Adult Coloring Books: Because Creativity Isn’t Just for Kids!

"Whatever is Lovely" and a Box of Colored Pencils Spell RELAX

Whatever is Lovely

Whatever Is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship is, without a doubt, one of my favorite books. It’s a creative, mentally stimulating, visually appealing, and Spiritually refreshing breath of fresh air.

Who’s not going to love everything about that?!

I just wrote a Whatever is Lovely Review on Out of Bounds (my brain health/mental fitness blog) – click the link to check it out. OR.. you could simply go straight to Amazon and order your own copy – that, too would be a brilliant move.

Just be sure you have some colorful crayons or colored pencils on hand because your creativity is about to run amok as it chases stress and anxiety right out of your life.

I kid you not.. you’re going to LOVE this book.

~ Joi

Whatever is Lovely Adult Coloring Book

Beautiful Quote About Peace (Quote Graphic)

When We are Present in Each Moment...

Quote about Peace and Living in the Moment (Present)

Quote About Living in the Moment

One of my favorite sayings I like to whip out is, “Make each moment count double.”  The thought, feeling, and core belief behind the words is this: Each moment we spend in the PRESENT is a PRESENT we give ourselves.

When we spend time in the past with either regret or longing, it’s as though the PRESENT remains on the table, unopened.

When we spend time in the future with worry or fear, it’s as though we don’t even glance at the unopened PRESENT.

Our time is the most beautiful gift we can give to anyone.. including ourselves.  Do all you can to live in the moment.

And make each one count double!

~ Joi


A Book of Miracles by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel

Inspirational Book FULL of Uplifting Moments

A Book of Miracles

A Book of Miracles by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel

I was sent a copy of  A Book of Miracles: Inspiring True Stories of Healing, Gratitude, and Love a while back to review on Self Help Daily. I receive a lot of books to review on my different blogs and websites, so it takes a pretty unique and special book to really stand out.

This one did.

Allow me to say that you may not agree with every single word from every single individual’s story. That’s okay! I, personally, give only One individual credit for miracle, and that’s God, Himself. In this book (as well as in daily life), you’ll find individuals who credit their “higher self.”

But here’s the thing, even though I automatically think, “God is higher than any of us could even pretend to be and He is the only One who is in the Miracle business,” I am still inspired by their stories. The difficulties they overcome and the “happy ending” they find themselves within is inspiring and uplifting.

That’s the point of the book and that’s the reason I recommend it.

From the Back Cover:

Bernie Siegel first wrote about miracles when he was a practicing surgeon and founded Exceptional Cancer Patients, a groundbreaking synthesis of group, individual, dream, and art therapy that provided patients with a “carefrontation.” Compiled during his more than thirty years of practice, speaking, and teaching, the stories in these pages are riveting, warm, and belief expanding. Their subjects include a girl whose baby brother helped her overcome anorexia, a woman whose cancer helped her heal by teaching her to stand up for herself, and a family that was saved from a burning house by bats. Without diminishing the reality of pain and hardship, the stories show real people turning crisis into blessing by responding to adversity in ways that empower and heal. They demonstrate what we are capable of and show us that we can achieve miracles as we confront life’s difficulties.

A Book of Miracles is a very entertaining, uplifting, and inspiring book.


In Honor Of Abraham Lincoln on His Birthday

Failure Doesn't Have to Have the Last Word!

Abraham Lincoln Quote
Today (February 12) is the birthday of one of my greatest non-Biblical and non-Family heroes – the beautiful soul known to the world as President Abraham Lincoln.  He was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Suffice to say we Kentuckians are understandably proud that Mr. Lincoln was also a Kentuckian.

More importantly he was an American and every single one of us can be both proud and thankful for that.

As you may know, I am completely in love with old books. One of my favorites is Words to Live By (Copyright 1947-1957). This golden oldie is a collection of writings by some of the wisest men and women of all time.

In honor of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, I thought you might enjoy this article which appears in Words to Live By. It’s by Reverend James Keller and it is outstanding.

Failure Isn’t Fatal

by The Reverend James Keller, M.M.
Author of “You Can Change the World

Too often, it seems to me, people lose their courage in facing life because of past failures or fear that they may fail in the future.

One good way to cure such fears is to remember the story of a man who actually built a lifetime of accomplishments out of defeats. The following litany of failures that punctuated his life throughout thirty years is a living and eloquent example of the successful use of defeat in achieving victory.

Abraham Lincoln’s record is as follows:

  • Lost job 1832
  • Defeated for legislature 1832
  • Failed in business 1833
  • Elected to legislature 1834
  • Sweetheart died 1835
  • Had nervous breakdown 1836
  • Defeated for speaker 1838
  • Defeated for nomination for Congress 1843
  • Elected to Congress 1846
  • Lost renomination 1848
  • Rejected for land officer 1849
  • Defeated for Senate 1854
  • Defeated for nomination for Vice-President 1856
  • Again defeated for Senate 1858
  • Elected President 1860

Lincoln’s deep conviction that God had given him a mission to fulfill accounted in no small way for his deep humility and ability to push on in the face of difficulties and failures that would have discouraged most people.

His abiding faith was well summed up in this comment which he made after becoming President:  “God selects His own instruments, and sometimes they are queer ones; for instance, He chose me to steer the ship through a great crisis.”

You, too, in God’s providence can be an instrument in bringing His love, truth and peace to a world in urgent need of it.

And with Abraham Lincoln, you too can learn to say, “With God’s help I shall not fail.”

Never despair. But if you do, work on in despair. – Edmund Burke

Appointments With Heaven (Review of a Very Special Book)

Four Reasons this HAS to be the Next Book You Read

Appointments with Heaven by Dr. Reggie Anderson with Jennifer Schuchmann

I write a lot of book reviews on Self Help Daily. Generally, I’m sent books from publishers or even authors in exchange for writing and publishing a review. I’ve received some really amazing books and I always strive to “do right by them” in my reviews. The last book I read was Appointments with Heaven: The True Story of a Country Doctor, His Struggles with Faith and Doubt, and His Healing Encounters with the Hereafter.

Here’s the problem: There is absolutely, positively no way on earth I can possibly do right by this book or even come close to doing it justice.

Trying to convey the essence, the beauty, and the potentially life-changing power of this book would be like trying to describe…

  • … how amazing cheesecake tastes
  • … how seeing your grown children pull into your driveway makes you feel
  • … how your heart soars when the love of your life says I love you
  • … the peaceful feeling of a snowy winter morning

You can completely understand, yourself, that it feels like Christmas morning any time your children come to visit, but trying to put it in words? Nearly impossible.  Even someone like me, who works with words every day of the year, can find their brain overwhelmed by their emotions and realize that, in the end, the brain is no match for the heart.

Not even close.

 From the Back Cover:

 Meet the country doctor who visits the front porch of Heaven… and witnesses what awaits us there.

When a patient first asked Dr. Reggie Anderson to sit at her bedside as she passed from this life, something miraculous happened. As he held her hand, the veil between this world and the next parted… and he received an astonishing glimpse of what awaits us in Heaven.

Little did he know this was just a foretaste of what was to come – a lifetime of God-given “appointments with Heaven.”  Join Reggie as he shares remarkable stories from his life and practice, including the personal tragedy that nearly drove him away from faith forever. As he reveals what he’s seen, heard, and experienced of the afterlife, we’ll learn how we can face the passing of our loved ones with the courage and confidence that we’ll see them again; discover what might happen when we expect the miraculous; and prepare for our own appointment with Heaven.

Soul-stirring and hope-filled, Appointments with Heaven is a powerful journey into the questions at the very core of your being: Is there more to life than this? What is Heaven like? And, most important: Do I believe it enough to let it change me?

Reason Number 1 Why This Should Be the Next Book You Read: You’ll Love “Meeting” the Colorful People

I’m intrigued with this particular book possibly more than I’ve ever been intrigued by a book (not counting the Bible, which intrigues me every time I open it).  Appointments with Heaven reads in an exciting, I can’t turn the pages fast enough fashion similar to an Agatha Christie mystery or John Grisham novel.  Literally, each person author Dr. Reggie Anderson wrote about, I found myself longing for an entire book written about them and them, alone!  I could read a novel centered, exclusively, around the life of Dr. Anderson’s mother, father, wife, patients, or friends (Stephen Chapman and Mary Beth Chapman).

When he spoke of his childhood, I only wanted to hear more. His writing style made you feel as though you were there with the child version of him, and you could “feel” the love his family had for one another.

Every time Dr. Anderson wrote about one of his patients (particularly the ones in nursing homes), I’d find myself wondering what their personal histories were.  He made everyone and everything he wrote about beyond fascinating.  If Dr. Anderson had written textbooks, I’d have paid more attention in school!

I thought a lot as I read through this wonderful book, but I thought even more after I’d read the last page.  In fact, I’ve thought about it every day since…. which brings me to…

Reason Number 2 Why This Should Be the Next Book You Read: You’ll Love the Effect it Has on Your Life

If you’re familiar with me at all, you know I’m a baseball fanatic. Seriously, if the St. Louis Cardinals are on my tv and you have something to say to me, you might want to wait between innings – and approach me  then with caution if it’s a close game!  I once told someone, half kidding, that as far as I was concerned, there were two seasons: Baseball Season and Withdrawal.

One of the things I love about baseball SO MUCH is that you never know which pitch, which at bat, or which defensive play will change the momentum of the game. It usually comes when you aren’t watching for it and, even more fascinating, it often comes from a player who isn’t even re-mote-ly a “franchise player.”  These “game changers” are often the players most people overlook, but they’re usually my personal favorites. They’re often the difference between winning and losing.  This year, in fact, it was one of these “game changers” that (in my opinion) was the key to our successful season. The guy no one was talking about in April, everyone was talking about in October.

Game Changer.

If Appointments with Heaven were a baseball player, it would be this type of player.  There are books by more famous authors, such as Max Lucado (one of my personal favorite authors).  There are books with titles that are being tossed around for movies and television series.   These would be the “franchise”  players with names on the back of everybody’s jerseys!  And yet… sitting on another shelf, there’s a beautifully written book with an author’s name you’ve surely never heard of – a very humble “country doctor” in Tennessee who isn’t even re-mote-ly a household name.  A guy not even on the most avid inspirational book reader’s radar with a book the may never have heard of. An author no one has heard of is the very author everyone needs to read.

Life Changer.

As you’re reading Appointments with Heaven, you’ll only think about how wonderful the book, itself, is. You’ll kind of feel miffed anytime you have to set it down, whether it’s to cook, eat, or sleep. You’ll find yourself rushing back to it as fast as you possibly can.  I actually cooked supper one evening with the book in one hand while the other hand did all the work!

Agatha never made me do that…

As I said earlier, this book made me THINK a great deal. I have a lot of love for anything that makes me think. I have even more love for anything that makes me FEEL – which is the one thing Appointments with Heaven caused me to do even more than think.  The reader is reminded that the often trivial things we get bent out of shape about really don’t amount to a hill of beans. We each have our own “Appointment” one day and these trivial little matters are just that – trivial little matters.

It affected me another way, as well.  It caused me to realize something I already knew but needed to be reminded of – everyone else has their own appointment one day as well.  When you allow that fact to really sink in, it’s difficult to get annoyed with the “Sunday driver” in front of you or the “Baby Jeff Gordon” on your bumper.

This particular book and this particular author is exactly what this particular world needs right now.

Reason Number 3 Why This Should Be the Next Book You Read: You’ll Love the Peace of Mind It’ll Bring

Just about all of us have loved ones in Heaven. The longer God allows us to live on earth, the more loved ones move on before us, making Heaven sweeter and sweeter.  If we picture, in our minds, eating with our family around the dinner table as a child, a lot of us would realize that we’re the only one still here.  Some may have lost a father or a mother – then there are those, like myself, who lost both parents way too young.  Everyone has lost someone they love (parent, spouse, child, grandparent, friend..) and sadly it’s sure to happen again.

Appointments with Heaven brings much needed peace to the hearts and minds of those of us who are “left behind.”  I could easily… easily… see this book healing many open wounds.

There’s another way Appointments With Heaven will bring peace (and even forgiveness) to your heart.  You may just see yourself through Dr. Anderson’s struggle with faith and search for “answers.”  Maybe there’ve been times when you found yourself running on empty when it came to hope while the “Tank of Discouragement” was over-flowingly full.  There’ll be many ways that you’ll identify with different individuals in this book and this identification can help you realize that you aren’t alone – never have been, never will be.

Reason Number 4 Why This Should Be the Next Book You Read: It’s a Real Page-Turner!

While I read both Fiction (make believe) and Non Fiction (real life), I strongly favor Non Fiction. As an only child, my imagination has always been far wilder than anything novelists can come up with. However, “true life” is a whole different story, so to speak.  I think that’s the main reason I prefer Non Fiction – life catches me off guard.  That was certainly the case with Appointments with Heaven  – I kept thinking things like, “Oh! Didn’t see that coming!” and “Whoa, didn’t know that was going to happen…”

You come to care about the different people in Appointments with Heaven and riding the roller coaster of life with them will keep you glued to each page.

Before I end this book review that’s nearly turned into a book on its own (gift of gab… who, me?), allow me to simply say this: If I could recommend only one (besides the Bible!) book to each and every person in my life – whether online or offline – this would be the book.

Appointments with Heaven will touch you deeply and its imprints will last forever.

~ Joi

Click any of the links above for the paperback edition of this book on Amazon.  This book is also available on Kindle (Appointments with Heaven: The True Story of a Country Doctor’s Healing Encounters with the Hereafter on Kindle). There’s also a 30 Daily Appointments with Heaven: Devotions to Bring the Hope and Joy of Heaven to Your Every Day on Kindle which sounds extra special too.

Guardians of Being

Guardians of Being by Eckhart Tolle

If you love animals and count your own pets as family members (I seriously wouldn’t want to meet the person who doesn’t think of their pets as family), you’ll love Guardians of Being by Eckhart Tolle and you’ll love it with a wild passion.  The uplifting and inspiring words read as beautiful meditations and the illustrations by Patrick McDonnell (“Mutts”) are absolutely priceless.  You’re reminded why Charles Schulz (Peanuts) once called Mutts  “One of the best comic strips of all time.”

If you love animals, humor, motivation, and positive affirmations – here’s one place you can get them all in one place! Click through for more information.  Personally, I’d grab several for gift-giving.

10 Quotes That Inspire Me on a Daily Basis

Words from Inspiring Men and Women

I got an e-mail recently from a woman who had nothing but wonderful things to say about me and Self Help Daily. I loved her from the start.  Such excellent taste. 😉

Kidding aside, my new friend told me that when she needed a little inspiration, she came to my website. She said she always found something to lift her spirits and make her smile.  That, my friends, was the most humbling compliment I’ve gotten in a while. I’m not lying, tears welled up and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to cry, laugh, smile, write more or never write again.

You know… one of those, “What do I do next” moments that make us just freeze in place for a few minutes until we remember how to breathe again.  In a few short sentences she summed up so much of what I want Self Help Daily to be – a place to find….

  • Information
  • Hope
  • Yourself

For whatever reason, I have an abundant supply of hope. Over the years, I’ve found that I may, at times, run out of willpower, patience, answers, or physical strength, but I have a never-ending supply of hope.  In fact, there have been times in my life when I’ve had to have enough hope for myself and a few other people. Maybe that’s why God loaded me up with such an amazing supply! That, combined with the fact that I’ve got a little a lot of Mary Poppins in me, simply means I’m always filled with hope – hope for tomorrow, hope for the best, and hope for happy endings.

10 Quotes that Always Inspire Me

I’ve confessed my obsession with inspirational quotes on Self Help Daily before. As I’ve said, I have (literally) notebooks filled with quotes.  Some of my favorite quotes are written on index cards, hanging on a cork board above my desk in my home office. The first three quotes listed below are, indeed, three of my perennial “hangers.”  I have these 3 quotes, as well as the other 7 commited to memory and take them everywhere I go.  I draw inspiration, motivation, and sometimes just a smile from them.

A couple of these quotes have actually starred in their own post here on the self help blog – star treatment for star quotes. I’ve linked the quotes to their bio accordingly! The links will open in a new window.

  1. Ye Have compassed this mountain long enough, turn you northward.” – Deuteronomy 2: 3 (KJV) or “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.” (NASB) [See A Quote of Biblical Proportions]
  2. Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou [See Maya Angelou Gets Right to the Point]
  3. Gambaru: Japanese for “Never ever give up, even – and especially when – there’s no chance of winning ” [Ann Curry, a Love Story, and Gambaru]
  4. “At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.” –  Christopher Reeve
  5. “Never let your memories be greater than your dreams.” – Doug Ivester
  6. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
  7. “Everything around us is made up of energy. To attract positive things in your life, start by giving off positive energy.” – Celestine Chua
  8. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day.” – Max Lucado
  9. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. [More Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes]
  10. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Gandhi

~ Joi

The Marines Aren’t the Only Ones

Looking For a Few Good Men

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Speaking at Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom'

I guess it’s because we recently celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on top of the fact that today’s Muhammad Ali’s birthday, but I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery, boldness, and guts.  By contrast, I’ve been thinking about cowardliness and meekness.  The two aforementioned me epitomized bravery and redefined boldness.

Whether every single person agreed with them or not wasn’t the issue – everyone knew where they stood.  Everyone knew what they stood for, they didn’t have to guess or read between the lines.

I’d rather an individual have ZERO beliefs than to have beliefs and keep them under wraps for fear of what others will say or think.  People like this are cowards and are a disgrace to the causes or beliefs they supposedly hold.

Take Tim Tebow, for example.  Whether people agree with him or not, everyone knows Who he believes in and Who he has dedicated his life to.

Personally, I think it takes a borderline nitwit to have a problem with that. Seriously? With all the disgusting sport’s stories we read about, people are going to say negative things about a young man who’s a devout Christian? One who spends so much time with sick kids?  One who does nothing AT ALL to bring disgrace to his team, his sport, or his family?

I once heard that, very often, the people we choose to hate has more to do with US than THEM. Whew, I’m glad I don’t hate Tim Tebow, I wouldn’t want to know what that said about me.

This post may be a little all over the place (not even halfway into it, I”ve gone from a civil rights leader to a boxing legend, to a quarterback), and I apologize for that.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is this:  We have a lot of ills in our society that need to be taken care of.  From Alzheimer’s Disease to child abuse, there are countless diseases and social issues that, to borrow from the Marines, need a few good men.  Naturally, in this instance, I mean men and women.

If everyone keeps pussyfooting around, scared to death of stepping on anyone’s toes – nothing’s going to get done. Cowards accomplish nothing.

  • If you’re a Christian, say so!  Why should any of us who are Christians hesitate for a second to say so?  We didn’t do anything wrong!!!
  • If you’re Catholic, say so!  Again, you haven’t done anything wrong!
  • Whatever your beliefs are, don’t be ashamed of them or afraid of what people will think.  Think about it, do you really care what bigoted, narrow minded people think? If you do, then that’s the first problem you need to address.

Don’t be a coward, for crying out loud. Don’t refer to God as “a higher power” or “the universe.”   Here’s the thing with people who do that:

  • Either they don’t believe in God, but do believe that there is something which is a higher power. Elvis? Yeti? A Ninja?
  • Or maybe they don’t believe that there is a God, and the Bible was completely mistaken – however, the “universe” DOES wheel and deal with people’s fortunes and misfortunes.  Perchance the moon is in charge of good luck, the stars control bad luck, and the planets deal with reprobates.

Wouldn’t they be better off just using the old fallback Karma?

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am being a little nasty. But when you’ve been reading (like I have) a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr. you lose zero tolerance for fence sitters.  At a time when there was so much bigotry, prejudice, and racial tension in our country, this black man didn’t sit on his hands, hoping someone else would take care of the problem.  He didn’t think, “Uh Oh, if I say something, what will people think?”  He stood up. He spoke out. He rocked the world.  The hatred that killed him didn’t have the last word.  What would his haters have thought if someone had told them that one day this man would have his own holiday?! That little boys and girls would learn about him alongside other heroes and heroines in history class?

I’ve never kept my own beliefs a secret from anyone – but I’d be willing to fight for anyone else to have the freedom to express their beliefs, whether or not they line up with mine.

The majority of this post has dealt with religion and Spiritual beliefs, but boldness actually entails other areas as well.  Boldness is being able to stand up and do the right thing, in the right way. It’s believing in yourself, enough to know that what you feel is important.  What you say matters because you matter.  Throw timidity and cowardice aside and boldly be who you are and say what you feel.  Make this the year you come out of your shell and crush the shell fragments under your feet. Grind them into the ground!

If everyone boldly stood up for their beliefs, then the one’s who actually DO wouldn’t be so rare.  They wouldn’t be like beacons of light in darkness, they’d just be beautiful lights in a sea of other beautiful lights.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King Jr. (more Martin Luther King Jr Quotes)

Photo Credit: The image is Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Speaking at Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. It’s available as an art print on

Clara and Clarence

Thoughts About This Thing we Call Life

Flowers on Kentucky Dam Village Golf Course

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time.” – Betty Smith

I have a few people I’m excited for you to meet. You could say I”m even anxious for you to meet them! I think they have something important to teach you; a beautiful illustration to draw for you; and a life-changing way of looking at life that live inside your heart forever.  Their names are Clara and Clarence, but before making the introductions, there’s one thing you should know:  They both recently died.

There are many things in life that I do not do:

  • budget my money well
  • budget my money at all
  • pass by a Starbucks
  • stick to a diet
  • begin a diet
  • sit still
  • worry (life’s too short)
  • clean closets (life’s too short)
  • skip any of the 20,000 words women say daily
  • read the obituaries

Which is why it’s so strange that a few nights ago, while sitting with my husband, getting my 20,000 in, and looking through our local newspaper, I stopped at the obituaries section.  Some of the recently departed were represented with recent photographs and a few were represented with photographs that were apparently taken in their hey day (personally, that’s what I’d want!).  Two individuals were represented by sweet recent pictures, with pictures of each one of them below. Clever families! These two individuals (no doubt you’ve guessed by now that they’re the stars of this post, Clarence and Clara) caught my eye and I had to read more about them.

Clarence, with his very handsome pictures, was “above the fold,” so I read about him first. Kind of surreal, isn’t it? An entire life’s story summed up in 3 paragraphs. Twitter has nothing on obituaries.

First of all, I should tell you that Clara and Clarence (although their names sound as though they were twins or married SO long even their names began to look alike), were not related. They simply happened to pass away on the same day, rejoined their prospective spouses on the same day, and caught the eye of an overly caffeinated self help blogger on the same day.

Clarence wore a hat in each of his pictures. He had a precious smile in the more recent picture, and something about the smile told me he was a charmer. In the younger picture, he wore his Marine’s uniform and a serious expression replaced the smile. I guess that isn’t hard to understand.  The younger Clarence had movie star looks – with his strong manly facial features and George Clooney eyebrows.  Handsome Clarence lived to be 88 years old!  He was married to his wife for 48 years before losing her to Heaven. As I read the words, I couldn’t help smiling at the sweet reunion they surely had.

I hope he wore his hat.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Clara’s adorable recent picture brought a tear to my eye.  Something about her eyes remind me of my grandmother’s eyes.  The same sparkle and the gleam was in this grandmother’s eyes that were in mine. Something about those eyes told me that these ladies were a lot alike, and I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet neither of them short-changed their 20,000 words a day either. In fact, Clara’s obituary stated that she liked sharing stories… that’s my girl!  No wonder I felt such a bond.

Clara beat Clarence by a few years.  This lovely lady lived to be 92 years old.  She was born in 1919!  How amazing is that? The fact that she was married in 1936 blew my youngest daughter’s mind. Clara, too, was preceded in death by her spouse. They had been married 57 years when she lost him.  The happy ending, of course, is that she found him.

I couldn’t help staring at Clara’s younger picture. What a beauty! The picture was apparently taken in the ’30s, which tells me she made one stunning bride.  In this picture, her hair’s up in the back and she’s wearing some sort of an elaborate flower in her hair.  Her beautiful face reminds me of the character Ado Annie in Oklahoma – and I’m willing to bet that  Mrs. Clara had at least as much spirit and sass.

After reading their life stories (infuriatingly summed up in mere paragraphs – I’d have loved to learn more about each), I finally pulled myself away from their beautiful faces.  I noticed that a few things lingered in my mind and heart:

  • The things each must have seen! Think about the things you and I have seen in our lifetimes. Now, imagine that these two saw all of those as well as SO much more. How fascinating it would have been to sit down with either of them and get their thoughts about past presidents, world events, inventions, fashion, cars, and more.
  • Each had long, successful marriages and were each reunited with their sweethearts.
  • One of the things said about Clara was that she enjoyed spending time with her family. I hope everyone realizes that, when it comes to their parents and grandparents, the world literally lights up when you walk through the door.  Make it happen as much as possible and keep that light burning as long as you can.
  • During their last days, how short their lives must have seemed and how fast they must have seemed to fly by.

The last thought has especially stayed with me. Think back over your own life. No matter how many years your thoughts will have to span, it seems to have all gone by so fast. Think of past silly worries (extra weight, dining room tables, “he said this instead of that,” your spouse not getting what you wanted for your birthday or Christmas, the scratch on your car…).  Today, do any of them really matter?  Don’t you regret ever spending time feeling sad, worried, or mad about the silly stuff?!

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.” – Grace Hansen

Make no mistake about it, each of us will one day have our lives boiled down to a couple of paragraphs. I’m not trying to depress you and I DO NOT want you to think about death.  Au contraire! I want you to think about life!  I want you to think about living your life out loud, making each moment count double, laughing more, smiling longer, rolling with the punches, loving more, and spreading happiness and laughter everywhere you go.  I want you to get as much joy and adventure out of walking through your front yard as you would on an African safari.  When you look at the world, I want you to see a playground – not places you wish you could go, cars you wish you could drive, money you wish you had…. None of that creates happiness.

Happiness comes from within, not without. Over the years, my husband and I have lived everywhere from Madisonville, Kentucky to Wichita, Kansas and from Washington, Indiana to Pensacola Beach, Florida.  From Rantoul, Illinois to Webster City, Iowa!  Shew, I’m glad we’ve settled down here in Owensboro, Kentucky – it’s not easy always remembering a new phone number, zip code, or address!

When we were first married, Michael (husband) was in the Air Force.  With a baby on the way, we lived in a tiny little apartment near the Military Base in Illinois.  You could sit on the couch and see the entire apartment. Other servicemen and their families lived in the apartment complex and people were coming and going 24 hours a day. Saying it was noisy is an understatement. Tiny, noisy… and I loved it!

“We spend too much time living in the ‘what if’ and need to learn to live in the ‘what is.’” – Rev. Leroy Allison

When Michael and I, along with our three beautiful daughters and (at the time) one beautiful cat lived on Pensacola Beach, Florida – we had come a long way from that tiny noisy apartment. You practically needed a tour guide to take you from one end of the beach house to the other. Practically the entire back of the house was glass, so we could watch dolphins, seagulls, boats, waves, and pelicans as we ate at the dinner table, as I cooked in the kitchen, and as we watched tv in the living room. Noisy? Not unless you call the sounds of the ocean noisy.

Moral of the story (do written words count toward the 20,0000? If so, I annihilate that humble little goal): I swear to you, if you take the fact that I had my 4 girls then (the cat was a girl, too)  – I was no happier in the beach house than in my noisy little apartment.  I smiled and laughed (and talked, Lord, I talked) in each home.  It matters not WHERE life puts you, it matters how much life is IN you.

It’s possibly the strangest thing I’ve ever done, but I’ve kept the pictures of Clara and Clarence. In case I ever feel the weight of the world or have cause to feel down, I’m going to look at their pictures and let them remind me that life doesn’t last forever. Life is as beautiful as it is precious and like any fun ride, there will be ups as well as downs. But are we ever really ready to get off the ride?!

If the heroes of our story could come back to earth and be the age you are right now, what do you think they’d do? Would they worry and fret over things that don’t matter or would they know that “all this” doesn’t last forever? Imagine how they’d look… I mean really look… at a butterfly or tree.  Imagine how they’d close their eyes and listen to a songbird as though it were a concert.

Most of all, can you imagine the look on their faces when they were able to see their loved ones again?! They’d embrace them with their body, heart, and spirit.

We still have it all! Butterflies, birds, trees, family, friends… they’re things we often take for granted.  The next time you see a butterfly, really look at it. SEE the beauty, fragility, and splendor. It’s like life. So much beauty but  far too often, we look past it rather than at it.

It’s my deepest hope that Clara and Clarence will help you slow down and enjoy life more. Embrace it. I want you to live life with such passion that when you leave a room, people notice the void!

Maya Angelou said it best with one of my favorite quotes of all time,  “Life likes to be taken by the lapel and told, “I’m with you kid. Let’s go!” 

Don’t ever let me catch you without life’s lapel in your hands!

Stealing Father Time’s Running Shoes

Plus a Great Quote About Life From a Most Unexpected Source


“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” – Winnie the Pooh

And Winnie always said he was a bear of very little brains. Ha.

This morning, my server was having an identity crisis. For a while there I thought it was in the market for a new career. Fortunately, it finally remembered itself, allowing me to get back to business.  However, for a couple of hours, I practically stared at my to do list, have tempted to scratch out “To Do” and write “Can’t Do” in its place.

I figured that I could sit and fume or get off my derriere and do something productive.  I did some laundry, brewed a pot of green tea, read from a new library book, and did 20 minutes of yoga.  The kind of morning I once took for granted. In the span of two hours (8:00 am – 10:00 am), I gained a little insight about time and maybe even life.  On a typical morning, these two hours are spent updating my food blog, sorting through e-mail accounts, updating my cat blog, moderating comments, and getting posts going on my self help blog and office supply blog.  Normally, these two hours fly by so fast you can almost hear the swoooosh.

By contrast, the clock almost seemed to be going backwards this morning.  At one point (ten minutes into yoga), I looked at the clock and even told my cat Alexa, “I think time’s literally standing still.” (She always pulls up a front row seat for the yoga show – wouldn’t miss it for all the salmon in the world.)

When I sat back down at my desk, I discovered that my server had regained its composure. I had a funny feeling inside that I couldn’t identify. Was it disappointment? Was it relief?   I decided that it was a mixture of the two and Alexa and I got down to business.

In one of those great twists of irony, I opened one of my notebooks of quotations (yes, this super geek collects quotes in notebooks) to choose a quote for Self Help Daily’s quote of the day. The first quote to jump off the page was the one I posted at the top of the page.

The analogy between my two morning hours and the countless hours of our lives is a striking one.  When I “busy away” my morning hours, they disappear in a blur.  Two hours feel like ten minutes.  On the other hand, a leisurely morning made two hours seemingly stretch.  Make no mistake about it, I’m not suggesting that you quit your job or drop out of school!  Nor am I suggesting that those of you who (like me) work from home start riding the couch and eating bon bons.

I’m just saying this: Time is a precious gift – one of the gifts we most take for granted. Some people get so busy trying to “get ahead” that they don’t take the time to enjoy the scenery along the way. Please don’t let that happen to you.  You don’t have to be in GO mode all day and night.  It may sound cheesy but pause and slow down a little each day or a little each evening.

If we don’t slow down enough to appreciate our lives, they’ll fly by so fast that you’ll almost be able to hear the swoooosh.

More Inspirational Quotes about Life