Holding on to MSP

My sister turned 50 in October. This photo is from her party. She is one of four Handy sisters and two (earthly) brothers. One brother is in heaven holding down the fort with my parents and his niece whom we all long to hold.

Fifty is big. I met my 50 two years ago, our sister (not pictured) two years prior, a brother one year before me. The ‘younger two’ as they were often lumped have yet to enter this decade. My baby sister (as Mariah Carey croons) ‘will always be my baby’ even when she’s 90. Such is the way with sisters and brothers who huddle against, through, and with life depending on the day. Today I am holding on to MSP – My Sisters’ Prayer.

I don’t know, but I muse that:

One sister might pray for an unragged breath, just one that eases the ache of unspeakable miss.

One might pray for a day of delight, with bright colors that infuse laughter and fun with many friends such that the pressure to perform is eased with the knowledge that all is well in the company of great love.

One still may pray for cohesion and simplicity. The order is not tall but the journey there can be.

We / they might pray for all of it all at once or one at a time – depending on the day.

I can promise you MSP (My Sisters’ Prayer) always / ALWAYS includes GRATITUDE because we know what we have. We have each other. The unfathomable good fortune to be placed with our parents, and the friendship of a God who loves MSP so very deeply.

Morning after Mourning

I miss my Dad so much. He joined my mother 16 years ago today after almost eight years without her. The ache of the miss of his bride was profound. His suffering was private. He held their torch high to light the way for their six grieving children. He became mother and father, grandfather and friend. He did his job well.

He exited his life privately too. Profound yet without fanfare. It was the way many seek to go. Quick. Sudden. It was his time. His exit still stupifies me. That he is not here leaves me un-whole. Yet, because of him, I am not broken. He taught me about suffering with grace, without the indulgance of unproductive wallowing. He taught me to always hold my head high. He placed the very highest priority on education and faith. He sacrificed everything unselfishly for his children and theirs. He taught me about the quiet dignity that comes with allowing things to be as they are; to recognize when things are difficult power lies in the placing of virtue higher than the details.

He was here and then he wasn’t. No warning. No time to consider life without him. Even as I write this I know I am somehow making his exit about me. It is not. It is about a life so very well lived. It is about the bottomless gratitude I feel for the placement of me with him. Thank you, soul matcher in the sky!

The morning after, deep in my mourning I knew the miss of my Dad would never go away. He would not want to be the cause of suffering so I allowed the morning to come. I continue to walk through my life with the miss of my Dad like an old friend. Always there. Even as he wasn’t.

My forever friend

Maggie died on June 17, 2020. My heart is broken. She was the dog of my lifetime. Some may understand. I feel I have lost a dear friend. Maggie and I had a relationship, a deep, knowable, living, loving connection. For nearly eleven years, after school and practice and bedtime stories and baths and homework and the day’s last hugs with my former smalls – it was Maggie and me. My brown girl and me coasting past dusk to slumber. My husband travels a lot and our alpha yellow lab while kingly and loving, he prefers his nightime space on his mat not far from us. For many, many nights. hers were the last eyes mine met. On June 17 mine were the last eyes hers met.

My brave and beautiful youngest, my most tender-hearted yet strong oldest joined my forever loyal husband and me to say good bye to our dear family friend. I am moved beyond measure at their choice to witness this moment. My middle love was at work, on the front lines checking families out at the grocery store with a smile behind a mask strapped to her pretty face for eight hours. I had to tell her of this sad, sad surprise in an ordinary day over the phone. The decline was swift and seemingly out of the blue.

Our last snuggles. What a treat.

Maggie will forever wear my forever friendship bracelet my soul sister, Beth gave to me – a treasure I have treasured for years. If you know Beth, you know this is the perfect homegoing trinket for my best four-legged friend to take over the rainbow. Here is the inside:

The inscription reads: Side by side or miles apart, we are forever connected by the heart. Beth lives in Colorado. Maggie lives in heaven.

There are a zillion happy memories. Only one sad one. Love wins.

I love you forever, Maggie.

White Board Chronicles

For better or for worse and resulting in uncountable eye rolls, this hangs in my kitchen near the refrigerator.  Briliant placement, if I do say so myself.

The current state of affairs.

A dear friend with vision and moxxie inspired my Whiteboard.  I have long admired her so naturally I wanted emulate some her life hacks tactics.

At first the whiteboard was just for me.  My friend keeps hers in her private home office and uses it for methodical reminders to help her stay her course.  I should have truly emulated her.  She is amazing.  But I soon recognized my family’s need for reflection and future forward nuggets of focus and all hell broke loose: The Whiteboard Project took on a life of its own.

I am realizing containment and methodical patience with my Whiteboard may have been a better route.  Such is my pattern.  Alas, this is its inception.

(I did not photograph each board.  But I am on it now.)

Board #1:  Introduce the Concept


Every Board after that:  Bribe my teens / young adults to participate.

Input is input.  Money is always involved.

Quotes.  Goals. Inner drivers.  They all work.  Engagement is priceless.

Yes.  I thrive on teaching moments.

No quote is too long in my book.  (eye roll after eye roll)

Maybe we are getting somewhere.  Lots of different penmanship on this one.

We had a birthday.

The child whose birthday it wasn’t suggested the $20 memory.  They upped the ante.

Then came shelter in place.  COVID-19, and TONS of screen time.  We watched sports and crime documentaries.  I set no parameters.  I am not looking for analysis.  Just going with it!

Does the Aaron Hernendaz Documentary on Netflix meet the goal of inspired learning.  Yes.  Watch it.  It isn’t easy – you’ve been warned.

Lent.  Easter.  Promoting inside work.  Everyong needs gas $. Don’t judge.

Reflection??? What the hell?  There I go again.  I ask for much.

They don’t know it, but the first one to write something meaningful (my discretion) gets $20.

And now this.  My poor naked whiteboard.  We’ll see.

I will be hanging one in my private office today.


Thank you. I love you.


Happy 82nd to my father’s bride, my mother.  Quarantined in heaven because that is the state of things.  They slip out of their #stayinheaven order often to remind me of the love that Is. Today and all days I call on her essence to shine bright in me.

On April 9 I step into a rebirth on the birth anniversary of my fierce, yet gentle force of a Mother.

I never say ‘was’.  She is a living energy, a spirit recognisable in smiles, humor, breath-catching beauty, all twinkly eyes and daily expressions of faith – anywhere, everywhere.

What a beauty in every way.  How lucky am I to have such a Mother?

What a ting.  What a ting.  (Re: Hunters, Netflix – watch it!)

I love you .  Thank you.

Open Your Ear Hole – Morning Song

Favorite Mug

The birds sing and caw, they chirp and twitter chattering a good morning song.  Some wail as if to say – “I am here” – others knock and pop their beaks hammer-like against the strong trunk of their home.  Still too, some sing and sing – lost in their own song.  Together, the symphony of now.

The slurp of my sip of coffee grown cold by seconds of wait.  The dull clank of my thick, sturdy, favorite Colorado mug.  The dance of the flame in my dusty mostly quiet candle.  The light snore of my beloved brown lab.

It is just me on my porch.

Isn’t it always just me – or just you? We interact and move about the symphony of our days.

We love and talk and worry and long to touch.  In the end isn’t is just us?  Go inside.  To your interior world.  Stay dancing on the brim of the outer, in the chirps of the birds, in the rustle and bustle of a long-slept partner awake and ready making their own coffee.

In the hearts longing for peace and good health for all.

In the desire to be God’s channel – a living breathing example of love and light – a path to what already is – in the climbing cresendo of birds with messages.

Listen to me.  I am here.

Is Kanye a Turkey?

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I only caught a glimpse of Kanye’s conversion as I walked through the kitchen while the evening news was playing. Some people are flat out interesting whether you actually interested in the content of their reality (show) or not.  The conversation about $170 Jesus is King hoodies and Kanye’s taking the stage with Joel Osteen could beg some SELF reflection, a question about how authentic your connection is to your internal King  or your hoodie graphic.  Maybe none of it matters to you and you are hungover with gratitude from a day of turkey and pie and family and friends.  I hope it’s the latter.

Kanye confessed his mental health issues when he disclosed his bipoloar diagnosis.  I admire his courage to SpeakUp.

His exhuberant profession of Christ allegiance could come from an authentic well of Holy Spirit also currented by his diagnosis.  If your hoodie professes Compassion and One Human Family and Kindness and Coexisence make sure you extend it to Him.  Capital ‘H’.  Or if you prefer lower case ‘h’ or any pronoun.  Or any living being.

Because then YOU are not a turkey.

As for Kanye, who knows?

You be the judge of that.  On second thought, don’t.



Birds, Rams, Two Coasts, and the Mind

Two big things happened this week in sports on oppostie coasts with roots in Richmond, Virginia. Read on for a common denominator you might not expect.


The Seattle Seahawks took down the only undefeated team in the NFL, the San Fransisco 49er’s on Monday night in overtime.  Quarterback, Russell Wilson who is up for the league MVP led the charge.  He is from Richmond. He is my boyfriend.  I am a cougar.  My husband knows.

Can you blame me?  The term boyfriend is a euphemism for ‘I love people with big talent, big charimsa, big heart.’  I have lots of boyfriends, including my husband and Beth Risdon. 


The VCU Rams beat the LSU Tigers in basketball, 84 – 82 at home in Richmond Virginia.  How sweet it is.  Geaux on back to Weezi – Anna. The Division 1A Rams are really something.  They always come to play. 

One common element to these two victories is the Richmond connection.

The common demoninator as I see it, is:

Alex Peavey

Alex serves as the Team Consultant & Mindfulness Coach for VCU Men’s Basketball, as well as a number of other college and professional athletes across the country.  He gave  Russell Wilson his mindfulness start in high school and they remain good friends today.

Common Denominator = Mindfulness Practice, delivered by beloved hometown expert.

Mindfulness practice focuses the mind on the present moment, clearing the noise of unecessary distraction. It works on the field, on the court, in the board room, in the mind to create clarity and flex the mental muscle.

Alex is also the Mindfulness Coach for the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation.

Mindfulness practice works to change the relationship to stress in life and in individuals too. To learn more, email clairnorman@ckgfoundation.org.


My Top 3 Podcasts This Week

I am a podcast advocate.  What a marvelous opportunity to listen to engaging dialogue between respected thought leaders and doers in life on topics you choose.  As the listener from afar, in the car, during a long run, or while making your way from one place to another in any fashion. You can try on ideas for size and discern your relationship to the concepts all from the privacy of your own earbuds.  If you connect and disconnect from the flow because of the pesky wandering mind, you have the option to rewind and catch the point a second (or third) time.  It’s like graduate work toward personal professional certification in your life.  You are the advisor.  You build the curriculum. You change teachers at will and most of the time it is free.

score. Score. SCORE.

I thoroughly enjoyed these three.  I hope you will too.

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Rich Roll with Chase Jarvis.  Creativity is your birthright. Listen here.

Dan Harris with Kristin Neff, PhD. Kryptonite for the Inner Self Critic. Listen here.

Peter Attia, MD with Jason Fried on optimizing efficiency and work-life balance. Listen here.

Happy listening.  Happy living.




Fifteen Fatherless Years

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Today is fifteen years since my sister called me and asked if Mike was home.

Her next statement was: “Dad died today.” He was 66 and in perfectly good health.  A slender and active, golf obsessed, 8-year widower.

This is the call nobody wants.  Out of the blue.  No warning.  It happened in his parked car while running a simple errand. Massive MI. Myocardial infarction.  I like to think his heart was pushed beyond capacity.  It couldn’t bear the weight of love; given and received, the miss of his bride, and a life so well lived.

My Dad supported a family of eight and bore the grief of losing their infant son, the seventh of their  seven children.  Life was not easy for him but it was good.  He puffed his chest with pride at the many, many dance recitals, sporting events, school honors assemblies, high school and college graduations and the birth of eleven of their nineteen grandchildren.  His bride saw one, our beloved Andrew.  My parents ran a tight ship with accountabilities and consequences.

His most proud moment was every single time he walked into a room with my Mother. Peacock proud of her beauty, her soul and her character.  She was his queen.

He was not perfect.  Life pressed hard on this man with many responsibilities.   Sometimes unpleasant, his compass stayed calibrated.  God first.  Then family. Then work.  Everything else will work out.

Two days before his sudden death, I asked him how he was doing.  He said: “Clair, I have no problems.”  I was struck at his uncomplicated view on his sometimes complicated life.

I am utterly grateful for the 34 years I had my Dad around.

As for the fifteen years since, well, for him I am living a life full of love.

Hopefully with many years to go.  However, heaven will be quite a homecoming.

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My Nicholas. My Dad. Our Cameron.