Life Reimagined: Part Two!


Setting Purposeful Goals

In August, I began exploring Life Reimagined, a program sponsored by AARP.  Friend for the Ride readers are invited to try it too, free of charge. Please do! Just follow this link.

I’ve had a wonderful time and learned so much about what I want in my years ahead. You can read my first post here.

You begin your work in Life Reimagined by coming up with a purpose statement. Here’s mine:


This purpose statement becomes your guiding light as you navigate all the activities their website offers.

In my first conversation with my life coach, Christine Ryan, we looked at my purpose statement together. At the close of the call, Christine encouraged me to focus on the very last word of my statement: “content.”

“Look at the activities that relate to contentment on the Life Reimagined site,” she told me. So I did.

The activities led me to this conclusion: Above all, I want to make strong strides toward better health. One activity I found especially helpful was on how to avoid getting stuck. Many of us know the getting stuck story when it comes to diet and exercise.


Two recent blood tests confirmed that my blood sugar is close to pre-diabetic. Yikes!

“I first ask my patients to stop drinking sugar,” my doctor said. “That’s where most of us go wrong.”

“I don’t drink sugary sodas or fruit drinks,” I told her. But then it hit me. I put too much sugar in my beloved Lipton’s tea. And I often drink four cups every morning.

Solution: Sugar cubes! I love dropping them into me tea, and now I know just how much sugar I’m using. (It’s a lot less messy than measuring too). My tea isn’t nearly as sweet, and I was surprised how quickly I got used to the lowered sweetness.


I’ve cut myself back to two cups a morning, which not only slows down the sugar but the caffeine. (More on my insomnia soon.)


I’m ramping up my walking. I love to walk, but sometimes, the day gets so full, I don’t get to it. New goal: Walk earlier in the day. With my new plan, many mornings in the last month, I’ve hit Hillsborough’s Riverwalk right after dawn.


I sometimes bring that second cup of tea with me, later hiding the empty mug in the grass. Trick is to remember to pick it up on the way home.


I never quite understood why so many people are into counting steps. I downloaded a step counter on my phone called “S Health,” and I love it. Here’s the report from a five mile river trek one morning.


I’ve taken in the morning mist in Gold Park (an extension of the Riverwalk).


The light through the trees.


And the new bridge that connects the Riverwalk to the historic Occoneechee Speedway.


Is this the wet squiggle of a snake?


When I come home, I’ve already hit my tea limit, so I’ve taken to making smoothies. I’ve never been deep into smoothies, mostly because I tire of washing the blender. But gosh are they good. This one features bananas and frozen berries with a splash of milk and a few ice cubes.


On to my insomnia. My friend Joanna told me that cutting out all alcohol has cured her insomnia.I seldom have more than two drinks,usually just one (except for Beach Week and a really fun wedding). But after talking to Joanna, I began to wonder: Could just one drink keep me from sleeping? So I am drinking only tiny bits of alcohol, if any at all.

We had dinner the other night at a favorite Hillsborough haunt, Radius Pizza, I asked for a mocktail made of seltzer. Yum!

My sleeping has improved dramatically. We’ll see what happens as time goes forward, but I’m encouraged.

In my second conversation with my coach Christine, we talked about my eating and fitness goals. “Small steps,” she said. “Success builds success builds success.”

Perhaps this is why attempts like these have failed me before. I want all or nothing. And I want it in an instant. So I keep repeating:

Success builds success builds success

Life Reimagined offers group coaching sessions too. I signed up for this one.

Setting Purposeful Goals

Our leader, Elissa Ashwood, talked about the difference between purposeful goals and performance goals. With purpose-driven goals, we’re accountable to something inside of ourselves. “Go back to your purpose statement,” she told us. “Purpose is the why, and it’s got to be bigger then the objections.” She laughed: “Your why has to be bigger than your but.”


I liked the group session and definitely got some takeaways. I even spoke up! I plan to sign up for more.

The Life Reimagined website features excellent articles, too. Here they are listed by topic.  This one, written by a grieving father, address purpose: How Purpose Saved My Life.

Another question I’ve been exploring through Life Reimagined is  what to do about my writing for children. My blogging and health writing are going well. The children’s book field is a tough one. I recently parted ways with my agent and am in search of a new one. Not an easy adventure.

My illustrator friend Wendy Wahman wrote me about my agent search: “Hang in, my talented, sensitive friend. It could be a long road. Make it one of the courses on your plate. De-intensify. You do other things, and your blog is great.”

Speaking of talent, here’s Wendy’s upcoming picture book, coming out March 2, 2017 from Boyds Mills Press.

You can read more about Wendy’s work here. 

Other writer friends have chimed in: “Keep writing for kids! You have a great voice.” My friend Margaret Nevinski just read my novel and gave me wonderful insights on the plot. I’m ready to revise.

Small steps to finding an agent, to writing, and to health!

I tell my Life Reimagined story to keep myself accountable to the changes I want to make. But I tell it too, to encourage you to give Life Reimagined a try. Once again, here’s the link! 



A Ladies Room Door Special: Chuy’s!



A few weeks ago, we went to visit daughter Laura and son-in-law Matt in Dallas. Laura always plans outings to a few of the city’s fabulous restaurants.

“Tell her my only request is to sit outside and eat unlimited chips and salsa,” Cliff said before we left.

Laura is expecting a baby girl, and women who are expecting aren’t eating outside this summer in Texas. The Zika virus has not hit Dallas yet, but pregnant women are warned not to expose themselves to the possibility of mosquito bites.

So Laura found bottomless chips inside this place: Chuy’s!

The second I stepped inside, the vibes instantly told me: LADIES ROOM DOORS. And I was right.

But first Elvis.


Look at the way cool floors. Wish I could have these in my new house:


A wall of dogs:


This lovely ancient lady:


Ah. He loved her for the wrong reasons:


On to the bathrooms.

A good sign of what I was soon to find. This festive sign:


And this one:




And a door! Lipstick!


For the gentlemen:

A second ladies room: (Chuy’s is a big restaurant.)

The men:20160805_181413

Chuy’s is Bathroom Door Heaven. And the chips are heavenly-lighter than most and quite flavorful. Cliff ate so many bowlfuls, he could barely eat his own tacos much less pine for mine.

“The next time we come, we’ll have the baby!” I said when we left.

I can’t wait to bring along a little girl to help me in my quest for ladies room doors. Now that would be heaven on Earth!

Stress Baking!



A post by Michelle Mosier. Love this concept. And who wouldn’t want to make a slam cake? Take it way, Michelle, and thank you:

When I am stressed I bake.  I just grab a bowl, a mixer, some ingredients that may hold together, and whirl away!

This coping tool emerged during the ‘Slam Dance’ era of the ’80’s on the occasion of a bad boyfriend’s birthday.  He wanted a chocolate cake with cookie dough. After a previous party night of said dancing with other girls, I decided to use this concept to create the confection. Warm out of the oven, the cake broke apart, so I slammed in some chocolate chip cookie dough.  I glopped on several spoons of canned vanilla frosting, each overly tinted with a multitude of food colorings. Next, I speared the gooey creation with random candles.  Happy Birthday…we’re done!  I let him light the candles himself.


Slam cakes were my thing for awhile, upon request…or not.  Baking cookies and muffins, cupcakes, or even preparing deviled eggs are a joyful release of stress.

During my stint as a retail associate, I baked, stirred and whirred aplenty.  Working in a giant mall environment alone, much less being the captive employee of a store, was enough to keep me mess making in the kitchen before going on shift.  Often, I stopped in to pick up a coffee from the guy on the corner kiosk. One day he spied my deviled eggs and asked with a little concern, “What are those?” My eggs sported sliced pimento olives. He thought I said ‘Devil Eyes.’ Thus, they became famed and a requested specialty item.

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However, I have baked some amazing cookies that continue to elude me to create again.  Belly Buttons, I called them after the way the dough puffed up and centered into a caramel pool of deliciousness.

 I never really know when the urge to stress bake will strike, like lately with my arduous job search.  I have been diligent with calls, interviews, and online psych/personality profile tests.This last bit sent me over the kitchen counter edge.  Cocoa, flour, sugar, eggs and lots of butter produced some yummy fudge cupcakes filled with vanilla frosting. Using a pastry tube seemed like a fun idea, until I tried it. Not so easy peasy. When I squeezed the tube, the icing filled the cupcake, sure, but then became string art topping. Still, I feel much better, and the squiggle cakes have been consumed with big cups of java.

Stress baking: I reach for a spatula and threaten stress just a little.

Michele writes about herself:

I graduated 1985, University of South Carolina, B.A. with a concentration in fine arts. I was a professional painter’s assistant, and painted on large acrylic canvases. Today, I enjoy painting garden flowers and landscapes in acrylics and watercolors. I have worked alongside my husband as a stained glass artist for the past 30 years. We sold our custom designed jewelry boxes, jewelry pieces, and mirrors to many arts and crafts galleries (mainly east coast), and juried art shows. Once, we premiered at Bloomingdales in NYC, this was a high point-however, hard to get paid. We still show at NC Crafts Gallery in Carrboro, NC.

We recently moved to Charlotte to be closer to my mom and sister, as I am in serious need of more gardening tips and less long distance hugs.

We have moved many times over our 30+ years, shifting and shuffling artwork, various collections, photos, and a few precious boxes of sentimental ephemera. This colorful baggage energizes my memories and the stories I tell myself and sometimes others! I still have my early childhood diaries and later journals. Also, I have one loosely written cowboy story, and some ‘story songs.’  I hope one day to attend some writer workshops and get better at this writing thing!

I love the outdoors, hiking, and camping at the beach and mountains. We camped a lot over the craft show years and sometimes, we joined a show just to explore a place.


Smokey the Bear: Menopause Gladness



The other day, when Cliff and I were furniture shopping, I studied the adorable young saleswoman helping us. She didn’t seem as lively as the last time we met with her. “Maybe she has cramps,” I said to myself. “Poor thing.”

Cramps are tricky because women are reluctant to announce they have them, and most women look just fine. No crutches or poison ivy splotches or sneezing to announce the malady. Megan just seemed what my friend Judy calls “droopy.”

When you’re finished having periods, you mostly forget about them. Every now and then, I think: wow, women all around me are still having periods. Then my mind floats back to the cramps I once had, the flooding incidents as menopause sunk in, the girlhood days of worrying about periods at the pool or beach. Phew. Been there. Done that.

And that brings me to my Smokey the Bear story.

We go to the North Carolina State Fair every near. I mean EVERY year (or Cliff gets droopy). But the most dramatic year was the year my cramps took me by surprise (about 2009 or so). I couldn’t get the pain med into me fast enough. I passed out right under the giant Smokey the Bear.

Cliff caught me and got me over to a nearby log. When I opened my eyes, I looked into his face and thought: He’s still such a cute man.

My cramps passed about twenty minutes later, which put me in a festive mood as we walked from the onion ring booth to the milking demonstration to the state’s largest pumpkin.

“That was so romantic,” I said a few times, my arm looped around his. “You caught me just like a man catches his leading lady in an old time movie.”

“Barbara, ” Cliff finally replied, “That was NOT romantic. I thought you’d had a stroke. For a few seconds, I was terrified  you were dead.”

That’s the good thing about cramps. They don’t kill you, but every time I see Smokey, I’m glad those days are over.

And I’m glad Cliff was scared that ALL MY DAYS might have been over. Shows he’s in this for the long haul.

I get why he was worried. While this close-to-menopausal woman didn’t look like a glamorous starlet fainting on the silver screen, I’m a heck of a lot of fun at the North Carolina State Fair.

For those of you who are finished, do you think about periods anymore? For those of you still having them, what do you look forward to the most when those days are over?

Speaking of periods, a friend sent me links to two articles about periods. This one discusses work policy and periods. The times they are a changin’. And this one debunks the idea that women who live together find their cycles synchronizing.