My mother heart is happy.

Adult children are in the house!

Coffee, a laptop, and a lap. Nik at work.

Coffee, a laptop, and a lap. Nik at work.

Daughter Kate and son-in-law Nik are visiting.

They have a “laptop lifestyle” that allows them to travel and work at the same time.

We’ll get to see them and the rest of our family two more times this summer.

A camper office? Yes, it's possible.

A camper office? Yes, it’s possible.

At the same time, I am preparing to go to on a Celtic Pilgrimage to Scotland and England–next Friday!!.


Two pieces of luggage. Preparing for cold, wind, and rain. Hoping for sunshine.

And to the Collegeville Institute in September.

There’s a writing assignment for The Christian Century magazine in June.

I’m serving as a mentor to a number of younger people who are in the midst of major life choices.

It feels like everything is rising right now!

Naturally, when that image occurred to me, a favorite book title arose —

Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge.

In order to allow that convergence to have space, I’ve decided to take a summer vacation beginning with this post.

I will likely want to write about my Celtic Pilgrimage.

After letting it settle down into my bones.

Perhaps I’ll return occasionally to share what I’m learning in my reading.

Right now, however, I need to give myself to what is rising.

What is rising for you, friend? How will you experience summer vacation?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Laurie Buchanan on April 27, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Shirley – I am so excited for you and for the people in your sphere of influence (which includes me). I look forward to being on the receiving end of the wisdom you’ll gain with each of your up-and-coming opportunities.

    Safe travels.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 27, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Thanks, Laurie. And I hope to do the same with you. I know many things must be rising for you in these important months before Note to Self launches. You are doing a great job of pre-launch marketing!

  2. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on April 27, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Blessings, as you give yourself to what is rising. For me it is helping to teach a pre baptismal class of women who know next to nothing about the Bible. They want to be part of a loving community as they struggle with addictions. I’m also looking forward to visiting our daughter and family in Ontario. Four of our grandchildren live there. We want to do a road trip and are hoping to have our car fixed by then. (I hit a tree, but that’s another story!

    • Shirley Showalter on April 27, 2016 at 7:32 pm

      Elfrieda, one of the younger people I am mentoring, a Chinese woman,is also in pre-baptismal conversation with our pastor after a year of conversation with me and others about Christian faith. She has been avidly reading and eagerly reaching out to others in our church. It’s so exciting to see her enthusiasm and a great honor to be her friend. Sounds like you are providing a wise and protective space for women in your class.

      Enjoy your summer travels. Will you be writing about the car story? I’m glad you are not hurt!

  3. Marian Beaman on April 27, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    You are wise in recognizing what must rise and what must fall away at least temporarily.

    I hope none of your risings involve confrontations on a bus as in the O’Connor short story though. Oh, how I remember discussing this with students when I was a professor and my life seemed neat, tidy, and predictable. Still, I choose my life now writing blog posts, drafting memoir, and anticipating a move not far away but closer to our children.

    Blessings as you travel and learn. You’ll be missed!

    • Shirley Showalter on April 27, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      Yes, that story, like all of O’Connor’s work afflicts the complacent reader. She had a way of getting under the reader’s skin and creating images so bizarre or arresting that they stick forever.

      A move is always a major undertaking. Will it take place this summer? I saw that you are already on your second draft of your memoir. That’s fantastic.

      Thanks for the blessing. Back to you. I’ll try to check in when possible, to read if not to write.

      • Marian Beaman on April 27, 2016 at 9:23 pm

        I’m not sure whether it’s draft 1b or draft 2. At the moment, I’m reading aloud scenes/chapters revised from other writers’ suggestions on my first draft.

        About a move. Yes it is a major undertaking as we have lived here for 37 years. We think our house would appeal to a young family, who would want to be settled before school starts in the fall. House hunting is taxing, but that’s another story which I may (or may not) blog about.

  4. Clif Hostetler on April 27, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Your reference to the title of Flannery O’Connor’s book reminds me of a recent novel I’ve read titled “We Are Called to Rise” by Laura McBride. Here’s a link to my review:

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Clif! Good to see you here again. And to have you guide us to one of your wonderful, in-depth, book reviews. I LOVE the Emily Dickinson poem in that book and in your review. I am copying it into my journal. It’s a beautiful response, as I see it now, to the first line in my memoir. “When I was little, I wanted to be big. And not just big as in tall. . . .”

      The idea of being called to rise and of doing so with others (statureS) transforms an ego-centric aspiration into an ego-free one.

      For the sake of readers who do not click on the review above, here’s the poem:

      We never know how high we are
      Till we are called to rise;
      And then, if we are true to plan,
      Our statures touch the skies —

      Emily Dickinson

      Want to know what I will most most about blogging this summer? Gifts like this one. Thank you.

  5. Merril Smith on April 28, 2016 at 6:54 am

    There are so many exciting, wonderful things about to happen for you, Shirley! I can certainly understand that you need to step away to simply experience them. Perhaps later you’ll be able to write and share them.

    I have the usual writing going on, and I’ll be writing and editing for most of the summer, but we do have a small trip planned for early summer. And I imagine there will be day trips to the beach and elsewhere. 🙂

    Enjoy your journeys!

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Thank you, Merril, for this lovely description of both our lives right now. Don’t you love the ebb and flow of life? In some seasons, experience rushes in. In others, we get a chance to savor slowly. I’m doing a little of both and love both. But I’ve learned to listen to my inward self. As I age, I need more savoring time. When I take it, the fruit is sweeter.

      I wish you perfect pearls ( a Virginia Woolf image) in your days ahead.

      • Merril Smith on April 28, 2016 at 12:07 pm

        Thank you so much, Shirley–for the perfect pearls and your comments! 🙂

  6. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on April 28, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Shirley, I see you in the rising sun,
    in the swallows and swifts’ happy returns,
    knowing that leaving the old and stepping out in the new
    will bring new life to your fingers.

    May G-d of the green islands and prairies bless in times set apart.

    Thank you for all the connections to books, people, wisdom and self-knowledge that I have found through your blog.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      Dolores, this sounds very much like a Celtic blessing. Our tour leader Sheryl Shenk sent us another blessing. I’ll give it back to you as benediction on your day.

      “As we plan for our two week journey together, I invite you to share the following Celtic prayer with your friends and loved ones as a prayer seeking God’s blessing and requesting protection and safe travels together as a group. This ancient Celtic prayer from the Carmina Gadelica (“Songs of the Gaul”) often was recited as a parting hymn when loved ones were leaving home and crossing a threshold to a new place. It includes the word “benison”, maybe unknown to some, which is an old English word used since the 14th century meaning blessing:

      The benison of God be to thee,
      The benison of Christ be to thee,
      The benison of Spirit be to thee,
      And to thy children,
      To thee and to thy children.

      The peace of God be to thee,
      The peace of Christ be to thee,
      The peace of Spirit be to thee,
      During all thy life,
      All the days of thy life.

      The keeping of God upon thee in every pass,
      The shielding of Christ upon thee in every path,
      The bathing of Spirit upon thee in every stream,
      In every land and sea thou goest.”

      • Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on April 28, 2016 at 7:15 pm

        Thank you for sharing this Celtic blessing; I will keep it at hand.

  7. Elaine Nissley on April 28, 2016 at 11:52 am

    I will miss the regularity of your posts, Shirley! But I certainly understand the need for vacations. Enjoy your trip!
    I did find out that you will be on the same trip to Iona with my SIL Barb Good, so I will be able to hear a double perspective. Godspeed and Blessings~ Elaine

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks for confirming that our paths cross again, this time through Barb. We’ll both take you with us.

      Blessings in your own summer plans.

      God be with you till we meet again.

  8. Sue Shoemaker on April 28, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.”
    ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    There seems to be a “convergence” of people who are “moving upward” here, Shirley. You have created a beautiful space to “unite.”

    Travel is involved in “what is rising” for me. I will be blessed with several opportunities this summer to share my love and passion for Detroit, northern Michigan and the Great Lakes with visitors “from every direction.”

    “Traveling Mercies” to you and yours.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Sue, thank you so much for the context of the quote and for taking it back one more step to Teilhard de Chardin. I’ve added this one to my journal also!

      Have you read Krista Tippett’s book Becoming Wise An Inqury into the Mystery and Art of Living? She goes back to Teilhard more than once as she travels the path toward wisdom.

      There is indeed a wonderful convergence in this place of kindred spirits and fellow travelers. So glad to have you among us!

      I love how you wove yourself and your own summer into the quote. May you also have traveling mercies and may all your visitors be blessed.

      “To Come Home to Yourself” by John O’Donohue

      May all that is unforgiven in you
      Be released.

      May your fears yield
      Their deepest tranquillities.

      May all that is unlived in you
      Blossom into a future
      Graced with love.

      • Sue Shoemaker on April 30, 2016 at 4:46 pm

        Thank you for sharing the poem, Shirley…I choose to accept, embrace and receive the blessings in the message.

        I have not yet…but I will get Krista Tippett’s book.

  9. Carol Bodensteiner on April 28, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Enjoy your trip to Scotland, Shirley. I will wave to you from my simultaneous trip to Ireland. Though the tour my sister and I are taking will keep us busy – cramming us full of all sorts of historical and current facts – my hope is to make time for the people, the place, and the experience to find their own level in me. I know there will be thoughts to share. Travel does that to and for me.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      Thank you, Carol. I love the idea of all experiences finding “their own level in me.” That’s exactly what I hope for also. Our group is keeping a collective journal. Each of us will write a reflection on one day of the trip.

      I will wave your way and enjoy thinking of you in Ireland. That’s another place I hope to visit. So I’ll read your thoughts with keen interest. I’ll especially think of you on May 8!

  10. Kathleen Pooler on April 28, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I wish you well in your rising journey, Shirley! What rich and varied adventures you have in store. Brava to you for taking care of yourself in the process. I look forward to your updates. As for me, I am “rising” in my dialysis journey..transitioning to a nighttime cycler. Daytime freedom is on sight. Maybe even some travel in my near future.
    The best part..I am feeling better than I have felt in two years. Enjoy Scotland! I will travel vicariously through you?

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      Kathy, I’m so glad that you are feeling better than you have in years. How wonderful! You must feel your renewed energy as a literal rising within you. Hurrah!

      I’ll remember you when hiking and listening and seeing the sacred landscapes of the ancient Druids and the first Christians on the holy islands of Iona and Lindisfarne. Keep rising!!

  11. Joan Z. Rough on April 28, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Oh what a glorious time you’ll have. I look forward to hearing about it when you are ready to share your adventures. I am rising to new heights as the publication of my book gets closer and all that it entails. It’s an exciting and very challenging time time!

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Joan, you and Laurie are heading toward the end zone of publication together. It is fun to see you so close to reaping the reward of all that labor. May these last months bring you wisdom and the freedom to go Up, Up, Up! Did you see that movie? For some reason, it came to my mind that I need to see it again. Maybe now is the perfect time for you also?

      • Joan Z. Rough on April 28, 2016 at 4:59 pm

        I did see it but you’re right it’s time to see it again.

  12. Audrey Denecke on April 28, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    So happy to hear you have many joyful visits with your adult children planned. And the balance of the year is filled with many opportunities to share your rising energy. Can’t wait to hear about what is gifted to you on your upcoming trip.
    Your Jubilication blog has prompted me to engage in a good deal of reading and reflection. In Joan Borysenko’s book, A Woman’s Book of Life, I was delighted to find that her reference for ages 63-70 is “Wisdoms Daughters: Creating a New Integral Culture.” I loved it on several levels:
    1) the term Wisdom’s Daughters is very appealing to me as a member of that age class. 2) My professional coaching training is as an integral coach. So there is an affinity there again. 3) Within the chapter, she writes: “Now an entire generation of mid-lifers and sixty-somethings are reawakening to the old vision. … And, now we ourselves are aging, those of us who held the vision of cooperation, compassion, equality, and peace finally have the experience and power to bring it to fruition.”
    (pg. 212)
    And this is what is rising for me. In fact, my memoir (in its early stage of writing) has a theme of social justice and my forays in the 70’s and lessons from my experiences. Additionally, I’ve been interested in (and have not yet put enough energy into it) bringing my coaching and consulting experience into supporting social entrepreneuring businesses. My birthday comes in June, so I’ve just now decided to add researching this opportunity starting in that month.
    Finally in charting my personal life cycles, I find my life follows a nine-year cycle. As it turns out, I am in the 4th year of a 9 year cycle. The 4th year is where “the plant establishes.” The 4th year is the year where plans and “buds” move into physical form. Very exciting.
    One again I fear I’ve gone on too long.

  13. Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Never fear that you “go on too long,” Audrey. You always have interesting things to say!

    You have brought a wonderful resource to my attention. Thank you! I heard Joan Borysenko speak at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, IN, years ago. Her use of the term wisdom’s daughters certainly fits my experience of moving into older age in the company of women who have learned so much, given so much, and as a result have so much to say and to give back!

    Your nine-year cycles are interesting. My own are slightly shorter than that usually (eight years as a college president was the longest time I spent in any one position). But I definitely relate to the idea of cycling through stages within cycles of time.

    May the plant establish itself well in you during this fourth year. May it root down deep, find the refreshing streams it needs, and burst forth with strong, resilient life.

  14. Audrey Denecke on April 28, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you for your encouragement.

    By the way, the nine-year cycle includes both years of release and years of forming. In that way, it might include in year 9(low energy period), clearing away, clarifying and releasing something that is at completion; year 1 might be exploring new options (sending out interests, etc.); year 2 starting a new endeavor; year 5 is an establishment year; 6-7-8 are about blossoming, bearing fruit, and harvesting.

    The other major cycle many people experience is a 7-year cycle.
    And, each life has it’s own unique cycle of evolution; so 8 years it is for you!

    There have been a few periods in my life when I was feeling restless. I dug out my life cycle sheet and of course I was in year 9 of my life cycle. It is somehow reassuring.

    By the way, if anyone wants to chart their life cycle across their life start with year 0, birth to year 1.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Thank you, Audrey. I’m going to try this. I can imagine how much fun this would be in a group with a coach. I think it would be very helpful in the process of naming one’s evolving calling(s) over a lifetime. Very helpful!

  15. Marylin Warner on April 28, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Such exciting adventures ahead for you, Shirley, and having your daughter and son-in-law staying with you for awhile will such a wonderful time.
    My mother loved to bake bread. She especially enjoyed kneading dough bread and rolls, the smell, feel and warmth of it, and putting a clean dish towel over it and set it in a special warm place so it would rise perfectly.
    She would smile and say rising bread dough was a metaphor for all the good, healthy and helpful things in life.
    I wish you the essence of rising bread dough in your adventures ahead. 🙂

    • Shirley Showalter on April 29, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Marylin, I love the metaphor. You almost make me want to go to the kitchen and make a batch of bread in your mother’s honor. I love that this memory is a gift from your mother in her active days. Thank you for being the conduit of her gift to this group. Your role of memory-keeper is as important, I imagine, as your role of care-giver.

      I return the wish to you and yours. Can you smell the zesty, delicious energy as it rises? I can.

  16. Richard Gilbert on April 29, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Safe travels, Shirley. I feel like with me it’s the rise toward retirement. You inspire as a productive example! Emotionally I feel stronger than in a long while and am working on the physical.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Thanks, Richard. Let’s stay in touch as you begin the inner work of preparing for your vocation to deepen and/or expand in this new and wonderful phase of life. And good for you for recognizing that inner work (emotional)precedes but does not negate the outer (physical) work of transition.

  17. Judy Wilson on April 29, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Hi Shirley. You inspire me! I am close to completing my life story. A story of childhood abuse, neglect, and abandonment. I have lived a full life in spite of the issues. The word disconnect has come to me. I am ready to rise up! I belong in this world!

    • Shirley Showalter on April 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Judy, I’m so happy for you! We rise up when we know the ground below us is solid. You found a way to ground yourself, and now you are ready to rise. As you find a way to tell your story, you yourself will become the ground for other wounded souls. Stories have the power to heal, and when they are told, the healing continues. You do indeed belong in this world. May you rise and help others do the same.

      • Judy Wilson on April 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

        Thank you so much Shirley. Just the words I needed to hear. I do want to be a ground for others. I know you will have a wonderful trip. Looking forward to hearing about it!

  18. Tina Barbour on April 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    May you have safe travels and wonderful adventures! I’m excited for you. 🙂 And excited for us when you are able to tell us the stories of your adventures and learning experiences. No trips planned, though I am planning a week’s “stay-cation” in a few weeks. I set a goal to have a manuscript done to begin sending out queries on June 1. It’s work I’ve had fun doing and am excited about.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 29, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Tina, thanks so much for this blessing. I will arise and go to Iona with the thoughts of you and everyone here floating with me.

      Staycations are wonderful too. Here’s an older blog post that offers eight suggestions for how to maximize a vacation at home. Hope you find something here:

      I love the energy in your voice about your new project. May it rise!

  19. Loretta Willems on April 29, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Blessings on your journey, Shirley. Sabbaticals are necessary. Our souls need silence in order to truly listen. This sounds like a very wise decision.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 29, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks you so much, Loretta. You obviously know how to listen to your own soul. And you speak wisdom into mine. Blessings on your own journey this summer.

  20. Janet Givens on April 29, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    I shall miss your presence in my social media world, Shirley. That said, I trust your travels bring you what you seek and then some. And safely. Until then.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 30, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      Thank you, Janet. I won’t be completely absent from social media. I’m just not writing regular new blog posts. I am going to keep sending Magical Memoir Moments. I’m scheduling those in advance before I leave for Scotland. Hoping to see my friends here occasionally one way or the other. Have a great summer.

  21. Elaine Mansfield on April 30, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I will miss you, Shirley. I hope to rise to this moment in my life by being open to the lessons of death. Is it time to let go of some of my heroic drive–so strong in my mother, my father, my brother, and my husband. How can I soften toward life now that I’m the only one of these people still on earth? Is there a gentler way to approach my work and the limitations of aging? How can I become closer to the Feminine Aspects of the Divine? For a starter, I’m going for a long walk in the woods and will see if the baby chestnut trees planted a week ago have tiny leaves. And then I will be patient with them if they don’t… Have a nurturing summer.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 30, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      Elaine, these are absolutely beautiful questions! It takes a fierce woman to ask them and answer them from the depth of her being. I’m so sorry that your brother has died. And I rise also to salute you in your quest. May you be surprised to find places of beauty– holy places– along your way.

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