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! 




Bravery and Impoliteness: What I Learn from Teaching Young Writers

Cookies on a Plate

A post by writer Margaret Nevinski:

“Who remembers where Isabel left off reading last week?” I ask, referring to a young writer’s story in progress during my Creative Writing Workshop.

Several young authors raise their hands. “When the giraffe escaped,” calls out an eight-year-old with perfect recall.

Which is just one of the reasons I love teaching young writers in mid-life. Who needs to write things down? All I have to do is ask an eight-year-old.

I’ve been teaching after-school and summer-camp writing workshops for more than a dozen years.

As my students stay the same age (8 to 12), and I somehow get older, the benefits of teaching the young keep accruing. What I see in my students are the things I want to keep in my own life.





Love of jokes.

An appreciation of the absurd.

The ability to draw, because they haven’t yet learned to say, “I can’t.”

Willingness to try out new ideas.



Don’t we want to teach children to be polite, kind, and compassionate?

Of course, and my students are all those things, most of the time.

But aren’t we adults a little too polite at times, especially we women who’ve been told for decades to be “nice?” Wouldn’t it be fun, just once, to grab that last cookie on the plate?

If I had to pick one trait I most admire in my young students, it’s bravery.

The bravery to create a story.

To fill the page with words.

To read aloud, for everyone to hear, a story they’ve just written.

I also teach writing to adults. When it’s time to share our work out loud, hands tend to stay firmly planted in laps, not darting up with enthusiasm. What happens to our kid-like bravery when we grow up?

So in mid-life, with the help of the young writers, I’m trying to cultivate bravery, energy, enthusiasm, humor.

And yes, impoliteness.

At least a tiny bit.

Just once, I want to reach for that last cookie, and oh it’ll taste so good.

Margaret Nevinski is the author of several children’s books for the school market, as well as published poems and short stories. Her young adult story, “The Eve of St. Agnes,”appeared in Hunger Mountain. Currently she’s working on a middle-grade novel. Margaret has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

She teaches writing and creativity workshops for children, teens, and adults. Her kid-friendly blog, Yellow Pencils, offers fun prompts for young writers.

Yellow Pencils

Margaret lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington with her husband. When she’s not writing, teaching, or reading, she loves to walk or bicycle around Bainbridge Island and in Seattle, with frequent stops for coffee. You can read more about her at


Yellow Pencil Banner: The art is by Alyssa L., age 11.

Margaret on Bainbridge Island: The photo was taken by Sue Hylen.