Category Archives: Uncategorized

Goal to the end of the year:  #SimplyBeKind

Goals to end out the year:
Be kind.  
Be generous.
Don’t react to negativity. 
Don’t overreact.
Bring authentic listening ears to every situation.
Care about others feelings.
Be kinder.
Share joy.
Celebrate with others.
Bring passion to our workplace.
Take Time.
Look at stars, moon and sun more often.
Rejoice in the snow that is coming.
Be the Kindest I know how to be.
Love more.
Love deeper.
Understand more.
Be more than I think I can be.
Love on family.


A Missing Couch Cushion Is Not A Disaster

There are times in life when you need to take a deep breath and realize disasters occur in your brain far more often than real life.  Today I am missing a couch cushion.  It’s not a travesty.  Wait a minute.  It is for me. When you sneak a peek inside my brain you’ll see me begin to panic.  We will triple our household in the next week. All kids are coming home. All hands on deck.


I want to be like those people on TV with linen closets all neat and organized.  I want to have hand towels and matching towels in each guest bedroom.  I want to have guest bedrooms instead of storage units.  I want. I want. I want.

Instead, I have mismatched blankets and clean pillowcases.  I have reclining chairs for beds. I have spots on my carpets and on ceilings (yes ceilings.)   I have a warm home that smells like paint because I “had to paint” the week everyone was arriving.

I also have Love. Love to wrap up any loose ends.  Love the craziness that comes with the preparation of having this house full of love!

Taking Out The Trash Turns Into …..

You will think this is about to be a humorous post. One focusing on how Rob and I take out the trash much more often than we used to. Our six “take-out-the-trashers” have whittled down to one. Mom and Dad often pitch in.

It was my turn. I took out the trash. And on my way down the driveway, with my iPhone flashlight showing me the way in the dark, I became perfectly still.

I couldn’t have walked if I wanted to. My life was there. I was taking out the trash and my heart erupted in joy. Why?

I believe it was because our beautiful home was shining right behind me. Our home that has protected those six children was right there in shadow yet more bright than ever.

Tonight, I took out the trash and brought my life into clear view.

Refresh. Reflect. Ramble. Revel. Refresh.

September 1.
Are you as amazed as I am in how that date is looming in our calendars? I filled out paperwork for our last High School student today. Ellie, our Senior, is ready to begin. Whoo boy, do we remember the dreaded “fill out the forms night” we had with 6 kids starting school. What used to take 4 hours now took 10 minutes. Refreshing.

What this brings to the table for a once extremely busy Mom is time. Time to think about the upcoming next stages of life, time to embrace, fear and revel in them all at once. Time on my hands. Precious time to spend with those I love. Time to stop wishing for it to stand still but to live now and love the time I’m in.  As I write this post the picture you see is what I see.  Do you love  the time you are in? Take in the beauty that is in front of you 

My parents always used to say “time goes so fast” and yet when we were younger it felt like an eternity. Ellie our youngest watched her boyfriend fly back to Canada today. Time will be excruciatingly slow for her. I’m watching as our youngest begins her last year of HS and 5 others successfully take flight. Time is ours to grasp at or refreshingly hold close. It’s our choice.

My mind rambles and my words follow.  Why do we get all choked up when we face the upcoming changes  as school year begins?  Is it because of the change itself? The long days of Summer close in on us like a blanket of fog.  Is the feeling suffocating or soothing?  For me, the reality is, it’s both.

What I love is the feeling of pure electricity in my heart that is beginning to smother the feeling of loss. Do you feel it too?  Change is loss and the reflex is to be sad.  Yet, my heart is feeling the change in a new way.  My coat of parenthood fits a bit differently this Fall because I see the day when I shed it off for  “college and working kids” relationships which is different than day to day School-Age at home relationships.   As I reflect I realize the importance of being real, now.

I’ll tip my toes in the water of change and know I’ll dive in soon.

But not quite yet; there’s paperwork to turn in.

Our Feathered Nest Filled With Love and Lifelong Learning

Feathering a nest.  Have you ever stopped to watch a pair of adult birds take their time to intricately put together a home for what will be their tiny family?  It’s a lesson in nature’s ability to create a safe haven, a place to be.

Take Flight by Ellie Johnson 2014
Hand Sketch  by Ellie Johnson 2014

For the past 29 years Rob and I have feathered our nest.  We’ve gathered the bricks for our foundation, built a home and feathered it with more blankets and pillows than you can imagine.  In the past month we’ve had the joy of having all of our kids under one roof.  We’ve moved furniture to ensure there were places to sleep.  We even moved kids from the comfort of their own room to sofa beds and air mattresses.  Why? Because many of our birds have left the nest and when they return we move a twig here and there to make room.

In the midwest we have open houses for High School graduations. They are a big deal.  We plan and plan and celebrate big with family and friends.  Recently two comments made me pause,  “Why High School? What’s The Big Deal?”  and “I’ve never seen anything like this – it’s a spectacle!”   This year our 5th of 6 kids graduated from Forest Hills.  We celebrated. Big Time.  Every child made it home, even the one who is just starting a new job and took a 6am flight back and forth to make it.  We appreciate this. Big Time.

I can tell you why for me personally High School Graduation is so important.  Because High School years are the final moments you really have a say as a parent in helping  shaping your children’s values.  Once High School is over you really let go. And it’s not easy. Will they be polite, will they attend class, will they make great friends for life, will they behave, will they learn, will they LEARN?!  For me, I look around and hope the life-long learning my husband and I do has rubbed off.  You can only learn so much in school, then it’s time to realize you never stop, and it’s a blast to learn in ways you never thought possible.

This summer we will have learners in , Chicago, Il., Harrisburg, PA, Edmonton, Canada, Mount Pleasant , Kalamazoo, Grandville and and Cascade, Michigan. We will have learners landing new jobs and leading in new ones.  We will have learners working all different shifts, through Holidays and  #PureMichigan sunshine.  Each of us are  at different ages and stages in life and we share one thing.  We all either went through or are almost finished with High School.  After this milestone we each take our different path. We will falter,  stumble, succeed, falter , stumble and succeed again.

We also share one other thing; a feathered nest waiting for return trips.  A place we know will always be a safe haven, a place to go.  It’s our own feathered nest. We’ve made it our own.

It’s now that I realize we feather it for a very specific reason.  We feather our nest so when our birds fly on their own, our landing as parents isn’t quite so hard.

The 5 Kindest Things Mom Taught Me

Grandma Betty lives with us. She has her own “Granny House” designed by her and attached to our laundry room. We’ve been living together for 16 years. (not including the 21 years of raising me!)

Grandma Betty is my mom.


Living with my mom for over half my lifetime is one reason I am who I am today. Here are the 5 kindest things she has taught me:

1). Purchase a rocker or swing.

To hold a child and rock them to sleep. To swing grandkids and neighborhood children back and forth while teaching them new songs to sing seals hearts with love forever.

2) Open your home.

Porches are made for relaxation and they need to be ready at all times for company. Stop what you are doing to “sit-a-spell” when there is a knock on the door.

3) Share family stories.

Take out the family pictures and tell their stories. Memorialize the stories by writing paragraphs on the back of each one -(not just month and date) for all to remember.

4) Thank those who help.

Show your gratitude in work and life every day. Grandma Betty is my executive female role model. She got there by thanking all those who helped her throughout her career. From the teachers, administrators, neighbors, assistants, CEOs, landscapers and on and on. She also taught me to be grateful to and for my husband and family every moment. They are priceless.

5) Sneak treats daily.

Sneaking treats to pets (and kids) may encourage more begging, yet it shows a surprise love. There is no better feeling than having someone surprise you with an unexpected kindness. Sneaking one or two for yourself bolsters the spirit!

Happy Mother’s Day Grandma Betty, Mom.

What If All Change Is Good?

When you are working in a fast paced growing company with goals and strategies guiding you rapidly,  you face daily change.

When you have 3 of 6 children graduating into new walks of life, and you see the world flying by at breakneck speed, you face core life change. The 1998 Easter photo below proves to me change is my reality.



Change is good.  Change  is bad. Change is stressful.

What if All Change is Good?

I delved into an article this morning from  In it , author Brandon West wrote about something that resonated with me.  He asked if I remembered jumping into the arms of my Mom or Dad when I was little and the trust I had that everything would be OK.  I was jumping into the air with no assurance I would not land on my head and yet I jumped with ease and joy.

West explains this jumping off and surrendering ourselves without fear as something we should do in every aspect of life – because All Change is Good.

Really? All Change IS Good?

You get demoted? That’s Good?

You don’t get the job of your dreams? That’s Good?

Your friend’s parents die? That’s Good?

As you move into a new job, new responsibilities, a demotion, your kids leaving home.  It’s All Good?

My brother John passed away at age 52 in a car accident.  No rhyme, no reason. No help for the heart to understand why this tragic change took place.  John had a deep personal Faith that ‘God is Good,  Always.’  He never questioned it.  I know, despite not having my big brother here physically, he is still guiding my life in his big brother way.  All Change IS Good.

Can we trust All Change IS Good? Can we?

This Easter Weekend has me knowing I was meant to reflect about the Goodness of Change.  When we close our eyes,  can we see ourselves as a child trusting others as we fly into the air and jump into their arms?  Can we hear ourselves  squeal as our Dad threw us up into the sky?

The joy of trusting that everything will be OK is here for the taking. I’m a very positive person, but lately change has left me feeling a bit melancholy.   And so I’m going to continue to ask the questions:

When did we stop jumping? What happened in life that change brought sadness or became something to fear instead of something to embrace?   Can we go  back to facing change with pure joy and knowledge that it will be GOOD?

Time to make some changes to make that happen.  Happy Easter everyone.

PS: Look again at Easter photo 1998. All change IS good!