Tomorrow, I turn 62 years old. It is my second birthday in the Land of Oblivion (otherwise known as the worldwide pandemic.)  I cannot really complain. Both birthdays have occurred in COVID “cautiously optimistic” periods. Last year, we were beginning to find ways out of lockdown and back into some semblance of life outside the home. This year, though I live in Florida, which the media portrays as a swamp of COVID infections having a rave party, the peak of the deadly delta variant cases is behind us. The numbers of new cases are still significant, but they have been declining by about 25,000 each week for the past several weeks.

I was able to celebrate my birthday at the Magic Kingdom last year. It was an oddly empty Magic Kingdom because of substantial capacity limits. Still, it was even more exciting than usual because of the deprivation of the previous five months. Also, I enjoyed being able to amble and genuinely see things that I might have missed in the past because of crowds and momentum. My expectations were extremely low that day. I frequently found myself marveling and giggling in delight over the creative ways that Disney adapted to social distancing requirements so that the magic was still there. It was just quieter magic. I’m never one to complain about quiet.

This year, we are going to Disney Springs for my birthday. As it happens, Walt Disney World is also celebrating a birthday this week. Disney World will be 50 years old on October 1, 2021…the day after my birthday. I toyed with the idea of going to one of the parks but decided the magic might be a little too loud for me right in the belly of the beast. I decided instead to buy myself a 50th anniversary magic band and have a nice dinner at the Springs.

Birthdays are big for me. Typically, I never put myself first. In fact, I put myself last. I don’t say this to sound like a saint or a martyr. I am not mad about it. In fact, it is a strategy that has worked well for me, for the most part. The problem is that when it doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work. I have some straight edge issues that tend to cut unbearably deep when my “put yourself last” strategy fails to hold them at bay. Right now, my brain is engaged in a battle royale about why this is so and what I can do about it. I do not intend to be mysterious. I am sure I will enlighten you further about the fascinating topic of the workings of my psyche in another blog post when I figure stuff out. For the time being, let us just say that I tend to put myself last in most situations and do not mind it.

My birthday is different, however. It is the one day of the year that I let it be all about me. In fact, I kind of insist it be all about me. I can be rather annoying about it. For many people, aging ceases to be a cause for celebration after retirement. I think growth is worth celebrating at any time. It has been critically important to me to continue to grow in retirement. Each year marks the completion of a twelve-month course on living life. I endeavor to read the textbooks, but also do the lab work so that I do feel like a birthday marks another year of a self-improvement. If I sometimes get a bit down over the aging process, I also celebrate my annual graduation to the next grade in the School of Life.

The other reason I value my yearly birthday celebration is even more important. Everyone is a unique person…” fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139 tells us. If I am not celebrating another year of age, I can at least celebrate the wonder of my creation and the exquisite elegance of God’s plan. Even on the days when I do not see any wonder in my specific creation, I hold fast to the knowledge that God does. When I celebrate me on my birthday, I am celebrating, thanking, and glorifying my amazing Creator.

How do you celebrate your birthday? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can send me an email at

Have a happy birthday or happy un-birthday, as the case may be!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

A Nice Cup Of Tea, Anyone?

I am not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, I am a cup of tea in a coffee-drinking world. And that’s okay.

The key to appreciating my oddi-tea is the willingness to play with me. This is ironic in that I did not learn how to play until I was well into adulthood. I was always a too serious, too responsible kid. I never intentionally went out to have fun. If I had fun, it was a pleasant byproduct of doing whatever was required or routine.

It was not until after my husband separated from me that I started to intentionally play. I would go to the beach and walk. I would go to amusement parks. I would craft Christmas presents for my employees. I would think up interesting and quirky themes for classes and meetings. I sang boldly (and incredibly unharmoniously) where no person had sung before. I played Toto in a skit for work comparing the three pillars of my agency’s business goals with the Wizard Of Oz. I had a Tinker Bell inspired Bippity-Boppity-Boo makeover. I have paid rather large quantities of cash to touch sloths, giraffes, rhinos, flamingos, dolphins, sting rays, elephants, skunks, tigers, and lions. I have acquired more stuffed animals, all appropriately named, than most children will see in a lifetime. At Christmas one year, I asked my brother to dig me up a large bucket of big rocks from his backyard as his present to me. Let me also say…I engaged in all of these activities without benefit of alcohol. I think that is pretty impressive, but not everyone aspires to be a four-year-old child in an elderly woman’s body.

This aspect of my personality is a bit of a disconnect for people do not know me well or who only knew me from my work persona. I am very introverted and can present myself as stodgy, timid, and ordinary. When I break open the shell, it can be a bit jarring to people around me. It is like the first time you see your grade schoolteacher in the supermarket or the first time you see your dad cry. It is just so unexpected; it seems a little suspicious.

Throughout my working career, I do not think anyone would have thought of me as an “outside the box thinker.” Most people would say that I have always been the poster child for conventionality. I would go to incredible lengths to make whatever round peg I encountered fit into the carved-in-cement square hole that existed because it always had. I remember one time when I was asked to evaluate a new process on the job. The man who oversaw implementing this new process (I’m looking at you, Geoff!) met with me to explain the goals and challenges of the new program. One of the points he made was that the computer I had was not powerful enough to do all the steps of the process. I thought for a moment and produced a radical work around that likely would NOT work around. He looked at me for a moment in disbelief and then suggested quietly, “or we could just get you a new computer.”  The idea that there might be a solution beyond the status quo was so foreign to me, I never considered the easiest answer. In those days, I found it better to stick with what I knew and make it “kinda sorta” work than to build a better mousetrap.

I am risk averse and underconfident. When the stakes of looking stupid or going off-script was the potential loss of my livelihood, I was the queen of coloring inside the lines. I did not even know that I wanted to color outside the lines. Even if I had wanted to, I do not think I would have had the faintest idea of how to begin. I was lucky enough to share friendship with several people who inspired me. I began to want to think bigger, and experiment more creatively than my normal persona allowed. It was scary to try new perspectives and activities in the tight-lipped, squinting bureaucratic world in which I worked. The seed was planted in my brain, though.

Once I retired and started recrafting my life to be more in line with my genuine self, I did start practicing with innovative ideas and new activities. I started the blog. I published two books. I produced a series of Alpha dinners for people exploring the Christian faith. I converted a curriculum designed for in-person presentation to a virtual environment. When my living did not depend on me getting everything right, it was amazing how liberating it was to “play” with new ideas.

The problem happens when I invite others to come out and play with my new ideas. Once people get to know me, I think some are tolerant and forgiving of my quirkiness. They may enjoy it. Some seem to react less positively. They view my perspective of the world as suspicious, threatening, and silly. I am okay with the “silly” part, but I put my back up over the “suspicious” and “threatening.” People can see who I am and what I propose as so revolutionary, it can feel a little threatening. I have sometimes been baffled and hurt when others try to tear down my ideas and suggestions. I cannot understand the reaction. I’ve always understood that not everyone will want to play in the sandbox with me. That is fine. What I do not understand is why people feel they must pour water in my sandbox in order to justify their desire not to play in the same way I am playing. I am okay with others playing in their own way in their own sandboxes. Often, I will join them for a time just to be sociable. It dismays me when they do not reciprocate.

I confess that, since I do not see myself as revolutionary at all, I sometimes do not manage the transition from “mild-mannered ordinary person” to “outside the box thinker” in a very graceful way.

I am learning how to set the stage, anticipate reactions, and manage the responses more effectively. I am trying to be better about acknowledging my quirks upfront and empathizing about how others will likely react. In the face of pushback, I am learning to pause and live in the discomfort of disagreement rather than to rush to convince, negotiate, or manipulate others into accepting my perspective. The biggest lesson in tea-drinking I am learning is that it is healthy to live in my own way and not allow the insecure reactions from others to make me insecure. Just because someone else thinks I am wrong in pursuing a certain course of action does not automatically mean that I am wrong in pursuing that course of action. Their reaction can be speaking much louder about how they feel about themselves than about the merits of my plans.  Or maybe they just don’t like tea.  That’s okay.  Coffee is a perfectly acceptable beverage of choice. 

Have you had the experience of feeling like you must defend yourself because your ideas are just a little off the beaten path?  How do you deal with that situation?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you may email me at

Have a total-tea wonderful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Living The Dream

I have a dream that has been recurring since I retired.  It is so vivid and realistic that I often awake in a confused, distressed state.  It takes me a minute to realize that it has been a dream and not reality.  I retired nearly seven years ago, but the dream keeps on coming several times a year.  I do not understand it.

I dream that I retired, as I did, in 2014.  However, in my dream, I decide to go back to my job shortly after retiring.  I have the sense that it is supposed to be a temporary thing.  It is not a financial decision.  I am not sure why I go back to work.  It does not feel like a completely voluntary thing.  I feel like I go back to the job because someone asked me to return “for a little while” to help with something.  The big problem is that I seem to forget that I am retired and, suddenly- months or years later- I realize I do not have to work anymore and forgot to retire again.

My feelings about the dream mystify me. Even typing these words sends a wave of terror surfing over my gut.  None of this, in the big scheme of things, is so terrible.  Say I really did go back to work for a “little while” and then kept working.  It could not have been that bad a situation because, if it was, how could I forget that I did not have to continue doing it?  All the same, the dread, grief, and fear associated with the dream are visceral.  I actually become a little sick to my stomach after the nights I dream of this scenario.

I do enjoy my retired life.  I feel liberated to be my most authentic self, warts and all.  Because I feel that liberty, I am free to acknowledge the weaker parts of myself (as well as to celebrate my own brand of joy in who I am).  What one can acknowledge, one can explore and change.  I believe I have grown more emotionally in the seven years since my retirement than in nearly any period of my life.  I am active physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I am gradually finding ways to express my creativity and pursue the activities that I really enjoyed in my old job.  There is certainly a deep fulfillment that I have found in retirement that I do not think I ever experienced.  It is not that I disliked my job or felt that my years of employment were wasted.  There were certainly aspects of my job that I found richly rewarding.  I believe my natural talents were well-used.  I learned a lot about nearly every aspect of life.  I met people who have been friends for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime.  I have no regrets.  Still, it is sort of like my work life was a long on-the-job training for the real work of my life- becoming the person God always intended me to be. 

I wish it had not taken so long for me to get to the place I am now, but it did.  I often think it would have been so much easier if I had been able to employ some of the skills and traits that have blossomed since retirement while I was still working.  My job was hard.  Objectively, my job was hard.  Subjectively, though, it was harder because of who I was and how I reacted to the world in which I worked.  For some reason, I never realized that I could change the way I reacted to the world in which I worked while I was working in it. Today, I think I have nurtured some of the skills that I had budding deep within me but that I never had the time or energy to cultivate while I was earning a living.  Maybe I’m just a slow learner.  Or maybe God just intended that I build my spirit and my relationship with Him at the speed that I have.  Whatever the answer, I am grateful for the building. 

So, going back to my dream… can anyone take a crack at what it means?  I think that, if I can figure out what is prompting me to have this recurring nightmare, I can get it to stop.  I have thought and thought.  Nothing I come up with quite rings the bell for me.  Maybe one of you can offer an explanation that will make sense. 

One of the principles I’ve tried to develop in my later life is to ask for help when I need it.  It occurred to me today that I can definitely use some help with this and that I have a perfect platform to ask for it.  So, I’m asking… what do you think my dream means?

Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a dreamy day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Encore Presentation- A Beam Of Love

I miss my mother every single day.  Lately, she has been even more in my mind than usual.  A few months ago, a dear friend passed away.  This friend was there to provide some “pinch hit” mothering when my own mother died.  As my friend wrestled with end stage Parkinson’s Disease, it felt like my beloved mother was slipping away from me again.  My mother’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago.  Tomorrow, she will have been dead for four years.  My grieving for my mother is amplified.  It is eating away at my spirit more viciously than usual.  On the other hand, even after all this time, the light of her joy, laughter, and love is the coziest comfort imaginable. 

Because of that succor, I thought I would re-publish a blog piece I posted soon after her death.  Those of you who knew my mom will understand and enjoy remembering her this way.  For those of you who didn’t know my mom, perhaps this re-publication will remind you that, in the worst of times, there can always be joy and love.

A Beam Of Love

In the wee hours of the morning on September 2, my mother found her way out of this life.  After over a year of struggling on her path towards the next life, she fell asleep.  When she awoke, I am sure she found herself in God’s dwelling place instead of in the nursing home.

All my mother’s life, she lived joyously and richly. She squeezed every drop of enjoyment and meaning out of every day.  She was almost always happy.  It wasn’t that her life was always wonderful or exciting or fun.  It wasn’t even that she had a particularly exotic or interesting life.  Most people would say that her life was pretty conventional. She was a daughter and a sister and an aunt and a wife and a career woman and a mother and a friend.   What made her so special was not so much what her life was, but how she lived it. 

My mother had a gift for satisfaction.  She collected fulfillment and meaning in her every action, even the most mundane experiences. When we were out driving somewhere and got off course, she’d often say, “I never get lost; I just have adventures.”  I think that pretty much summed up how she approached life, way beyond just how she approached a road trip. Wherever she was going in life and whatever she did, she was determined to find happiness and pleasure in the process.

She was the kind of person who attracted other people. She was an interesting and interested person.  She was curious about all kinds of things and embraced opportunities to learn.  She relished good, meaty conversations.  She was an excellent listener. She knew how to make people feel safe.  She heard what you said and what you didn’t say.  She heard what was underneath your words.  I don’t believe there was ever anyone who knew her who did not love her.  She constantly sowed love and harvested relationships as she rollicked through her day-to-day existence.  She valued those relationships and nurtured them.  Even in the nursing home in her very compromised state, she radiated a kindness and joy that attracted people. 

On the other hand, she followed her own heart in living her own life.  She did what she believed was right and followed the paths that brought her happiness. She used to say that she liked herself and she liked her own company.  She had a busy mind that was always tooling away happily, creating thought and considering possibilities.  I used to say she was her own occupational therapist because she could figure out alternate ways to do almost everything when her mobility started to desert her.   She owned a home computer before most people did and, even in her eighties, she embraced new technology that added interest to her life. 

She had courage of conviction.  She walked her life with God as her guide.  She held firm in her convictions and relied on her relationship with God to support her in her journey.  She believed in miracles and in prayer. 

She loved God.  She loved life. She loved other people.  She loved herself.  In short, she was a joyful beam of love, illuminating and warming everyone with whom she came in contact. 

Now this beam of love has faded into the next life, leaving this life darker and colder and considerably less sparkling.  The thought of going on with my journey without her physically by my side seems unconscionable.  Considering all the memories we shared, all the things she taught me, and all the gifts she gave me, it is inaccurate to say I will ever be traveling through this life without her.  All that she was is embedded in me and will be with me forever. I want to honor all she was and all that made her beam by carrying on her legacy of loving, joyful living.  

It seems that now I will have to grow towards the joy on my own, without her walking in tandem with me. I don’t know yet how I am going to do that.  It helps to know that she has found the greatest Joy of all. 

Madonna flowers at church on 8/22/21- would have been Mom’s 90th birthday.
Flowers from the altar on 8/22
Happy birthday in Heaven, Momma!