Category Archives: Aging

We All Come From Somewhere We Consider Home

©IBKimage 2012

The place we currently live may or not be where our heart considers home.  I was born in Northwest Germany within a mile or so of the North Sea.  When I was almost 6 my family emigrated to the U.S. and we settled in South Central Nebraska … flat like Northern Germany but wide open spaces where patchwork quilts of prairie and farmland replaced the sea that one is always in relationship with when living near it.

Many years later I live in landlocked Colorado surrounded in Denver by beautiful mountain vistas, and yet as my mother before me longed for the sights and smells and sounds of home near the sea, (even though she adapted beautifully to her new land, and learned it’s ways and language, ) I too find solace in remembering where I came from and am nourished by the sights and sounds and smells of the water.

You all have places where you’ve come from and where your heart remembers  being home … sometimes it’s not the place itself, but the peace you felt when at a loved one’s home who resided there.  Anyway, I encourage you in this busy, noisy, chaotic world, to take yourself home for a bit and “sit with that for a spell”.

Today’s image is along the Eider River in Northern Germany at sunset where I got to be for a while. A river that cuts through flat farmland.



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Crossing Another Bridge















Today’s image is near the west entrance gate of the Denver Botanic Garden.  I have spent the last 3 months crossing this bridge as I enter and depart  during my frequent visits to the garden.  I have also been blessed to live in a 9th floor apartment this summer, overlooking the garden.  At the beginning of the summer my husband and I rented this apartment, in anticipation of our house, in Denver, selling.  We would then continue to spend time in the city in the coming year, but also gradually make a location change to Lincoln, NE where we originally came from 6 years ago.


Well things didn’t happen that way.  The house didn’t sell;  my husband whose visual situation has progressed from impairment to blindness felt more secure in a place he had visual memory and experience  for so he moved back into the house; and I’ve spent some time in retreat in the apartment . Graciously our landlord released us from a year’s lease and so next week this chapter ends as the movers move the remaining furniture back home. Things seem about right for now and we’ve both learned that you can’t cross a bridge until you come to it … and it’s important to cross when you do, trusting the future in the present and trading anxieties and over-functioning for gratitude.



Also posted in Courage, Letting Go Tagged , |

Just because you can …











For the last few months I have been engaged in a long distance remodeling project. Now that the project is almost complete I have reflected on how important it is to assemble a first rate team for such an undertaking.   Like an orchestra with a variety of players and  instruments contributing their own distinct tone to the whole, just so the role of the skilled craftsmen/woman provided their unique skills for an amazing transformation of a home with amazing “bones” but in need of some much needed renewal for a different time.

During this time I intermittently did some of the physical work of  deconstruction, which has it’s own rewards, but also it’s downside … in my case resulting in a shoulder that has needed some care from a wonderful team of physical therapists, and acupuncturists. It’s been a while, but finally I seem to be making progress.  Last week my physical therapist gave me a phrase that related to not overdoing it with the home exercises … “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”  What she meant in this particular case was that even though I might not have as much pain, I could still be overworking my muscles, and actually be impeding progress by overdoing it … you know, if a little is good, more is better …

Well, I can’t let go of that thought.  I changed it slightly as I started sharing it this week.  “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to…”  and by repeating it in various contexts, it (the phrase) has changed me.  I challenge you to apply this phrase to your own life and see what happens.

Today’s image is a humorous example of our phrase for the day.  The setting is Belfast, Maine, and just because they could decorate this old theater this way, doesn’t mean they should, or have to.  🙂

Best, IBK







Also posted in Insight, Pruning, Seeing In New Ways, Uncategorized, Waiting Tagged , , , |

Something Old is New Again

©IBKimage 2012


It’s very interesting how things that we’re struggling with “all of a sudden” resolve.  One day, without notice, something that has been taking away so much of our physical and mental effort, finds it proper proportion in our life, or even disappears.  It was one of those weeks for me.  I was grateful for a negative result on a diabetes test and all that would have implied.  The gratitude turned into action as I examined the layers of denial that I had piled on during the last few months.

All of the things that I can do, (and know how to)  to stay healthy, both physically and emotionally and spiritually, I decided to take a sabbatical from.  Who knows if it was rebellion, passive-agressive behavior, or perhaps  just a realization that in our very human transitions, we sometimes just need  a long “soak” in a dry tub. Having no idea of what’s next, but trusting my creator,redeemer,sustainer to provide what I don’t even know I need.  Until then, we can take small next actions, engaging again in habits that satisfy and then gradually … the old is new again.

Today’s image comes from the Queen City Salvage Yard here in Denver; a delightful garden of oldness tucked underneath a busy I 70 East viaduct.  Here so close and yet so far away from the cacophony of daily activity, are yesterdays front doors, and old car bodies; tools and gadgets from another time, once on grandfather’s tool bench; and rusted hand pumps used to bring cool water to the farm and town kitchens before pvc pipe carried the running water to the faucet.

The paint is peeling on the door in our image but look at the beautiful grain and pattern underneath.  Someone will find this new old door and in just the right season – wherever it goes, it will be just the right thing .


Also posted in Blessings, Courage, Letting Go, New Beginning, Seasons Tagged , , , , , , |

New Beginnings



Dear Readers, I’m back from my summer sabbatical of sorts and happy to be. The discipline of a weekly blog makes me think more clearly about a theme that I’d like to explore and during the week I receive a phrase here and there, read a sentence in a book, hear a song  or interview on the radio and so on.

Like little grains of sand that collectively become the beach, these bits of blessings gradually form a word pattern. When  partnered with an image, a story emerges. At other times a picture is the theme and provides a wonderful opportunity to process the many distinct experiences I’ve had in a week and try to make some sense of it.

Sometimes in the days and weeks that seemingly fly by while one is confronted with the realities of being human – illness, death, major life transitions, celebrating milestones, mending relationships, moving, fatness, and so on,the very things that can help us along the way through, are often the tools that sit idly in the shed.

As I bemoan the fact that my image making and “wordsmithing”have taken a backseat this summer, I realize, like the small tiles in todays image, when joined together a beautiful pattern make, that the small  acts of presence and and listening, and celebration, and grief, and encouragement,and humor, are all  a way that love can illuminate the darkness and elevate the joys.

Delighted to be back “in the saddle.”










Also posted in Blessings, New Beginning, Seasons Tagged , , , , , |


©IBKimage 2012



Having always been a curious sort from the time I was young, I’d sometimes get into trouble – especially if I asked people about things they’d  rather not disclose.  The phrase then was:  “Stop being so nosy”, or the firmer:  “mind your own business.”  I was always wondering how things worked and would order things like seeds to sell to the older single and widowed ladies in town , ostensibly to save them a trip to the store, but the true reward was the gift of time, conversation, and …a cookie or candy.  Most of the changes in my life were as a result of my interests and explorations and the freedom to experiment and change course.


Well into adulthood , I still had that luxury, but somewhere along the way, I found myself getting into trouble again because I was so curious about so many things, in addition to family and other responsibilities, that I kept  trying to devise systems to get and stay organized … this eventually became a career and I helped other people do that … and now today so many years later, I am overwhelmed by the choices that vie for my attention: travel here, try this, donate now,upgrade,download, only $2.00 for an e-book, press the button … Amazon delivers, punch your frequent buyer card and so on …  all of these opportunities can easily morph into agony of decision.


Today’s image of my hands  is a made on an ®iPad  in a program called ®Photo Booth, which allows the manipulation of images in a variety of ways.  Somehow it captures the paradox of the possibility  and an open handed prayer / plea for wisdom to minimize the choices that keep us bound.  I remember the gift of love, in those gifts of time and attention and treats, and want to offer that to a new generation.  To do so, I have to  hit the delete button on so many of the things that I routinely do… even if they’re great things – just not my things.  What about you?

Also posted in Blessings, Courage, Letting Go, Seasons, Wisdom Tagged , , , , |

©IBKimage 2012


When my oldest son was little I gave him a book that was in my toy consultant  sample packet.  The title:  “Little While Friends.”  He received it just before we went on a family road trip one summer where we explored three towns named Keystone in three states … among other things.  Stopping to climb rocks or while visiting a snake attraction, he would often find little while friends to interact with.  They didn’t have the same stature as friends from home or the familiarity and commitment of family, but it taught him early on that there are interesting people and sights all around that satisfy. Perhaps, like a beautiful mixed bouquet of flowers in a vase from the floral shop; they are precious because they are a fragile, time-limited treasures.

Now these little while friends don’t always have to be people … the beauty of nature in it distinct seasons, the gift of artists helping us enter into a place we hadn’t considered before; musicians stirring our souls; delight with new learning and new technologies that improve our daily living and help to restore in some manner what has been lost … but generally, it’s people we continually seem to say goodbye to; at airports and graduations, weddings and job changes, first day of school and retirement, and then a final ending whose tension we all live with confronted with so many “little while” choices, actions and engagements.

Our layered wall hanging in today’s image, by a fiber artist in Omaha, NE provided a little while delight on a restaurant wall, as a long time friend and I cherished precious time together over a meal,but more importantly it also reminds me that no matter how dark it might be, the light is thankfully always present. The story of death and resurrection, mourned and celebrated is thankfully” little while” and eternal.




Also posted in Authenticity, Courage, Seasons, Seeing In New Ways Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Mit der Wahl, Kommt die Qual



German was my native language and after my family immigrated to the U.S. when I was almost six, I’m happy to say that my wise mother continued to encourage me to keep learning and speaking German.  One of the delights of being bi-lingual is that there are certain words and phrases that so precisely describe a thing or situation in one language, and yet it’s not always easy to convey the same thought when trying to translate from one to the other.  So with today’s blog title being in German, we’ll discuss a phrase that does capture the same thought quite well in both languages.

The English translation is this:  With the choice (Wahl) comes the agony,pain (Qual).  You may not understand German but you understand this concept.  With the hundreds of choices we can, must, and do make everyday, there is an increasing agony of mind and spirit numbing overwhelm.  I no longer subscribe to “getting organized” (and I was once a professional organizer) but rather I’m desperately trying to reduce the options orgy, so that I have more clarity about how to live my life and with whom and with very little stuff. (My apologies to those of you who have to  slog through hundreds of e-mails and other electronic data at work, some daily!)

One of my mentors and wise friend had this to say about overwhelm:  “You can only manage so many choices, relationships, or you start to emotionally hemorrhage…” I would add spiritually and relationally to that too.  Today’s image come’s pretty close to describing the jungle of choices I’m currently lost in. Ironically, the “grey jungle” was a soft sculpture for sale in an upscale housewares decorator shop. 🙂





Also posted in Courage, Letting Go Tagged , , , |

Morning Light


A quick update to last week’s post:  “Three Pictures A Story Make”.  Several people didn’t understand the point of the real estate sign.  Review the pictures:  1.  The restaurant sign welcomes people to come eat. 2. Birds fly in … 3.  Birds eat on roof of restaurant … 4. Since only pigeons are coming to eat, the restaurant was closed and thus for sale.  I laughed for 30 minutes after finishing the post … it’s a good thing I’m not in the comedy business. 🙂

Today’s image comes from the lobby of the outpatient pavilion at the University of Colorado Health Center. Beautiful glass geometric triangles are pieced together like a three dimensional patchwork quilt hanging in a four story lobby providing light and perhaps comfort to the many stories that must have been occurring there today.

My own visit was a treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) ,  the most common disorder of the inner ear’s vestibular system, which is a vital part of maintaining balance. The little “crystals” behind the eardrum, basically leave their post and float into an area where they don’t belong.  Result: vertigo when turning over in bed or making sudden positional changes .  Solution:  The doctor and her assistant guided me through some assisted moves on a “tilt” table to recreate the dizziness and then, in effect, “rebooted”  the balance system in my left ear, by sending the “crystals “back where they belong.   Who knew?   I knew for sure that I was cured when I walked in the lobby, looked up and starting taking pictures … and no spinning.  Horray! More pictures in focus!



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Sometimes, but not often enough I “get over myself”and just relish the dance in the moment. Last week I joined a photography “Meetup” at the Denver Botanic Garden for a member’s only 7:00 a.m. entry before the general public admission at 9:00.  How delightful to be able to “capture” morning’s soft light offering and it’s cool breeze.  When I put the camera to my eye to frame a shot, all of the tensions of a hundred details attended to in the previous week, float away, and  the music of intentional seeing starts its tune.  Here a color, there a texture, water flowing, interesting patterns, butterflies landing,bees pollinating, reflections on the pond, water lilies opening on their own schedule …. and I’m released from mine.


Todays image could be cropped to capture only the most beautiful  strong proud “pick of the litter” (I live in Denver where there are almost as many dogs as flowers … I digress) and that’s where the focus usually is, but if you saw the image in full size you’d see the most beautiful light illuminating the bent stems of the drooping flower.  The flowers are still alive, but just not strong enough to stand upright.  A reminder perhaps that sometimes we have to take a leave of absence  from our, activities, challenges, schedules, burdens, losses, and incessant doings. A  garden to dance in and to wait, watch and listen as one season follows  another, one flower dies another shoots up new life.  Meanwhile the light shines in the darkness and the early morning light.  How divine.



Also posted in Letting Go, Seeing In New Ways Tagged , , , , , , |