Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?

People, meaning all of us, you and me, defy easy descriptions.  My oldest son is one I would call an extrovert by every definition.  At the age of 12, if granted any wish for his birthday, his first desire would have been a 12-year-old to live in his room with him.  All the time.  Yup.  An extrovert.aaron

Yet ask him, and he thinks of himself as introvert–a person who recharges his batteries in solitude.  His wife and I laughed at that one, because she and I are on the shy side, and he is anything but shy,  yet it got me thinking.

expoNone of us fit into easy little Facebook icons.  I spent Saturday in one of my side gigs, as a vendor and organizer of a local Expo.  It was demanding.  Lots of little glitches demanded patience, flexibility and ingenuity.  I had to use a microphone and get looked at every so often…me, who hates cameras and mirrors.  I was blessed with a steady stream of shoppers I greeted and blessed to the best of my ability.  I got little to no sleep the night before and spent a long day on my feet, shedding my shoes long before the Expo ended.  Yet I felt energized, not drained.  So am I an extrovert?

Before you decide, know this:  I fail at small talk.  I treasure a few close friends.  Without solitude I get cranky.  I hug the walls at large gatherings.  Yup, I’m a conundrum.  I am an extroverted introvert.  Clear as mud, right?  What is important is knowing yourself.  I believe every single person needs some solitude.  The Psalmist said it best: Be still and know that I am God.  When we live at a frenetic pace without time for reflection, we do ourselves a disservice and lose the grounding that completes us.  Knowing when to be busy and when to stop is crucial for your own mental health.

In a recent discussion at church the whole tension of the Mary/Martha syndrome got a work over.  I would love to be a Mary sometimes, but when the kids all walk in the door, the first question is, “What’s for dinner, Nana?”  Close on its heels comes, “When are we eating, Nana?”   Like all scripture stories, we are given a summary of what took place.  I’m wondering how much older Martha was than Mary.  If Jesus later said, “Help your sister more, kiddo.”  If Martha hadn’t fixed dinner, would He have turned stones to bread? Was there a local catering firm?

Women are called to be Marthas 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Yet they need those Mary moments.  If you are an introvert, you need more Mary moments, and if you are an extrovert, don’t fool yourself.  You still need time for solitude and reflection lest you grow shallow and cold.  The trick is to know yourself.  Know your own warning signals.  Pay attention, and carve Mary moments into your day when you need them.  And if you are a crazy, mixed up extroverted introvert, heaven help you!  You just might be a mess like me, lol.

How to Edit a Manuscript Painlessly

Everyone keeps a stash of wisdom, helpful tips, and great stories tucked into the cockles of their brains and the cubbyholes of their hearts.  A manuscript is the best way to preserve your history, and it’s not that hard.

Either the kids can’t sit still and listen, or the story sounds long and convoluted. or worse yet, the very people who need to hear your words seem disinterested.  It happens.  They think we will live forever.  We lack the vivacity to make it come alive.  No matter the reason, too much vital information gets lost in the process.  Your experience, your stories need to be heard.

A book (novella) preserves all those tidbits and memorializes stories that need to be told.  Take pen in hand and write!  The hurdle so many then face is an unwieldy manuscript needing attention.  Grammatical errors and faux pas need correction and sentences made readable.  No, you don’t have to be an English major for this step to happen.

Enter the editor.  Yes!  Hire an editor to review and format your document.  A good editor tracks suggestions you can accept or reject, and handles rewrites as part of the process of taking your manuscript from your laptop to print.  The first draft of my manuscript languished for a couple years.  I couldn’t find a publisher and I couldn’t find an agent, and I couldn’t see self-printing it without some attention to detail, so it lived on a cold back burner.  My oldest son encouraged me to get it out and get it printed, so I took a second look and hired an editor.  Best. Thing. Ever!book work

Find a listing of editors at  My own editor has a waiting list, but can be reached at  I highly recommend you find someone to help you.  My book should be ready for publication within the month.  It’s a lot easier than you think.

And Now She Makes Music? Is This Kindergarten?

I ought to begin by admitting that chronologically speaking, none of us are actually in kindergarten.  I leave it to you, gentle reader, to decide if we function at grade level or not.  And I include myself in this grading of our work habits, for I am one of those in the mix of household personalities who make up our sweet little home/work stations.

I like to work from the living room couch with my laptop on the coffee table, but my grands find their own favorite nooks for their studies.  Katelyn likes to start out in the sun room, nestled into the cushions of a comfortable wicker chair with a bench for her work surface.  And she hums.  Yes, this child who rarely sings at church, tunelessly hums her favorite hymns as she works.  She likes to hum in the rocker when she’s touching up her work, making everything perfect.  But she’s always humming.  Hers are happy sounds.

Matthias either smooshes into the pillows of the reading nook or spreads his books across the dining room table.  He erases a lot.  Rattles his papers.  Sighs when Katelyn hums too loudly.  (He sighs a lot.)  Creaks in his chair.  His are working sounds.sounds of school

Meanwhile, I sip my coffee.  Write.  Work on Sunday school lessons.  Knit.  Work on Posh.  Post on the Expo.  Do what I do, all the while enjoying the serenity.  I love their companionship on these peaceful mornings.  It is the quintessential kindergarten scenario of parallel play.  We work alongside each other, never really interacting.  It spells warmth and comfort.  Our lives are colored in shades of happiness.  Perhaps by coloring outside the lines and spelling by heart I prove I am still a kindergartner at heart.  Mrs. French, my first teacher at the Old Rock Creek elementary school, would be so proud.

Three Reasons Why Nothing Phases Me Pleases Me

No one who knows me would doubt that I love Posh.  I do, but please realize my Posh addiction is not based on blind endorsement of every product.  As a matter of fact, not every product is a favorite; but Posh has hit it out of the park with a new anti-aging serum–Nothing Phases Me.  Let’s look at value, ingredients, and results.

Posh loves to say everything is under $24, and in line with that, the new face serum is super affordable.  For an anti-gravity cholesterol serum, the price point alone makes Posh a winner.  It works out to 1 ounce/30 ml  for $24.  Perricone MD runs $89 at Ulta.  Dollar for dollar, Posh wins hands down.  Its value simply cannot be beat.

Ingredients require some research.  Nothing Phases Me contains three types of crystal-encapsulated cholesterol, blueberry extract, and phaseshyaluronic acid.  The two I see most often paired for exceptional skincare are Vitamin C (in the blueberry extract) and hyaluronic acid.  This show-stopping duo caught my immediate attention.  Percentages of each compound are deemed proprietary information, so we have to look at results to judge its efficacy.

I can only share my own personal results.  I can feel it seeping into my skin, always a good sign.  I put it on underneath my moisturizer and like the way it glides on.  I refuse to post before and after photos, because replicating exact conditions seems impossible–they end up looking faked or lame, so what’s the point?  Besides, I’m camera shy.  Instead, let me offer you samples and a personal promise.  Try it.  You’ll like it!

We Need a New Holiday

Today is World Mosquito Day…is that even a holiday?  Seriously?  Who are these people?  Personally, I’m not entirely sure God created mosquitoes.  I think they might be some aberration from the fall, a miniature hummingbird type of insect that started drinking human blood instead of nectar, right out of a horror movie.

Face it.  We live in a dying world.  Even if you don’t believe in creation science, the second law of thermodynamics imparts a truth about entropy and degeneration affirming that same concept.  So I get maggots.  I get vultures.  I just don’t get mosquitoes, nor do I wish to honor them with a day of recognition.  It’s like saying, “Yes, this is the day we honor yellow fever.”  Or how about, “This is national plague day, because we love it so much.”

To right this wrong, I’m changing it.  Right here and now.  I welcome your support in my campaign to make this World Smile Day.  Smiling improves the spirits of the person who sees the smile, and get this, it also improves the mood of the person who smiles as well.  It benefits everyone.  In a world of snarling politicians, loco gunmen, nutso terrorists, and rude drivers, I think smiling ranks right up there with Mother Teresa.  Just smile.  All day long.  Through tough times, challenging encounters, red lights and dawdlers in aisles.  Smile through Facebook; I know it’s hard.  Smile at arguing children.  Just smile.

I found seven physiological benefits derived from this small change in your day:  Smiling improves mood, lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, enhances your immune system, lowers pain thresholds, improves relationships, and increases longevity.  Even when you feel like it’s a plastic smile, just paste it on a cranky face without a trace of genuine good will, and the smile begins its work.  Study after study confirms that any smile triggers these benefits.

This gal’s laughter is absolutely infectious!

I find it no accident that many of my smiles come from little ones who know what a good belly laugh sounds like, who smile so willingly, who model a life of joy.  When I need a manufactured smile I think of them, and it just floats to the surface.  I challenge you to find your happy place and do likewise.

Show some teeth today!  Let’s not celebrate mosquitoes, those dratted blood suckers.  Let’s celebrate smiles and make it our new holiday!

smile 2
These little beauties always bring a smile to my face.

I Wear the Title of Unicorn Proudly

Red hair evokes so many emotions.  As a child I really thought Anne of Green Gables was written about me, and hated being called carrots.  After all, my hair was auburn in color!  Couldn’t that horrid Billy Jenks see that?  I knew I was a rare thing, sort of like a unicorn, but I secretly longed for beautiful blonde hair.   Always be careful what you wish for!

I had no idea my hair color came from a genetic mutation.  What?!!  Called MC1R, I understand this rare pigment endows just 1-2% of the population with red locks, be they strawberry blonde or carroty orange or auburn.  According to Erin LaRosa in The Big Redhead Book, we are the “unicorns of the human world.”  Far be it from me to argue with this sage tenet!

Now I feel better about being a redhead…just a few years too late.  My once auburn locks lightened over the years, and so much white now mixes into my multi-hued locks that my granddaughter doesn’t even think of me as being a redhead!  What’s with that?  Shopping at HyVee last month, a gentleman stepped back to grant me passage down a crowded aisle and said, “There you go, Blondie!  Slip right through there.”  Nooooo!  I don’t want blonde hair.  I want to be a unicorn!  unicorn 1

Ultimately I am left with a deep philosophical question:  Does my hair make me unique…or is it my personality?  I showed my oldest son this favorite picture of how I wish to be seen when I reach old age, and he quickly stated, “Mom.  You’re already there!”  So proud to be an old unicorn, lol.  Fortunately, K will never go through the negative angst associated with being a redhead.  She already loves her red hair and is delighted to be a sweet young unicorn.  I have done something right.  (Not to claim full credit, but some should be due.)  Unicorns unite!

My Top 5 Reasons to Change the Way You Read

Educators and home schoolers alike know this simple truth:  Teach a child to read, to read voraciously, and he will learn independently all his life.  Voracious readers are quirky readers.  I know it well.

Aaron, our firstborn, fell in love with Jim Kjelgaard.  Big Red taught him compassion, loyalty, and about overcoming obstacles.  He proceeded to work his way through every Kjelgaard novel over time.  I recommend a few books of personal ownership.  Don’t get me wrong.  We visited the library every week and exited with a bag full of books each time, but there’s something about a dog-eared well loved book that captures a place in a child’s heart.  If your child likes animals, by all means, check this out!

Katelyn’s current fave is a series about personified dragonets, who exemplify a full gamut of human emotions: love jealousy, fear, loyalty, deceit.  I recommend them cautiously.  Talk about them.  What better way to learn how to deal with tricky emotions than to read, see, and discuss together?

Sadly, many of us escape the classroom of mandatory reading lists and slide backwards into constantly reading for pleasure, if at all.  We read our news online in short snippets lacking depth and varied viewpoints.  A recent online study stated 24% of all American adults report they didn’t read one book, or even part of a book in the last year.  (Can you sense my horrified face here?)  Here’s the problem:  Little eyes watch what you read.  Nothing preaches an indolent reading program more than an adult reading nothing but titles for pleasure.  Whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor…and I think that includes all of us…your habits influence all the youngsters around you. When our sons were young I followed a strict reading regimen of pleasure, inspirational, how to, and classic with daily Bible study.  I still like the plan, but I no longer force myself into that same sequence.

Why should you change the way you read?

  1. Reading a book to educate or broaden your horizons each month keeps your mind facile.  Whether you want to learn a new calligraphy font or how to overhaul the engine in your Camaro, learn something new.  Reading about current issues by different authors forms the basis for an educated electorate, a prerequisite for our republic.  Read a book.
  2. An inspirational book continues your personal development and makes you a better person.  We could all profit from some self improvement.
  3. A well written and timeless classic embodies universal values.  Its seamless style helps you appreciate other books and provides a measuring stick by which all literature is better judged.
  4. Daily reading of scripture puts the Word into not just your mind, but your heart as well.
  5. Little eyes watch you.  Always.  Whether they know you or not.  Set an example worthy of emulation.words

Be an avid reader.  Be a lover of words, the hallmark of our evolution into the people we are meant to be.  Follow a well balanced reading regimen.  In short, change the way you read.

Threads…How NOT to Unravel the Threads of Your Life

Let me begin by explaining my innocent foray into the world of quilting.  Grandchild #1 came along, and in the rapture of it all I unwittingly made a baby quilt.  Of course seven grandchildren later, I felt rather accomplished at completing my eighth quilt.  By then I found myself knee deep in twin quilts as they grew into bigger beds.  If I could connect the quilted thread from the first to the last finished quilt, I imagine it traverses the United States.  A good, strong thread cannot be overemphasized when it comes to holding together the fabric of our lives.

But more tenuous threads actually connect the designs warming the heart and hearth.  We may exert too much tension on those threads, forgetting that delicate threads can break the hearts within our families.  Arguments.  Unkind words.  Controlling behaviors.  Manipulation.  These seam rippers tear apart a carefully hand sewn family.  How to avoid these destructive habits?

  • Talk often and before disagreements arise.
  • Look at situations together, not separately.
  • Speak circumspectly.  Choose words carefully rather than in the heat of the moment.
  • Listen.  Listen to what is said and UNsaid.
  • Offer no ultimatums.

Jobs come and go.  Friends may wander into and out of our lives, eventually moving on.  Family ties span years, and hopefully, generations.  Their design either create a pleasing pattern or a disruptive jumble of conflicting colors and shapes.  Meant to be firm and lasting, bind your families together with love and wisdom.  Unraveled, we lose the fabric that warms us.  I know it’s summer right now, but it’s a cold world out there, folks.  Stay warm!quilting

Quilting Tips:

  • Evelyn Burns is a genius.
  • I use the same basic patterns to simplify the process.
  • Freestyle quilting intrigues me, but that’s for another lifetime, lol.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist.  My grandchildren will look at it someday, with all its flaws, and say, “She was old.”  I can live with that.



Human Foosball

Our people cannot remember a nastier time.  In our lifetimes we’ve witnessed an almost foosballtotal degeneration in the fabric of public discourse.  Americans used to be known as polite, annoyingly cheerful people.  No more.  We’ve sunk into a nation of contentious, sniping pin balls slinging insults back and forth indiscriminately.  I find it alarming.

These sharp lines of demarcation didn’t materialize out of thin air.  Think about it.  Facebook tailors our feeds with things we like to read.  Private news channels spin their own versions of the truth, which we like to hear.  We hang with people we find comfortable.  The result is an uninformed, uneducated public who only know one point of view.  Add a few rants here and there, and rhetoric bounces unpredictably, totally out of control.

But who mans the handles in our foosball game of life?  Remember, the enemy isn’t the person with an opposing point of view.  A common enemy plays us like a pro.  Lest we perish in riots flamed by uninformed passion, every citizen must find it incumbent upon himself to level the playing field.  Speak temperately.  Exercise prudence.  Be circumspect.  Stop reacting.  Find a way to be an example of courtesy.  Put control of the nation back into the hands of rational, caring Americans who decide not to be human foosball pieces in someone else’s game.  Let’s play a game where we call the shots.


When Retirement Isn’t Retirement

One of the pleasures of retirement lies in enjoying friends through an extended and delightful lunch on a Friday afternoon.  Of course, none of us consider ourselves retired.  Larry manages rentals.  Bill manages too many acres.  Debbie and I own small businesses.  Here’s the thing:  Every retired person needs a side gig.

Why, you ask?

  • Who couldn’t use a designated stash of mad money for travel?
  • Who actually enjoys living on a strict budget of just Social Security?
  • Who needs to pique the brain with stimulating interests?

I think I just described 99.9% of all seniors.  Boomers, think about the tax deductions if nothing else!  If you simply cannot fathom yourself in a side gig, comment below and let’s email back and forth.  I’m full of ideas.

Friends who know me will affirm this truth:  I am a serial entrepreneur, and at various seasons in my life I dabbled in several age-appropriate side gigs.  When the boys were young and being home schooled, I wrote a monthly home school magazine and earned side money as a freelance graphic designer publishing corporate newsletters.  When I owned a flourishing bead business and traveled to trade shows across the country, I also enjoyed a travel business.  Each served me well.  Each earned some money, but mostly  I found them immensely rewarding.  I haven’t changed.  Right now I sell a fabulous affordable skincare line, and am positioning myself as a blogger.  Writing brings me full circle to how I started, and since I think better with a pen in hand, it suits me.  Writing brings my soul to water and refreshes me.

Find friends who share your interests and live life more fully, with grace and gusto.  Retirement isn’t retirement.  Not really.  Hopefully not ever.