It's Okay to Have Limits: Putting your attention in the right place

Due to a rare muscular dystrophy, my muscles can only tolerate a certain amount of walking, standing, and sitting at one time. Even lying down has its challenges, depending on my positioning. These limits create a challenge for chores, hobbies, and daily living.

Yet for many years, I focused my attention in the wrong places.

Intellectually, I knew these physical limitations were there, but when I was in the middle of loading the dishwasher, mingling at a social gathering, or at the computer writing, I didn't want to stop, so I powered through to complete the task. I got the rush of accomplishment, but then a few hours later, I paid for it in muscle pain and exhaustion.

While recovering, usually on the couch with a book or with the television, I admonished myself for skipping the laundry, putting off a project, or otherwise not being productive. All I could see as I looked around was every unfinished chore, and I felt the judgment and shame building.

I needed to change my view.

So, for …

Stories From the Past: How a headline from over 50 years ago connected a daughter to her dad

I subscribe to, and part of the package includes access to I'd had the service for six months before I took the time to try it, and within the first fifteen minutes of searching, I'd found an article that made the extra fee worthwhile.

A few weeks ago, I sat down at my desk and brought up the website. I had about an hour before dinner, so I settled back in my padded chair, laid my hand on the mouse, and clicked in the search bar.

I typed in Murl J. Hume, my maternal grandfather's name, and hit enter.

On top of the list was an article from the Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune in Muscatine, Iowa. Bingo! I had a hit on my first attempt! The article was titled, Pvt. Murl J. Hume Returns to Camp, and it detailed how Hume, an enlisted Army serviceman, had been home on a 10-day furlough to visit his parents. It also told of his basic training and his Camp address in South Carolina.

I smiled at the way small-town newspapers reported on the…

Unplugging to Connect: What happens when you spend two hours playing with your friends

When is the last time you spent two hours laughing, concentrating, puzzling, and trying to outscore your friends, all without electronics or screens?

This is what a good board game can do.

Shawn and I have been acquiring and playing board games for over ten years. They have been Christmas gifts, birthday presents, just-because purchases, and impulse buys. Our collection used to fill one six-foot bookcase, and now it fills four. The local game store has gotten to know us by name as we have sought out entertainment, challenge, and variety.

Before I met Shawn, my experience with board games was limited to Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Monopoly or Risk. I had no idea that there were so many more diverse and engaging options out there!

The games we have take anywhere from twenty minutes to four hours to play, though the average time is about the same length as a movie. Some are card-based, some use dice to run the game, and many have the classic fold-out board at the center of the table.

No matt…

How to Set and Meet Your Goals: An obsessive control freak learns to let go

Hello. My name is Lisa, and I'm an obsessive control freak. My intervention was five and a half years ago, and I've been slowly releasing my grip since then.

New Year's Resolutions have always been troublesome for me. I love a fresh start, and if I'm planning a new project or endeavor, I'll always begin on the first, whether it be the first of the week, the first of the month, or (the best option) the first of the year.

My resolution usually goes well for a couple of weeks, maybe even a month. The trouble sets in when I miss day or two. My inner obsessive control freak tells me that I have failed the goal and that it's all over. That I may as well give up.

It's why I have half a dozen journals that are mostly blank.

It's why I felt an awful pit of guilt and defeat when I skipped a blog post two weeks ago.

It's why I've avoided making resolutions at all.

However, in my efforts to grow, I've been experimenting with letting go, especially when it com…

Picture Imperfect: How to feel authentic & beautiful in every photo

I took nearly a hundred pictures this Christmas. Pictures of food, presents, people, and pets. As you can imagine, not all of them turned out well; some were blurry, some had closed eyes, and some caught errant hands or feet in the frame. I deleted several of these for obvious reasons.

When I looked at the photos of me, I paid close attention to each one, scrutinizing minor details of my facial expressions and body placement.

I almost got lost picking myself apart in each picture.

Then I was reminded that the self-judgment wasn't worth my time. I accepted that the camera had captured an authentic view of who I am, and no matter my feelings about it, this was how I looked. And I decided to be okay with that. 

Once I let go of my expectations of perfection, I was able to see the beauty in the photos, the moments of joy, and the memories.

In this digital age of photography and social media, it's become easy to put forth only the best version of ourselves. We are tempted to delete the …

Tattooing Love: Honoring a loved one and adopting a mantra

There are three things you need to know before you read this story.

Butterflies give me peace and remind me to have faith.I have six other tattoos. I consider each of them meaningful expressions of my life, and most of them were done on special dates.Both of my grandmothers were the model of Love, and though they lived thirteen-hundred miles away, they impacted my life regularly.
Eight months ago, Grandma Kelley, my dad's mom, passed away at the age of 95. At the funeral service, her pastor shared a phrase of advice that she had given him during a challenging personal time.

"It takes a lot of Love to get along in this world."

The words landed on my heart and stayed in my soul. I immediately typed them into my phone and thought, This is my next tattoo.

I had been thinking about a butterfly tattoo for several months, but I didn't want anything generic. With Grandma's words in mind, I envisioned putting the two items together in one design.

Suddenly, I remembered the jewe…

4 Steps To Spot an Angel: Christmas tree hunting gives new meaning to snow angel

We used to have a dog that liked to eat pine needles. However, he got impatient waiting for them to drop to the floor, and he started gnawing on the low-hanging branches. We feared that he would topple the tree, so we stopped bringing home a live tree and bought an artificial one instead.

After fourteen years, our dog grew old and passed away, so we reinstated the tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree.

Last week, I bundled up for the cold weather while my husband loaded up the chainsaw, shovel, and tire chains. We planned to drive to forest land about an hour from our house. The highway led through a small canyon, and a few miles later, we turned onto a snowy mountain road. 

The trip started out fine, but as we went on, the tracks left by snowmobiles and hunting trucks began to decrease.

And then the tracks were gone.

We stopped immediately, but not soon enough. Shawn pulled a little too far to the side of the road, and the truck was sucked into a snow bank.

We were stuck.

"At leas…