Navigating Those Life Transitions

According to my calendar, March 20th was the first day of spring in our Northern Hemisphere.  Interestingly enough, when it’s spring for us, it’s autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.  In my mind, spring and autumn are the “transition seasons” that help us prepare for winter and summer, and summer and winter.

When I lived in the Midwest, autumn was my favorite season.  I enjoyed watching the leaves change from green to so many brilliant colors before they turned brown and made their journey to the ground.

Matt's wedding 256

Texas is already so brown that my favorite season living here has become spring…when everything comes to life again.  My grass is beginning to turn from brown to green, perennials are finding the sun and starting to poke their heads through the earth in the flower beds, and just yesterday, I saw a new bird’s nest in the small Live Oak in our backyard.  It is definitely a time of rebirth, renewal, and regrowth.

Bird nest 003

While I very much enjoy watching the events of the transition seasons, I suspect I’m like a lot of people and don’t handle change well with the transitions in my own life.

Navigating through the unfamiliar waters of change isn’t easy for any of us.  The transitions are always the hardest parts of life…the beginnings and endings, the takeoffs and the landings are the things that give us the greatest challenges.  They are also often the things which bring us the most opportunities for happiness.

We’ve had three weddings in our family in the past two years.  While the actual wedding days were full of joy and fun, each of the three couples have been adjusting to new marriages and all the changes that go along with wedded bliss.

For some, marriage means adjusting to life with a new roommate/spouse and learning about that person’s habits, needs, likes and dislikes.  For others, who have already learned to live together, it means adjusting to sharing things like money and taxes and family holidays, and knowing that life as a single person is now part of the past.

Matt's wedding 073

Another major life transition is the birth of a baby, especially a first child.   A new baby is such a source of pride and joy, but it is also unfamiliar territory for most first time parents.  Sleep deprivation, learning to care for a child, the constant worry that we are doing everything right, and the adjustment in the relationship from “couple” to “family” are transitions most of us have made in order to make children a part of our lives.

My niece, Jessica, had her first baby in September.  When I asked her about her transition to motherhood, she said it has been “easy at times and difficult at other times.”  But once her daughter began sleeping through the night, it became a lot easier for everyone.

Jess and Audrey

My brother and his family are moving to another part of the state soon after living in this area for many years.  Moving is another transition time in life that can be difficult for a family.  Whether the move is to a new state, or simply across town, it can be exciting and traumatic for all family members.  Getting used to a new home, new schools, new neighbors and even a new time zone, all present their own unique opportunities and challenges.  If a new job is a part of those changes, the transition becomes greater still.

Indy 005

For me, the loss of a loved one has been the most difficult life transition.  In the past five years, I’ve lost three dear friends…all very suddenly.  Time may dull the pain of loss, but it never completely goes away.

Those who read my blog regularly know that I wrote about my family’s difficult adjustment after my brother died.  As I said in Proximity Rule, “Death of a loved one changes how we define ourselves and our vision of the future, and how we fit into that future.  Life takes on a new shape when a person we love is gone.  Family takes on a new shape.”

family pic

It seems like the one constant we can count on in life is change.  But it’s been my experience that change also brings opportunity.  For instance, I would never have started this blog and published my book if I hadn’t experienced a job loss transition in 2012.

Change happens to all of us and many (like me) fear or dislike it.  People often become emotionally distracted by life changes and dwell on what they might be losing, instead of focusing on what they need to do to make a successful transition to the new turn their lives have taken.


After I went through a major life change five years ago, a good friend had the wisdom and insight to ask:

“What are you doing now to move forward with your life?”

That question stopped me in my tracks, because I wasn’t really doing anything to move forward, and I wasn’t even sure what it was that I should be doing.  Her question made me realize that some people, perhaps those who are more accustomed to dealing with change, know that there are things one can do to make the transition times in life easier.

Some people handle transitions more gracefully than others.  I’m always amazed and impressed by those who breeze through transitions as seamlessly as if they are simply changing clothes.  I suspect they must know something the rest of us don’t and they have some personal strategies for dealing with life changes and the accompanying challenges.


We create our own experiences by how we choose to deal with change.  We can choose to resist change and cause ourselves much pain and stress, or we can choose to embrace change and open our hearts and minds to new experiences and opportunities.

 Author’s note:  After doing a little research on the subject, here are some things we can all do to help us successfully navigate life transitions.  It seems the majority of these strategies involve some changes in our attitudes, or in how we think about and approach life transitions.

*Let go of your old life and think of it fondly as a dear departed friend.

*Give yourself some time and space to accept and get used to the changes in your life.

*Savor the people and things in your life which haven’t changed.

*Realize that you have a blank slate and can make your new life whatever you want it to be.

*Consider the many new opportunities you have as a result of your life changes.

*Embrace your new life and consider it an exciting new adventure.

*Have a positive outlook and acknowledge that change can lead you to a new and better place.




Gardens Of The Heart

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

~Alfred Austin

Campus Theatre and Birthday articles 005

I come from a family of gardeners…on both sides…we like to dig in the dirt.  My paternal great-grandmother was known for her wonderful gardens and sold flowers from her yard in Elkhart, Indiana to earn money during the Great Depression.  When I was a girl, she was in her 80’s and was still gardening.

scan0044 scan0043

One day, my mother and I were at her house and she was giving us a walking tour of her immaculate gardens.  Suddenly, she pointed down at the ground and yelled,

“What is that?  Is that a WEED? Get it, GET IT!” 

My mom and I laughed for years at the bold audacity of that weed to think it could survive in my great-grandmother’s garden for even a day.


According to the website, gardening is the most popular hobby in the United States right now.  Are you wondering what comes second?  That would be genealogy.  Both of these make sense because the Baby Boomers (those born from 1946 to 1964 in the years after all the men came home from WW II) have begun to retire.

When my maternal grandmother was still living, I would always receive a letter from her about this time of year.  In it, she would tell me how weary she was of being indoors over the long, cold Midwest winter and how she was eagerly watching for the first signs of springtime.  She would write about the flowers she intended to plant in her yard that year, and she would tell me her plans for that year’s vegetable garden.

Yesterday, I received a Gardener’s Supply Company catalog in the mail.  It put me in mind of being at both of my grandparents’ houses where there were always seed catalogs sitting around in the winter and early spring, and where well- thumbed copies of the Old Farmer’s Almanac foretold the weather and the best times and methods for planting.

Happy New Year 011

As I looked through my gardening catalog, I was amazed by all the products available for purchase now that didn’t exist when I was a girl.

Gardening 002

There are “cradles” to keep the melons and squash from getting soft on the sides that lay in the dirt.  In the old days, we used straw under them and as an added precaution my grandmother and I would turn the melons and squash manually every day or two to keep them firm.

Another new item is a tomato “halo” or a plastic outer wall, a bit like a moat around tomato plants to keep the cutworms from getting to them and eating holes in the leaves and in the tomatoes.  My grandmother used to put crushed eggshells around the stems because the worms did not like to crawl through them to get to the tomato plants.

You can also order raised wood beds made from cedar to raise your garden up and away from pests.  I remember my mother planting marigolds around the perimeter of her gardens to keep the rabbits out and also using moth balls to keep away rabbits, snakes, gophers and groundhogs.

Gardening 008

My grandmother would often use foil pie pans hanging from posts with strings to scare away all the pests and the scavengers.  Many a spring she would fashion a scarecrow from a pair of old jeans and a flannel shirt, and hang him on a pole in the middle of her rows of corn.  It was all part of the challenge and fun of growing and keeping the produce from the garden.

In the spirit of the raised, boxed gardening beds, my grandmother had a large, whitewashed tractor tire in the backyard of her farmhouse.  Every spring, she would plant flowers in it.  I especially loved the years she would plant all colors of zinnias in that tire flower bed and they would bloom throughout the summer and fall until the first frost.


For years, my mother maintained a compost pile for her gardens.  Every evening after dinner, one of us kids would be sent to the compost pile to empty the coffee can full of egg shells, coffee grounds, banana peels and any other plant-based kitchen waste that would eventually decompose into a rich fertilizer.  Grass clippings and dead leaves were also added, and every month or so, one of us would go out and turn over the pile a few times with a pitch fork to keep the process moving along.  My mother must have been ahead of her time because now this is called “organic gardening”.

My maternal grandfather was also a gardener and in one of my favorite pictures of him taken when he was 78, he is standing behind a rototiller, preparing his annual garden for planting.  He put out a garden almost until the end of his life at the age of 83, and would give much of the produce to his neighbors and family.  He gardened for the sheer love of working the earth because gardeners must plant seeds and grow things.  Even as his own strength was fading, he was making plans for new life.  I now know this was hope.


“It’s a garden that I carry with me like a happy secret, as I go about the clamorous world outside the garden gate.”

~Anne Raver


Saints, Shamrocks and Green Beer

Here’s a bonus post from last year…enjoy!


When I was a girl, the tradition went that we had to make sure we were wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day so as not to get pinched.  I’m not sure where the whole pinching tradition came from, but the wearing of the green and shamrocks to celebrate St. Patrick can be traced back to the 17th century.

Although St. Patrick is the most commonly recognized patron saint of Ireland, he was actually born in Roman Britain and became a Catholic Priest and later a Catholic Bishop.  He is credited with being a champion of Christianity in Ireland.

According to Irish folklore, St. Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock plant to teach the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to the Irish People.  After 30 years of evangelism in Ireland, he died there on March 17th  in the year 461.

Today, St. Patrick’s Day is both a religious and cultural holiday in our country and around the world.  We celebrate St. Patrick but we also celebrate the heritage and culture of Ireland and the Irish People.  In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has been an official public holiday since 1903.

The Lenten ban on drinking alcohol is lifted for a day, and we celebrate St. Patrick’s life and contribution by drinking green or Irish beer and Irish whisky and by wearing green and shamrocks.  Many communities around the world commemorate the day with a St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In Chicago, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day begins by dyeing the Chicago River green before the annual parade.  In New York City, the Empire State Building is lit in green lights, and since 2009, the water fountain on the north lawn of the White House has been dyed green to commemorate the day.

When my children were young, I would use food coloring to dye the milk green every year on St. Patrick’s Day.  I would also turn the clocks upside down and leave a box of Lucky Charms on the kitchen counter and green candy as well as some coins outside their bedroom doors.  Of course, I blamed all of this on those mischievous leprechauns!

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday we can celebrate whether we have any Irish heritage or connection to the Catholic Church.  It’s all in good fun and don’t forget to wear your green!

It’s All About The Numbers!

Last week, I told you it was the one year anniversary of this blog.  I wrote 56 posts during the past year and I thought you might be interested in knowing what my top 12 most widely read posts have been.  I was surprised by which post had the most reads and was number one, but not really by the others.

Top 12 posts from the past year:

  1. Where Exactly is the Mason Dixon Line?
  2. Patchwork Memories
  3. And Zombies Came to the Wedding!
  4. To Everything There is a Season
  5. Proximity Rule
  6. Road Trip…I-70 Exit 129
  7. What’s Left of a Life When It’s Over?
  8. And On the Subject of Birthdays…
  9. All-American Summers at the Drive-In

Tied with:

Whatever Happened to S & H Green Stamps?

  1. Necessity…The Mother of Invention
  2. Is Kindness Important?
  3. DO Drink the Water!

writer 003

While I often write about experiences in my own life, I also write about subjects that interest me and about which I want to learn more.  One of these is Pi Day.

Pi Day is a day that we celebrate the mathematical constant, Pi, usually represented by the small Greek letter, π.  For those of you who may have forgotten what a mathematical constant is, it is a well-defined real number that is significantly interesting in some way.

Pi Day is celebrated by math

Pi is one of the oldest, most widely known, and most recognized mathematical constants.  The other interesting fact about Pi or π, is that it is an irrational number and its decimal representation never ends or repeats.

7 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day 1

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter which in decimal terms is approximated as 3.14159.  The circumference (distance around) of a circle is slightly more than three times as long as its diameter (distance across). The exact ratio is called π.  Because its definition relates to the circle, π is found in many formulas in trigonometry and geometry.

first calculation of Pi?

This upcoming Saturday, March 14, 2015, we will celebrate Pi Day around the globe.  This year’s Pi Day is special because the date of the celebration corresponds to the first five digits in Pi…3-14-15.  This only happens once every 100 years.  And, this year at 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m., the date and the time in minutes and seconds will represent the first 10 digits of pi…3.141592653.  This is being called the “Pi Second”.

Pi Day, which is an annual, unofficial holiday, and coincidentally, also Albert Einstein’s birthday, was founded in 1988 by Larry Shaw, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives gave its support by passing a non-binding resolution to designate March 14th as Pi Day.

Einstein's official 1921

Pi Day 2015 will be celebrated by students, math enthusiasts, mathematicians and math teachers around the world.  Pi fans will wear Pi tee shirts and participate in Pi or circular-themed activities such as contests to recite the most digits of Pi and to convert numbers such as one’s age using Pi, and making and eating pies and other foods that begin with the letters, p and i.

For me, I think Pi Day is a great opportunity to order a Pi-zza with pi-neapple on it for dinner, and then have some Pi-e for dessert!

Author’s note:  If you really want to get into the whole Pi Day celebration, you can watch the 2012 movie called “Life of Pi” or the 1998 movie called what else, “Pi”.




You’ve Got Mail!

Author’s note:  In honor of the one year anniversary of my blog, Walk Down The Lane, I’m posting a double today.  This second one is the very first blog post I made a year ago that was read by maybe 10 people.   It was called, “Write Me a Letter” and it’s actually one of my personal favorites!

Do you remember the last time you received an honest to goodness, on stationery, hand-written letter?  Weren’t you excited to open it and see what the writer had to say to you…to only you?


I have a friend who will occasionally write me a letter…a long, newsy snail mail letter to catch me up on her life.  She tells me about what’s going on in Michigan where I used to live, and about her job, and her husband’s company, and what each of her kids are doing in their lives.  She might tell me about a mutual friend she saw recently or what kind of flowers she will plant this year.

When I get a letter from her, I get a cup of coffee or tea and find a quiet place to sit where I can read and savor every word.  Receiving a hand-written letter from my friend across the country feels almost like we have had an actual visit.

letters 012

In the days before computers, people corresponded by writing letters and cards.  Going back to earlier times before modern transportation and telephones, many a romantic relationship was nurtured along via the written word in the form of love letters and cards.

When I was in college, I would write letters to my parents and my younger brothers telling them about my life in college and asking about what was going on in their lives.  At one point, I was so homesick that I would sit outside my apartment waiting for the mailman in hopes of getting a letter from home.  The (young) mailman thought I had a crush on him and asked me if I would like to go out on a date!

Until her death at age 87, my farm grandmother would write me letters.  I would get most of them during the cold winter months in Northern Indiana when she was shut inside.  She would tell me how she longed for the melting snow and the first signs of spring.  She would tell me about the vegetable garden she was planning for that year and how much she looked forward to my next visit.  I so miss those letters from her.

write me a letter 005

Back when I was in college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, it cost 15 cents to send a first class letter.  On January 26th of this year, the U.S. Postal Service raised the rate to 49 cents for a first class letter.  The good news is that your Forever Stamps are still good no matter how many times the postage rates change.

farmers market stamps 004

We live in such a fast-paced time now.  We can send texts and email in a matter of seconds…and that is a wonderful thing.  But I hope that someone this year takes the time to write you a long, hand-written letter meant only for you.  And I hope I get one too!

Thank you for walking with me this past year.

Ryan's wedding 117

The Power of a Whisper

A couple of years ago, my husband and I took part in a bible study course called:  “The Power of a Whisper”.  What I really loved about this study, besides the fact that it is simply down right intriguing that God might be whispering something in my ear, was the fact that I took from it something tangible that I could use in my everyday life.  I’d rather commit my time to something that helps me grow as a person and I suspect most people feel that way.

The Power of a Whisper

The gist of the bible study was that we can learn to listen for whispers or nudges from God which help us determine the right choices to make in life to spur our personal growth.

Sometimes these whispers might come directly from God, and other times He uses people or things or situations to urge us in the right direction.  Sometimes God speaks when and where we least expect it.  Since we always have free will, it is our choice whether we choose to pay attention to these whispers.

I remember when I was first thinking about publishing my story, The Button Box, into a book, I happened to pick up the Sunday paper and read a story about a local business owner.  The article was about a woman publisher right here in town and she sounded like someone I would like to know.

So, I called her.  And Crystal Wood at Tattersall Publishing not only helped me get my book published, but she became my friend.  Was that a nudge or a whisper from God?  I don’t know, but I’m glad I listened because it was a double win for me.

Me and Crystal

Photo by Jeff Hull

My latest whisper became more like a whisper/scream before I finally heard it.  And, I’m listening now.  It started with the morning not long ago when I was having coffee in my favorite chair.  When I went to get up for a second cup, my knees hurt.  That was weird because I have no knee problems…either past or present.  This reminded me of how the last couple of times my husband and I had taken a walk, my knees were hurting by the end of it.

Last week, my family celebrated my dad’s 77th birthday.  I took a number of pictures that night and when I loaded them on my computer the next day, I was shocked by what I saw.  My dad looked great for his 77 years but how had I gotten so big?

Dad's birthday 2015 010

Photo by Jeff Hull

Then yesterday, when I was getting dressed for a day of writing, I put on my favorite Purdue hoodie.  Well, that favorite hoodie was tight and short, not all comfy and roomie like it used to be.

The final insult, I mean whisper, was today when I tripped on the bathroom scale on my way to the shower.  Now that scale has been in the same place for the past five years, and I haven’t even thought about getting on it in the last two.  So I stepped on it.  I was so shocked by the number I saw that I had to sit on the side of the tub for a minute to regain my naked composure.  I hear you, God.

Happy New Year 026

So, I’m coming late to the party.  I’m joining all of you who resolved to lose weight when the calendar rounded the bend from 2014 into 2015.  And, my work is cut out for me.

It seems in the last year and a half, I’ve gained some weight.  I could blame it on being newly married and eating happily together, or I could blame it on my sedentary writing lifestyle, but I’m not going to make excuses.  I’ve been eating too much, especially of my favorite food group, sugar, and I’ve been moving too little.

Happy New Year 022

It’s time for a change.  We already have the makings of a home gym so the “moving more” part should be easy…right?  While I don’t intend to use this blog as a weight loss diary, I will let you know how I’m doing down the road a bit.  I will also continue to listen for those whispers and nudges from God.

Lisa and me 002

Lisa and me 003

I asked a lifelong friend who is fit and exercises regularly, for advice on how to get started, and this is what she said:

“Do some kind of cardio 4-5 days a week. You want something fun that you will do consistently. Getting into a habit is the key. It is a lifestyle and a commitment. You have to do it for yourself. The earlier in the day you do it, the greater the chances are that you will. Put it on the calendar and do it. Go to church on Sunday, and exercise every other day.”

Thank you, Lisa.

Lisa and me 006

Author’s note:  The bible study I talked about is “The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond” by Bill Hybels.