Dear 2020

You are like Lucy who yanked the football out of the way right before Charlie Brown kicked it.  Fortunately, I got up, dusted myself off and tried again.

I’ve learned some things this year and I’m grateful for the lessons.

First, I love being in quarantine with my husband.  We’ve developed new routines and have had some fun.

I learned a new skill, jumping rope.  I never thought I would be into jumping rope and posting videos of myself online for thousands to view. Yikes!

I started this blog after encouragement from a friend. Then, I took a writing class which gave me some wonderful new insights into my writing. There’s more to learn and practice in this arena.

We made a couple getaways this year which soothed the soul.  It felt a little illicit, but our driving trip to Colorado sustained me for several months.

I learned that I treasure my friends and it was a delight to keep in touch with them over these months.  I hope we continue this post quarantine.

I have met new friends through these experiences and have learned from all of you.  I have enjoyed reading all of your blogs and peek inside your experiences. I appreciate all the love and support you have given.

Here’s to new adventures (and some flexibility) in 2021!

xoxo Sarah

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

25 Questions

I saw this on Samantha Wharton’s blog, and she saw it on Sheree’s View From The Back. This was fun, so I decided to join! This 25 Question Tag was created by Creabealounge.

What are you wearing? Jeans and a long sleeve tee

How tall are you? 5’4

What’s your favourite TV show? The Voice

Who are your favourite singers? I like Dua Lipa’s voice. U2 is my favorite band.

Your favourite song? Mysterious Ways by U2

Someone you miss? My Mom

Zodiac sign? Scorpio

What’s your favourite fictional character? I’m reading my 4th Cormoran Strike book (Lethal White by Robert Gailbraith /JK Rowling) so there must be something about this character.

Your favourite actors? Meryl Streep

Favourite colour? Pink

Where do you go when you’re sad? For a walk

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? 30 minutes. If I need to wash my hair, it’s 60 minutes.

The reason you started a blog? I wanted to process the transition I’m going through and what I’m learning.

Fears? That we won’t be able to do the fun things we’ve planned

Last thing that made you cry? Steve Hartman’s story about Santas learning Zoom

Last (comic) book you read? I can’t remember!

What’s your favourite season? Fall

What’s your favourite Christmas song? Angels We Have Heard on High

What’s your favourite food? Tex Mex

Place you want to visit? Normandy/Brittany (our cancelled trip awaits!)

Last place you were? Austin, TX

What instruments do you play? I’ve played flute/oboe. I don’t know that I still can!

Last sport-related activity you did? Jump rope

Last song you sang? Higher Love by Steve Winwood

Ashburn Chicken

We have had a few friends over from time to time during the pandemic. This really lifts my spirits to be with people again!

A friend gave us this recipe and I just love it! The aroma of the garlic, oregano, and fruit is divine. You can make it ahead and cook it the next day. I wanted to share it with you in case you’re looking for a new recipe.

Ashburn Chicken

8 chicken breasts (or 12-14 chicken tenders)

5-6 cloves of garlic

2 TB dried oregano

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup dried prunes

1/4 cup green olives

1/4 cup capers

3 bay leaves

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white wine

Combine first 9 ingredients (through bay leaves) in a shallow dish covered or gallon ziplock bag. Chill overnight.

Arrange chicken in a 9×13 baking dish with marinade. Sprinkle brown sugar and pour wine over top.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes for boneless chicken.

Transfer to platter. Garnish with parsley if desired.



Four Things to Know about Collagen

What is Collagen? 

It’s a protein that provides structure to your bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments.  It has a functional and cosmetic role.  Normal aging produces a loss of collagen and leads to aesthetic skin concerns such as lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven texture.

When is the Right Time to Stimulate Collagen production?

Dermatologist Dr. Vivian Bucay says everyone in their 20s and older should start using some type of treatment that speeds cell renewal.  By the time you are in your 50s, you have half as much collagen and hyaluronic acid as someone in their 20s.  Collagen is like a mattress covering, holding everything together. 

What You Eat makes a Difference

A healthy diet is integral to natural collagen product.  Eat protein rich foods from plant and animal sources for the amino acids.  Zinc, Vitamin C and Copper are part of the collagen production process and you can get those from fruits and vegetables.  You’ll find zinc in dairy, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains.  Vitamin C is in broccoli, cauliflower, green and red peppers, potatoes and squash. Copper is in dark chocolate, leafy greens, mushrooms, nuts and seeds.

What You Don’t Do makes a Difference

Smoking and avoiding UV rays are high on the list.  Also eating foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

If you’re interested in skincare products, R+F’s Redefine Regimen has retinoid science to address the look of fine lines and wrinkles.  Redefine Intensive Renewing Serum has Retinal MD technology which is a more potent than vitamin A but gentle enough to use daily.  The AMP MD System has the serum with a roller.  The roller tricks the fibroblasts in your cells into thinking it needs to make more collagen.  R+F is coming out with a new and improved Redefine regimen on November 1. I have been able to try it and it’s wonderful! Have a wonderful day!



Visit to Centennial Gardens

I visited the Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park twice recently, early September and 3 weeks later. What a difference a few weeks made! They had starting to cleaning things up for Fall and cut back plants. The first time I was sweating miserably with the humidity. On the second visit, Beta had brought us 12 inches of rain and it was cooler. I could see the change in the flowers. They had perked up and the roses were starting to bloom again. Here’s what I captured with my camera.



How We Improved our Book List

Why are we reading this book? Who suggested it? Do you ever get those questions in your book group? We didn’t get them often, but they did come up.

My friend Cathy started our book group about 14 years ago. It started as a social group for working moms at our church. The intention was to discuss good books, have some wine and catch up with friends. In the beginning, we would pick books at a meeting. Whoever could be there would suggest some books, then we would pick a few books for the upcoming months. With everyone’s schedule, it was difficult for some to make the meetings. As time went on, there were questions about the books and who was picking them.

In 2013, we decided to use a survey. The members nominated books and I created the online survey. The first time, I used an average rating for the survey. We quickly learned that it was hard to different between 20 books with the average rating. We didn’t get enough statistical spread. The next time, I used the ranking feature which means they have to rank ALL the books. This year, we had 28 books to rank. Not everyone likes the method because it is time consuming and it requires taking a look at all the books. The upside is the quality of books have improved and everyone can give their opinion. We keep it anonymous until books are finalized. We now pick books once a year and our group keeps growing and growing.

The question I get these days is what are you reading in your book club? Can I have the list?

Current book list for 2020-21

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera

Happy reading!



Goodbye Mom

My mother’s health started to fail in 2019. I could tell that she was getting weaker and her heart failure was progressing. She had little energy to participate in activities at their Independent Living apartment that she shared with my Dad. My parents moved there in 2013 and they depended on me to help them. I couldn’t do all that they needed of me and helped when I could. There was a point when it felt like she wanted me to live their life with them but knew that I had to live my own life. Eventually they hired caregivers to help with daily tasks.

In March 2019, I flew to Mexico City with my sister and niece for a short vacation. I started receiving calls and texts from the caregiver who came in to help my Dad. ‘Are you bringing your mother something? She says you’re coming back to the apartment. No, I’m in Mexico City.’ The texts continued over the next several days. ‘Your mother rode her scooter to the front desk in her robe and said she needs help. I can’t seem to control your mother.’

When I returned to Houston, I took her to the hospital to see if the doctors could determine what was going on. I hoped it was something that could be cured with an antibiotic. She was clearly having some hallucinations and her personality changed in just a few days. Her doctors ran tests and didn’t come up with anything. She had heart failure along with rheumatoid arthritis for years. They said she might be approaching end stage heart failure. Her doctor told suggested I move her and my Dad to Assisted Living to save money.

Once she returned to their apartment, her symptoms continued and she asked to see the nurse practitioner who visits the facility. Thank goodness I was there that day! The Nurse Practitioner pulled me aside and said this is definitely End Stage Congestive Heart Failure. Your mother has all the symptoms. I think you should put her on hospice. I was enormously relieved to hear the truth!

It was a whirlwind but we started hospice the next day. I had no idea what this journey would be like but kept telling myself take one day at a time. We added 24/7 caregivers. Mother’s personality continue to change but she let go of the angst and anger in a few weeks. She became happier and lighter. Usually she could only tolerate the news or sports on TV but I was surprised to see her laugh while watching a sit-com on TV.

On April 17 they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Dad wanted a big celebration on Easter Sunday. Mom was continuing to weaken. She told me she didn’t want a party. I knew I couldn’t get 20 family members or friends to come at the last minute on a holiday! Dad ordered a huge cake and asked the facility to reserve a private room for 20 guests. I felt reassured that Mom had said she didn’t want a big event. On the day of the lunch, it was our immediate family. We had lunch then ate some of the beautiful cake with their photo reproduced on it. Mom wasn’t hungry and had trouble holding her head up for the photos, but she had a big smile on her face. Once we got back to their apartment, she asked when the next party started. What??!! I asked if she wanted me to invite her close friends to the apartment for cake. She said ‘oh no, I don’t want people in the apartment’. She was satisfied for us to send some cake to her friends.

She continued to weaken and passed on May 30, 2019. She was a wonderful and loving mother. She had high standards for us but I know she wanted the best for us. She told us how much she loved us often. I miss her very much but feel like she’s with me everyday.

Everything is changing

I’m in transition from a previous life into a new one. I have read about the liminal space, where you are between something old and something new.

I spent decades in the oil and gas industry helping teams and leaders become more effective and reach their goals. In 2017, I decided to shift my business to leadership coaching. I started the coaching program at Rice University in January 2018. I loved practicing those deep listening skills. I felt that I was in the right place.

Where am I today? I’ve been coaching a bit but most of my time has been taking care of family. Since 2018, I’ve dealt with serious family illness, lost two pets, buried my mother, and now my 91 year old father is in declining health.

My husband recently retired and this brings new adventures. When he decided to retire, we weren’t in a pandemic. We’re both 57 and fortunate that we can retire now. We had planned to be traveling all summer, but now we’re trying to keep busy and plan our future.

Anyway, I’m trying to lean into this transition as I imagine what’s next. I’m always learning and working on nutrition, wellness and fitness topics. I picked up some weighted jump ropes a couples months ago. It’s fun but a challenge! I’m on a journey to improve my jump rope skills. More on that later!

My hope is that someone will benefit from what I share in this blog. Come join me!