37 In Women Now

Women Now: Finding clarity and making commitments to good living

Making a list of commitments

I am committed to being more present to the magic of life


These last days of December have been good for me. I feel like I’m settling into my body after this blustery fall, figuratively and metaphorically. I’ve spent most of my time staying put in Sonoma since taking some time off.

I’ve been in the Sonoma Plaza, visiting friends and shopping for books to read this winter. Russ and I went to the Sebastiani Theater and saw the movie, The Darkest Hour. I can’t get enough of Churchill films!

Sonoma Plaza

Sonoma Plaza


I love the new sign on the Plaza. A big red heart with the message The Love in the Air. That’s the sentiment around here after all the smoke cleared up from the Wine Country Fires.


Love is in Sonoma

New sign in the Sonoma Plaza


Finding my hiking legs

I’ve gone for walks in the Sonoma Regional Park over near Glen Ellen which was hit hard by the fires. I love madrone trees. They have such smooth finishes. These are great kissing trees. I highly recommend you put “Kiss a Madrone” on your bucket list. The bark is so sensual.

I thought twice about kissing these madrones. They look so bloody red, don’t they? Most of the madrones I’ve seen have more of a cinnamon brown bark. I’ve never seen them this red. Could it be from the fires?




Lingering coffee breaks

If I’m in Sonoma in the late afternoon I love heading over to Peet’s Coffee & Tea on Broadway just off the Plaza for an extra hot almond milk latte. Sometimes I bring my iPad to do some writing. Other times I bring something to read. Lately, I’ve been doing not much of anything but sitting quietly, sipping slowly. That rhythm is working for me.


Coffee breaks at Peet's

Slowing life down


Reflecting and homing in on what’s important

Gosh, I savor time for reflection and I’ve been getting it. I have a couple of regrets this year, mostly about a couple of projects left undone. But I’m constantly trying to invite compassion for myself. I truly can’t think of a summer/fall season that was so full of “I never saw that coming” events. You know the saying as well as I do: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Amen!


Taking time for reflection

Pondering the mystery and magic of life


Coming back to center

I meet over the phone a couple of times a month with Iliani Matisse. Her title is Certified CoActive Life Coach and Holistic Health Coach. She was my lifeline through the layers and layers of grief I had after Mother and my brother Todd died within months of each other. She’s helped me navigate loss and health issues. Now she’s a fine coach for helping me get clear about what’s important and then checking in to see if I’m moving toward that. She helps me be kind to myself.

Clarity isn’t always easy to find. It makes me think of throwing darts at a dartboard. Sometimes I get close and other times I feel like I’m way off the mark. This month she helped me hit the bullseye. She asked great questions and as we talked about what matters most to me, I could see a list shaping up. I like lists.

The items on this list represent all the things I can think of that when they’re present in my life, I feel whole and complete. Iliani suggested I write these statements down and turn them into a collage so I could review them often; so I could keep from getting lost.


A list of things that matter

Things I’m committed to


When I’m scattered, running around, succumbing to distraction after distraction, I get anxious and worried. I’m planets away from feeling whole and complete.

Something that would help me keep my eyes on the prize sounded like a really good idea. I went to Canva.com, found a template and created my “Brenda’s Glorious Life” blueprint. This represents the “good life” to me.

I printed it out and slid it into a plastic frame and placed it on my writing table. That way I can read it first thing every morning when I sit down to do my writing.


Bella threatens to topple over my list

My commitment list is where I can see it until Bella knocks it over


It’s really helped me! When I read the list it calms me. It informs decisions I make during the day. Do I push myself or do I give myself a break? Do I go for that walk or watch TV instead? Do I spend time in prayer and meditation or do I skip it because I’m too busy?


I’m Don Reiten’s girl

Although I was a serious teenager growing up, my dad says my inner child was always playful. Where did he pick up the term “inner child”?


Sonoma in December

Embellishing my outfit with leaves, wouldn’t you?


I’m heading off to spend time with him and the rest of my Minnesota family. We’ll be spending New Year’s together.

Something I do every day is to check the temp in Dent. (I love the rhythm of those words: Check the temp in Dent.) Dent is a small town near where Dad lives in assisted living and where Mom and Dad’s house is on the lake. One of the things I’ve done three times now is to walk from the shore of their lakefront property across the lake to an island and back. In the winter of course, on top of the ice. It’s exhilarating!

When I looked at the temp in Dent I saw very quickly that I won’t be walking across the lake this year. Take a look at those highs and lows on Friday and Saturday. Those are my first two days there and they’re not walking weather. Although this is where I come from I feel like a novice. I’m packing every layer of warmth I have and plan to wear it all at once and possibly not freeze to death if I’m lucky.


Cold temps in Dent

Checking the temp in Dent


Dad turns 92 in January. I get such a kick out of him and he’d say the same about me. Hearing him chuckle and giggle is one of the best sounds in the world. He didn’t do that for a couple of years. His chuckles had dried up. But a year ago I started hearing those sounds again. It was a miracle.

We talk about everything. And we cry together too. When I found out I had a rare disease and had to go through every test imaginable and go for a second opinion, I was scared. I talked to Dad about it. He said, “Brenda, I sit on the powder keg with you.” Hearing that, I knew I could face anything. I wasn’t alone.

When I called him and said, “Dad, this is going to be manageable”, he cried. And so did I.

I love visiting him and the other elders at Briarwood. I want to be like them when I grow up. It’s on my bucket list.

One of my commitments reads, “I am committed to being more present to the magic of life.” This time together twinkles, sparkles and is magical. I can’t wait to see him.

Whatever you do to ring in the New Year, be safe. Be you, wonderful you, and I’ll see you on the other side! Can’t wait!

What do you feel committed to in your life? Would you feel comfortable sharing?


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  • Reply
    Cindy La Ferle
    December 28, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Brenda, you are an inspiring woman in so many ways. I hope you realize that the items on your list — your commitments — brighten the lives of so many people who follow your blog, myself included. So many times, you’ve touched on things that resonate with me, or mirror something I am going through. Your list today mirrors many of my own hopes, values, and dreams. Thanks so much for sharing your reflections — today and all year long. I am wishing you a wonderful, “sparkly” New Year. (I love that word on your list!)

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      It’s great to hear how these commitments resonated with you. It’s going to be a practice. A year of practice! And wishing you a sparkly year as well!

  • Reply
    Laurie Hickey
    December 28, 2017 at 5:09 am

    It’s -5 degrees here in snowy Vermont. The wisdom and warmth of your words reached all the way here this morning.

    So appreciate you! Wishing you-and all who read your blog- a peaceful holiday season and a joyful New Year.

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 9:13 am

      Laurie, your wishes warm my heart! Wishing all of us a terrific New Year together!

  • Reply
    Sandi McDougall
    December 28, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Looking forward to sharing with you on Friday & Saturday, Brenda. And thank God you didn’t show your readers what the temperature in Dent, MN will be on Saturday 😉

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Like we said, this weather is epic! But it’s no match to the good cheer we’ve shared in Fargo and Perham!! MWAH!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Love this post, thanks so much for sharing!

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Thanks for hanging out here, Jody!
      All best in 2018. Insert heart here!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Have a wonderful time and keep warm!

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 9:18 am

      I’m doing my best!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Beautiful post that really resonates with me. Enjoy your New Year’s break with your father and I look forward to reading your wonderful blog afterwards! Happy New Year!!

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      Those posts are noodling right now! Glad you found resonance with post. XO

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    December 28, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Wonderful post, Brenda! It has given me much to think about. I love the idea of creating a “good life” list and framing it. As a new follower, I look forward to reading more of your blog in the new year.

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 5:31 pm

      We all love new voices so welcome!! And all the best to your good life.

  • Reply
    December 28, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Thankful for your generous heart, Bren do, sharing with all of us who are lucky enough to have found your blog. The holidays are a time when I give myself space to think, about the year that’s ending and the new one ahead. I really like your idea of framing the messages to yourself, that’s a good thing to do here in frigid MN this long weekend. A little while ago, I looked up from my computer when I heard shoveling on our front steps. Two little boys had just finished our sidewalk and steps, how cool is that? They looked to be maybe 6 and 8 years old. I told them my son had finished all our Christmas cookies, but went to see if I could find a few dollars to give them. They were thrilled to split a $10 bill!
    Happy New Year to all, let’s be active in our lives and our loved ones.

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Love your share! I can just see those kids shoveling your sidewalk. I’m in these feuded days with you and am thinking of the perfect time for reflection! Thanks, Deanne.

  • Reply
    Cindy Scurry
    December 28, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I definitely take time for a quiet mind and reflection. This has happened naturally I suppose. I love your list of things to focus on. They are same as mine, although I haven’t written them down. I think I came to them after my only child died. I became much more kinder to myself and nurturing to myself. I found love and happiness with a new husband (of 7 years now) and he is so supportive. We aren’t trying to change each other – we encourage and celebrate each other. It’s wonderful!! I’m so appreciate of my joy and happiness in life – after having the most enormous grief 11 years ago. Maybe it’s evolution. Maybe it’s God’s grace. Whatever I’m living with a grateful heart each day. Thank you for your post! I love reading your thoughts.

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      Cindy, thanks so much for sharing your deep, unfathonable loss and how you’ve faced it. I’m so glad you found love in your life. You show us what’s possible. Bless you!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Hi Brenda, I don’t comment often but I just wanted to let you know that this post really touched me for some reason. Actually brought tears to my eyes! I guess I’ve got some serious work to do regarding how I honor and treat my own self! Also reminded me how much I really miss my parents – especially around this time of year when those two romantics celebrated their wedding anniversary and the holidays by dancing together whenever the mood struck. Hope you have a lovely New Year’s Eve celebration with your family and your dear Dad. Blessings to you.
    Xo Heidi

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 3:55 pm

      Wow, Heidi, thanks for sharing about your romantic parents. It’s great to hear those real life stories. I lend my support to you in looking forward to taking better care of you. We all need that reminder!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Thank you for being so open and generous is sharing yourself. What a precious gift you are. I am committed to peace this year by focusing on my spiritual self and my relationship with God. Enjoy your time with your father. Happy new year

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      Thanks, Kathy. I went to church with Dad on Sunday and the message was to make God your first conversation of the day. That really stuck with me. I love your commitment!

      • Reply
        Trinnie q
        January 4, 2018 at 6:37 pm

        I am late reading this, but so beautiful and generous of heart. Peace, joy, quietness when needed, and the grace to love my life, my partner, my kids, and myself, in a kind and nurturing way. These are my hopes for the New Year . Sending much love from Oz , to you and your beautiful Dad . X

        • Reply
          January 9, 2018 at 12:48 pm

          And if I were a fairy godmother I’d wave my wand and it would all be so! But I know you have a wonderful wand yourself, Trinnie. Love from Sonoma!

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    December 28, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Keeping my Slow Club pace may be the only successful commitment I have. Perhaps that it is easy, rather than difficult–helps with my success. Brenda, I learn important bits and pieces by reading your musings. I see that I could be more proactive with goals from your fearless examples. Naming that I will at least consider doable goals may help in 2018. Thank you for your examples and encouragement. On a side note, thank you for Madrone Tree mention. I live on Madrone Avenue. Unfortunately there are no Madrone trees on our street. Once when I asked if planting a Madrone might be rightfully symbolic–a more knowledgeable tree person claimed that Madrone trees were ugly and messy. I didn’t bother checking them out after that. With your notations of Madrones being sensual and kissing trees…I am intrigued and may search them out. It seems serendipitous that somehow…at least one Madrone tree hold a place of honor on Madrone Avenue. Happy New Year!

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 3:50 pm

      I always love hearing about your Slow Club pace. ALWAYS! It’s a good reminder for me. You must find a Madrone tree to kiss. It’s hard to hear that contrary assessment. Funny, I never saw them that way! Happy New Year, dear friend!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Beautiful words, Brenda. I am thankful for the light you generate here.

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      And thanks for bringing your light here!

  • Reply
    Sandra Sallin-Apart From My Art
    December 30, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Happy holidays Brenda. You always inspire me. What an excellent writer you are. It’s always a treat and a surprise reading your posts. I too am going to be in cold weather. Going to Washington D.C. where it will be one degree. How to stay warm? Let me know what you will be wearing. I need help or a heater. All the things you have written down are on my list also. So here’s to a great and positive New Year.

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      A highlight this year was meeting you! I am an adoring fan. As for warmth, lots of layers! I’ve worn double sweaters and double pairs of socks for these below zero temps! And yes, a heater sounds like a great idea! XO

  • Reply
    Susan B.
    December 30, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Happy New Year to you, Brenda! Have a wonderful time with your family.

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks, Susan!! And to you!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Wonderful Brenda. I want to say thank you for all you do. I simply Love the picture of you ‘pondering the mystery and magic of life. You look fantastic. Every single line in your ‘ Brendas glorious life’ speaks true. After all you have been through this year, really, who can say what is terrible in their life. After losing my mom and mother in law a week apart, I thought there was nothing to be happy about, and your advice about seeking help has spurred me on to do that in the new year. Your upbeat words, and commitment to fun, are just what is needed. You are truely a life saver, and inspiration for many. I hope you have a wonderful New Years with your family, and do stay warm. Save the walk on the lake for slightly warmer days. We are having a 3 week run of severe cold as well, and part of my stay in activity is to read your ‘makeover’ book again. I can just hear you on each page. Suffice it to say thank you so very much for bringing me back. You are beautiful inside and out.Much love. and best for 2018! Thanks for the twinkles and sparkles you add to life.

    • Reply
      January 2, 2018 at 3:25 pm

      Diane, You found amazing strength to deal with what you’ve had to deal with. I’m so glad my words could help you. I look forward to more love and support for and from this wonderful community. XO

  • Reply
    Joan kosmachuk
    January 2, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    Inspiring words!

    • Reply
      January 9, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks, Joan!

  • Reply
    Marilyn Adams
    October 5, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Brenda, I’ve just become a reader of your blog. I have read one of your articles almost everyday this week. I am 72, and very active. I have been hearing a word in my Spirit all week (in my health care app and on television). The word is “intentional.” I am finding myself, more and more, living intentionally. I am intentionally slowing down when I eat, enjoying every flavor, trying to eat less. I am intentionally enjoying all the clothes in my closet, after reading some of your blogs. I appreciate good shoes, and can now justify buying more since reading your blog (just kidding). Yes, life does throw some things in our lives we did not expect, but we can make a determination to live intentionally. One of my latest is to plan my tomorrow, every night before I go to bed. I am intentionally staying away from things which are not joyful. I, too, love films with Winston Churchill in them. I intend to continue reading your blogs, and have also shared them with other older friends. I have been wearing Chico clothes for over twenty five years so I enjoy all the things you are showing me how to mix and mingle. Intentionally looking forward to spending more time with you through your blogs.

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