Good Health Can Be Icky

Once again, it is not even summer yet and I am already whining about the weather. Last year, we had a rather mild summer season and a refreshingly chilly winter. I was fairly sure that felicitous set of circumstances was not going to last. It has not.

This summer promises to be icky, sticky, ugly, and muggly. Meteorologists warn us that the season will be even hotter than it is most years. Living in central Florida will be more uncomfortable than living in Satan’s sinus cavities. The Farmers’ Almanac predicts a hurricane season that will huff and puff and blow our houses down. It all promises to be depressive and oppressive this year.

Typically, Florida boasts about 149 months a year of summer, give or take 3.7 months. When I first investigated Florida weather when planning a trip to Disney World, I read that “hurricane season” was considered from June through September. When I actually moved to Florida, I learned that I had been misinformed. Summer runs from May 1st through November 15th. Hurricane season is June 1st through October 31st. This may seem like an exaggeration, but this alarming duration is quite possible in Florida.

I get Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer, the way some people get depressed in the winter when they do not see the sun for months at a time. For me, it is the sheer weight of the air fraught with humidity, the temperatures consistent with the idea that the world has a fever, the thunderstorms that suggest World War I is still raging, and the complete inability to plan or rely on trips out of the house because of rain. It is not uncommon to have to postpone fun trips to even indoor locations because the rain decreases driving visibility to about the distance from the tip of my nose to the point of my chin. Driving in Florida thunderstorms is a little like playing Blind Man’s Bluff going fifty miles an hour. Not the smartest idea.

The worst thing for me, though, is the sweat. I live with a perpetual layer of sticky all over my body from May to November. They say horses sweat, gentlemen perspire, and ladies glow. This lady does not glow. Glowing does not involve hair matted down with an overapplication of the natural hair gel known as perspiration. Glowing does not involve the inability to cross the room without stopping for a hydration break. Glowing does not involve multiple applications of deodorant a day. The last I heard, people who glow are not testy, cranky, and exhausted. Given the content of that last sentence, I am sure you agree that I am certainly not glowing. What I am is testy, cranky, and exhausted.

My sweet friend Kathleen has a different take on the muggy, sticky perspiration. I must agree that Kathleen does glow. It might be an evolutionary accommodation. She grew up in Florida. She tells me that sweating is good for me. The sweating process removes toxins from the body and is a key to good health. It is like exfoliating on the inside. I am willing to take her word for it. I do not need an annual demonstration. Especially when that demonstration apparently does not take my mood into consideration. Sweating might be terrific for my body, but it clearly does nothing good for my mental health. And for the record, I never heard anyone make a New Year’s resolution to sweat more.

Maybe my summer weather rant is out of my system. Considering we have about another 148 months of summer, I doubt it. Yes, I know I am being over-dramatic. I know I will not really burst into flames or drowned in my own secretions. I am going to try not to complain any more. Instead, I praise and thank God for air conditioning.

Heavy, all-consuming, suffocated, lethargic, exhausted sigh……

Please send popsicles!

What is the weather like where you are? Do you look forward to sunny skies and days by the beach or do you count the days until you will next feel a cool breeze?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a cool day!

Terri/Dorry 😊


I had an experience a couple of months ago that I’ve debated whether to share. It was extremely personal and emotional, which is one reason I contemplated not telling the world (or the tiny sliver of the world that actually reads my blog) about it. This is probably a fascinating disclosure to those of you who are regular readers, given that I frequently spill the tea about other personal and emotional experiences in my life.  You might be thinking, “what in heaven’s name does this woman NOT share?” Truthfully, there is a line. There are numerous episodes of my emotional life that I choose to keep private.

Still, the more compelling reason that I debated sharing my recent experience has less to do with the intimacy of it and more to do with my own sense of self. When I choose to share with you all, I do so because I think other people will relate to the experience. Also, I believe the experience reflects something authentic and genuine about who I am. The recent experience with which I have been wrestling speaks to a piece of me that I did not know was there. I find myself wondering if it really does reflect something that is authentic and genuine about who I am. If it does reflect a true piece of me, I am uncomfortable that it  exists… and that it has been part of me for over 40 years. I am certain that sharing this story will give pause to people who know me in real life. It is such a “not Terri” moment. Also, as far as relatability, I think this one might fall under the heading of “Terri is a psycho” rather than “I understand exactly what she means.”

Ultimately, I decided to share this… maybe for no better reason than I feel like it is stuck in the writing part of my spirit. I need to download it. Maybe because Iknow that this experience truly does reflect some part of me that I’ve denied and hidden for many years. If I feel it, it is part of who I am. Maybe I need to acknowledge the “psycho” and accept her in order to fully embrace the benefit of the experience.

So… here goes!

You may remember that a year or so ago, I worked through some old, painful memories and misunderstandings of myself. I took the fun house mirror that distorted the way I saw myself and broke it into a million pieces. At least, that is what I thought I did. This was the 2023 Lenten miracle-  A Lenten Miracle – Terri LaBonte- Reinventing Myself in Retirement  I felt liberated from 40 years of hurt.

It turned out that I did not break the mirror into a million pieces. I simply cracked it. This past Lent, I found some of the old feelings returning after nearly a year of freedom. It perplexed me. What I discovered is that I dealt with the source experiences quite effectively in 2023, but there were still so many regrets about the life I could have had during the 40+ years I allowed those experiences to define me. It is hard to resolve regret. One cannot travel back in time and start a chapter over again with an untainted, better-informed perspective. As I have aged, I have less opportunities to “try again” in the present. There are biological and practical limitations.

In speaking to my life coach about regrets, he suggested that regret usually has one of two origins- guilt or anger. He pointed out that the origin of my regret was probably not guilt. The episodes that distorted my understanding of myself and limited the possibilities I saw for myself were not of my design. He let that sink in for a moment. Finally, I finished the thought. “I’m angry,” I said… tentatively, at first. I let my mind and heart explore that statement to see if it felt genuine. I said it a couple more times, emotion and conviction growing each time. Suddenly, I was absolutely, viscerally, completely positive of something that I denied 40 years ago and had been denying ever since- I was angry. I felt shame about the anger because it felt less “good” and less “Christian” than I want to be, but I could no longer deny that it existed. It had breached the wall of my psyche with a vengeance. I was furious in 3D, high definition, technicolor, and surround sound!

Once I reached the realization that I was angry, I wondered what I was supposed to do with that anger lo these many years after the fact. I pondered this aloud with my life coach. The same idea occurred to each of us almost at the same time. “Maybe I need a rage room,” I half-joked. My life coach replied that he had been just about to suggest the same thing. Before I had a chance to dismiss the idea, he was googling “rage rooms in central Florida” on his computer in Portugal. Through this wonder of modern technology, he discovered a couple of options and encouraged me to look into them.

After our conversation, I visited and revisited the websites for the various rage rooms within driving distance. It took me a few days of dithering, but I finally decided to reserve my appointment with a baseball bat. The rage room I chose gave the option of a 10-minute session or a 20-minute session. I was not sure I had the physical stamina to smash things for 20 minutes straight, so I initially chose the 10-minute option. However, before completing the reservation, I decided that I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. I went full-on medieval and booked the 20-minute session about a week later.

In the days leading up to the appointment, I vacillated between nervousness and elation. I was excited, yet fearful, to release my inner beast. I considered whether to invite someone to go along with me. I thought it might feel supportive to have a companion. On the other hand, it might make me feel inhibited. I decided that this experience should be personal and all mine. Sharing it with anyone just did not feel right in my gut. I created a play list of hokey, cliché empowerment anthems to blast during my session.

Finally, my date with destruction came. I found my way to the little industrial park studio in Orlando and entered the facility. The attendant had me suit up in a hard hat, goggles, and safety shield. He led me to a small cement room fitted out with an old television set, a couple of old tires, about twenty pieces of glassware, and a set of old dishes. He showed me the  bin of weapons… excuse me, tools. I had all kinds of lovely iron and wooden implements of mayhem. The attendant paired my cell phone to a blasting Bluetooth speaker. The whole building could hear Gloria Gaynor insisting that she (and I) would survive. Finally, he took my picture for me and let me start smashing.

Something definitely came over me. I had been concerned that I would feel silly and would have trouble engaging. Not a problem. I immediately started smashing with abandon. I began by throwing glasses to the floor. I pounded everything- dishes, glasses, television, tires, even my feet. As I danced my way around the room, I want to say that I had heavy feet, but that sounds like I had to drag them around the space. It is more accurate to say that I had powerful feet. They rhythmically propelled me to the beat of the music with force, strength, and purpose. I tried just about every tool in the bin. I belted out song lyrics along with Billy Joel, Twisted Sister, Missing Persons, and, of course, Gloria. When I finished smashing everything, I attacked the broken pieces on the floor until I had pulverized them into dust. I need not have worried about being too physically weak to smash things for 20 minutes straight. The attendant had to come drag me out after 30 minutes.

When I finished, I was panting, sweaty, and shaking. I had no idea that I had so much power and destructive energy within me. I took a selfie after I discarded my safety gear. I didn’t even look like the same person. The expression on my face was somewhere between “seething rage” and “hungover.” I left the smash studio and got into my car, but I did not feel safe driving. There was a jubilation- a sense of victorious triumph- running through me. It was such an adrenaline surge that I could actually feel my body chemistry changing. At the same time, I had scared myself. It was terrifying and disorienting to realize the sheer enormity of this rage within me. It made me wonder what I was capable of and how I could control this potentially devastating emotion. As I waited for the physical reaction to wane, I began to cry. I felt so strong and so powerful, but also so spent. I texted pictures to my life coach. I think he only half-believed that I would go through with it, and I wanted to show him the evidence.

Finally, I felt calm enough to operate a vehicle. I drove home and told Max about the experience. Max does not necessarily understand the intensity and all-encompassing nature of my emotions, but he is always supportive. He rejoiced with me that the experience was so valuable. I think he might have checked my car just to make sure I had not brought back any implements of destruction with me. He might have slept with one eye open that night. The rage had absolutely nothing to do with him, but, given my reaction, he could not be faulted if he were a little bit wary.

I had a bit of a crash and burn the next day or two. I felt washed out and limp. My whole body ached. This was hardly surprising when I considered the demanding physical work it had done- both in destroying stuff for 30 minutes straight and feeling emotions that my brain denied for over 40 years straight. Once I stabilized, though, my satisfaction and elation about the experience returned.

I processed the rage room experience more fully when next I met with my life coach. He asked if  I got everything from it that I wanted. I unreservedly agreed that I had. He was excited for me that it had been so effective. Then he asked me if I thought it was an experience that I would want to repeat. I thought for a moment and then answered no. There is no reason for me to repeat it. I am unmaddened.

Me, at lunch before the rage room- a perfectly ordinary, mild-mannered retired woman
Suited up and ready to smash!
A hint of the destruction I wrought
In case you had any doubt about the fate of the television
The extremely disturbing and wildly embarrassing “after” experience

So, am I psycho? Have you ever been to a rage room, or would you like to visit one? How do you acknowledge and drain off anger? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a smashing day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Reflections In The Desert

I said in my last post that the trip to Las Vegas provided an opportunity for me to shed my default perceptions about myself and explore some new possibilities. Or, at least, I said something like that. The world around me in Las Vegas was so dramatically different from where I routinely live, my pre-programmed brain pathways went all wackadoodle. Because I was unable to rely on those pre-programmed thought processes, my brain had to figure out whole new ways of thinking about the world and about myself. The trip was another dramatic and somewhat disconcerting episode in the “I have turned into a completely different person” saga I have been living the last couple of years. I have become so extra. I was weird before, but now I’m even weirder- but I am largely unabashed about it now.

It all started on the plane ride. I was sitting between Max and a strange guy. When I say “strange,” I mean “unknown to me” as opposed to “odd” or “sketchy.” Even though he wasn’t odd or sketchy, I was still anxiety-ridden. My biggest fear is being trapped in the middle seat of an airplane with a chatty stranger sitting practically in my lap for four and a half hours. Usually, I employ whatever strategies I can concoct to ward off people like this, especially men. That was my initial reaction this time, too. I soon realized I was using way more energy to resist the attempts to engage that I would use if I just allowed the conversation to unfold and trust myself to cope with it. I changed tactics. I answered his questions and asked some questions of him… just like a normal human being. I realized that this man was purposely engaging with me to chat rather than avoiding contact with me because I am so repulsive and off-putting. Recognizing that truth made it much easier to go with the flow.

Later that evening, we went to a Neil Diamond tribute show. We had excellent seats, and it was a small venue. The performer seemed to be singing right to me. Normally, I would have felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. I would have tried to shrink into my seat. This time, though, I leaned into the moment. I smiled and let my body move in time to the music. I enjoyed the attention… or, at least, my perception of attention. Either way, I had a great time.

The next evening, we went to a Bee Gees tribute show. We had great seats, but this was a larger venue and I doubt the singers were identifying too many individual audience members. At one point early in the show, the performer playing Robin Gibb interacted with the crowd to learn how far people had traveled to see the show. The winners were a table of 6 or 7 Brazilians at the back of the theater. That point was going to become more important later in the show. Towards the end of the concert, the performer playing Maurice Gibb began exhorting people in the audience to come up to an area at the foot of the stage to dance. He ran over to that space, which he dubbed “Club Mo.” The band began playing “You Should Be Dancing.”

I initially experienced a brief rush of desire to go join Club Mo. It was a faint stabbing somewhere below and to the right of my stomach. It might have hit me on one side of my large intestine. My reaction to that impulse was fear and horror at my own audacity. At any rate, I immediately squelched the idea because it “isn’t something I do.”  The table of Brazilians immediately sauntered over to Club Mo. Really, they danced their way over, moving gracefully and rhythmically from the far corner of the room all the way to the front. Their movements resembled a combination of a conga line and a carefully choreographed ballet sequence. A few other people hesitantly got up to dance under the neon “Club Mo” sign at the front of the showroom.

My squelched desire to join the dance brigade unsquelched itself. I had an absolute compulsion to get up and enter the Bee Gees mosh pit. I wanted to join the dancer brigade but was worried that it would look weird. That scary stuff ran through my mind in about a nanosecond. On instinct and self-acceptance, I rose from my seat to join the Club Mo dancing. I’d say there were about thirty of us dancing at the front of the showroom. The Brazilians made me feel super welcome. Every time I turned away from their little group, one of them would tap me on the shoulder to rejoin their circle. Max was grinning and pumping his fist at me. There was no alcohol involved in this little episode, but the whole thing was such a rush. And so unlike me.

The next day, I noticed some pretty bracelets in a store. They had various versions of the same bracelet, with different words engraved on them. They highlighted different words- “thankful,” “courageous,” “faithful,” “strong,” etc. I was trying to pick between them. I felt drawn to “happiness,” but kept redirecting myself to one of the more virtuous ones. I had it narrowed down to “faithful” or “thankful,” but part of me still nagged to opt for “happiness.” I finally realized I genuinely wanted the “happiness” one, so I bought it.

On the plane ride home, I realized what a metaphor that bracelet dilemma was for my life. I’ve never felt I was simply entitled to happiness. The only way I thought I might be deserving of some glimpse of happiness was if I earned it by being good. Of course, being virtuous does not mean I am going to be happy. And I do not have to be virtuous to merit happiness. I do get a lot of satisfaction from trying to manifest the virtuous attributes engraved on those bracelets, but those virtuous attributes are not, on their own, some sort of happiness-attracting talisman. When I started thinking through all this, I started to cry… mostly because it felt so good to realize this is a “depths of my soul” kind of way , but also because I was sad for the me of the past who didn’t understand it.

So, you see… travel, even to one of the most artificial cities in the world, does expand the open mind and authentic spirit. The reflective life in Las Vegas may not look like what most people think of as a spiritual retreat in the desert… but that doesn’t mean it can’t be one!

What weird place have you discovered some profound truths about yourself? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a happiness day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

We all deserve happiness!

Sin City

Recently, I went on vacation to Las Vegas. Many people who know me are baffled at my repeated trips to Sin City for leisure activity. I agree it does seem incongruous on the face of it, especially for people who are not familiar with Las Vegas. There is plenty of extravagant, in-your-face sin opportunities. I would never walk the streets, especially after about 4:00pm, with children. There is too much confusing and bizarre behavior that would certainly lead to conversations I don’t think anybody really wants to have. For adults, though, it is relatively easy for me to ignore the weirdness. I do not even have to try that hard. In fact, I often walk right by tantalizing occasions of sin without even noticing them. Most of the sinsational opportunities don’t interest me. They tend to land on my frontal lobe as “icky.” They do not even sound fun. I might come uncomfortably close to greed and envy now and again, but the more corporal temptations just don’t float my boat.

So if I don’t go to Las Vegas for the sin, what is the attraction? Why do I go? I recently tried to explain this to a friend of mine.

The biggest draw for me is the eye candy. The level of color and sparkle and beautiful décor in the big Las Vegas hotels and casinos is fabulous. Also, many of the hotels have “loss leader” attractions to bring gamblers through their doors (as opposed to the hundred or so other doors that also lead to slot machines and table games.) For instance, Caesar’s Palace has an indoor shopping mall that makes you feel like you are roaming through ancient Rome under a starry Tuscan sky. The shops are all high end, “museum shopping” kind of places. I doubt many of the tourists strolling under said starry Tuscan sky are spending much in those shops. I doubt any of those stores actually make money, but it does not matter. They are there simply to bring people into the property, hoping that those people might drop a few bucks into a slot machine while they are there. There is a phenomenol carousel with flower-covered horses positioned in the Wynn Hotel, just at the entrance to the casino. At the Venetian Hotel, you can take an actual gondola ride through a wonderful, if slightly smaller scale, recreation of the Piazza San Marco.

My very favorite example of this eye candy is the Conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel. The hotel horticulturalists create a new amazing fairy land each season in a space about the size of an airplane hangar. The difference is that the conservatory is light, airy, and uplifting. A hangar is designed to contain a plane. The conservatory is designed to let your spirit soar on wings of fantasy. There are flowers, sculptures, water features that dance over the heads of visitors, and talking trees. Whimsy is the order of the day. I remember I was there one Christmas season and they had floral-covered reindeer about the size of minivans tethered invisibly to the ceiling. On this last trip, the theme had to do with teapots. People have apartments smaller than the elaborately decorated teapots erected in the conservatory. It is hard to explain the experience of walking around the conservatory if you have not seen it in person. Even in person, it is hard for me to form words when I am there. I mostly wander around in a bliss-induced out-of-body experience with my mouth hanging open.

Food is another reason for my trips to Las Vegas. Gluttony is a sin, of course, but I don’t think I descend into the “gluttony” level… especially in light of the 8-9 miles of walking I do each day when I am there. In a lot of ways, I probably eat better when I am in Las Vegas because I do focus on savoring what I am eating. I eat two or three meals a day, with maybe one snack in between. But what meals! I had crab cakes and shrimp cocktail the first night we were there. I had dinner at one of those “celebrity chef” restaurants. I had the world’s best chicken at Ruth Chris Steakhouse, watching the lights of the Strip come on while I ate my dinner. I had In-And-Out Burger, something I only get when I am in California or Nevada. I had part of a Ghiradelli hot fudge sundae for dessert.  Breakfasts, also, were yummy. We rarely go out for breakfast in non-vacation mode. Having fluffy, vanilla-tinged pancakes accompanied with perfectly cooked, crisp bacon is indulgent!

Another lure to Las Vegas is the shows. There are some shows that fit the “ick” category. Many years ago, we went to one of those by accident. The hotel where we were staying threw the tickets in for free when we booked a lodging package. When we saw the show, I was appalled. It was not that I was so prudish. I just couldn’t understand why it was supposed to be entertaining. All it really involved was people strutting around in clothing that would not even qualify as “skimpy.” Truthfully, it might not have even qualified as “clothing.”

The kind of shows I enjoy in Las Vegas are of a different ilk. My idea of fun is behaving like a slightly rebellious teenager. We’ve gone to see tribute shows of the Beatles, Bee Gees, and Neil Diamond. I’ve screamed and clapped and sang along with the rest of the wild crowd of senior citizens. I’ve also seen Donny and Marie, Rod Stewart, and Barry Manilow. In addition to hearing some fantastic music and seeing great choreography, it was wonderful to let the energy of the shows infuse me.  It makes me feel alive and young. I think Rod Stewart is my new role model. When I saw him, he was 77 years old and could still kick his leg over his head. I can barely get up off the kneeler at church without help.

Finally, they say that travel expands the mind and the spirit. While Las Vegas might not be known as a catalyst for personal growth, the opportunity to escape my normal world in such a dramatic way does provide a different path within my brain. It forces me to think differently and see things differently because the normal, default pathways in my brain are so confused and out of kilter. This trip provided a textbook example of this phenomenon. Stay tuned for my next post for the evidence!

What are the important factors you consider when deciding where to go on vacation? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a mind-altering day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Discipline Of The Dolphins

A few months ago, I joined a book group discussing Celebration of Discipline: The Path To Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster. It has been a rich, thought-provoking, and challenging experience. Dr. Foster develops so many ideas and suggestions for spiritual development. I think all of us in the discussion group have been experiencing some “fireworks moments”- times when the uncontainable truth of the Holy Spirit explodes within us. There is a remarkable balance between resting and rejuvenating in the Christian practices we already embrace and challenging ourselves to find new ways- often uncomfortable ways- to move closer to God. Blessedly, we all have different core Christian disciplines that come naturally, and we all have ones that take more stretching to accomplish. As companions on the journey, we help each other.

I missed our last meeting. That meeting discussed chapter six- The Discipline Of Simplicity. I missed the meeting because I was vacationing in Las Vegas. Pause for a moment and let that statement really sink in. Yes, I was missing the meeting on the spiritual discipline of simplicity because I was wallowing in the world’s most “extra” city. The irony is not lost on me. I also have to say that I have a bougie propensity toward recreational shopping. I have way more stuff than anyone needs. I tend to drip pixie dust. It is probably not a good thing that I missed that particular meeting. Certainly, the discipline of simplicity is a challenge for me.

I discovered a vastly different take on the book’s next chapter- The Discipline of Solitude. I think this might be one of my most naturally integral spiritual disciplines. I read the chapter yesterday. I read the chapter yesterday during my annual day with the dolphins at Discovery Cove.

Yes, I studied and meditated and prayed about solitude- and its conjoined twin discipline of silence- at a theme park. As counter intuitive as that seems, it felt absolutely right.

For one thing, Discovery Cove is intentionally unlike other theme parks. They have limited admissions each day. There are no lines or gathered crowds of people. There are numerous little hideaway spots sheltered from main activity areas. The eating areas are spacious; tables are spread out with plenty of room between them. They built Discovery Cove with privacy in mind. It is completely surrounded by lush jungle type flora. That greenery provides a barrier from the bustle of Orlando tourism. You can’t see it and you can’t even hear it. Once entering the parking lot, you would never know you were across the street from Sea World and that you turned into the park from International Drive- home of the world’s largest gift shop, chain hotels and restaurants of every ilk, and the massive Orange County Convention Center. There is music playing, but the soundtrack is a gentle compilation of easy listening pop/rock tunes played on steel drums, with a side of ukelele. With the exception of the 30-minute dolphin interaction experience, all activities are solitary. Once admitted into the park, it would be easy to go the entire day without saying a word to anyone. Aside from the dolphin interaction, I do not think I said more than a “thank you” to another person all day long. I spoke more to animals. I spoke much more to God. I listened to God even more than that.

I began my day walking through the entire park. After giggling at the flamingos, feeding birds in the aviary, and wondering at the natural beauty of everything around me, I settled myself in for a ramble down the lazy river. One of the features of the river is a large cavern. The cavern has stalactites growing from the ceiling and there is a large open area at the apex of the structure. Looking up, you can see a canopy of tangled variegated green vines and branches with the sun weaving its way through the leaves. There are also open window type areas on one wall of the cavern. Looking out of those open areas, you can see a beautiful bay. Waterfalls streak the views out those window areas. It is quiet and serene in the cavern. Visitors sometimes wander through the cavern but do not linger. The allure of the seductive current of the river coaxes them onward.

I, however, purposely let myself gravitate towards a little alcove in the cavern and settled in for some time of meditation. As I looked up at the skylight feature, I showered in the sifted sunbeams. I let my mind sit in the knowledge that God created this beautiful world, and it is good. My first thoughts were of the nature around me- the water, the earth, the sky, the plants, and the animals. Just thinking about all that made my heart joyful and so grateful for the life I have. Then, something new hit me. A new thought bloomed in my mind. I am part of this creation. God created me. I am beautiful. And that is good.

I continued playing my way through the morning. I swam with the sting rays. I visited the marmosets on their secluded island. I played tag in the water with the otters, with only a plexiglass wall between their pool and mine. I gathered with my dolphin group to interact with Capricorn, Maui, and Titan. I ate a lot of junk food. When lunch time came, I was not too hungry. The hot soft pretzels, rice crispy treats, and other non-food foods were pretty filling. Still, I grabbed a piece of pizza and made my way to a secluded, shaded table in a distant corner of the restaurant patio. I brought out Dr. Foster’s book and read the chapter on solitude. As I read, I filled the margins with my reactions and thoughts. I prayed a little, challenging myself to open myself to whatever God has planned for me.

After lunch, I wandered back to the lazy river. Again, I found my alcove in the cavern. I spent forty minutes praying. I praised God again for His glory and the beauty of His creation. I named my blessings before God, humbled and grateful for all He has given me. I acknowledged areas of my life that I have held back from God. I looked hard at my soul and lay the broken pieces at God’s feet. I brought petitions for all the people in my life. I discussed my loved ones with Him. I discussed the people who have hurt me with Him. I discussed the people I have hurt with Him. I discussed people I do not even know with Him. We talked together about His power and compassion. We talked together about the great privilege He gives me when He allows me to help demonstrate that power and compassion. I reenlisted my commitment. I joyfully volunteered to be the object of His grace and a vessel of His love in the world.

So, yes, silence and solitude are achievable in a theme park. It was not even that difficult. Dr. Foster argues that silence and solitude are woven together. You cannot have true solitude without silence. Noise reminds us that we are not alone. Dr. Foster also hypothesized that silence and solitude are not dependent on where you are or who is around you. The absence of sound and people around you does not mean you have achieved silence and solitude. What is important is to empty your soul of sound and people for a time… and to give God the space to fill that emptiness. When you quiet the internal noise and reserve the essence of who you are for God alone, you will never be empty. God will fill that emptiness with what you need, even before you know you need it.

I spent the rest of my day in peaceful silence. I caught myself smiling a special kind of smile… the kind of smile you smile when you share a thought, a memory, a feeling with your most precious friend without even having to say a word. I was not at Discovery Cove alone. I was there with my God.

As my book group continues to study Celebration of Discipline, I may learn to practice many of the spiritual exercises that Dr. Foster suggests. I doubt very much, however, that I will celebrate any of them as much as I celebrate the Discipline of the Dolphins!

Have a disciplined day!

The Terri and Titan Mutual Admiration Society!

How do you find your alone time? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you may email me at

Church Lab- Sample C

More in the continuing saga of my Lenten pilgriming…

For my final church visit in Lent, I selected a United Methodist church in the next town north from me. I felt like I needed to change things up a little more dramatically. There is a United Methodist church right down the road from my Episcopal church, but I decided it would be better to go further afield in order to get a feel for a completely different culture. I think it was the wise decision, but, let me tell you… there is no growth in comfort and no comfort in growth!

I picked this particular church because their website seemed to feature many adult faith formation opportunities. Adult education is a passion of mine, so it was exciting to me to see a congregation so dialed in to congregational faith formation. Unfortunately, the website was somewhat vague and opaque about what these classes and events looked like and what they taught. I was interested to learn more, so decided to get up early one Sunday and attend their 8:00am service.

When I arrived at the church, I noticed a parking lot with about forty spaces in front of the church, with additional parking in the rear. There were plenty of spaces in the front. In fact, cars occupied only one or two of the spots. However, when I entered the lot, I noticed that every one of the forty spaces were designated as handicapped parking. Hmmm, I thought. This might tell me something about the congregation.

I parked in the back of the church and walked up to the front door. A gentleman standing there handed me a program. He looked at me and asked if I was new. When I replied that I was visiting, he perked up considerably. Straightening his whole body and projecting his voice vociferously across the twenty-five feet of narthex behind him, he called to someone standing at a little kiosk, “Marge! I have a newcomer!” Everyone standing in the narthex immediately turned to look. The man pointed to the lady at the kiosk, presumably Marge, placed his hand on my back, and propelled me to what turned out to be the greeter’s table. As I walked across the narthex towards Marge, the people parted to make a path for me. It all felt dramatic and almost ceremonial. One thing it was not was anonymous. If I had any hope of slinking in quietly and invisibly, it was dashed in that moment. Marge said hello and asked if I would like my free gift then or if I wanted her to keep it until after the service. When I said I would like to wait, she immediately pounced on the opportunity to commit me to meeting her after the service at her little kiosk.

Armed with the new understanding of my personal growth and bravery which I discovered during my first pilgriming trip, I pulled my psyche up by its bootstraps and entered the worship space. They had a slide show projecting announcements and upcoming events. I watched closely, hoping they would reveal a little more information about the mysterious faith formation opportunities. They did not.

When the minister stepped out onto the raised platform, he greeted everyone and asked any newcomers to stand up and introduce themselves. Heads all over the church swiveled in my direction. Since there were only about 40 or 50 people in the congregation and virtually all of them had been in the narthex to witness my very conspicuous entrance, everyone knew how to spot me. I wanted to climb under a pew, but I would not have fit. I hesitated a moment. I really did not want to be on public display. I know the intentions were good, but it felt extremely uncomfortable to me. As I took a nanosecond to process my discomfort, congregants started calling out- “Get up! It won’t hurt!,” “Here’s someone new!” and other exclamations meant to be welcoming. I did get up and quickly give my name and my town before sinking back into my seat like wet clay on a potter’s wheel. In that instance, I made a mental note- “Report back to the welcome committee at the church I currently attend- let’s NOT do this!”

When the service began, I noticed that this church was musically oriented as the Sample B church was. I enjoyed the singing, but I still missed the fellowship of communal spoken prayer. This was the least “liturgical” of my church samples- the service felt much less structured. It intrigued me that they read only 1.5 verses of Scripture as part of the service. I am accustomed to hearing an Old Testament or Acts of the Apostles reading, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel reading. The sermon didn’t align closely with my own spiritual biorhythm. It was not that I thought it unorthodox or unchristian or anything like that. It was simply a question of emphasis. The core of the message seemed to lean a little more towards humanism than felt right to me. It also enhanced my curiosity about what the various faith formation classes and groups actually teach.

During the passing of the peace, one lady came up to me to try to convince me to stay for Sunday School. She told me a little about her Sunday School group, but it did feel more “current event-y” and humanistic than the sort of faith formation for which my heart yearns. Besides, in that moment I realized I wanted to be at my church for the later service. The fact that my soul was again reflexively identifying the church I’ve attended for the past seven plus as my church seemed very telling.

I did reach out after the service to ask for more information about the faith formation opportunities. The minister responded quickly and warmly. If at some point, my current church again stops feeling like my church, I would be comfortable exploring their education opportunities further.

I felt a little bad for not continuing to engage with this United Methodist church because they were so obviously excited to have me. On the other hand, I have to say that one of the primary reasons I felt uncomfortable continuing to engage was… they were so obviously excited to have me. It was a good lesson in balance. It is important to be warm to visitors, but maybe it is even better to avoid boiling them alive!

Have you ever received a welcome somewhere that made you uncomfortable, even if the welcomers had the best of intentions? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a warm and welcoming day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Church Lab- Sample B

More in the continuing saga of my Lenten pilgriming…

I chose the second church I visited by accident. I thought I was choosing a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, but I got stuck in Google quicksand. In my zeal to learn as much as I could about the different denominations and churches, I got a little mixed up. I ended up choosing another Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. It was okay, though. I chose a Saturday evening contemporary service in The Villages. The service was a much different experience than the traditional Sunday morning service I experienced in my town the prior week.

To provide some context, I need to explain a little about The Villages. I have mentioned this place in past blogs. The Villages are a weird, almost supernatural phenomenon. It is the housing development that took over the world. It is a mammoth senior independent living facility of over thirty-two square miles. The population is over 80.000 people. The heart of The Villages is a system of residential neighborhoods for people over fifty-five, augmented by health care facilities, restaurants, bars (lots of bars), major shopping areas, entertainment venues, and every service a person could ever need. There are social and activity clubs to serve people of every interest- including being majorettes. Yes, I have seen them practicing in full regalia in the Target parking lot. You can access any place within The Villages by golf cart. Their road system involves a great many traffic circles. I have always thought that was an odd urban planning choice for a community intended for people who, by definition, have probably lost a lot of peripheral vision.

The Villages is the fastest growing city in the United States. They brand themselves as “America’s Hometown.” The way they are expanding, they might have to broaden the term beyond “America’s.”  We live about fifteen miles from the heart of The Villages, although that distance is shrinking as the town seeps ever southward. The Villages pretend they are a city unto themselves. In reality, their property spans across at least four different cities in three different counties.

This brings me to Sample B of my Church Lab experiment. I am not sure you would describe the church I attended in The Villages as a mega church, but it certainly seemed that way to me. I spent most of my church years in Roman Catholic churches, so I am familiar with large service attendance. However, after nearly eight years at my small Episcopal church, I am now more accustomed to moderate congregations of 100-150 people. The church I attended in The Villages pushed me out of that paradigm, for sure. This church has three separate campuses and a membership of over 4,000 people. They hold seven services each weekend. There had to be around four hundred people at the service I attended.

This service was much more casual. The minister wore a purple polo shirt and black pants. There was not a clerical collar or vestment to be seen. The hallmark of the service was singing. There was little spoken prayer, especially communal spoken prayer. When I entered the enveloping worship space, I asked an usher for a program or Order of Worship. He looked confused and said I should just follow along with the video screens. There were two MASSIVE screens hanging from the ceiling. As the service progressed, I saw why programs were not necessary. Mostly, the service involved just following the bouncing ball to sing worship songs along with the small, but powerful choir. The singing, for me, was rather restful, focusing, and meditative. I am not sure if that was the vibe they were going for, but it worked for me. I did miss the communal recitation of spoken prayer, though.

The minister preached a helpful sermon. The communion process was beautiful. Both the sermon and communion were similar to my church, with just a snippet more of a modern flair. I loved the communion distribution. Each communion station had a large one-piece ceramic vessel- a plate of hosts surrounding a cup of wine molded into the center. As I write about it, I can’t help thinking you will all visualize a chip and dip plate, which seems very irreverent. It did not strike me like that at the time. I guess there was a functional similarity between the communion vessel and a chip and dip plate, but the communion vessel was so much more elegant and transcendent. Don’t ask me how it was elegant and transcendent. It was just a vibe.

Because there were so many people, I had plenty of time to look around at the congregation. Something occurred to me that I would normally never notice. It still seems odd to me that it even registered to me. As a white, middle-class woman, I typically don’t have to notice stuff like this. People who look like me are usually in the majority. However, when I looked around the congregation at The Villages church, all I saw were people who all fit in one particular dynamic. Every single person was white. At the age of almost sixty-five, I was the youngest person there except for a couple of the singers. Knowing what I know of The Villages, I am pretty sure all the worshippers fell into an upper middle class economic status. I doubt there was anyone there who was very rich. I doubt there was anyone there who was poor or even lower middle class.

My own church is fairly homogenous. However, I have seen a shift in the eight years or so I have been attending. Younger people are popping in- at our recent Alpha program, we had 8 or 10 young men who showed up regularly. I see faces of color in the congregation. We have members with generational ties to my town and to my church. We have people who have only recently moved to the area. We have very wealthy people, and we have people who have to decide whether to pay the electric bill or the car insurance each month. Our congregation is becoming a blended family. It is a rich environment. It enriches me to be part of it.

As I was sitting in my car after the service… waiting for the parking lot to clear out… I was praying and meditating. Facebook recently decided that Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in God with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understand. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” is my very own Bible passage. If Facebook says it, it must be true, so I decided to contemplate that message. Considering that this Lent was a season of discovery for me… a season to look for where God wanted me to serve… Facebook did a pretty good job.

Something happened at that point. Now, I am not a mystical kind of person. I am intuitive, but I am also very, very practical. If I have a feeling or an impulse, I analyze it to shreds to figure out from whence it came. I tend to think that this “feeling” or “impulse” or “intuition” is the result of me observing and analyzing information so automatically that I don’t even realize I am doing it. That may be what happened in the parking lot at The Villages church. It may be that I simply wanted to see something to give me a direction. Or it may be that I had a bona fide vision. Whatever it was, it was powerful and compelling.

As I sat quietly in my car with my eyes closed thinking about Proverbs 3:5-6, I suddenly had an undeniable picture of what my church could be like. I know it was my church because I saw people I know sitting in the pews. I should say “sitting in the stands” because it was such a large space- almost an arena. They were people the people that I have noticed coming into our congregation in the past several years- the younger ones, the newly moved to the area, the non-Caucasian faces, those who struggle financially, brothers and sisters with varied backgrounds. I am close to these people. I can’t say they came to my church because I was there or because I invited them. I have come to know them since they started attending my church. God seemed to be telling me, though, that these people were there and thriving in their spiritual lives partly because of me… that I had behaved in a way towards them that reflected God’s love and acceptance. My initial takeaway was that God was showing me that I have had value in supporting His work in my current congregation.

The next takeaway might reflect the work that He still has for me to do where I am. I had such a sense that what I was seeing behind my eyelids was God’s vision for my church. God wants it to continue to grow in love and grace and fellowship. He wants it to be a haven for everyone who is searching for Him, in any way. He wants me to have a part in preserving the beauty I have seen grow in my congregation while also expanding to include some of the benefits of a large church. When you have a ton of people come to your church and contribute, it is easier and more efficient to use resources. You can usually offer more programs and ministries. You can hire more staff for pastoral care. You can reach out more to the community.

The “God’s vision” I saw was extraordinary. It was exciting. I don’t know if we will get there in my lifetime. That is up to God. I don’t know if we will ever get there at all. That is up to the people to strive for His vision. All I know is that God has something on the horizon for my church and for me. I guess I will stick around for a while.

Do you think I had a mystical vision? Or something more prosaic? Do you think it matters if it was a message directly from God or something I just made up out of my own little brain? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a visionary day!


Church Lab- Sample A

Last week, I mentioned that I explored services in three different churches this Lent. I started my experimentation because I wondered if it was time for me to leave my current church and move to a new congregation. What I found was that God had things to show me in each different church, but leaving my current congregation was not something He apparently needed me to see. Because I didn’t.

The first church I attended was an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America congregation. I visited their traditional Sunday morning service. I guess I started small in this journey because this service was probably as close as I could get to my current style of worship  in a non-Episcopal denomination. The liturgy, readings, and protocol seemed almost identical to what we do in the Episcopal congregation. It was interesting to me to note that, if anything, the liturgy was more formal and “high-churchy” than my experiences in Episcopal churches. However, the worship space itself was much plainer. It resembled a school auditorium with pews instead of folding chairs. There was little adornment.

There was one dramatic difference I noted almost immediately. This difference became a theme that I observed on all my visits. All denominations seem to have the Episcopalians beat when it comes to the comfort of the liturgical furniture. I settled comfortably into a pew upholstered in squishy velvet. It felt absolutely luxurious. The kneelers had padding that was easily twice as cushy as the kneelers in my church. When I went to receive communion, the beautifully embroidered cushions at the rail had to be at least ten inches thick. One can argue that congregants should not be quite this decadent and worldy in church. I’m not going to lie. I’m old. I loved the fact that nothing hurt when this liturgy ended.

The worship room was quite large, compared to my little old Episcopal church. However, there were only about 40 or 50 people worshipping in said room. That surprised me a little since our average Sunday attendance is almost two hundred people between our two services. The disconnect between the size of the room and the number of people sitting in it did emphasize an issue for me. More about that later.

When I entered the narthex of the church, I headed towards a little kiosk set up outside the entry to the worship space. There was a lady there to greet newcomers. She asked my name and made me a nametag. She did not tell me her name. Before I left her little booth to find a seat, I asked. She was certainly nice enough, but the balance of social power was a little out of whack. She knew stuff about me but did not offer anything in return. It was not a big deal, at all. It was just something that tingled me a little bit… sort of like that tiny little beginning of a sniffle you get that nags at you about an impending head cold. Or that little twinge of soreness right before a pimple erupts. Again, it was nothing major. It was just a good reminder of how such a small thing can while its way into a newcomer’s memory bank. Enough little whilers combined in there may impact the visitor perception of the community. Lesson one God had for me- make sure to be mindful and intentional in engaging visitors to the church.

The minister was loud. His volume was loud. His diction was loud. He used a lot of highly active, powerful, almost violent words- “thundered,” “lickety split,” “burned.” His energy was loud. He used his hands to talk… he also used the full length of his arms. This is where the empty space in the room really impacted me. It felt like the minister should be giving his sermon in an arena full of people to absorb the energy. I kept wanting to back up to make room for the charisma emanating from him. He gave an inspirational, thoughtful sermon. He made some interesting points that hit home for me. However, there is a question of balance and preference. Some people choose a church specifically for a dynamic, animated preacher. Of course, most people don’t want stuffy or dull. On the other hand, some of us are expert introverts. For us, it can feel like there is so much ministerial energy in a room that there is no room for Divine energy.

All in all, my experience with this service was good. I left feeling good, if a little exhausted by my efforts to corral the charisma from the pulpit. There is nothing wrong with having to work a little in your worship. I felt like I saw God at this church.

Through this experience, though, I think what God wanted to show me had little or nothing to do with this particular church or this particular liturgy. He wanted me to see something about myself and about my growth. God placed a rear-view mirror right in front of my face.

Not so long ago, I could never have experimented like this. I would not have been brave enough to even walk through the door. I might have made it as far as the parking lot, but there is no way I would have had the courage and self-worth to enter a place filled with strangers. My broken mind, damaged heart, and discombobulated gut would have told me that everyone would be looking at me and not wanting me there because… who would want me around? I felt I was nothing but a blight and a burden on anyone unlucky enough to encounter me. There were so many times in my life when I did not do things solely because of that mindset. I can absolutely remember times when I psyched myself up to engage in an unfamiliar environment or with new people, only to be completely paralyzed and unable to follow through at the last minute.

When I walked into this church, I was a little nervous, but I did not feel at all paralyzed. I entered the space as if I were allowed and deserved to be there. I felt like people would probably be happy to have me visit and engage with them- the same as I feel about visitors to my church. I did not feel like a burden or an intrusion. I felt it was more likely that the people would see me as a precious blessing than an unwelcome imposition by virtue of my very existence.

This was big news. Thank you, God. Thank you, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Message received.

Anybody else have any pivotal moments when you realized just how far you had come in personal growth? Please share your experience by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a precious day!

Terri/Dorry 😊


Often, during Lent, I embark on some sort of project that tends to focus me outward- some sort of special observance that involves service to others. Some of my times of greatest spiritual growth and satisfaction generated from those projects. Last year, I shared that God led me down a path of intensely personal, painful, and healing observance. I called it the Lentiest Lent That Ever Did Lent.

This year, I’ve combined the two perspectives.

I am bombarding Heaven with a continuous prayer for a specific family I know in Pennsylvania that has a specific need. Each day, often several times a day, I send prayers to God, asking for hope, faith, love, comfort, peace, and strength for them. I also pray for a miracle of turned  hearts so as to bring the family to a place of mutual support and collaboration for the benefit of them all- especially the little girl who is constrained by the circumstances around her. Every single time I pray, I add them to my petitions. I have pleaded with my whole community of friends and contacts to join me in prayer. We pray for them in church. My women’s group is praying for them. My Stephen Ministry cohort is praying for them. I’ve asked all my friends to keep them uplifted whenever they talk to God. Today, I ask you to pray for my Philadelphia fellowship.

Another big part of my Lenten observance this year has been visiting other churches. The idea of checking out other congregations to see how they invite, welcome, and connect visitors to their church family has been on my church’s Invite Committee to-do list for some time now. Additionally, I have been wrestling with some questions about whether or not God was calling me to stay with my current church. My experience with my current church has filled me with spiritual growth. I have found many opportunities to use the unique gifts God gave me to serve His people and give glory to His name. I passionately believe that my time in this congregation has been rewarding, nourishing, and fruitful.

I also passionately believe that God sometimes leads us down a specific path for a reason or a season, not necessarily for a lifetime. As a person who loves burrowing into a paradigm, especially when that paradigm includes interpersonal relationships, it is extremely difficult for me to even think about disentangling myself. However, the most important thing is not to root oneself in a specific congregation. The most important thing is to root oneself in serving God. If circumstances in my current church start to curtail if and how I can serve God in the way I feel He wants me to serve, maybe the season is changing for me.

I visited three different churches, with three diverse types of service. I tried to be as open as I could be about the experiences. As I emptied myself of preconceived thoughts about what those experiences might be like and what they might teach me, I made room to simply drink in what God had to show me in each place. I figured out that God had something specific to teach me in each new environment. It was a pretty amazing Lenten journey.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to share what I learned in each of my different worship experiences. I was talking to a friend the other day who exclaimed about what a personal God we serve. The journey I took was uniquely mine. It was God spending some dedicated quality time with a beloved child who needed a little extra attention and TLC. The process was not about the result. It was about the adventure. I realized that God was not suggesting that I move to a different congregation or denomination. He was simply suggesting that I needed to learn some specific things about myself and my relationship with Him that I could only learn by stepping out of the paradigm of my everyday world.

Has God ever taken you on your very own adventure with Him? What did you learn? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have an elevated day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Turtle Herding

Sometimes, weird things just happen, and it takes a hot minute to realize just how weird they are.

The other day, I was driving down Highland Lakes Boulevard to exit my community. Let me explain that the term “boulevard” is a bit ironic. The Boulevard is the main drag that runs through our subdivision- the main traffic artery for those of us living in my age-restricted 55+ plus community. Before we get too grandiose, let me point out that the maximum speed limit on the Boulevard is twenty-five miles per hour. It is one lane in each direction. The entire length of this super-highway to decrepitude is about 1.5 miles.

Anyway, I was driving on my way out of the community, when I noticed two cars in front of me, completely blocking the road. As I mentioned, there is one lane in each direction on the Boulevard. These motorists had created two lanes by expanding the road to include about half the sidewalk on the right side of the street. The two cars also blocked my line of sight, so I could not see what might be causing the delay. I tried to peer around the car parked halfway on the sidewalk, but my eyes apparently don’t see around right angles. I finally noticed the head of a petite elderly woman in the street in front of the two cars. I could only just see her small frame between the cars, shuffling across the street at about the speed that trees grow. I wondered why she had ever started walking across the street since it was clearly a super strenuous and stressful endeavor for her. I also wondered if I should get out of my car and see if she needed help, but I realized there were probably people in the two cars ahead of me who were in a much better position to evaluate the situation than I was.

Just as I was getting ready to open my car door, the lady reached the sidewalk. I saw the reason for her shuffling. Between her feet, as she perambulated onto the grass, was a small turtle. She was using her feet as lane bumpers to keep that turtle on course to get to the other side of the road. Of course, she could not cross the street any faster than the turtle could run. Since “turtle” and “run” are oxymoronic, it was taking quite some time. It turned out that the car on the side of the road belonged to the turtle herder. The other motorist stopped to provide a barrier to keep other cars from running over the lady or the turtle.

It is spring in central Florida, even if the calendar does not quite agree yet. The temperature and humidity are climbing. The pollen is piling. The growing season has started, especially amongst weeds. The alligators are bellowing in search of mates. And turtles are relocating to the next pond down the road. Here are my suggestions on how to survive springing:

Run the air conditioner. Just do it. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t possibly need air conditioning in March. You are not in Kansas anymore.

Take an allergy pill every day whether you need it or not. Trust me, if you don’t take one, you will need it.

Redefine success for your yard work. Consider it a victory if you spend 20-30 minutes a week in the early morning pulling the worst of the weeds and still have a pulse.

Stay well clear of alligators. They tend to get cranky when they aren’t getting any.

Look both ways for turtle herders!

What does Spring bring in your neck of the woods? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Happy Springing!

Terri/Dorry 😊