Game Day Plans

Yesterday was game day. The big day. You know the one. The day some have worked all year for. Well really, they have worked most of their life for that game. For that game, for that moment in time they put it all on the line.  Then they hoped and prayed the game would go their way. Sunday, February 7 was that big day of football in the US.  By now half of us have celebrated for our winner and the other half are hoping for next year. Most of us will never play in a Super Bowl game, but we do have those game days. Those big days do happen for the rest of us too, but for most of us our big day is not the big football game, but it is big.

There are the days we studied for, the tests we prepared for, the papers we wrote and the presentations we practiced. Remember doing all of that and all of the hoping and praying that went along with those moments. For some of us those moments are history, others of you are studying and preparing for something today.  We all go through phases that we need to prepare for–game day preparations–preparations different than usual, more intense than usual.  Sometimes game days come unannounced and we are unable to prepare for those days. Some of us have had those meetings with doctors to discuss lab results and it felt like everything we had was on the line. Others of you do not yet know that feeling, it is intense and helpless. Many of us prepared for these days simply by surrounding ourselves with loved ones for support and educating ourselves, it was all we knew to do. Some of us have encountered legal challenges that have brought us to days where we felt everything we had was on the line.  Many times, preparation was simply to do what we were advised and, again surround ourselves with support.  But for all of our game days, we prepared as well as we could, we put it all on the line, we prayed, and we hoped for the best.  After all, that is the best we could do.

So, yeah, I am not going to be playing in a Super Bowl, or any football game for that matter.  Thank goodness – could you imagine the pressure for that level of a public performance not to mention the physical workouts those guys endure.  I know the word should be “do” rather than “endure”, but for those less fit like myself, well “endure” feels like the correct word.  But I am still planning the next “big things” in my life.  Now, I am closer to retirement than to the start of my career, but I still have plans and those plans will need preparations.  I have so many things I still want to accomplish, many of them are things I have put off for far too long. So here I am today, planning my preparations for my next big thing… for my own personal Super Bowl Sunday.  What is yours?  Are you going to finish a diploma, start a blog, learn a new recipe, take a class, learn something new, write a book, sew a quilt, or do a presentation? What is your next Super Bowl Sunday?

Best wishes to you on your journey to your next Big Thing! Let’s Do This!

Dormant Seasons

I do not like brown grass. I like fresh, green, soft grass. You know, anything from spring to fall is good for me. Spring grass is new and young and emerging from the ground. How exciting to watch it grow as our seasons change. I am also good with summer grass, although I like it better with a sprinkler in the air, the coolness of the water washing the heat of the day away. I love fall, it is probably my favorite season, so fall grass gets a free pass because I like it’s season. But brown grass… winter brown grass?? No thank you. It is not pretty. It’s color, if you can call it that, is depressing and drab, is that brown or just a really ugly beige? And have you tried to walk barefoot on it? UGH! Well, first off the weather is too cold for that nonsense, but come on, that stuff hurts your feet. Grass is not supposed to hurt your feet, surely that is written in some grass manual somewhere. I just hate brown grass…. but then again, I guess the green grass needs the brown grass to grow? I am not a horticulturist, I think that is what one who studies grass would be called, but I do believe they would tell me the grass needs a dormant season. So we need brown grass to have green grass? Yes, as a matter of fact we do.

A time of waiting…. the dormant season… yeah, not usually a fan of those either. The season where things stop and rest so that growth can occur. A time where pruning may occur.. ouch! Definitely not a fan of pruning. The dormant season outside is essential for the growth the rest of the year, and pruning during the dormant season is easier on the plants. A dormant season in my own life, while usually painful to experience can be of benefit to me too. I was never very good at activities in life that required I would sit quietly and grow. I think many times in my life I was too busy resenting the dormant season to see the benefit while walking through it. I can see it later, but I am really good at that hindsight thing, I think most of us are.

Now that I am older and wiser I am better at seeing the value of things like dormant seasons. I was not good at those concepts in my youth… ok, let’s be honest, probably not really good at it now. But, really bad at it when I was younger. Think about it, a season of your life waiting and building for the next season. Remember me from the last blog, I am the turn the page person, I want to get to what is next. But sometimes we cannot rush a dormant season. That quiet time of inner growth is essential for the next step. It is still growth and positive, but it is not always easy. And like the brown grass that season of growth is not always obvious. Dormant seasons of life can be solitude and quiet as we seek to listen to our inner selves, or busier as we strive to apply for jobs, prepare to move, go to school… the things we do while we are building for the next step. Just imagine how beautiful your next step will be after your dormant season. Your next season will come, seasons will keep revolving. Spring will come, and there will be beautiful green grass, tress will bud, and flowers will bloom…. and growth, growth will be outwardly obvious to you even if to no one else. Here’s to our growth, yours and mine. And here’s to our dormant seasons in life, may we always make the most of those times. Be well friends!

Lonely, but not Alone

I see you sitting there. Reading this, alone, at the end of a day. I see you, and I understand you, because some times I am you. Sometimes, I think we all are. We live busy lives in a busy world, and yet sometimes we feel completely alone while surrounded by people. I am sorry if you feel alone, please know that you are not. There are people that care about you, some that do not know that you feel alone, and some that just do not realize how alone you feel. Sometimes, I have to pick up the phone and call that one trusted friend, you know the one… the one that always “gets you”. They understand and help to carry your burden. If you don’t have that friend, find someone that can become that friend, for we all need one in life. Mine was a fluke, never in a million years did I anticipate that she would become a lifelong friend. But sometimes, life takes you on turns you didn’t anticipate. This friendship has been one of those turns for me, it’s the phone call I can always make.

I like to read, I wish I had more time in life to read. But I have this tiny little flaw… you see I have always been a ‘let me read the end of the book first type of a person.’ You know the one, the person who buys a book and reads the last chapter first. After I read the ending I decide if I want to read the rest or not. I have probably missed out on some great books as a result of my bad habit. Sometimes, we have to read the pages one by one, just go through the pages of life one day at a time. Sometimes, the pages are fun filled… I love those pages of life, the days of laughter, celebrations and joy. But some of the other pages are more difficult to go through. They are for me too. Somedays, I just want to know that I will survive the trial of the day. That feeling is overwhelming and I feel alone. I told you, I see you sitting there and I know you, because sometimes, I am you.

I care about the end of the book, but I care more about today. I chose to use the todays and the tomorrows to write the book. We can do that you know, we can focus on the good in each day. If you don’t feel like you have any good in your day, call that friend, borrow some from them. No friend? Call anyone you know, call your pastor, call your neighbor, call a counselor… call someone. I wish that I could use the todays and tomorrows to write out the grief, I cannot and neither can you, but we can survive it. The loss of friends and loved ones? The factory that closed down, the foreclosure on the house, the child that died, the husband that left? I cannot write those out of my life and neither can you. But we can write the story of triumph. We can chose daily how to respond to the days events, even the tragic ones. We can surround ourselves with supportive people and even access additional supports through counseling, friends and church if we have a need. I am no stranger to earth shattering tragedy that I did not think I would recover from. I am eternally grateful to those that lifted me up and carried during that time. I do not know what the end of my book will say but the page today looks good. Tomorrow’s page looks pretty good too. As we walk through this life let us commit to ourselves to do our best every single day. And call your friends, cultivate those friendships, for there will be days you will need them. Call your friends, for there will be days they will need you too. Take care friends, and call your friends.

Embrace the Journey

I have this friend that I’m a little jealous of, some days more than a little jealous.   She is bolder than I and willing to go out and do the things that she enjoys. Do you know why? Because she enjoys them! What a novel idea right? She has taken well to the life of retirement, but still cycles and runs… and her fashion sense!  I love that her earrings never match but always coordinate. Who would have of thought of wearing a dog and a bone for earrings? She has sandals on all year, no matter the weather.  Even in the winter months she has sandals with toe socks.  The way she embraces life warms my heart and encourages me to do the same. I finally got bold enough to wear a silver snowman and a silver snowflake, because how cute right? An observer reminded me that my earrings didn’t match. But I I thought about it and realized what they intended as insulting I found as complementary. I had watched my friend with her unmatched earrings for years, maybe I was getting bolder after all. It occurs to me even as I write this that I have several friends like this. It seems I have surrounded myself with people are willing to enjoy the journey of their life – what a great idea!

We spend so much time worrying about what our perceptions of what other people think.  What about enjoying life?  What about riding a bike after 50?  Why not?  Seems like a good way to enjoy a day.  We often pass on the things we want to do from a fear of acceptance.  I wonder what would happen if we each took a page from my friend’s book and opted to embrace each day and make the most of it?  I like to take photos, but when I am out in public I worry about people thinking I am odd taking a photo of this or that.  It is time to learn from my friend – stress less and enjoy more. I like to ride my husband’s motorcycle with him. But I do often wonder what people think when I have difficulties getting off and on. I like to ride a bicycle, but am I too old for that? Who gets to decide these things? Well, me of course, so why am I letting my perceptions of others thoughts weigh me down?

Somewhere there is a poem about wearing purple when I am old and embracing all the things I passed on in my youth.  We need to be responsible and make healthy choices for ourselves and our family while we embrace life, but we need to embrace life! I am not advocating we go out and jump from planes, well I guess if that’s your thing… but it is not mine.  But I am advocating we find things in our daily life, healthy things, things we can enjoy and we go do them.  How about I worry less about whether you think I’m old or out of shape or overweight and I worry more about how fun it was to hike to the bottom of the falls for the photo!  

I don’t have to wait until I’m old to wear purple, and neither do you. We need celebrate life every single day and do things that create happiness each day. If it makes me happy to go for a bicycle ride, why don’t I go? Because I’m worried that people will think I’m too old to be riding a bicycle? What if I want to take salsa lessons, but I don’t have a partner, should I go? Should I ask a friend to take dancing lessons with me? Is that too intimidating, and why would it be intimidating? Why don’t we run races? Why don’t we ride bicycles? Why don’t we have dessert with our dinner? Why not learn a new skill like archery or dancing or bowling? Why not go to the movies by yourself on a Saturday? We worry about our perceptions of the opinions of others instead of finding the joy in the things that we like. Spend more time riding bicycles, go for walks, go out to breakfast even if you have to eat alone, dance the dance. Be more like my friend and celebrate life even in the little things.

Wear your purple now and enjoy the moments, the little ones and the big ones.

Warmer Days

I long for warmer days. Many of you will laugh at that – you see I live in Tennessee and I grew up in Nebraska. So, you would think I would be content with this bright, sunny 35 degree morning that should be near 50 by the end of the day. I can hear my Northern friends saying “are you kidding me?” And shaking you’re heads in disbelief looking out at your snow covered yards, laughing… I’m laughing with you by the way. But, alas, I am cold and I long for warmer days. It seems that I am cold all the time these days.

It is possible that my cold office contributes to my seemingly perpetual problem. The heat has been off in my office. I really don’t know when it quit working, because I am usually cold anyway. I thought maybe it was just me, but I finally decided to ask for a work order. Asking for help is not easy for me, I really need to get better at that. Anyway, back to my story, they sent a very helpful HVAC man to me. He promptly told me the heat wasn’t working, “oh and you might want to move your computer”. I had re-organized my office and my computer tower sits on my desk. Those of you that are smarter than I have already guessed this… it sat right under the thermostat control for the room. Which means the thermostat stays warm and it doesn’t know to tell the heat to come on. As a matter of fact, apparently it was telling the air to come on. I can’t imagine why I was cold. Can you? Amazing what you learn when you ask for help, isn’t it? If you are laughing at me, please feel free to laugh, you are laughing with me and not at me. I assure you I have laughed at this too. Imagine how silly I felt when Mr. HelpfulHVAC said “well, here’s your problem.” I was thankful there was also something actually wrong, and even more thankful when he fixed it.

Thank you Mr. HelpfulHVAC, but could you also help me out some more? Why am I also cold at home, in the car, basically everywhere I go? No, I really didn’t ask him that, although it might have been funny. I have found that when I sit and think about being cold I am colder. BUT when I layer up and get moving… wait still cold… well, I feel better anyway. The cold doesn’t necessarily go away, but I sure feel better when I get moving. For me, movement is good for my soul… standing, walking… sometimes you will even find me bouncing a little… just moving. Maybe that’s what Bernie needed at the inauguration, maybe he would have been warmer if he were moving too? Come to think of it… wonder if I could borrow his mittens. They are pretty popular these days. I could use them for tomorrows new adventures.

For those of you that are curious, the photo is a kaleidoscope of a photo I took in Florida recently, it was the sunrise over the Atlantic – it radiated warmth to me.

Have a great day friends – and stay warm whoever you are!

Positive Spins

“I love you.”

“I love you too!” “

“Thank you for loving me.”

Welcome to a constant exchange in the early years of my parenting experience. Even as a young mother, I knew I wanted my kids to know how important they were to me, how much I loved them and how thankful I was for the opportunity to be their parent. What a gift it has indeed been. Easy, it has not always been, but life is not always easy and even on the rough days I wanted them to know they were loved. If you ask, I am certain they will tell you I said it too much. But is that possible? The mother in me says no!

I wonder sometimes if I say “I love you” enough in the other areas of my life? No, I really don’t go around all day telling random strangers, or even good friends for that matter, that I love them. But perhaps we should. Did you ever sit and wonder about the interactions you have with others? How was someone else’s day influenced by your presence? Regardless of whether they “deserved” it or not, how did your presence influence someone else’s day? Are you the drive through person? You know, the one who is in a hurray and impatient with the new server at the window? You thought I was going to ask you if you were the drive through person that pays for someone else’s meal didn’t you? Well, are you? What about the secretary behind the counter at the business you just walked into? How did you treat her? Or the teller at the bank, where your account is low, were you kind? How do you treat the people you come into contact with on any given day?

Do we have an obligation to treat others well? Of course we do! That feels like a no brainer doesn’t it? But what if they were not kind to us? What is my obligation then? What if I am tired, what if I had a bad day? I guess I would pose the question to you…. how does your behavior affect yourself and the other person. While you are pondering this, parents, remember you are being watched… every single move. I am frequently reminded of the importance of kindness by, yes you guessed it, one of my own kids. I guess I taught them well, and it’s a good thing, because sometimes they have to remind me. And I am so glad they do, because when I am kinder I feel better, and I like to feel good.

Spin the Kaleidoscope, remember only a slight movement changes the view. Find a positive perspective for each day and share that positive view with the people around you. I can almost hear you asking me if I do that. Nope, not always and not enough. But today I shall, for I am reminded of the need to not only find the good in my day, but also to share that good and to help improve someone else’s day. I do not tell the world that I love them, but I do hope to positively impact the days of those around me. I need to work on it more. Today, I need to be more positive and leave positive impact on others. Join me in it – let us begin the day with an attitude of thankfulness towards those around us. You never know who can you can truly influence. And you never know who truly needed it.

I love you, thank you for being here!

Forward Momentum

I went for a run today. Ok… maybe not a run… more of a walk. Ok… it was pretty cold so maybe not really even a walk. But, I did go out with the dogs and there was walking involved. And running??? Well, not exactly sure what you would call it, but running works for me. We have two beautiful German Shepherds, Buddy and Sadie. Sadie is a cute little puppy who is not so little anymore and Buddy is the older and wiser of the two. They love to play fetch in the back yard, but even more, they love to go for walks. It’s been cold here lately, and I’m not a fan of the cold, but they are fans of walks. So today my daughter and I took them for a walk. It was short. But it was a walk until it wasn’t.

Running Attempted?

One sunny day last week, when I was feeling full of energy while on a walk I decided to run. What? Run, yes that’s what I said. I always get Buddy and he likes to pull, so, for some odd reason I thought he might like to run. So I did it. I ran. I understand many of you will not see the significance of this seemingly minor event, but I can’t run. It’s not that I don’t, I don’t, but it’s that I cannot. I have experienced knee pain for over the last 15 years that resulted in two total knee replacements. For those of you who have not undergone knee replacements – when your doctor says it will be a year before you don’t feel pain they were not lying, it was a year before I felt “normal”. All of that combined leaves me to know that I can’t run. But I did with Buddy last week. Today was a cold day and I had no extra energy, but I had Buddy and he wanted to go. So I ran. Then I stopped and I walked. Then I ran. Then I walked. Then I ran. This cycle repeated itself frequently. It was NOT pretty, but it was forward movement. I was over the top excited, way more so than I should have been, but I RAN!!!

Yay for Progress!

Apparently, I am finally to the point that I do not have the level of knee pain I have experienced for years, that is a blessing by the way. But today was about more than knee surgeries. I have worked up to this day for a while even though I didn’t know I was working towards running (well kind of) down the street with my dogs. I had my surgeries and I did all of my physical therapy and of late I’ve been working on a couple of things. I want to increase my level of physical activity so I try to get in more steps today than yesterday, it is a good thing my phone monitors that for me. I am also working on my balance. When I get a chance I try to practice some of the things I learned from the physical therapist. I am also working to reduce my calorie intake. It probably doesn’t feel like much to those of you that run marathons, but boy it did to me. I felt free today run/walking down the street!

Forward Momentum!

Progress… forward momentum is progress! I think we often forget that fact when we don’t feel the forward momentum is significant enough, when we don’t make progress as fast as we wanted to. So often in life we measure our progress against others and against what we could have done when we were younger and we end up disappointed with ourselves. But let’s be real here, forward momentum is forward momentum and that’s a good thing! Ever ride a bike? You know what happens when you put your foot on the pedal and push down? The bike begins to roll – forward momentum! When I was younger we used to put a car that wouldn’t start in neutral and push it to help it start. Have you ever pushed a car? They are heavy! But once they start rolling it is so much easier. What takes several people to get started takes no one once the car starts to roll, a turn of the key and life is good – forward momentum! Did I mention it is a good thing? Celebrate the small steps friends! Rejoice at your efforts and celebrate the small steps. I promise I am the only person in my neighborhood that would have called that “running” today. But today I ran and I am celebrating my forward momentum. Enjoy your forward momentum, and no matter how small, celebrate your small steps and keep making them!


On my way to work the other day I drove past a small apartment playground.  Glancing over I was struck by the 1970’s something teeter-totter sitting in the middle of the playground. It was bright red and covered in a slight snow that we had received the previous day.  It was begging to be played with.  This teeter-totter was the old school kind, you remember the one without even a handle to hold on?  You would cautiously grab the sides of the plank and hope not to fall off while also hoping not to squash your hands as you end went to the ground. Growing up in Nebraska, I can’t imagine how many times I have ridden similar teeter-totters in the snow and the cold.  Sometimes I laugh, amazed at the crazy things we did for entertainment.

Driving away I thought about it some more.  Do you remember the rest of the story of riding a teeter-totter?  No matter what you did, you could  never find the balance… you know that kid who weighed exactly what you did?  When that kid got on the teeter-totter it was magic.  You could go up and down without the hard BUMP at the bottom or the top. You could use the equipment as it was intended – to ride the teeter-totter and sail through the air over and over again.  But alas, I always struggled to find that kid.  So we would find two, maybe three.  You know if Sarah and Billy got on one end and Jamie and I got on the other, well maybe that would work.  Wait, Sarah you need to scoot closer to the center and Jamie can you hang off the back a little?  NOW it works!!!  Nice!  But then the bell rings and we run into school until another time at which we will start the process of finding balance all over again.

Sometimes I think we live like those kids on the playground… juggling things around hoping for some sense of balance in our lives.  Yet, I’m not sure we are ever intentional about the need for balance in our lives.  Is life full of work?  Or too full of play? Do you find that you sleep too much or too little?  Do you spend too much time on social media? Are you too immersed in the artificial world of television? Is constant contact with your friends critical to your day (it probably feels like it if you are in your teens – sorry guys)? I frequently find that I forget about the need for balance in my life and I have to remind myself.  Well, honestly life usually reminds me with a BUMP when my teeter-totter hits the ground.  I find balance easier to achieve of late, that may be because I’m better at seeking it, but honestly I think it’s because life is just easier when you are not single parenting young children.  It was harder to find balance then – so much energy went into my daily  responsibilities.  Or there were days when I was working full time, parenting, and working on a PhD – those days were exhausting, sometimes the only balance came during term breaks, when my husband would say “let’s get a vacation in while you are off”. So often in my life I sought rest and rejuvenation late at night after the kids were in bed.  I am blessed, I can find peace with a walk with the kids and dogs, or a song riding to work, or a quiet moment with a book late at night – little things help me find balance and rest in my life.  And when I forget… life gives me a teeter-totter BUMP.. then I find balance, smile and go on with life. I hope you are able to intentionally seek balance in your life, so you can enjoy the ride – bumps and all.

New Shoes

Have you ever purchased new shoes? Well of course you have. Do you recall what it felt like? I like to take advantage of bargains, which means I frequently shop for new shoes and may actually help me with this. You see, once those shoes are really worn in and comfortable it is difficult to replace them. The new shoes often feel stiff and unaccommodating. The new shoes might be slighter tighter in one spot then your old pair was or the material might not be as forgiving for your toes as the material of the old pair. Whatever it is, sometimes buying new shoes is a bit of a task.

Life can be like that. Change can be difficult. Sometimes we float through life without even realizing we need a change. Then suddenly something occurs to get our attention. Sometimes it is something big: a death, a birth, a marriage, a new job, a new house, or your child entered school for the first time. Sometimes it is something seemingly small: a new allergy, a new medication, a new neighbor, a new procedure at work, your child’s homework, the new teacher, or the new challenging behavior from your child. But change is a part of our life, or it needs to be. I guess you can be the guy in the back who says “I am not changing”. But I’m not really sure how that helps you. Being adaptable and changeable can help you impact your world in a positive manner.

In a world full of change, we have all certainly had opportunity to respond to this challenge – embracing change and making the most of it. That hasn’t been easy, well not for most of us. For many it has been laden with grief, uncertainty, and loneliness for others even the loss of loved ones, homes, and jobs. It has been a difficult year. I’m hoping for a better year. But for now, for today I am going to see if I can make new shoes work for me. Change can be difficult, but in the end I am usually glad I was willing to try it. Best wishes for you as we begin a New Year!


Hello Friends!

I am Dr. Cindy Freer Conley and I am so glad you are here! It is so nice to “meet” you. I am entering the world of blogging for the first time, I hope you find these readings worthwhile, helpful and entertaining. I have spent my career of over 30 plus years in one role or another of the mental health and counseling world. I have worked in private practice and in schools settings. I hold a PhD in Exceptional Education with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis and a couple of other degrees in School and Human Services Counseling and Exceptional Education. I currently work in public education full time and adjunct part-time at a nearby university. I am here because I have learned such a great deal along life’s roads that I think might be helpful to share. Throughout my career there has always been one constant…. one slight change can indeed create subsequent changes. I only recently began to fully understand the possibilities of this concept as I studied Behavior Analysis while working on my PhD. I wonder what we can do for ourselves, our families, our communities and our world if we can use that knowledge for good. But first, please understand you will find no perfection at my door, I am on this journey with you as we work together to improve our worlds.

Now that you know more about the professional me, how about the personal me? I grew up in the Midwest and moved to the Southeast, that sounds so funny to me ….. not west or south, but specifically Midwest and Southeast. I am so glad that I found my path closer to warmer weather and the ocean. I love the ocean, I could sit and listen to it all day long, I think that is a place where my soul finds peace. I wish I were closer or could go more often. In my free time, I enjoy photography and soon will pick sewing back up. Recently completing graduate school means I am still working to remember what free time is. I am a wife and the mother of three adult children and the grandmother of one young lady. It seems they all grew up so much faster than I ever could have anticipated. I didn’t have all of the answers as a mother, although my kids would probably tell you I faked it often (I did, more often than they are aware of). I don’t have all of the answers now, but I do know so much more now than I did 27 years ago when I became a parent. My ex-husband and I were foster parents along the way and adopted a young man that lived with us, so while I became a parent for the first time 27 years ago, my eldest is actually 37 – a fact that the boys love to bicker about. I married my best friend when I was younger, and as is too often the case, that marriage ended badly. I worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist and viewed my divorce as one of my biggest failures, I have since learned life isn’t always perfect and I needed to learn to let myself off the hook. I was a single mother for several years, and learned a lot about the unique struggles single parents face. I have spent time with great supports and time where I felt alone on my path – only to look up and realize I was never alone. We are all on a journey, enjoy the journey, but understand small changes on your part may make lasting impacts to yourself and to someone else who is also on this journey of life.

I created this blog for a variety of reasons, but honestly the most significant reason is for our future. I have spent my career working to help individuals, families, teachers, schools, and even communities better understand ways we can take better care of our kids. It is my hope to use this as a vehicle that will benefit all; but most especially our children – they are the future you know. I hope that you find my writing is casual, I often write as if we are in a conversation together. It will be so nice to “meet” you. Please take a moment to follow and email if you so desire. It is my goal to provide a twice weekly blog… and here’s to goals (it is January, always a good time for a new goal).