The Waiting Game

Filed Under All Posts, Courage, Health, Prudence Baird | 15 Comments

As time tests her patience, Prudence is not amused

The waiting game. Just because this phrase rhymes with the iconic Jim Lange-hosted TV game show of my youth, I am not amused.

I object to coupling the word “waiting” with “game.”

There’s nothing joyful, fun or amusing about waiting, therefore waiting is not a game. Read more

Retreat and Advance

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Courage, Relationships | 9 Comments

As Christie checks in, her mind checks out — a new year, a new approach

New Year’s Eve celebrations have seemed less than satisfying in the past few years. Most parties are filled with couples and at the stroke of midnight I am the one standing off to the side gamely smiling. So I decided I would try something different, a personal 24 hour retreat to contemplate the year past and the year about to arrive.

On Friday afternoon I took myself off to an expensive local hotel and checked in. When I handed the completed form to the desk clerk, she read it through and stared at me. “You live in St. Paul?” I nodded. She gave me a piercing look and handed over my room key. As I walked to the elevators I could feel her eyes on me, and the little bag I carried. It was not until I reached my room that it dawned on me, Crikey; I’ve been put on suicide watch in a luxury hotel! I wondered if I should go back down to the desk and assure them I was sound in mind and spirit. Then decided that I may not be that convincing.

I was here to think, and not think. To let thoughts come and go and travel where they may. To examine some of my irrational fears, search for prejudices and pre-conceptions, try and discover what I wanted in my life and what steps I needed to take to make it happen. All this I would have to do while ordering room service every hour so that no-one would break the door down to see if I was “okay.” Read more

Canyons, Cactus, and Casinos, Oh My!

Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Courage, Travel | 14 Comments

Connie and Lee tackle their first rapid

Connie Stetson discovers a brave new world with adventure around every curve

As I write, it’s been a little over a week since Lee and I completed a month-long, nearly 300 mile journey through the sands of time. Literally. I am still rinsing the freaking sands of time out my gear.

My husband, with the Greenwood Expedition, party of 11, began a river trip at Lee’s Ferry near Glen Canyon Dam on Jan. 27th to raft the upper Grand Canyon. I left Fresno on Feb. 4th, flew to Flagstaff, took a shuttle bus to the South Rim, checked in at the Bright Angel Lodge, and at 8:30 am on Feb. 5th, I began my journey down, down, down, through snow and ice, mud and streams, more than ten miles, seven oceans, and millions of years of geologic time, (sorry, fundamentalists…that would be more than 6,000) — to meet them near Phantom Ranch on the mighty, muddy Colorado River. The next day, in a driving rainstorm, two walked out; and then we were ten, in four rafts, launching off into the rapids of the Grand Canyon.

How was it, you ask? It was exhausting, thrilling, challenging, beautiful, vexing, uncomfortable, cold, painful, quiet, noisy, scary, soothing, hard, transcendent, and nourishing. Read more

Surrender Dorothy!

Filed Under All Posts, Courage, Melissa Howden | 18 Comments


Melissa Howden finds heart, patience and peace, in an unexpected way.

Just as Dorothy tripped the light fantastic down the Yellow Brick Road, so of late have I.

I liken the start of 2010 to my own private storm—raggedy emotions and best-laid plans, turned upside down in quick succession. Perversely stubborn and independent, it’s begun to dawn on me that life is not created on will and persistence alone. In short, nothing in my life has been flowing with ease.

The most recent and hopefully final insult being a freak accident during a ski lesson (part of my “plan” to improve my skills, face my fears and get in the best shape possible) on a mogul made of ice topped with fresh powder. Going down, my pole stuck in the wrong position with my wrist trapped in the strap; I heard the snap, snap of two bones breaking.

Adding insult to injury, one of the first questions posed to me by the young brawny ski patrol was, “Have you had a bone density test?” If Kansas was my youth, I knew I wasn’t there anymore. To his credit, he was very skilled and he did refrain from calling me “ma’am”. Read more

Before the Fall

Filed Under All Posts, Courage, Melissa Howden, Relationships | 8 Comments

photo by M.A. Howden

photo by M.A. Howden

The change of season has Melissa Howden working on her equilibrium.

We just hurtled into fall. The autumnal equinox has just taken place. But lest you think you’ve missed anything, know this; the actual equinox (etymology = equal & night) actually takes place several days after the event depending upon where you are, geographically speaking.

In my neck of the woods, we will experience equal amounts of day and night within a minute on the 25th and 26th of the month. What does any of this mean? Generally speaking it means that the Sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. It is a turning point—literally—in the year, the seasons being determined by the tilt of the Earth on its axis. It is also the time when we enter into the astrological constellation of Libra, the sign of balance on the scales.

THIS is where metaphor is made manifest. I find this time especially meaningful if not extremely challenging. I’ve been off kilter, out of step, unsure of my center, off my game, call it what you will it has not been especially pretty.

Simply put, I. AM. OUT. OF. BALANCE! Read more

A Few Good Men

Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Courage, Relationships | 10 Comments

Strongman Eugen Sandow, 1893

Strongman Eugen Sandow, 1893, Library of Congress

I want to sing the praises of good men. Men who teach, love and protect children. Men who deny their own needs in order to put their families first. Men who really like and seek the company of women. Men who are called to service, or art, or creation, or justice; who can fix broken things, can build and farm, who cook, and men who use their strength to stand for those who cannot.

It often becomes so easy for women in our righteous anger, disappointment, frustration and worse, real fear, to disparage our brothers. Some of the most hilarious, satisfying, nasty conversations I have with my girlfriends are over martinis and indulging in a little cock talk. (And you can take that any way you want.)

But it hurts my soul to feel that we need to see men as adversaries, that we feel the need to brace ourselves in their presence waiting to see if we’ll be assaulted, and that we feel essentially unsafe in their company. So we get snarky and funny, and blame them for what has and has not happened to us in our lives. Read more

Nice Girls Finish Last

Filed Under All Posts, Cathy Fischer, Courage, Rants | 13 Comments

Top Chef finalists Stephan, Carla and Hosea

When will women stop being such people pleasers?

Case in point: “Goody Two Shoes” is an expression reserved for females. It conjures up images of a child, a dimpled Shirley Temple-type, in a starched white dress, bobby socks and Mary Janes. “No more Mister Nice Guy,” on the other hand, is reserved for men. Picture a driven, successful executive. Mad Men’s Don Draper comes to mind.

After watching the finale of Top Chef, I was peeved. The three remaining finalists, two men and one woman, were asked to cook a $100k-winning meal. I was enthusiastic about Carla Hall, a 44-year-old woman with her own catering business, a great sense of humor and a big heart; an underdog who eventually found her stride and became a real contender.

Carla has personality as big as her hair. She cooks with love, and is proud to say so, plus she has classic French training and southern roots to boot. But Carla did not win. Why? Because, like so many women, Carla is just too niceRead more

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