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Friday Night Lights: Back on the Field

Tom and I and our star.

Friday Night Lights – Evanston Township High School football, filled our calendar, our basement, and swept us away 20 years ago. Our son, Gabriel, #70, was the Center, that’s a position, not a mom’s bragging. I can’t really define that exact role but I always liked the sound of it.

After four years on the field, this 1997 season looked like the big one. Victory after victory, the wins kept coming. Each week the ranking got higher and soon they were ranked #4 in the nation by USA TODAY. Winning the state title felt like it was in the bag, but it didn’t happen.

USA TODAY 11/11/97

The sensational run ended abruptly during a snowfall at the last game of the season when no more victories came through and we all mournfully filed out of the stadium for the last time.

Tom and I stayed in touch with some of the players, they still came in and out of our home occasionally when passing through town. Most conversations still included at least some snippets about THAT fall when hope flooded the field and all dreams seemed possible.

Every autumn we said to each other, “let’s go back to a game” but we never did.

Until a few weeks ago.

The boys came back.  Twenty years had passed and it was time to gather again.

Our grandson looking out on the field where his dad played.

Like stepping into a time machine, we headed back to the field. Tents were set up and a long table of barbecue lined the perimeter. Player’s parents like us showed up but now also wives, girlfriends, and kids. A whole new crowd that wasn’t around back then but had heard all the stories of the season that blew everyone away.

We swelled with pride once again when the announcer proclaimed that this team’s record was still standing and invited them all out on the field for half time. Tears wet my face as my son picked up his son and strode out there with his teammates to thunderous applause.

I know football is under closer scrutiny now, for good reason. I also know the camaraderie, community, and common vision that fall impacted us all in ways we’ll never forget.

Thanks, ETHS Wildkits, for the chance to cheer again, one more time.

Hope for the best,



What Story Are You Walking Into?

Ironically, the evidence splayed all around on the pull-down diaper changer in the women’s bathroom of a well-known sandwich shop. Someone had taken a pregnancy test and fled, leaving a trail behind.

The result was negative, I didn’t have to do any snooping to see that. All the packaging and the testing tools were strewn around the surface.

I thought a lot about the mystery not-now-mom on my long drive home.

Was the negative result good news? Was she not ready for motherhood? Did her family feel full? Was this not a good time? Not a good relationship? Was she so excited she ran out without cleaning up?

Or, was it a sad result? Another loss? Hopes dashed? Bitter news? Was she so heartbroken she slipped out without picking up the pieces? Could she not face the result again?

Why was she doing this in a public place instead of home?

Either way, I longed to congratulate her or mourn with her. Obviously, a big event in her life that night.

So many stories all around us. So much hidden joy and unexpressed pain.  If only we could see, but then what would we do? How many stories can one hold?

I hoped someone was waiting for her outside that bathroom or in there with her. Someone who would know just how to respond with happy laughter or heartfelt compassion or maybe swoop her up and give her a hug. Some events shouldn’t be solo-runs.

Even for those of us who hold a lot of stories in our circles, we sometimes don’t hear ALL the stories. Some details are too fragile or vulnerable or not ready for sharing.

So, I said a prayer for her. And left everything as is. Maybe she was coming back in to scoop up the evidence or long gone. I did leave with a snippet of her story that I am passing on to you. Maybe one is unfolding around you at this moment too.

Look around, there are stories everywhere. Here is an excellent 4-minute video from the world renown Cleveland Clinic to illustrate this:

Hope for the best,



Month at the Beach (not what you think!)

Selfie at the beach on my “Little Mermaid” towel.

Yesterday I lugged my bulky beach bag about a mile and a half on foot to Lee Street Beach because I didn’t have the car. Last month or the one before or, in fact, any of the other eleven, I would have just kept working or found something else to do for a break like laundry. Not this month.

This August, I resolved to go to the beach every day before autumn came calling and so car or no car, I’m getting there. Monday, I rode my bike, harder to manage all the stuff.

My self-employed work load hasn’t eased up, in fact, I’m working more. Which means, I get up earlier or stay up later or bring my grandchildren along or whatever it takes to get my visit in.  I only stay a short while, enough to feel the sand, smell the water, read a chapter, take in the sights. I haven’t gone in the water yet.

My Local Beach

My husband, who has never had his own beach token, decided to get in on this too but can only manage to go occasionally, later in the day. Evanston tokens are half off now so I got him one, better late than never. Sitting at the beach the other evening after work seemed to put us in another realm. It was nice.

Not just “my” beach.

This is a new one for me, there are only a couple of items that go in the “every day” category and this one is just for the month.

I’m keeping this promise to myself, maybe it will propel me to keep a few more.

Like clear off my desk before I go to bed, think about dinner before 4:00, keep chocolate in the “occasional” category, write down the expenses. Or maybe even the harder ones like putting the phone down.

Sometimes, even for a Life Coach like me, it is hard to know the difference between a wish, an intention, a goal, a promise.  I do know deciding in advance makes it easier to stick with resolution in all areas of our life.

So, I’m going to the beach. Not like committing to the “Whole 30” or the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) Both never tried. Yet.

Cloudy Day

What have you committed to for a month? What would you like to?

Hope for the best,


10 Ways to Make Intentional Choices about Everyday Stuff (Part 2)*

Our summer plates.

Last Thursday I reminded you that Intentionality doesn’t mean you start a whole new set of behaviors.  Thank goodness!

All of  our to-do lists come with a few slots already filled in each day so just paying attention to the ordinary daily round is a fine place to start making some fresh choices.

Here are five more everyday areas to make intentional choices.

  1. Dinner.  So easy to get in a rut here with the same old chicken.  Most of us own a cookbook.  Looked at it lately?  Need a change-up in your dinner plates?  I like to change them throughout the week.  Could you try something new one in seven dinners?  Trade cooking with another family? Intentionality trumps dinner-dread.
  1. Exercise.  Most of us at least say we went to incorporate more movement.  Do you get bored?  I sure do.  Try mixing up your movement with a new class, different time of day, fresh venue like a new gym or running path or at minimum, change your music.  I find an exciting read on my Kindle keeps me on the treadmill.  A personal trainer can help you jump-start to a new level.  Super simple: wear a pedometer at all times.
  1. Reading.  I enjoy a few favorite authors and can slip into only reading from that small pool.  Deciding ahead of time to choose a new author or genre each season can open up all sorts of new perspectives.  Even a two familiar to one new author works.  Try a new-to-you author this summer and let me know what you read.
  1. Talking and listening.  You know the powerful experience of a conversation just taking off into a timeless zone?  Sorry, those generally can’t be scheduled but providing an opportunity to engage in a variety of topics can often open one of those doors. Resources like provide questions for getting started or just write your own. Check out 10 Ways to Start a Dinner Conversation
  1. Bedtime.  I did write a whole post on this if you want to check it out Do You Need a Bedtime Ritual? but since this event is a daily occurrence, you might want to make some new choices about your bedtime this season, your pile of books by the bed, your summer PJ’s, your bedtime prayers.

Feeling inspired?  Me too.  Gotta go find something new to make for dinner tonight!

Hope for the Best,


*adapted from previous post.

August: The Grand Finale!

August 1, save the best for last! The third act of summer is the grand finale. Instead of lamenting all the things you haven’t crossed off your list yet, start doing them today.

Use one of your many calendars to keep track of your daily “Summer Fun.” Trust me, you will be glad you did when September rolls around!

Need ideas for the next 34 days?

  • Read outside.
  • Flag down the ice cream truck.
  • Stick a beach or bag chair in the back of your car and use it.
  • Find one of the many summer concerts still going on this month.
  • Take a walk around your block before bed and look at the stars.
  • Eat outside once a day.
  • Put air in your bike tires and take off.
  • Visit a farmer’s market.
  • Throw back to the zoo or nature center just like when you were a kid.
  • Use one of the five weekends left in summer to get out of town.
  • Climb into the kiddie pool with your kids.
  • View a sunrise or sunset, both show up in your town every day!
  • Play a board game outside.
  • What would you add?

I know for many of you, the end of this month will bring back- to-school frenzy. It will probably feel that way regardless of how many pencils and rulers you stock-piled, and BTW, as my mom often reminded me:  there is always another sale.

My life coaching advice, if I may, is…Fill yourself up NOW with life-giving pursuits of summer to draw on in the crowded days ahead. Good self-care yields good other-care. Just like at the ATM, you have to put in so you can take out.

I’m choosing to stay in the moment, it is only August, 1/3 of the season we wait all year for still to enjoy. Join me?

Hope for the best,


10 Daily Opportunities to Make Intentional Choices (Part 1)*

Early Morning Tea Time

Stuck in some daily ruts?  Revising the ordinary day-to-day round  is a great way to create some Intentional choices about stuff we all do each day.

1.  Waking Up…we all do that!  Instead of setting the alarm to allow just enough time to get to work, how else would you like to use your morning?  Writing?  Praying? Walking? Browsing the paper?  Unless you have a little one, you get to choose the time you get up!

  1. Getting dressed. It’s easy to get into a uniform routine most mornings.  Most of us wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.  What else is in your closet? Can you take a minute the night before to choose what to wear the next day? What does your wardrobe need?
  1. Breakfast.  Are you a grab and go or drive thru breakfast-er?  Happy with that? Boiling eggs the night before saves time, oatmeal could be waiting in a crock pot, or a previously made frittata ready to re-heat to change-up the morning routine.  Best idea… take yourself out to breakfast.
  1. Work commute.  How much time are you in the car/on the train?  Have you considered taking a different route for variety?  Listening to an audio book?  Riding your bike?  Even a change once or twice a week can make a big difference.
  1. Lunch.  Can you share your lunch break with a friend?  Try take-out from a new place? Work on your novel? Stop by the gym? Work through and leave early one day a week?  Eat outside?

Summer table

All the above?  Yes you can!

Stop by next Thursday for Intentionality ideas for the next five items on your daily to-do list!

Hope for the Best,


*Modified from previous post

When the Patient becomes the Chaplain

The page came in early in my shift, please stop by and see the patient in room xx. I added the name to the long list for the day and wondered how urgent the request was.  In the hospitals I serve, most of them qualify for ASAP.

While doing rounds in this patient’s neighborhood, I popped in. Instead of a languishing patient in a bed, I was greeted by a robust looking guy in a chair, except for all the tubing attached to his body. He smiled and warmly greeted me and gave me the cliff notes version of his medical demise. I cringed inwardly and hoped it didn’t show on my face.

The patient, on the other hand, kept smiling while he filled me in on his job status (none) and a few other stressors; at least they would be for me. I’ve see patients and friends (and sometimes me) cave under a small percentage of what was on this guy’s plate.

Not him. “It’s only a couple of months of my life, I’ll get back out there” referring to the length of this medical interruption. “I’m not dying” he gently reminded me, “I’ve got a great family,” and then added “I have a lot to be thankful for.”

I’m still wondering why he asked for a visit but he answered that next. “Can you say a prayer for me chaplain? I’ve given this whole thing to God and I’m all right with him but thought someone like you saying a prayer would be nice.”

I did say a prayer as requested but I think the page was for me not him.

How many of my “crisis of the day” moments do I allow to cross the boundaries of the brackets they belong in? Most dire-to-us events fall under “it’s only a few days/weeks/months” but we/I allow them drain so much energy from the rest of life for a long time after.

Thanks for the reminder, patient. I wish he could have donned the pager and gone out to see some of the other members of my list that day.

I’m glad he got to be my chaplain.

Hope for the best,




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