food drives, in these angel trees, in these many acts of gift giving.

And every now and then, I have discovered that someone, some family, some child seems to be found on more than one list for giving.

I discover that they are receiving a basket of food from the school and a bag of gifts from the local church.

They are getting to go to the community center party and getting new clothes and shoes from the local Rotary club.

And I’m a little ashamed to think that I have probably thought  at some point or another, and maybe I’ve even said things out loud like, “See, that is what really bothers me … when people take advantage.”

But here’s the thing I have learned recently.

Who am I to judge?

Who am I to decide?

Who am I to have anything at all to say about who is really in need and who is only kind of in need?

Statistics show that the majority of us are really only six months away from poverty at any given moment …  if a tragic, devastating event were to occur in our lives. (Many of these start with the letter ‘D’.)

Death. Divorce. Disease. Deployment. Destruction. Disaster. Debt. Deceit.

We are all just a few bad choices or one act of very bad luck away from being …there.

And if we ever find ourselves…there…in need. In need of help. In need of the local food pantry. In need of help at Christmas.

If we ever find that we have to show up and get in line and look at others and ask for help. If we ever find that we have to put ourselves and our families on any and every list for help that is available. Then…

We wouldn’t want others judging us; deciding if we are really in need or only kind of in need?

Would we?


Because if we are … there; if we’ve made the decision to ask, to seek out help … then we are indeed in need.

Need is relative. And it is also personal.

So when people seek out help for their needs, it is not up to me whether or not to provide help. It is not up to me to judge whether the need is really needed.

It is up to me to give with a joyful heart.

And do what I can to meet needs and fill wants.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

P.S. I continue to be overwhelmed by the amount of generosity of people everywhere. We are still collecting donations for the families of the local food pantry to provide a present for each child and grandchild. If you would like to help, we are getting closer to meeting needs and filling wants…only need about $1100 more dollars to make it happen. If you are able to help, you can make a donation online:

The Giving Tree Angel Tree


Present. — Needs and Wants and Fishes and Loaves.

The Giving Tree Angel Tree

This morning, I asked the girl child what presents she wanted from Santa.

She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, “You know. I don’t really need anything.”

Heart. Warmed.

Tears. Brimming.

Blessings … being counted.

This time of year I do a lot of thinking about wants and needs and giving.

There are many things we want to do. There are even more things we need to do.

And the line between can sometimes become blurry when we think about this season of giving.

From giving thanks to giving gifts; there are lots of needs and lots of wants.

Last year, I wrote about a leap of faith that I became involved with at our little church, called our Giving Tree Angel Tree. To this day, I am still overwhelmed and amazed by the power of saying YES. How so many said YES:  I will help. I will give. I will meet a need and fill a want.

Whenever people come into this little church that I have talked about before…this little church in this little town doing big things, they always remark that the building is so much bigger than they thought it was; so much bigger than it appears on the outside.

Well, just like the building, this church is doing bigger things than most people realize. Bigger things that might seem…impossible even.

Bigger things that make me a little nervous sometimes. Bigger things that challenge me. Bigger things that push my faith.

Bigger things that make me walk around mumbling my new mantra….”Fishes and loaves. Fishes and loaves.”

I’ll be honest. Sometimes the mission of helping others, of meeting needs and filling wants seems so huge to me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that need help. Sometimes I feel like we can’t take on more, even though the phones are still ringing with requests for help. Sometimes I worry that we won’t be able to make a gift appear for every child.

‘Fishes and Loaves. Fishes and Loaves.”

This is what this little church in this little town doing big things…does. It meets needs. It fills wants. It does bigger things.

So during this season of giving, this is the challenge that we all need to try to accomplish. We, as we are able,  have to try to meet needs and fill wants.

So again, this year, I said, “Yes.”

There are angels on a tree.  Angels of families that come to the local Food Pantry on Friday nights.

If you are willing and able to help others this season, then I challenge you to…

Take action. Help others.

Do bigger things in giving this year.

If you would like to help our Angel Tree efforts, here is an online link for donations:

100% of donations will go toward Angel Tree gifts.  I will do the shopping for you … for them.

As of right now, there are still 49 kiddos on the tree.

Which makes me walk around,  mumbling and praying and believing…

“Fishes and loaves. Fishes and loaves.”


Calm. — And in the end…

and in the end

I have always said that I would never have survived the Titanic. Partly because I assumed that I would have been down in steerage and wouldn’t have had much of a chance to start with.  But mostly, because I have never seen myself as one who was all that great in crisis situations.  However, I have also always said that if I were with Felix, I would have survived, because he is like a wolf among the sheep.  He would have been the Jack to my Rose, but he would have found two doors for us to float on top of and we would have both survived. I believe that with all of my heart.

But me in crisis? Well, I’m often too busy worrying about others to see the big picture. I am usually too focused on feelings and don’t see the ways out. I don’t think three steps in advance.  I don’t always decide things in a super fast fashion because I am too busy considering all of the options first.

So, when I found myself in probably one of the scariest situations of my adult life that I can remember yesterday…I have to say that I am feeling just a little bit proud of how I handled things.

I was concerned. I responded quickly. I yelled for help. I made some things happen.

And I feel like I stayed pretty calm.

However, over the course of the next couple of hours, I was told to calm down at least four different times. Despite the fact that I felt like I was being award-winningly calm.

It seems in crisis…that calm is a relative term.

First, the 911 dispatcher told me to calm down so she could hear me. I reminded her that I was in a movie theater and was trying to be heard over the Mickey Mouse cartoon playing as a time filler in the background.

The ambulance driver told me to calm down so he could give me the hospital address in this unfamiliar town that I rarely drive around in. I told him I was as calm as I could be with four kiddos under the age of 12 (two of which do not belong to me, two of which were hysterical)  in my possession during this time.

The administrative assistant at the hospital desk told me to calm down as I explained that I was just trying to help reunite a semi -in shock family member who didn’t know what was happening with his spouse.

And then the security guard also told me to calm down. To which I looked him in the eye and responded, “I. Am. Calm. This is my calm right now.”  I give him credit…He immediately worked to reunite my family members, so I’m calling it a WIN.

Over the next few hours, I calmly kept four kiddos, three husbands, and one mother calm while we waited. I made small talk and made plans to make sure everyone was taken care of. I calmly provided a quick dinner (Thanks Papa John’s) and entertainment (Thanks hotel swimming pool) for the two extremely wild young boys and two semi-hysterical and totally exhausted, old-enough-to-understand-what-was-going-on girls for the evening.

And then, later that night, I calmly worked with my Y, through the tummy aches and the tears, as she responded much like I used to when I was her age in these situations.

As The Beatles said, “And in the end…”

On this, the last day of NaBloPoMo, Blogember, YeahWrite, BlogHer, which marks for me, 47 days of daily blogging, I can say that I survived. And I am proud of it.

I remained calm. I did it.

So, “And in the end…the love we take is equal to the love we make.”

P.S. All turned out well. All of my people are well.


Attack. — Know the signs.

Here’s a story from a while ago. Yes, I’m recycling a blog post, but for a good reason.

A good reason that I’m not quite ready (still slightly traumatized, although I’m fine, everyone’s ok now…)
to tell the whole story just yet, so I may or may not try to explain another time.

For now, I’m just reminding you of the signs.


So, know the signs. Pay attention to the signs. Don’t ignore the signs. Respond quickly to the signs.

Elizabeth Banks teamed up with Go Red For Women in this short film on women, motherhood and recognizing the signs of a heart attack.  Just. In. Case. We’ve all had mornings like this… Know the signs.


The phone rang.

It was a friend. But a busy, on the go friend, who is usually more likely to go for the quick text than an actual ‘stop and have a conversation’ phone call. Weird. But the conversation that came after my answering with a casual “Hey there” was even weirder.

First of all, there was a very unfamiliar panicked concern in her voice. It wasn’t right at all.

“Are you ok?” She asked me.


“Are you ok, really?!”  She almost…almost sounded like she was ready to cry, which started to concern me.

I responded with a  suspicious tone… Yeah. I have a little cold, but…

“Did anything bad happen today?!” I thought, well, clearly something bad has happened or you wouldn’t be calling me and asking me questions like this!

Ok, now you’re freaking me out.

“Oh my God. Ok. I’m calming down. Oh my God. Letting the cortisol come down a little….”

What in the world!? What is going on?!

“I just heard that you had had a heart attack on the soft ball field today!”

WHAT?! WHAT?!  (I’m betting that I started to sound like that Mom over the phone on “A Christmas Story” … )

The conversation continued and I reassured her again and again that I was fine. Just sitting here, relaxing on the couch. No signs of a heart attack. I haven’t been to the softball fields today. I’m not sure where this is coming from. This is crazy, but I’m fine.

Fine. But now a little freaked out at just the thought that someone out there thinks I had a heart attack. That is crazy. Right?

Y was sitting right beside me and I was too shocked to keep the conversation from her as I probably should have done. So, I used this as an opportunity to talk about rumors and how rumors get started and how rumors can unintentionally hurt or scare people…yada yada yada, …. insert brilliant parenting moment here.

But in my head, I kept thinking…Heart Attack? Me? Who would think that I could have a heart attack? How many people out there think that I have had a heart attack? Am I going to have people showing up with flowers and offers of dinner? Do I need to post something to let everyone know I’m ok?

And then it moved on to things like: I can’t have a heart attack! I’m just 40! I’m a health coach! I eat well and play more and choose happy and all that jazz! Sure, I haven’t been to the gym everyday for a while, but life’s been busy and there’s been traveling and people have had colds and fevers and such…yada yada yada, insert other plausible excuses here.

A heart attack? Me?

It took all evening and three different phone calls from three different concerned, loving friends to finally track down the origin of this story. As it turns out, a good Momma was trying to let her husband know about A’s Mom, (who is 80+ years old and might have had a heart attack). But on a noisy softball field, he misunderstood and heard “Y’s Mom” and thought … well, Me. He was shocked and shared the news out of concern to the hubs of one of my good friends who in turn, called his wife and shared the news out of shock and concern. She called a friend to see what was happening, and that is when my phone rang and this whole crazy story began.

Of course, we were all concerned about A’s Mom and keeping her close in our prayers. But we were all relieved that I was fine and this was just a misunderstanding.

And while we laughed off the whole misunderstanding of it all, I think it messed with us all just a bit. And that is when I started noticing the signs. I swear, all evening long, even while the girl child was watching the Disney channel, every other commercial on TV was something related to heart attacks or heart disease. I’m not kidding.  Then I started thinking about walking through the airport at O’Hare last week. There was a poster on the wall, that randomly caught my eye and made me stop to comment about how the ad was targeted to women.

Finally, this morning, I woke up and was having a little trouble going back to sleep. So, I checked my phone and found another sign: An advertisement about women and heart attacks.

Yeah, I think I’m supposed to share this story. Just in case. Just in case it helps one person.

More than 250,000 women in the U.S. die of a heart attack each year. Many don’t know the symptoms of a heart attack, which are often different for women compared to men, or how to prepare for them.

Warning Signs of a Suspected Heart Attack

  • Chest pressure, tightness and heaviness
  • Pain in shoulders, neck, jaw* or arms*
  • Lightheadedness
  • Paleness
  • Faintness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea*
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest pain*
  • Extreme fatigue*

*More common in women

If you suspect you’re having a heart attack call 911 and crush or chew aspirin as directed by a doctor. Aspirin, when taken as directed by a doctor during a suspected heart attack and for 30 days thereafter, can reduce damage to the heart and reduce the risk of death by 23 percent.

 Later, a friend shared that the she thought, “Crap. If Z has a heart attack, we are all screwed.” Which is funny, … but we know it happens. It has happened. So, take care of yourselves, people. Eat Well. Play More. Choose Happy.

For More Information: or IamProHeart


Perfect. — Please Pass the Mashed Potatoes.

Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving  Freedom From Want

Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving
Freedom From Want

Traffic might be heavy.

The weather may be dreadfully dreary and cold.

It might be too windy for the iconic Macy’s Day parade balloons to fly.

You may forget your toothbrush.

Or forget an ingredient that was on the shopping list.

Someone may say something that hurts someone’s feelings.

Or ask a question that crosses the line.

The kitchen might get too hectic.

The cook may feel overwhelmed trying to get everything to come out at the same time.

The mashed potatoes might be lumpy.

The gravy might get cold.

The turkey might turn out to be a little on the dry side.

A kiddo might refuse to eat. Or say something is yucky.

Or … spill their milk on the nice table cloth. Or on the carpet in the dining room.

Someone might drink a glass too many of wine.

Or may have one too many helpings to cause a belly ache.

There might be an awkward silence.

Or too many people talking at once.

Someone may not help clean up the dishes even though they didn’t help cook and it is their turn.

A piece of china might get chipped.

Or maybe someone wasn’t able to come home. Or schedules conflicted. Or someone is ill or too far away. Or doesn’t have family, related or not, to gather with right now.

There are so many things that can go wrong on days like Thanksgiving.

Here’s a gift for you to make this holiday just a little bit easier, simpler:

It is not supposed to be a perfect day.

It is just another day. Another Thursday, where we set the intention to come together as friends and family and just be together.

So, accept it all. Everything that might go wrong and know that it is all part of the story.

The story that is this holiday, this Thanksgiving.

Because families are all about their stories. Their pictures. Their times. Their memories.

The traditions. The laughter. The dessert. The time and place. The table. The gathering. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Remember it all. And just be thankful.

For every little piece of this day.

And please pass the mashed potatoes.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Haiku. — It’s a Verb Now… A Thing I Do.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku Catchoo

When I’m out of time

and it is almost midnight

and there’s been no post…

It’s time to Haiku.

Haiku is now an action.

I verbified it.

Afraid to Haiku?

Nonsense. You can do it, too.

You just need a pen.

And a free hand to

count syllables as you write.

Five. Seven. And five.

Never mind rhyme, just

count the syllables and string

your words together

To tell your story.

But you have to be concise.

And use words to … move.

If you are writing,

then it all counts toward your

… NaBloPoMo goals.



Revise. — A New Holiday Calendar.

Last week, my alarm clock started making its typical noise at 4:30 a.m.

But as I jerked myself awake and reached for the snooze button, I realized the song playing was Wham!’s Last Christmas.

“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart and the very next day, you gave it away…”

Which is wrong on so many levels. 1) That song was stuck in my head for the rest of the day. 2) I’m not a George Michael fan. But mostly, 3) It is not even Thanksgiving yet, why are we hearing Christmas songs already?!

I shouldn’t have been surprised, I started seeing red and green stuff mixed in with the orange and black back in October.

So, what if every holiday were like Christmas these days? What if every holiday started 2 months ahead of its schedule?

First of all, we could mark Valentine’s Day on New Year’s Eve. I think single folks everywhere might get on board with this one. Less pressure to find a date for one night, so less stress about New Year’s kisses and February 14th plans. Done.

And I don’t think anyone who would be drinking green beer for St. Patty’s Day would mind an earlier start. Seriously, if you are already on board with drinking green beer, I’m thinking you don’t really care which day this occurs, right?

However, decorating and hiding Easter Eggs in February could pose a problem. Especially if there is snow on the ground.

Fireworks would be less fun if it is too cool in the evening to sit out under the stars on the 4th of May.

But I think Trick or Treating in August would be an improvement. Maybe I would actually like this holiday a little bit more if the walk around the neighborhood were to take place on a nice Summer evening, instead of a cold dreary dampish night two months later. (I still would have issues with the sugar binging anytime.)

And as for Thanksgiving, well, that should really be celebrated every day of the year. Being thankful. Being grateful. Helping others. Family time.

Yes, that is a holiday for every day.

Now, I’m off to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer…before Thanksgiving.




Cut. — And Color. But the Boy Child Does NOT Approve.

I had an appointment at 10:00 this morning.

I had an inkling of a notion that this might happen.

And as I arrived and sat down in the chair, it was confirmed.

Yes. Let’s do something different. Brown. With a little red. It’s time to get my fall/winter season color on.

And what I love about Dawn, my beauty-magician,  is that she’s game to try something new … for me. Let’s be honest, it makes her incredibly nervous…but she loves that I’m willing to take risks like I do.

She heads back to the inner sanctum to mix up some colors. A little brown. A little red.

Meanwhile I flip through magazines looking for the next hairstyle. Not too short. Not too off the wall. If only I looked like Jennifer Lawrence. Or if only I could pull off a pixie look like Michelle Williams.

But alas. I am just me. So, I pick a new color and style that is … me. Just a new and different me.

So…here is the before and after. You can decide. (The only rule is … you have to say something nice or…nothing at all.)

cut n color

Where there was summer blonde, there is now a winter brunette. Truth be known, it is actually much darker than it looks in the picture.

And when I was wrapping up the boy-child in a towel after his bath, he let me know…in no uncertain terms . that he is…

not a fan.

He would like me to be blonde again.

He doesn’t like the darker hair. And even though I explained that change is good sometimes…

He would only concede that he hoped that I would change it back to blonde after Santa comes.

Clearly…he doesn’t do change well. I will have to continue to work on that with him.

Accepting change can be good sometimes. Embrace change.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: What change have you committed to recently? How has it changed you? How has it impacted others?

Change is good.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.


Deliver. — Put the Giving Back in the Thanks.

Tonight during a meeting, I watched as my friend took a phone call and jotted down some directions.

I leaned over, took a look and recognized some of the street names, so I whispered, “I’ll help.”

At the end of the meeting, we loaded a box into the back of my car.

A box containing all of the trimmings of a Thanksgiving Day dinner.

A turkey. A bag of potatoes. Cans of corn and green beans. Rolls. Stuffing.

A Thanksgiving Day dinner complete with a pumpkin pie.

I got in my car, turned the heat on to high, turned on the light and checked the address and directions one more time.

As I drove, many thoughts raced through my mind. Thinking about the meeting tonight. Thoughts about the great birthday weekend I had. Recalling the wonderful family dinner I enjoyed this evening.

Then the typical think about what-I-did-today list. Then I started counting off the what-I-have-to-do-when-I-get-home list. Followed soon after by the what-I-need-to-do-tomorrow list.

Suddenly, I realized I had been driving longer than I thought I would be. Did I miss it?

Nope. Here it is. A right here. A left here. I had no idea this neighborhood even existed in my little town. I have lived here forever, how do I not know this street was here? One more right. First house on the right. There.

The porch light was on. As I pulled into the driveway, a young man came out to greet me.

“Hi. Are you Mr. R? Good evening. I have a Thanksgiving dinner for you.”

“Yes. Thank you so much.”

I opened the hatch on the trunk and lifted the box out to hand to him. Even though I was talking to a grown man with a family ,the Momma in me couldn’t resist to remind him to put the turkey in the freezer. 

I’m sure he was thinking, “Well, Duh!” But he was kind and polite enough not to say that out loud.

Instead he simply said again, “Thank you so much.”

“Absolutely. You are very welcome. Have a Happy Thanksgiving with your family.”

And that was it.

Five minutes of driving. Thirty seconds of small talk. One box full of a Thanksgiving dinner. Delivered.

And as I got back into my car and backed slowly and carefully out of their driveway, I realized I was crying.

Crying for all that I have. Crying for all they must not have. Crying for all of the people that came together to make this dinner happen. Crying for all of those who won’t have someone show up at 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday to deliver a box of dinner.  Crying for the neighbors who may have just as much need, who just didn’t know or weren’t connected or referred or who didn’t sign up.

There is so much need.

For help. For giving.

This Thanksgiving, This Christmas. This season.

This year. Next year.

Every. Single. Day. 

Let’s all teach our children to be thankful and to be giving. 

Let’s all remember that a few minutes of giving here can mean a world of thankfulness there.

Let’s all really focus on putting the Giving back into the Thanks.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Every. Single. Day.


Splash. — A 41st Birthday Haiku.

There’s no better way

To begin a new year than

With a few splashes.

Water parks and slides,

tubes and tunnels and surf boards

with laughing kiddos.

Giggles and squealing.

From dripping, sliding, swimming

to wrapped up in towels.

To start another

trip around the sun for the

forty second time.


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