On the Road

On the road again… Let the music of Willie Nelson’s song, “On The Road Again,” run through your head—or better yet, listen to it as you read this blog—and enjoy.  The last few weeks have been an adventure—of traveling down the road, hitting a few bumps, practicing gratitude and compassion—and celebrating the various stages of life! 

Roger and I, along with Sterling, our precious silver lab puppy, began the trip from Iowa to Texas with a sad task ahead of us: cleaning out Roger’s Mother’s home after her death in December.  What would that be like?  How would we do it—both emotionally and pragmatically?  Would everyone get along?  Would there be tears?  What would it feel like?  I’m grateful to say that Rhonda, Roger’s sister, had everything organized so superbly that the process of cleaning out and dividing up Wanda’s things went smoothly and fairly.  Roger’s mindset was that of honoring his Mom and Dad and gratefully “being with my brother and sister for a whole day—to cherish the time we’re together.”  I admire and respect that about Roger—his ability to be in the “now” and be present in difficult situations.  As Roger and Jim and Rhonda looked through boxes they discovered various mementoes, such as this letter from baseball camp,

anda and Hershel’s love for their family was evident in the “treasures” they had saved.  Another song comes to mind now, “A Long Line of Love” by Michael Martin Murphy.

On the road again, we then drove to Dallas, TX to be with Justin, Jill and Brent for the day. What a blast that was hanging out as a family! It seemed like the time went by in fast-forward—but it was rich with conversation, laughter, sharing a few meals, and just being together.  Nothing fancy, nothing spectacular—the extra-special moments of the ordinary.

Celebrating seasons of life is such an important part of living—to pause, to affirm, to reflect, to laugh, to share together. In this case we celebrated the beauty of my Mom, Gena Morris, at her 80th birthday celebration.  It is quite a celebration when we can get everyone together!  Fun times! 

On the road again—this time, traveling with Mom and Dad to Lubbock, TX—with a stop at the Museum of Natural History in Seymour.  An amazing museum with incredible dinosaur fossils found in the Baylor County Area.  Daddy was loving it!  Meanwhile I was loving the beauty of the car time with Mom and Dad—we’ve traveled that road from Lubbock to Seymour as a family countless times, and I reveled in memories of traveling back to Seymour to visit grandparents, ride our horses, and go to the lake after moving to Lubbock as an 8-year-old.

Amidst the crazy schedule, I had the opportunity to enjoy the richness of sitting with my high school friends and sharing our life together in the “today.”  Thank you Katherine and Marianne.  Friends to cherish forever.

In Lubbock, I had the honor of sharing Stop Breathe Believe at the Parkinson Symposium.  What a privilege to share with this group of incredibly brave and courageous individuals who have to decide daily to show up to living life fully amidst a frustrating and debilitating disease!  I loved, loved, loved getting to hear some of their stories. Parkinson’s is a disease our family is all too familiar with. Daddy is certainly a wonderful example of the power of the choice of our thoughts in fighting against a disease that can provide many opportunities for discouragement.  Daddy’s attitude and his decision to exercise with fortitude have defined him as a hero in my mind! 

On the road again—now think of the song “Just a Small Town Girl” by Journey. 

I admired the glorious beauty of the Texas sunset on the Brazos River as I pulled into Round Timbers to spend the night with my aunt and uncle, Sammie and Bobby—who of course, spoiled me with Fried Fish Dinner. Bobby catches, Sammie cooks!  Quite a team!

I was born in Seymour, TX and was invited to speak at the Spring Brunch for the women of the community.  What sweet and nostalgic memories:

*sharing about the time my friend, Julie and I—at about age 5 or 6—were picking bluebonnets (the state flower of Texas) and a police officer drove by.  Julie and I were alarmed and quickly ran into the house—afraid that we were going to be arrested because we “knew” that it was illegal to pick the state flower.

*having the opportunity to hug my deceased grandmother’s pastor’s wife. My grandmother’s pastor would stop during his busy schedule to share Communion with Tinie at her oak kitchen table, as she was unable to get out due to Parkinson’s disease.  What a gift of love Pastor Hart provided!

*looking out at the audience and seeing so many faces that loved and encouraged me as a little girl: Mrs. Carter who taught me Sunday School; Marcia, the cousin I idolized because she was the high school twirler; my friend Julie, the one I picked the bluebonnets with and had not seen in 40+ years; my Dad’s secretary at the bank who would always sneak us an extra sucker when we came by to say “hi” to Daddy; my cousins Gena, Debbie and Mindy, for being the beautiful and courageous women they are; my aunt, Sammie, the best cheerleader anyone could wish for.  So, what a thrill to be able to share with them about Stop Breathe Believe and the beauty of cultivating self-compassion in our lives!

On the road again…and this time for the road home….


After a long road trip, what a thrill it is to get to your home street and enjoy the “YES” of turning into the driveway. We captured it on camera as Sterling stuck her head out the window to celebrate the budding of the trees in West Des Moines.

And then, on the road again—this time back in Des Moines for a courageous week of sharing at a few professional conferences.  Speaking to professional therapists is always scary—the “not enough” thoughts come out in full force when speaking to a group of colleagues!  Here’s a shot of my colleague Nancy and me, putting the finishing touches on our talk.

Speaking is such a humbling experience at times!  As Nancy and I were sharing at the Iowa Mental Health Conference about how we utilize the practice of Stop Breathe Believe with clients, I had to stop, quite literally! Yep, there was a slight “detour” on this part of the road trip as I frantically realized my notes were out of order. I had to admit it to the audience, re-set, and “go again”—and this was after getting started 15 minutes late due to “technical difficulties” with the PowerPoint.  Take a deep breath, Dianne!  Oh my!  Lions, tigers, bears and technology—oh my!  At times, I prefer to ditch the whole technology thing—but it is a “step into the arena of courage” moment for me.  I want to be brave. And the green statement for that particular presentation, with its mistakes and the panic of the moment, was “Stumbling is a part of growing.” 

So, what are the “road trip” lessons?

*I love this quote by Elizabeth Berg in The Year of Pleasures: “Now, on this road trip, my mind seemed to uncrinkle, to breathe, to present to itself a cure for a disease it had not, until now, known it had.” 

*I cherish the silence of traveling along in quiet, and I love the car conversations with Roger—the unrushed, sometimes deep, sometimes reflective, sometimes ordinary, sometimes funny conversations. I’m grateful for the hours of conversation that afford us the vulnerability, the glue, and the sharing that binds us together.

*It’s a wild and worthwhile adventure to travel and connect with others…and yet centering and refreshing to be at home. I’m sitting on the couch as I write this, with the sun shining in on a quiet and calm morning. It’s exhilarating to travel, yet it’s wonderful to be back in a routine and see clients.  Even Sterling, our puppy, seemed glad to get home to some familiar surroundings.  I think she might have decided she lived in a four-wheeled, moving vehicle!

*Family is worth traveling for, worth connecting to—even as we are processing various stages of life, not all of them joyous. The time spent together is priceless.

*Sharing with others about the practice of Stop Breathe Believe is an honor and a privilege. It’s rather humbling at times when I “mess up” and model imperfection so well—but I’m just so very grateful for the opportunities to share. 

May the practice of Stop Breathe Believe draw you closer to the real you as you discover the beauty and depth of who you were created to be. May you live fully alive today—whatever road you are on!

In closing, I will share with you the lovely words of an old Irish blessing—

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hands.

A Bouquet of Dandelions

What does Mother’s Day look like for you?  For some of us, this is the first Mother’s Day to be a Mother and that is exhilarating, and maybe even a little exhausting after a short night with the baby’s feedings.  For some, the days leading up to this weekend are painful—maybe we are unable to have children, so we only hold in our hearts the child we so yearn to hold in our arms.  For some of us the weekend is exciting and full of celebration—children coming home or taking Mom out to dinner.  For some of us, the weekend is a time of fear that hits hard because of our Mother’s recent diagnosis.  For some, we just realized it’s Mother’s Day and are wondering if the store has any cards left. Some of us have made a special card or gift for our moms and can’t wait to present our token of love to her.  For some of us, it is a day of great laughter and fun and for some of us, this is the first Mother’s Day since our Mother’s death.

For others, this time of year is about just being together and celebrating family.  For some of us the only way we are “together” is through the internet and we yearn for more “real life” times of togetherness. For some of us, Mother’s Day is another work day.  For some of us, it is a reminder of the ache in our heart we feel as a Mother because of the death of our precious, beautiful child. For some of us, Mother’s Day as a single Mom doesn’t look much different than any other day.  For some, the emphasis on mothering is a reminder that our Mom was not there for us—maybe we are still waiting for our Mother’s approval, or maybe our Mother watched us being abused, never able to stand up for us, and we are deeply hurt by her silence. Maybe we are in a current struggle of communication with our Mom. Maybe we are celebrating the beauty of the value of the relationship and what we have learned from our Mothers—often our first teachers about life and laundry and love and Legos and laughter and lots of other lessons. Maybe we are in tears because our son just presented us with our first dandelion bouquet.

Oh, what a beautiful thing, that first dandelion bouquet.  The simple, heart-felt gesture of an innocent child with the idea of an extravagant gift for Mom.  The child brings all that he has to give in that moment. An allergy-inducing invasive weed to most, but a gorgeous offering of love and relationship in the eyes of the mother.

One of the reasons Mother’s Day is so wide in the array of experiences is because whether it’s mother/daughter, mother/son, or mother/father, these are all relationships, and relationships can be messy.  Because of the reality of the imperfections in our relating, we are often hurt or we hurt others.  Even in a relationship that is often idealized there can be very difficult and very trying times.

Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics specializing in sociolinguistics in her book, You’re Wearing That?, Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation, says “Words exchanged between [young] daughters and mothers – in the moment or in memory – can carry enormous weight.  The same is true for conversations between mothers and grown daughters, even though both are women and in many ways speak the same language – indeed, partly because both are women and in many ways speak the same language:  a language in which intimacy and closeness as well as power and distance are constantly negotiated. Improving communication between mothers and daughters, much like breaking down barriers to communication between women and men, requires, above all, understanding:  seeing the situation from the other’s point of view.”  I recommend the book as a catalyst for discovering the value of the words in the mother/daughter relationship.  Even if you do not have a daughter, you have a mother and this book promotes deeper reflection and understanding of a significant relationship.  

May our celebration this Mother’s Day be in the small steps that we take towards our mothers and children, our fellow human beings. May it be in the working to improve our communication, the extending and accepting of dandelion bouquets.