“And so the Story Goes On,” column for Aug. 25, 2015

When someone walks into your life, a story begins. Pay attention. Who knows where it will go or how it will end?

I was a transplanted Southerner trying to take root in California, married only six months when my new husband got his first job teaching and coaching at Monterey High.

It would take almost 10 years for him to move from basic math courses and lower-division sports to teaching physics and coaching varsity basketball. But he was never in a hurry, never in a rush to do anything, really, but his best. All that mattered, he said, was not the status of a job, but how well and how diligently he performed it. [Read more…]

“A Prayer for the First (and Every) Day of School,” column for Aug. 18, 2015

When my phone rang, I lit up like Christmas.

“Hey, school boy!” I said, “How was your first day of school?”

“You don’t have to call me ‘school boy’ any more, Nana,” Randy said. “I already went.”

“So you’re done forever?”

“No,” he said, “just for today!”

Did I mention he is brilliant? He’s barely 5 years old, and already he’s learned to take life one day at a time. Some of us take years to learn that lesson. Lots of us never learn it at all. [Read more…]

“Shining a Light in the Darkness of Fear,” column for Aug. 11, 2015

Few things are both as beautiful and terrifying as the flash of lightning and the roll of thunder.

I’m sitting at a window on a hillside overlooking Monterey Bay, watching a storm light up the night sky bright as day.

I wish you could see it. [Read more…]

“Farewell to a Trusted Old Friend,” column for Aug. 4, 2015

It was the only car I ever picked out and paid for on my own. I bought it not long after losing my first husband to cancer. There was nothing wrong with our old car. It just hauled too many memories.

So I bought a brand new 1999 Nissan Pathfinder.

I wish you could’ve seen it.

I mean, when it was new, before all the nicks, dings, dents and scratches it collected over the years. I’ve collected my share of those, too. [Read more…]

“Remembering the Boy, Who’s Now a Man,” column for July 28, 2015

His card will be late. I forgot to mail it. I forget lots of stuff. But I will always remember the boy. So I called him.

“Happy birthday!” I said. “I’m so glad you were born!”

He laughed at my “so glad you were born” tradition. I started it when my kids were little. Now they say it to me. [Read more…]

“Taking a Chance on Love … and Life,” column for July 21, 2015

Once, I went to a zoo to see the penguins. But my favorite thing of all turned out to be the bats.

This is a love story. I’ve told parts of it before. But stories are like love itself: They change and grow and deepen with time.

When I met him, I liked the blue of his eyes and the starch in his buttoned-down collar. But that was about it. He’d just been hired as an editor _ my editor _ at the paper where I worked. I hoped he’d be a good one. I never dreamed he would one day be my husband. [Read more…]

“Silencing the Guilt Monster”

Guilt. If it had a face, it would look a lot like the ax-waving monster that chased me through my nightmares as a child.

How dare you, it says, do the things you do or have the things you have, when others never get a chance to enjoy them?

It’s a hard question to answer, especially if you’re running from an ax. Often, I don’t try. I just keep running and feeling bad. But sometimes, on my better days, I arch my back and come up with an answer that stops the guilt monster in its tracks. [Read more…]

“The Gift of Being Human,” June 30, 2015

We all have a gift. We don’t go around bragging about it, unless it’s a gift for making people hate us. But we all do something a little better than most anyone else we know.

What about you? What’s your gift? What’s the thing you do that makes people smile and shake their heads in wonder? [Read more…]

“When Angels Dance,” column for June 23, 2015

What do you know about the day you were born? What’s the first sentence of the first chapter of the story of your life? Most of what I know about my birth (place, date, names, etc.) appears on my birth certificate.

Not the snowstorm. My dad told me about that. When he left the hospital after I was born, he said, he found his car buried in snow. It took hours to dig it out. He blamed me. When the angels heard I was born, he said, they were so happy they danced all the snow out of the clouds. [Read more…]

“Leaving It All on the Stage,” column for June 16, 2015

She came dancing out on stage looking like a woman who knows exactly who she is, in silver T-strap pumps and a neon-pink dress trimmed with a whole lot of sparkle and fringe that moved when she moved in all the right places.

I thought to myself, “I want that dress.” I might not wear it to church. But I’d definitely wear it on Saturday nights to stay home and watch TV. [Read more…]