Monthly Archives: December 2012

What defined your 2012?

When you look back over the past 363 days do you see trial and hardship or joy and celebration? There were some sad times for me during 2012 but in my rearview mirror, it all looks very, very good.


Who needs the Land of Enchantment? Dig this sunrise over Hoosierland!

A year ago yesterday I moved to Porter County. I’ve got a sweet house in a safe neighborhood, just 11 miles south of the lake that I love.  In fact, Lake Michigan was one of two major reasons I moved back to the Region from SoNewMex. Friends in Las Cruces thought I was nuts.

“I can understand missing your family,” a friend said after I gave him my top reasons for relocating. “But missing the lake? How can you miss a lake? We have water in New Mexico.”

Sorry, no, you don’t.


Soulmate – Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

You have some inland lakes – beautiful mountain lakes, yes – and the Rio Grande, basically an irrigation ditch in the Las Cruces area. Oh, and “the lake” southern New Mexicans refer to is Elephant Butte – a reservoir created by damming the Rio near Truth or Consequences. But you haven’t seen a lake until you’ve seen the great lakes. Great enough to pull me back home!

Being back in Indiana after 30 years has been wonderful. Aw’gy and I have walked many miles up and down the lake’s sandy shoreline and dunes. More importantly, I’ve been able to reconnect with my siblings and their 30-some children and grandchildren. Regardless, last winter was hard, and it wasn’t because of ice and snow. It was hard because I had to grieve.

This time last year I was happily nesting into my bungalow and at the same time planning a drive to New Mexico for the month of March. Friends saved one of their rental casitas for me. I even had a volunteer gig lined up  at an art fair. But toward the end of January I was getting cold feet about driving south. Some inner turmoil was stirring. Something that demanded my attention.

I used to hate “inner turmoil” until I realized its importance. Turmoil is the lubricant for change. I realized if I spent March in New Mexico I wouldn’t settle into my new digs. What’s more, I needed to replant my Hoosier roots and grieve over leaving Las Cruces.

It wasn’t easy.

I spent two years working on the move – prepping the house, listing it, burying St. Joseph upside down in the front yard (facing northeast, the direction I planned to move) along with a note and family photos, giving away stuff, selling stuff, watching movers load 7,200 pounds of leftovers. Further, I had to let go of friends, living where the skies are not cloudy all day, mountains, desert fragrances, being able to walk my dog for miles in any direction without traffic.

I loved my life in New Mexico. It was important for me to move there, make my way in a wonderful but strange land, “find myself.” But after visits back to the midwest – probably a dozen trips in 7 years – it became clear to me that my heart was with my family, and I missed the lake.

Moving back to Indiana was a defining moment of my year, and probably one of the defining times of my life. It wasn’t an easy move as it took time and plenty of resources, but I’ve been lavishinly rewarded for following my heart.

Turmoil is a lubricant for change. What turmoil is stirring inside you? What are you going to do about it in the coming year? From the bottom of my heart and the bottom of the lake, I wish you and your loved ones a very peaceful, productive and happy new year. Thanks for reading and subscribing to WordScarab.

There'll be a full moon tonight, but I must admit it won't look like this one over my neighbor's house in New Mexico.

There’ll be a full moon tonight, but I must admit it won’t look like this one over my neighbor’s house in New Mexico.

Mayans were right, at least for Newtown

Hooray! It’s not the end of the world. We’ve thought the Mayans were wrong and we were right. Woohoo. But with Sandy Hill Elementary School as a backdrop, the end of the world did come last Friday for 26 individuals and, in a painfully lasting way, their families.

I’ve been struggling to make sense of our country’s guns laws and the Second Amendment. Our founding fathers, 221 years ago, gave us the right to bear arms, the right to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government. Pundits on both sides say we should arm everyone, or we should only have guns for hunting, for sport.

“Two-hundred fifty million guns wouldn’t do much good against tanks, drones, bombers … ,”  one said.  “Shouldn’t we vote them out of office rather than shoot them out?”another said.

Huh, I thought. Vote them out of office. Wait a minute.

We’re fighting too many battles in Africa and the Middle East to give people the right to vote. We want to “give them” democracy so they can vote into office leaders who will lead, presumably, as ours do – with what? Dignity? Humanity? A penchant toward collaboration? Have you seen what’s been going on in Washington? Of course you have. And we’re a role model for the world? Makes me sad.

I was in a store run by an Asian couple last week when the Newtown massacre came blaring over the big-screen tv hanging in the corner. We all watched in horror as the story unfolded. “Only in America,” said the Asian man. “I’m not so sure,” I said. “Was it Norway that suffered a tremendous national blow last year when a guy shot up a school?” “It was a camp,” said another patron.

I heard this week that Norway had its gun policy revised in a week.

It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around this. We want to help other countries find democracy. We want them to vote for leaders who will embrace democracy. We’re using guns but also reasoning (and sanctions) to help them see the errors of their ways. What about us? The leader of the free world and we’ve got outdated gun laws (oh and capital punishment but that’s another story.)

I understand that giving people have freedom to do as they choose. But I learned many years ago my freedom ends where yours begins. I don’t want to have to carry a gun to protect myself from people who can’t control themselves. Trayvon Martin was shot by a man who said he was only trying to protect himself.

What’s the right thing to do? I don’t have an answer but discussion about gun law reform seems to be in order. The Second Amendment is more than 200 years old when the country was concerned about tyranny. Today our country is the world’s watchdog for democratic leadership not tyranny. I am naive about many things but I don’t believe the rest of the world would allow a tyrannical government to form anywhere again. Isn’t that we’ve joined forces against modern-day tyrannists?

A few weeks ago, I thought today’s WordScarab post would be about the Solstice – the end of darkness, a return to longer days. I hope somehow the family and friends of those who lost loved ones in Newtown find light in these dark days. We’ve got to trust that something important, something lasting, something positive is going to come from this.

Keep a cool head. Peace out.

Keep a cool head. Peace out.

Hard to imagine the sorrow

My siblings have 12 children among them and 35 grandchildren. I moved back to Indiana from New Mexico last year to have them in my life, to share their triumphs and hopefully exchange some wisdom. With “my kids” in mind, it’s hard to imagine the sorrow grinding down now on the good people of Newtown, Connecticut.

I think of my nieces and nephews and their children – several of them the same ages of those killed at school today. I picture their bright, smiling faces. Some shriek AUNT KRIS!!! when they see me. Others don’t know I’m there but I relish their smiles just the same.

I’m not good at writing about tragedies. All I’ve got is gratitude. Sorrow coupled with gratitude. Can we take special care with each other? Love our children? Forgive each other for past mistakes? Life is so short. So precious. How many reminders do we need?


Why start a blog?

Have been wanting to share this: the eastern sky over my street in New Mexico.

It’s been more than a year since I launched WordScarab, a fact that prompted a former business colleague to write, “I’ve never understood that whole blog thing.”

I didn’t understand it either when I launched WordScarab in July 2011 but I wanted to try, learn, do – make a commitment to post once a week, which I have for a year.

Except for that one week when I didn’t. A dear friend tried letting me off the hook. “It’s okay,” he said, after listening to my whining about lightening zapping my computer equipment. “No. No it’s not,” I said. “I made a commitment to this and I’ve got a deadline to meet.” (And I see now I missed last week. Ugh. Just plain blew my own deadline. Aack!)

It was during a year’s stint as a business and feature writer for a New Mexico weekly that I was reminded of why I love journalism – satisfying an innate curiosity. I so enjoy  learning something new – that feeling of “I didn’t know that! People have to know about THAT!”

How many times have I wanted to share that “new thing” with readers, craft the story, see it in print. When I left the paper I needed an outlet and joined the blogosphere. Nearly every day I hear about a new topic – “oh, I’d love to write that story.”

Bloggers are publishers. We create the page, or medium, first. Then we write, right? But how do you  “get it out there,” someone asked.

I chose WordPress as a blog platform because it’s a well-crafted tool that’s easy to use. There are hundreds of templates available, for free, and the blogger simply customizes the template. Or not, for that matter. No customization required. You can go to the WordPress site right now, download a template and be blogging in a matter of minutes.

Yes, yes, content is key. To make money as a blogger you must write things the world wants to read. Experts tell you a blogging “niche” is important. What are you writing about? Food? Parenting? Making soap? How to shop? Run for office?

WordScarab is not a money machine. I haven’t built a bankroll but I have  been building relationships. I’ve had comments from readers all over the world. Helped some people connect with lost loved ones.

My site’s busiest day so far was July 2011, when I posted A Very Sushi Birthday. The word WordScarab itself has captured a surprising number of hits.

More than anything, it’s been a wonderful learning tool. I’ve learned that a commitment takes discipline, that wordsmithing is fun and that it just might be time to launch another blog. WordScarab will remain in some form because I’m attached to this notion of “searching for nuggets of wisdom in the detritus of life.” But I’m thinking it’s time to take this search to a higher level, expand my reach. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.