long walk

IMG_0256Last Saturday I completed a goal set last spring: to walk a half-marathon. I did it mostly for the discipline imposed over 14 or 15 weeks of training. I enjoy the experience on race day, on a beautiful route in a supportive community. But I’m always slightly embarrassed to be walking in the midst of the runners.

This is the fourth half-marathon I’ve walked in the past few years and the second in Lake Placid, the most historic of beautiful Adirondack venues. When I mention my self-imposed challenge to friends or co-workers, they assume I’m running. I feel compelled to clarify, almost apologize. “I’m just walking.”

Not long ago, a long distance runner and colleague gave me new perspective. When she heard that I was walking a half, she congratulated me and said, “I think walking is harder than running.” Huh?

She and her husband are both amazing athletes. They run up and down grueling mountain trails or in oppressive dessert heat, wallowing in mud puddles to stay cool enough to continue 80 or 100 miles. When her husband is competing she will run alongside in the dead of night for awhile to pace him. When the going gets tough and his body is begging him to stop, his mantra is “Keep running. The only thing worse than running is walking.” No doubt because it’s only going to take you longer to finish!

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Sharon and I began our preparation in late May, training separately during the week while gradually increasing distance on weekend walks together. We’d start by 7:00, sometimes 6:00 a.m., to go the distance — up to 10 miles. Lately, it’s been near dark when we met up on the trail. As summer winds down to fall and daylight hours shorten, it’s harder and harder to rise extra-early on Saturday.

In mid-July I also began working with a personal trainer. My birthday present to myself was 6 months with Carrie and 12 months of gym membership. I’m surprised to find that I’m enjoying the gym, with Carrie’s support. I’m glad to put event training behind me and focus there. I guess I like best to compete against myself. But first, there was a long walk. We were ready!

We enjoyed a lovely evening in Lake Placid, followed by a beautiful sunrise. It was a chilly forty-some degrees; the mist hung heavy over Mirror Lake as the sun climbed over the mountains. Starting at the 1932 Olympic oval, we walked uphill and down, around the lake and through town, alongside mountain streams and rivers, past horse barns and vegetable farms, under the watchful gaze of the 1980 Olympic ski jumps and ever-present old mountains.

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We even jogged a couple stretches, letting the momentum of the long hills carry us down, praying we’d have the strength to climb back up. We were particularly motivated by a group of noisy French Canadians in pink tutus. We followed closely for awhile before they pulled out in front. For perhaps half the race, we trailed them, scheming of a victory. We made our move to pass in a slow but stealth jog on a fairly crowded stretch, blending in with the running pack. Boo-yah! They never caught up. ;=)

It was a wonderful experience although a rather long 13.1 miles. I was ever so thankful to have a partner for the journey. I’m proud that we finished the race on our intended pace and that we didn’t finish in last place. Sometimes our victories are small and very personal but still they are important.

~ René Morley

washington, again

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It’s almost irrational, the degree of happiness I feel visiting D.C. in spring. It’s not just that I am sure to exchange a dirty-white and beige-brown landscape for fresh spring green bursting with leaves and blossoms. It’s also the thrill of being in such an historical place. Everywhere I go, I’m reminded of happy times exploring America’s capital city.

Most of this week, however, I was confined to a hotel and professional conference. At the same time (foolishly, in retrospect) I was trying to climb back on the detox train. This was my first experience with a 10-day detox. I thought I knew how to detox. I didn’t pay too much attention to the details when I signed up. I’ve got this, right?

Huh. Not so much! I couldn’t believe how miserable I felt coming off processed foods, sugar, and such. But caffeine was the killer! I consider myself a minimum to moderate coffee drinker but, wow, that was ugly. I could medicate for the headache but there was no fix for an energy level near zero. Attending the conference was all I could manage to do. Quite disappointing, given the amazing opportunities within walking distance outside my hotel each evening. Frustrating, to say the least.


But on Wednesday afternoon, the conference closed and I turned the corner toward personal wellness. A friend picked me up at the hotel and we were quickly off for a late lunch. It was a gloriously sunshiny and warm day in D.C. What a gift!

We strolled around the lovely homes, boutiquey shops and restaurants of the Eastern Market before settling on a place to eat. Matchbox served delicious soup and salad, perfectly flavored with long over-due conversation. The downside of being a distributed worker is the scarcity of face-time with professional colleagues. I take every opportunity I can find to connect. It’s essential to a complete sense of wellness.

After lunch, we drove through the National Mall, just for fun. Tourists, tourists, everywhere, and not a cherry blossom to spare! Until we got to the airport. There, three early blooming trees graced the median. I couldn’t ask for better way to close out another D.C. visit. Thank you, friend. Thank you.

~ Renè Morley

Read more about Washington, D.C. — Post 1 and Post 2

virtual happy hour :)

imagejpeg_0IMG_7490How does a virtual happy hour sound to you? i pour a glass, she pours a glass, and we chat or text our way through an hour of catch-up. Well, I can tell you how it sounds to me: almost perfect.

Sometimes there is just no substitute for gab time with a girlfriend. Sometimes, regrettably, there is no viable option to get together in person. Virtual can work!

This doesn’t strike me as the least bit odd, perhaps because I am a “distributed employee” who connects virtually with colleagues across the country in various time zones numerous times over the course of a day or work week. But some of my girlfriends might give a bit of pause. It’s just not natural for we who are late Boomers or early Gen-Xers. However, once we connect this way, unwinding over a glass or wine or two virtually, it’s a no-brainer.

In this case, we’d hoped and planned to be together in person … until the winter weather intervened. Doggone it and drat it all! But i was not to be dissuaded.

Me: Are you home? Wanna’ grab a glass of wine and chat? … I am beat. Ready to unwind.

She: Huh? I am home (city).

Me: Virtual happy hour 🙂 If you have a glass there and I have a glass here we will both be better for it 🙂 LOL

She: Sorry, I’m a bit frazzled. On my own with the kids this week. Sure, I can text chat. I’ll pour a glass…

Me: Yes I’ve been thinking of you. Long week of “vacation” … Are the kids occupied enough for a phone call?

She: Unfortunately not. They r a bit crazed with being inside, etc. I’m playing referee…

Me: Oh yes, I remember those days … 

But then we were off on a text-chat on children and grandchildren … home renovations …  kitting projects …  parents … dreams and plans. We exchanged photos and video tours and lots of love between the lines and megabytes. I can’t imagine a better way to spend an hour after work. I feel reconnected and rejuvenated. (Thank you, my friend.)

So, how about it? Virtual happy hour! It’s a sure-fire way to improve your outlook.

~ René Morley

cup of kindness

IMG_0525As we turn the corner on Christmas and approach the New Year, I realize that, once again, I didn’t get to Christmas cards. It shouldn’t be a surprise, given my sporadic track record. This year perhaps more than any other I’ve realized that our holidays are overloaded. By Christmas night I was exhausted and dispirited. I am sure that is not God’s intent for the season. Next year I resolve to streamline and simplify all things holiday, including and especially Christmas.

But I am getting ahead of myself, eh? We’ve yet to finish this year. I hoped 2014 would finish more smoothly than 2013, when a barn fell to ice and other calamaties beset us and our extended family. Weeks of unfortunate events occurred from early December and into January. It was a long, slow slog to recovery on farm and home fronts in 2014. We were more than half-way through the year before it felt like we had lift-off.

SONY DSCThe brightest moments of 2014 were in the double blessings of new grandgirls, the first arriving in late February and the second early August. This brought the grandchids count to four: Oliver, Henry, Sadie and Rosie. I cannot express how much these wee ones matter. Just a moment in their presence lifts my heart and fills me with joy.

The next best thing about 2014 was turning fifty. I never thought I would be able to talk about that milestone in those terms! I enjoyed a series of small celebrations with family and friends over the course of a month or more that made for a most pleasant summer. Then a joint fiftieth birthday sailabration, starting and ending in Quebec City, sailing to Saint Pierre & Miquelon, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island provided wonderful memories and invaluable time together. A few weeks after we returned, I threw a surprise party to close out on fifty.

Soon thereafter, we were into the holiday season. But not before my mom suddenly landed the perfect opportunity to relocate nearby. This has been a big but happy transition for her and another 2014 blessing for my family.

All of those wonderful events notwithstanding, the past few days I’ve been struggling with a very difficult situation and resultant emotions; working toward healing has been hard work. I really didn’t want 2014 to end on a down-note but wasn’t sure how to pull it back up.

If it was entirely up to me, I might hang on to my ugly feelings. On the face of it, that sometimes seems easier if not justified. But in the big scheme, it is neither. Yesterday afternoon I took yet another long, brisk walk to wrestle with my inner spirit.  In that hour, Matthew West’s powerful lyrics in Forgiveness (listen in) spoke deep into my heart and sealed my resolve.

Its the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

Its the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word


It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy

Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
Its the whisper in your ear saying Set It Free


Finally, with God’s help, I began to set it free. And then I received the most amazing gift in an email from another continent from a young woman who I haven’t seen in a few years. Her home country is Zimbabwe, her current home is England, and our paths crossed while she attended the local university. I became her host mother and we became friends. Her loving message and fond remembrance was a balm to my wounded spirit and a gift of grace to treasure.

This morning, I was thinking on the past year, with all of its trials and tribulations when the song Auld Lang Syne (i.e. for old time’s sake) came to mind. That phrase, cup of kindness, struck a chord with me. To share a cup of kindness is to extend goodwill and the most generous fare-thee-well sentiments. A cup of kindness is the essence of right living.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne
And surely (you’ll buy your pint)
And surely I’ll (buy) mine
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

I wish I had opportunity to share such a cup with each and every one who has impacted my life for good this past year. To you who have honored me with good will and generosity of spirit, I offer a virtual cup. Cheers! Happy, happy New Year. May all of God’s best be extended to you and to yours in 2015.

~ René Morley

P.S. The chids collaborated on a family photo shoot. Sweetness.



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This was a Big. Birthday. Weekend. A birthday I’d been thinking about for a long time. Yes, the big Five-Oh. Fifty! Me? Yes, indeed.

I’m big on celebrations for just about any reason. Especially as we age, we must be purposeful in maintaining joie de vivre — the enjoyment of life. My personal motto has become, Celebrate: just because.

Celebrate the interview, don’t wait to see if you get an offer. Celebrate the friendship, don’t wait for her birthday or promotion. Celebrate the journey, don’t wait for the next big transition. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring; celebrate today.

So that is what I did about turning Five-Oh: I celebrated.

Two Saturdays past, I spent with my girls at my favorite Adirondack destination, Lake Placid, NY. One of the girls is very pregnant, so this might well have been her last luxury for awhile. Both of the others are mommies who appreciate a few hours baby-free. We enjoyed lovely spa treatments and lunch, refreshing margaritas and laughter. The best part is that it was their idea.

The next day, I left for a week of work in Boston. The final day of my trip, I dropped by the Apple store on Boylston just before the airport. What a treat! I knew what I wanted to buy before I stepped through the doors. It was easy enough to justify, with a big birthday ahead. It was just so much more fun to buy in a beautiful Apple store store than online. The sales clerks were all too happy to help me celebrate. ;=)

On Wednesday past, I had dinner and drinks with some dear colleagues … who could not resist a round of the birthday song. I embraced their harmonious effort as a gift, an expression of love. It was wonderful to spend an evening among treasured friends.

On Friday night, the Hubs treated the family to dinner on the back patio at one of our favorite restaurants. Fresh lobster on any North Country menu is cause for celebration in and of itself! It was quiet on the patio, the river slipping easily over the dam behind us as daylight faded into a lovely summer evening. What a gift.

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On Saturday, I rose early to grocery shop and pack a picnic lunch. We set off with the grandboys, Ollie and Henry, and lady baby, Sadie, for the Central Agricultural Farm and Museum in  the heart of Ottawa. What a fantastic place and so much fun to return, after all these years, with grandchids.

The Hubs couldn’t take time off, what with Rosie due to arrive any moment and knowing he will cover for her daddy when she does. But the rest of us sure enjoyed the squeals and giggles of little boys surrounded by farm animals they’ve seen only in storybooks  — except for cows and kitties, of course. Goats, sheep, and alpaca; horses and cows; ducks, chickens and rabbits — oh my! It was a near-perfect day.

The only thing lacking was baby Rosie. Then we will surely celebrate again!

But truth be told, I’m not planning to close out this birthday celebration yet. I’m still trying to connect with a few friends spread afar. And I’m waiting for two of my sisters to arrive, mid-August. Then there’s another get-away day planned and a lot of catching up to do.

Finally, in October, the Hubs has planned a wonderful cruise. His big Five-Oh is still ahead. We’re celebrating in between our birthdays this year by visiting a few bucket list places: Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland. Bonus: Saint Pierre and Miquelon! Who knew France still owned territory in the “New World”? So exciting!

One thing I hope is clear: it’s neither about turning fifty nor is it about me. It’s about richness of relationships that make life worth living, maintained across decades and generations. It’s a privilege to turn 50 or 60, or 70 or 80. It’s a joy to live in proximity to family. It’s an honor to remain close to sisters from childhood and girlfriends from grade school, to reconnect with colleagues spanning a career and good friends gathered up like treasures over time. To each I say, let’s celebrate.

~ Rene Morley

20140608-223252.jpgThe babies’ blue Ts were a gift from my cousin, as we were celebrating this spring in Arizona. The boys’ Ts say: If you mess with me, you mess with my Grandma. You don’t want to mess with my Grandma! Sadie’s T says: She’s not my Grandma, she’s my Glamma!  ;=)


It’s dark yet, the house quiet, fireplace roaring against the chill. The Hubs left hours ago. I procrastinated a bit before stumbling to the kitchen to set the rolls to rise. Those frozen rolls take forever to rise! There’s no point trying to rush them in a warm oven; inevitably, it backfires. They turn out flat and ugly.

Next up, World’s Best Stuffin’, if I do say so myself (and I do). Then maple roasted butternut squash using a new recipe this year (whereby I also learned a handy trick for peeling the stubborn outer layer). That should keep me busy ’til almost noon.

I’m getting off easy again this holiday. Last year we began the hopeful practice of rotating Thanksgiving dinner locations when my daughter took it on. This year, our younger son’s in-laws are hosting. I’m happy to take my turn again, someday. But I am really delighted for a break, two years running.

Thanksgiving is a lot of work. Even if you like to cook; even when everyone brings something; even if they bring wonderful food and generous quantities, it is still a lot of work! I am thankful for the abundance of food we will share and those who prepare this feast today. I know not everyone can say the same.

There are lots of things to be thankful for, certainly. Beyond the essentials, a warm and safe habitat, clean water, nutritious food, and stable employment (which truly is, sadly, saying a lot), “real” people with whom I enjoy “real” relationships always top my list. I hope you know who you are and that I am thankful for you.

I am thankful for those family and friends who have consistently shown up in our lives. I’m thankful that neither time nor distance is a barrier to maintaining relationships that truly matter. There are no words to adequately express the richness of a journey so graciously blessed.

For the first time this Thanksgiving, I can also say that I’m thankful for two grandboys and another grandbabe on the way. Who knew grandchids would be such a blessing? They fill my heart with such joy. Rumor has it that today we learn if a grandgirl or grandboy! We welcome this wee one with hearts full to the brim of thanksgivingness.

Warmest thanks-giving blessings to you!

Psalm 100

A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation

~ René Morley

priceless perspective

If you happened to peer in my front porch window as Sunday was winding down, this would have been the scene: a sleepy Sweetums and a satisfied GiGi. It is a mere snapshot of the immense blessing I know with two grandboys.

It was a busy weekend; busier than most ‘though they always go too fast. I spent most of it in the kitchen, roasting ham and then chicken and all the fixins’. Family and friends in and out. Dishes and more dishes to do. Babyfoodapalooza! Pumpkin scones. Seems I hardly left the stove or sink for days. My back ached. I began to feel weary.

There was a welcome wagon mission for new arrivals to our small community. Plus pizza delivery to the moving crew. A stolen hour (or two) with a glass of red (or two) and heart-to-heart with a girlfriend, long overdue. And a wonderfully unexpected drop-in visit from a dear friend I once worked with at the University. Such joy to reconnect!

But the sweetest of the sweet moments were with our grandboys. Playing and tickling, snuggling and soothing, lullabies and rock-a-bye in a squeaky rocking chair in the front room. Whether swaddled tight or squirmy ’til sleep, these moments are most exquisite. Priceless.

When all the hullabaloo faded, I was no longer weary. I was only thankful for a cup past full-to-the-brim, spilling freely, running over.


Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.

~ René Morley

“Ollie and GiGi” photo by S.R.Smith c. 2013;
“Taps” lyrics written by Horace Lorenzo Trim.