motivation, Life

Front Porch Sittin’

We got a little rain today. The first little bit in a couple weeks. It was a welcome sight as it cooled the temps off some and rinsed all the dust off my car. Bear and I sat outside on the porch watching the rain fall. He would dart out into it and run just as fast back under the cover of the porch. Me? I stayed under the cover, not willing to get wet.

And that’s basically how I’ve been living life for the past 40-something years. Safe on the porch. Dry. Boring. I like the sound of adventure, but I never get off the porch. I like watching the rain fall, but I don’t want to get wet. Why leave the comfort of my lawn chair?

Because life starts at the end of your comfort zone. -Neale Donald Walsch

Recently, I was talking to a couple friends about life. One is my age and the other is 17. Our perspectives are very different. We adults look back at life and wish we had done some stuff differently. The 17 year-old looks forward, with plans and goals and dreams of what she wants out of life. Are we wrong? Is she naive? No. Neither of those is true. 

My old friend mentioned something about picking your adventure and I immediately thought about those “choose your adventure” books we used to check out at the library when we were kids. You read a bit and then came to a choice. “If you choose to go out in the rain, go to page 21.” “If you choose to turn around and go back in the house, turn to page 35.” “If you choose to sit on the porch and watch it rain, the end. You’re done. Life has passed you by.”

I loved those books. If you made the wrong choice and your character ended up dead, you just went back to the page with the choices and chose another page. No harm, no foul. You made a mistake the first time, but it’s erased and you can make another choice and pretend that the other one never happened. That’s cheating, right? But wouldn’t life be so much better if it happened that way?

Maybe. But maybe not. If you could go back and erase all the mistakes you ever made, would you? I doubt it. Did they cause hurt and suffering? Undoubtedly so. Did you learn from them? Most of us did. The only things I would go back and change were the things I didn’t do. The places I didn’t go. The chances I didn’t take. Except for skydiving…I still probably wouldn’t go skydiving.


Everything That Has Been Stolen

Today was a milestone for me. 

It’s just a few days short of a year that I was in a car accident on the way home from a doctor appointment in Springfield. I stopped at a red light on highway 60 and the girl behind me did not. Her SUV plowed into me at 60 mph, and pushed me into the Jeep in front of me. My poor car was totaled. I watched in my rearview mirror as I saw her not stopping and thought the only thing I could do was hold my brake as hard as I could hoping to avoid the Jeep. I blacked out for a few seconds, maybe a minute, it’s hard to tell. I just remember waking to the smell and the dust from the airbag deploying. I immediately called my husband because I was angry and sure that I was going to need a ride home. When the paramedics arrived on scene, they took my vitals, but I refused treatment. I knew I was going to be sore, but my adrenaline was pumping so hard that I couldn’t feel any pain and there was no blood. If you’re not dying, bleeding, or crying, then keep going, right? (A month later I had some MRIs done when I had a stroke and it was determined that I had a small fracture in my back that was unrelated to the stroke and most likely occurred as a result of the accident. Moral of the story, never refuse treatment and always get checked out even if you aren’t dying, bleeding, or crying.) 

I returned to work the next day and carried on as normal as possible. I had a bruise on my hand and a knot on the back of my head. I was sore, but I physically pushed through because it was easier than finding a sub. I was now dealing with insurance and looking for a replacement for my beloved “Georgia”. I was terrified to drive in traffic or to be stopped at stoplights. I constantly looked in my rearview mirror. I refused to drive anywhere other than small towns.

That was hard for a girl who loved her road trips. That joy of the open road was stolen from me. I no longer enjoyed leaving my house.

A month to the day after the accident, I had a stroke. It wasn’t caused by the accident, but I do feel like the stress exacerbated the situation and was one of many factors that led to it. All strokes are different and the location of the stroke determines what is affected. My stroke was in the thalamus, which is the “relay station” of your brain. Everything except smell is processed through the thalamus and sent onto the appropriate brain center. The primary function of the thalamus is to relay motor and sensory signals to the cerebral cortex. It also regulates sleep, alertness, learning, and memory ( I had to learn how to walk, hold silverware, write my name…all the things. I frequently confused left/right, I tried to get out of my car without releasing the seatbelt. I cried over the weirdest things (I’ve never been a crier). Those things are getting a little better with time. I still don’t sleep well and struggle to focus. I stumble over words when I’m speaking, so I prefer written communication over having a conversation. I can’t remember most things unless I make myself a note. 

These things only added to my not wanting to drive in traffic, or leave my house for that matter. PTSD plus traumatic brain injury is a bad combination.

Today was the first time since the accident and the stroke that I drove all the way to the other side of Springfield and back home by myself without any major anxiety or being on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It was for work. It wasn’t something I would have chosen to do on my own. I worried about it for a week, but I did it. And now I feel like I can do it again for something more enjoyable than first aid/CPR training for work. That’s a huge milestone that I am going to celebrate! It doesn’t matter to me if you don’t understand it. I don’t expect you to understand unless you have been through it. I just wanted to share it. 

If you do have some trauma, let me share this.

Sometimes things happen that steal parts of us. It’s not fair. It angers us. It paralyzes us in fear. Hold on. There is healing.

Sometimes healing is restorative. You can reclaim what’s been stolen from you. But it isn’t automatically going to happen and it won’t happen in the same way or timeframe for everyone. Some might need the help of a counselor or medication. Some might experience instantaneous healing. 

I am a Christian and my faith and relationship with God has played a huge role in my healing and restoration. Being a Christian didn’t keep me from going through hard things, and it wasn’t a magic wand to wave over the bad things to make them go away. Being a Christian didn’t mean I was going to always have the right response to triggers. I am human (with a traumatic brain injury to the part of my brain that processes emotions, remember?) Healing wasn’t a switch that God flipped one day and everything was all better. I’m still going through the process of healing. 

Sometimes what’s been lost is not meant to be recovered. The door has been closed, but there’s another door to be opened. You can be bitter, or you can choose to reinvent. You can pivot and go in a new direction. I used to play the guitar, but I can’t do that anymore. It was incredibly frustrating when I would try and so I sold the guitars and found a new hobby. Prior to the stroke, I was learning hand lettering and had purchased lots of cool fudenosuke and brush pens to perfect the craft. That’s not happening anymore. My hand shakes and I can barely read my handwriting. I had a good cry over both of these losses, but chose to pivot to something else. Had those two doors never closed, I probably wouldn’t have found the new door to open.

I know that sounds easier than it is. Trust me, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did have to happen before any healing could begin to take place. You can choose to be the victim or you can choose to be the victor, but you can’t choose both. 

By all means, grieve your losses, whatever they may be. Take time to sit with your disappointment. Allow yourself to feel your sadness for a time. After that– because there is an “after” just like there was a “before”– after you process the pain, choose to heal and grow. Don’t let what happened in your life serve no purpose. That’s wasting the best parts. I think the way through grief of any kind is allowing the loss to teach us and grow us. It allows what was lost to continue to have a place in our hearts. 

Read more about a thalamic stroke here:,thalamus%20plays%20a%20role%20in.,deep%20part%20of%20your%20brain.



When A Picture Isn’t Worth a Thousand Words

As I was brewing my coffee this morning, a rich peppermint mocha blend that isn’t “in season” but that I was in the mood for, I found myself wishing that I could take a picture of how it smells. I don’t have the words to describe how delectable the aroma filling my kitchen was.

That’s where I struggle the most as a writer. I want to be able to describe the scene so the reader feels as if they were there. The smells, the sounds, the feel of the breeze or the sun or the rain on your skin. I can take pictures with my camera, but they don’t tell you the whole story. Good writers draw a picture with their words. And I want to get better at that. To do that, I think a person has to experience it and then write about it. 

Yesterday my friend and I went to the lake to look at the sailboats. She had never been, I had been once before. I had taken pictures once before. When we got out of the car, it felt like I was experiencing it for the first time. I had forgotten the sounds at the marina. You can’t hear them in photographs. If you had been around sailboats or marinas I suppose you could draw on your memories, but for those of us who haven’t had a lot of exposure, the sounds and smells are just as wonderful as the sights. The geese squawking. The bell clanging. The water lapping the shore. A fish jumping in the distance.

You can’t feel the stillness of the heron perched for it’s catch. Or the deer grazing in the meadow, never taking his eyes off you. 

It’s true, video can help you experience those things. But what about the smells? I don’t even know how to begin to describe the smell of the lake. Or the clean air in the middle of nowhere. 

What about the feel of the sprinkles hitting your nose? Or the crisp, cool breeze chilling your skin?

How do you experience all of that in a photograph?

The truth is, you can’t, unless you allow yourself to pull from memories you might have stored. But if you don’t have those memories, it’s hard to fully know the experience. It’s not the same as being there. Cliche, but true. All the photos and the words in the world can’t replace experiencing something first-hand. 

By all means, continue to read books, look at photos, watch videos, take “virtual tours”, but most of all, get out there and experience it for yourself! Adventure awaits! And take a friend along to share it with!



It’s been a good weekend. Saturday morning I finished a book and then got busy getting things ready for Father’s Day today. 

I received a text from a friend asking if I wanted to do lunch, so I went. The food was good and the restaurant was quiet. We sat and lingered over Dr. Pepper and conversation long after the food was finished and the plates had been taken. Connection.

After lunch I joined Mike at my in-law’s house. We started looking through old photos and the next thing we knew it was 7pm. A quick break for dinner, and then we opened another box of photos. We sat and looked and listened to stories from the past. Connection. 

Looking through all those photos got me thinking that this is something that my children and grandchildren will probably never do. Everything is digitized now. People don’t have hard copy photos in boxes and those photo albums with the clingy protector sheets. We have zip drives and the cloud and social media. It’s just not the same as holding history in your hands. The same history that your parents and grandparents held in their hands. Your fingerprints merge with theirs on the paper. The oils on your hands, the scent…you just don’t get that connection with the cloud.

I brought home some old photos to restore. Yes, I will have a digital copy, but I will also preserve the original and the stories that go with them to pass down to the next generation. Connection.

Today the boys came and grilled and we celebrated Mike on Father’s Day. Of course, Mike and I were so tired from being out late the night before that we weren’t very good hosts, but it was good to have the boys here. Connection.

Tomorrow an old friend and I are going on a photo venture to Stockton Lake Marina to see some sailboats and look around a bit. Then another stop at Hulston Mill Historical Park. We’ve packed our lunches and are ready for exploring just like we used to do on Saturday mornings when we were kids. It’s great to have friends who have your history. Old friends who are as comfy as your old college sweatshirt. Connections that are as old as life itself. 

The older I get, the more I want quality connections over quantity. Lingering over Dr. Peppers in the corner of a quiet restaurant. Looking through photos and listening to the stories. Sharing those photos and stories with the next generation. My adult children coming for Sunday lunches. Road trips with childhood friends. Those are the kinds of connections I crave. Those are the kinds of connections I will seek. 


Current Mood

I sure know how that guy feels right now–staring out the window wishing he could go.

A little backstory. This is Copper. Copper is “grounded” because he didn’t come in the night before when it was time for bed. He loves the outdoors, but since we live in the middle of the woods and he’s white, he’s prime coyote bait. Or bear. Or whatever else lurks around out there after dark.

But I totally get the gazing out the window, wanting to go somewhere look in his eye. I’ve had it before. I have it now.

I need some adventure. Not drama. Drama and adventure are two different things. I like the predictable-ness of my life. I love the safe space that I have where I spend most of my time.

Sometimes, though, I just want to get away for a bit. Take the camera and go for a drive. Pack up the camper and spend a couple days by the water. Try out a new coffee shop. Spend the day rummaging through flea markets.

Days like that are good for the soul.


Are You in There?

I am the world’s worst daydreamer. No, really, that’s me. I can easily spend time just daydreaming about anything. Seriously, give me a topic and I can daydream about it for hours. Maybe even days if I don’t have to get up and go to work the next day. I think that’s why I love to read fiction…why I’ve always loved to read fiction…so much. It gives me permission to daydream. There is nothing like curling up with a good book and immersing yourself into the story. My mind is like a stream that flows on and on sometimes.

“The mind is like a river. The thoughts are like the various droplets of water.”
-A. G. Mohan

But in all that daydreaming, there’s a problem. I don’t like to admit it. I don’t want to give up my daydreaming. I don’t want to give up reading fiction. I certainly would like to write a fiction novel someday. So what’s the problem? Sometimes I get so caught up in daydreaming, that I miss stuff.

Important stuff. Real life stuff. I get so caught up in the daydream that I miss the reality that is going on around me. I’m there, but I’m not really present. My body is occupying space, but my brain is off in space. Emotionally I am somewhere else. Hello, are you in there? That’s a problem.

I miss some pretty awesome stories when I am not paying attention.

I miss some pretty deep connections when I am not being intentional about being present.

And because I want to experience life and deep connections, I decided to figure out how to be more present.

“I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” -Jane Austen

I started reading a new book today called “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. A question posed in the book is, “If someone gave you a completely blank calendar and a bank account with as much money as you wanted in it, what would you do?”

I’m pondering that. Would I retire? Would I travel? Would I buy everything I ever thought I wanted? Would I give all kinds of crazy money away? I think a little bit of all of that. I’d do whatever I wanted. I’d go wherever my heart took me. I think I would build a house, but maybe just get a class A (or a truck and a big 5th wheel) and travel to all the places and see all the things and take all the pictures and read all the books. And write a book or two. I’d blog about all of my travels for sure. 

Anyone know where this hammock is located?

I’m getting away from the reason I picked up the book in the first place, though. Daydreaming again.

The book is about ditching the frantic and embracing the simple life. My life isn’t that frantic. I’ve been practicing simplifying for a while, but I do struggle with being present.

Keeping my head where my feet are is a work in progress.

As my friend expresses it, “keeping my head where my feet are.” I struggle with that. I daydream. I analyze. I overthink. I make lists in my head of things I need to do. Then I make more lists in my head of things I forgot to do, only to forget again. I’ve tried writing them down. I’ve tried putting reminders on my phone. None of those things help if my feet don’t go where my head is. 

So how does a person practice being more present? No clue, but that is the journey I am on this summer. 


Life, motivation, photography

A Walk in the Rain

It’s been raining here a lot lately. It’s cold for mid-May. And muddy. It’s been hard to plan camping trips on the weekends. It’s been nearly impossible to do any outside projects. And since I’m a preschool teacher, I have an even greater reason for disliking rain–inside recess. Ever tried keeping a bunch of 3, 4, and 5 year-olds contained in a classroom for hours? It’s not fun.

The end of this very challenging school year is in sight, and I’m tired. So despite the rain yesterday, I took a walk. I even had a couple furry companions go with me. We had no destination. We didn’t go anywhere special. We just walked up the driveway, trying to stay out of the mud and wet grass (I dislike wet socks and shoes).

I noticed this flower on my walk and had to take a picture. It reminded me that despite the consequences or circumstances we find ourselves surrounded by, we can rise up, square our shoulders, and stand tall.

Did you hear me? Rise up. No one can hold you down without your permission. No one can keep you down without your permission. Rise up and stand tall, whatever your circumstances. You got this.

It might be raining right now, but take a walk anyway. Let the rain wash away all the mud and the gunk. Let it refresh your soul.

🌼 Sondra


Things We Did Before Our First Camping Trip of the Season

We’re going camping in a week and I am so ready! This has been the longest year of my teaching career up to this point. I’m not sure why that is, but I need to get away to the forest and decompress. 

Just because I am ready, doesn’t mean the camper is, however. 

We have a small popup camper, so we don’t have to worry about a lot of holding tanks and water lines. So if you’re looking for a post about those things, I can’t help you there. 

I did have some very specific things that I wanted to do in my popup before next weekend. I just had to wait until it stopped raining so that I could crank it up and get in there to work.

  1. Fresh Coat

The first thing we did was give the outside a bath and put a fresh coat of paint on. I loved the vintage look that the faded paint gave the camper, and didn’t really want to paint it, but the husband had other plans. I’m ok with how it turned out. Eventually I would like to paint the whole thing, but that will be later on.

  1. A Good Cleaning

When I was finally able to get the camper popped up, I took everything out and cleaned. The camper was folded up tightly all winter, and things just needed some freshening. It smells lemony-fresh in there now.

  1. New Gear

All winter I have been collecting things to add to the camper. Not a lot, because it is a small popup, but I added some things and took out a few things.

I took out the carpet squares that had been thrown down on the floor. They collect dirt and dust from our feet, but I didn’t like them. They are harder to clean than just simply sweeping the linoleum. Eventually I would like to put some vinyl floor planks down and get rid of the linoleum. 

I found a couple of welcome mats at the Dollar Tree that we will use this year. One on the outside at the step and one right inside the door. Other than that, we are going bare floor this year.

I covered the bench cushions. I’d been seeing a hack of how to cover the cushions without sewing. Since I don’t sew, this spoke to my soul. 

I bought bedding to be used specifically in the camper. Pretty much the only thing we don’t like about the popup is that you still have to load up A LOT of stuff to take with you every time you go camping. Hauling around bulky bedding was the worst last year, so this year we have bedding that can be loaded into the camper before the departure day, saving us some room in the backseat of the pickup for other things.

I added an electric skillet to my camp kitchen. The camper has a propane stove that can be used inside or outside and it works great, but when we stay where there is electric, I can save fuel and use the electric skillet instead. 

I also added a coffee maker. What’s camping without a cup of coffee in the peaceful morning air? Last year we used a stainless steel percolator on the propane cook stove. It makes good coffee, but it takes a long time. The coffee maker will be much simpler and I can make more coffee. You can never have too much!

Something else I’ve added to the camper this year is a small popup privacy tent. Most of the places we go have bathroom facilities, and that’s great. We won’t need the privacy tent that often, but we’ve scouted out some primitive camping sites that won’t afford us the luxury of flushing toilets, electricity, or running water. Those are the kind of spots I like to go camping…remote and peaceful. The privacy tent can be popped up and the port-a-potty set inside for a place to go to the bathroom. 

The last thing we added were rope lights. This was my husband’s contribution. He loves rope lights! I’m not sure why, but he does, so I let him. They do look really cool and light up the outside of the camper so you can see when returning from the bathroom or a night of fishing down at the lake.

  1. Lights!

Another thing to check before heading to the campsite is the lights on the camper. When you plug the camper into the vehicle you are towing it with, make sure that all the lights and signals work properly. 

Now we just have to throw our clothes and hygiene items in a bag and put the groceries in the cooler and we are ready to go! It’s too bad I have to work four days before we can leave. 

Happy Camping!


Living Your Best Life

Copper is living his best life

Living Your Best Life.

What does that mean? Living your best life? What does that entail? What do you need to have in order to live your best life? A new house? A lot of money in the bank? A spouse and 2.5 children? Do you need to be at the top of your career to enjoy your best life? Do you need to be retired? Sunbathing on a private island? Traveling and full-time RV living? All of those things sound wonderful, but not everyone aspires to them. What does your best life look like?

And how do you know? That’s my big question. How do you know that you are living your best life? You have a picture of what you think it is, but what if you get there, and it’s not what you thought it was going to be? Your new house has a house payment you can’t afford. Your bank account is full, but your heart isn’t. Your spouse and your children think you nag too much. Your career doesn’t afford you much time for anything else. Retirement is boring. Your private island is lonely. Your RV finds you missing community. 

Too much of one thing can literally be too much. For me,  living your best life means living a balanced life. You have enough, but not too much. You have a house, but you aren’t house poor. You have a little emergency fund, but not enough that everyone is asking you to give them money. You have a spouse and 2 (adult) children who still love you enough to put up with you. You have a career, but are content to let the younger generation claw their way to the top. You aren’t retired, but you get summers off (or vacation time). No private island, but you have a little corner of the world that is all yours. You’re not a full-time RV status yet, but that pop-up camper is ready to go for the first camping trip of the year in a couple weeks. That’s what my best life looks like.

Do I wish that I didn’t have to get up and go to work on Mondays? Absolutely. Am I counting down the days until summer break? You bet I am. Do I dream about winning the lottery and quitting my job to take up traveling? Some days more than others. But the truth is, toward the end of summer break I am wishing for that familiar routine and my work people. My best life is one filled with all the things I love– my faith, my family, teaching, camping, reading, photography, etc. And there is room for so much more as I go! My best life is a full life with room for new people, things, and animals (always room for more cuddly animals). My best life is a balanced life with just enough of everything.