Living Happily Ever After


Blog Articles

The Speech Concluded: ‘R’ is for Resilience

The original definition of resilience had to do with a material’s ability to resume its shape or position AFTER being bent, stretched and compressed: the ability to “bounce back.”

To help you bounce back, I recommend the following:

1. Reflect. Think about other challenges you’ve faced and how you successfully overcame them. Do those things.

2. Write about your feelings. Writing processes thoughts and feelings differently in the brain by putting words to them. Writing about something can change the way you view it. Interestingly, I heard about a 1994 study on job loss that found that participants who wrote about their loss 30 minutes each day for five consecutive days found work significantly faster than those who didn’t.

3. Find the lessons in your loss. Writing can help you do that, too. No matter how bad the circumstances ask, “What can I learn from this?” These lessons can help you avoid giving up despite setbacks, too.

4. Reinvent yourself. Sometimes, you have no other choice–you lose your entire life (like I did) and you’re forced to create a new one. If you aren’t forced to completely reinvent every aspect of a new life, learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, join a new group or meet some new people.

5. Move forward! The shortest way to the other side is through your challenge. Don’t be a pickle sucker. Get through your challenge and move on. And “suddenly” (no guarantee on how long it takes!) you’ll realize your smile is real–not something you’re faking for your children or the world. You’ll realize, with shock, you feel like your “old” self again. You’ll realize your new life is good, although not exactly the same, as the one you lost. And you’ll realize that you’re happy.

So…believe in wearing lipstick. Believe in pink.

Laugh, it’s the best calorie burner.

Be strong when everything seems to be going wrong.

Remember that happy girls are the prettiest ones.

Believe that tomorrow is another day. Believe in miracles.

And you’ll find yourself living your own personal one. Your “happily ever after.”

The Real Truth

“Never go to bed mad.  Stay up and fight.” (Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints, 1966)

In my mid-20s, I decided to learn to play the harp. I’d already learned to play the violin, piano and guitar during my childhood so I thought the harp would be a piece of cake. I had some extra time on my hands (it was before I became a mother) so I rented a harp, found a teacher and began lessons. Sadly, I only lasted one or two months before I returned the harp and abandoned my desire. I found two things difficult about that quest: 1) that my teacher treated me like a child, marching me to a trash can to deposit my chewing gum prior to the lessons, and 2) it was REALLY hard to be so inept at something as “old” as I was and to discipline myself to start at the beginning of learning something new. (Call me lazy.)

Enter remarriage. Sometimes it reminds me of harp lessons. It can be an adjustment to learn so many new things this “old!” (Mid-40s for me; my husband is 50.) I’m struck by this thought occasionally, particularly when I learn something new about marriage or relationships. I confess I went into marriage thinking I’d been happily married for 20 years, that I knew how to “do” marriage and was pretty decent at it. I must not have anticipated learning new things with my second marriage, I was just looking forward to marrying the man I loved and building a life with him.

Instead, I’ve been shocked at how much I have learned in one short year. I admit not every lesson has been welcome or easy, particularly my biggest one: that participants in strong relationships and happy marriages don’t always see eye to eye or have the same opinion…and that’s ok; it’s ok to agree to disagree on an issue; a difference of opinion doesn’t always mean it’s a fight; conflict (and the resolution of conflict) is acceptable, and even normal, in marriage; and several other realizations along those same lines. I can’t believe I was married for 20 years and never got that.

I saw my friends, family members and other people in healthy relationships and good marriages experience and resolve conflict over and over again. But for some reason, it never gave me pause to wonder why I wasn’t dealing with the same things. The man I was married to would occasionally remark, “Isn’t it great that we don’t have those problems like other couples?” and act like our marriage was better, our relationship was stronger, or that we were more compatible than other couples because of that.

But on this side of it, I see he was WRONG about that and many other things, including his choices to lie, steal, commit fraud and perpetrate a Ponzi scheme for 16 years. I see that his crimes and his lies affected not just his professional life and the lives of his investors, but like an octopus, its nasty and dangerous tentacles infiltrated and wrapped themselves around every aspect of his life, mine and our family, including my marriage as well. That was eye opening. And not very pleasant to discover.

And I never realized it until I remarried, an honest man this time.

During our first year of marriage, we worked through a few differences of opinion. If you asked my husband about them, that’s all that he’d say they were. But each time one arose, I panicked. A part of me felt it had to mean something bad to even experience a difference of opinion. I was so afraid to face conflict, I’d keep quiet and let it fester inside me until I couldn’t take it any more–or until my husband would ask me what was wrong–and then it would finally unleash. And always, not only did I fear conflict thinking it would be the beginning of the end of my new marriage and our relationship, it was always accompanied by that darn throwing up reaction I’ve experienced since beginning my unexpected life.

It shocked me to realize my first marriage didn’t have a lot of differences of opinion I’m sure, not because our marriage was better than any other marriage and not because we were more compatible than other couples, but because one of us wasn’t being honest. After all, how can you have any conflict when one partner is probably just saying what they think the other one wants to hear to keep peace in the marriage and the home? (He had to have done that, I don’t believe you can run a Ponzi scheme AND deal with conflict outside of that, a Ponzi scheme has to be way too much work on its own. Sadly, I now suspect many aspects of my then-marriage were perhaps not as “real” as normal marriages; were not as “perfect” as I thought.)

But I never saw that. I never knew it. I guess the Ponzi scheme wasn’t the only thing I missed during my first marriage.

It has been somewhat difficult to master second marriage moment #31. But I’d say it’s about time I learned it, wouldn’t you? My thanks to my honest, patient and loving husband who has helped me come to the realizations I have finally come to, about differences of opinion in marriage; and who helps me dare to trust a man and a husband time and again, in every way possible.

So here’s the real truth about marriage that everyone but me has probably always known and lived, my knowledge acquired courtesy of my remarriage: conflict IS ok. My husband tells me differences of opinion are healthy and I now believe him. It’s normal for two people, who have lived two different lives and come from two different worlds, to have a few different ideas about things. The issues aren’t that important, it’s the hanging in there and working through them together that is. After all, ”A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” (Ruth Bell Graham)

Second Marriage Moment #16

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” (John Cotton Dana)

Second marriage moment #16? Teaching a marriage and family relations class together.

I had to laugh when our pastor asked #5 and me to teach the course. Yes, we do have 40 years of marriage experience between us but… we also have two divorces.

We’re halfway through our assignment now and I recommend it to everyone, regardless of how long you’ve been married. What a great way to begin a marriage: with a marriage relations class!

We’ve been reminded of a lot, we’ve learned some new things and as it turns out, it has also been a fabulous way to fix “little things.” For example, rather than telling your partner about a potential issue, you can just have them teach the part of the lesson about it and it’s taken care of without you ever having to say a word!

“Learn everything you can, any time you can, from anyone you can; there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” (Sarah Caldwell)

Learning is how we grow. I’m so grateful that life (and marriage) is a continual process of learning; it keeps things interesting AND fun.

The Adventure Called Remarriage, I Mean…War

“Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.” (Gilbert K. Chesterton)

Just kidding.

It is an adventure for sure, but thank goodness, there aren’t a lot of battles at our house; just the occasional “differences of opinion.” The only problem? I never expected that. So it has been an adjustment for me.

I know “normal” people must think I’m crazy, or dishonest, when I say I didn’t expect many differences of opinion in my new marriage, but I didn’t experience a lot of disagreements or differences of opinion in my previous marriage. At the time, I thought it meant that my first husband and I were extremely compatible; now I see it could also have been the result of one of us living a double life that included dishonesty in many forms, on many levels, including a Ponzi scheme. I mean, what do you get when one spouse is living a lie and the other spouse doesn’t know? Not a lot to fight about!

So as I married #5, I was surprised at the number of “fights” we had (especially considering how much we have in common, how compatible we are, and that we were engaged plenty long–long enough to work everything out before marriage, right?) Actually, let me clarify that “fight” claim. According to #5, they aren’t fights; they are “differences of opinion.”

One day, in the middle of one such divergent opinion situation, #5 asked me what I thought. I said, “I’m thinking I don’t know how to be married to you.”

“Why do you say that?” he asked.

“Because all we do is fight!” I replied.

At that, he began to laugh. “Andrea! These aren’t fights, I don’t think we’ve even had a fight yet. Sometimes I just have a different opinion than you do, and I share that, but we’re not fighting. We’re simply not of the same opinion on everything, and that’s ok. In fact, I think it’s healthy.”

Then he dropped a bombshell. ”But I AM thinking you haven’t had many people disagree with you in your life. You’re an oldest child, you have lots of opinions, you feel strongly about things, and you say what you think. I’m thinking there haven’t been many people who have dared disagree with you in your life, so this is an adjustment for you. But don’t worry, it’s good!”

Second marriage moment #14.

The realization that my husband may be right; learning that a difference of opinion in marriage isn’t abnormal and it isn’t a fight; remembering, again, that marriage teaches you SO much (not only about your partner and your companionship) but especially about yourself.

I didn’t expect that the second time around.

Don’t Tell Women Your Secrets

“Am I now supposed to go on Oprah and cry and tell you my deepest, darkest secrets because you want to know?” (Kevin Spacey)

In a word? Yes. Especially if you’re a 5th grade boy.

My middle son just completed the 5th grade today. He learned a lot this year, academically as well as socially, including some important life lessons. For instance, I’ll never forget the day he came home and said, with complete disgust, “Mom! NEVER tell women your secrets!”

I was somewhat offended. I mean, I know I’m very open with what I share on this blog, but I would never betray a trust of confidence placed in me, whether it be from a stranger, a friend, a family member or even an enemy (although I hope I don’t have any of those!) I never have and I never will. My children, of all people, should know that.

And then it hit me. This is my boy with a lot of personality and dazzling blue eyes. He has had girls chasing him (one even paid him coins every time he’d go to her house to play!) since kindergarten. I hoped I wasn’t right in my suspicion, but I had a sinking feeling he’d been a little too honest about something regarding the opposite sex.

“Uh, oh!” I said. “You didn’t tell a girl which girl you like, did you?” Everyone knows not to do that, don’t they?

“How did you know?” he asked.

“Just a guess, but now you know: NEVER do that,” I replied. “I’m sorry, I thought you knew that.”

“But mom, SHE asked me for the information,” he explained. “She PROMISED me she wouldn’t tell anyone, and then she went RIGHT to the girl and told her!”

“And?” I asked.

“And now the girls who like ME are mad!” he said. “NEVER tell women your secrets!” A very poignant lesson. And he stormed off to take his frustration out on the trampoline. He did some wicked flips that day.

“Dolphins. They think they’re so cute. ‘Oh, look at me, I’m a flippy little dolphin, let me flip for you.’” (Chum, “Finding Nemo”)

Just don’t tell a girl who you’ve flipped for…if you’re an 11-year-old boy!

A very important life lesson to learn.


“The divorced person is like a man with a black patch over one eye. He looks rather dashing but the fact is that he has been through a maiming experience.”  (Jo Coudert)

And then, ”Suddenly you’re like a pirate–you’re 65 years old and you’ve got an earring.” (Fred Willard)

Or in my case, not quite 42.

But here’s what I’ve learned courtesy of my unexpected life and the divorce that came along with it; after living through one myself and meeting many, many people who have been similarly maimed. I’d say it’s an apt description. It’s much more traumatic and scarring than I’d ever imagined; in many ways, it IS like death–only harder in some ways because the other person isn’t gone for good, they continue to resurface and impact you and your family, including times that it’s not always convenient, special occasions and holidays. Divorce definitely leaves a hole.

When I got divorced, I had only known a handful of people to endure the tragic demise of their marriages. I felt very alone, but now realize I wasn’t as alone as I felt. There were MANY other people, right there with me, enduring their own divorces. Maybe it’s because of the circles I’m forced to socialize in as a single woman, but divorce is a lot more common than I’d realized before it happened to me. (Sort of how you don’t notice a car until you drive one yourself, and then you see your car everywhere!)

Let’s just say the singles scene is a Star Trek Convention of maimed (aka. divorced) pirates, black patches and peg legs!

But I’ve seen for myself that you can heal from even from the worst things, the ultimate betrayals and the hardest experiences, including crime, if you choose to. The hole left by your unexpected horror begins to fill in and scar over. (And you have to let it heal, don’t keep picking at it.) Then, eventually, life is pretty good again.

Life can be good, even post-divorce.

Life WILL be good again.

There’s something to be said for pirates!

“Life’s pretty good, and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all.” (Johnny Depp)

Just pick yourself up after each sword fight and every cannon ball shot your direction and get back in the hunt for the booty. Trust that eventually you’ll find your treasure. And when you do, you’ll know the hunt and everything that led you to the “X,” was worth it. That’s how I feel. Every aspect of my experience, every detour my treasure map took, every battle, and every scar is absolutely worth it because it got me to where I am today.

“I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king; I’ve been up and down and over and out, and I know one thing: Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race.”

Because that’s what pirates do. Especially those unexpected ones. Like me. Like all of us.

Ahoy, Matie!

Oh. And just in case #5 ever decides to read this blog (he abandoned it when it headed into the Bachelors), this one’s for him:

Q: What is a pirate’s favorite fast food restaurant?

A: Arrrrby’s!

That’s Real Glory

I called my sister today. She asked, “So what’s up?”

“Nothing,” I replied. And almost at the same time we both said, “That is a nice change! Isn’t that wonderful!”

We chatted a little bit about everything good in our lives and then my sister said, “This is terrible, but it makes me wonder when it’s going to end.”

We’ve had that conversation before, several times, over the course of our lives.

It reminded me of when we were teenagers and we’d lay in bed at night, talking, as we drifted off to sleep. I remember one conversation in particular. The night we discussed how great our life was. It seemed like all of our friends had major challenges and struggles, and we couldn’t really even think of any small ones. We had it pretty darn good. Almost perfect. Nearly too good to be true. And even though we were teenagers, we both knew how good our life was. (I believe we thought it bordered on perfection, marred only to a tiny degree because we’d been blessed with twin brothers who were overly…rambunctious, you could say.) One of us wondered when our fairy tale was going to end.

Turns out, 1986. (When our dad died unexpectedly in a plane crash, we lost everything, our widowed mom moved the family to Utah and our mother returned to work to support her five teenagers she was left to raise alone.)

It was glorious, let me tell you. But not in the way you might think.

“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory. That’s the essence of it.” (Vince Lombardi)

That experience knocked us to our knees. But our mom led our family in a comeback that changed my life forever and prepared me for my unexpected life, and my divorce, better than I ever could have imagined.

So in 2009, when my unexpected life hit and I got divorced, when I not only got knocked to my knees but felt as if my legs had been amputated at the knees, I knew a comeback was required; that somehow, some way, I was going to rise up again. I was going for the glory. I had to–because of the way I’d been raised, and for my children.

That’s one thing I’ve learned: No matter what knocks you down, no matter how far you fall, it is possible to come back. It is glorious to come back. In fact, there’s nothing like a comeback!

“There’s nothing as exciting as a comeback – seeing someone with dreams, watching them fail, and then getting a second chance.” (Rachel Griffiths)

Comebacks are real.

And while you’re making a comeback, don’t forget to note what you’ve learned because, “If you’re going to go through hell…I suggest you come back learning something.” (Drew Barrymore)

In other words, don’t waste your experiences. We’ll all get our feet knocked out from under us (multiple times throughout our lives, probably.) And when we think we’re down for the count, we have two choices: stay down or get up. (It can be a bummer that there are only two options. I remember in the midst of my unexpected life experiences in 2009 that neither of those options were my ideal and I SO wished there were more to choose from! But there aren’t.) The additional options come AFTER we pull ourselves up, after we work through the hardship, misery and pain, AFTER we don’t quit and decide to try again.

That’s what makes a comeback what it is.

Glorious glory. Courtesy of our unexpected life and resulting from things we possibly brought upon ourselves (aka. things that can be considered our failures) through choices we made and occasionally, from nothing we did. It really doesn’t matter how they come to us, it’s what we choose to do with them that counts. Our comeback.

“Our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.” (Oliver Goldsmith)


“One day, out of irritation, I said, you know all of those years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, all those years of playing kings and princes and speaking black verse, and bestriding the landscape of England was nothing but a preparation for sitting in the captain’s chair of the Enterprise.” (Patrick Stewart)

Jean Luc Pickard had it right.

Life doesn’t always turn out how you planned. And you’re not necessarily preparing for the future you envision. I’m not sure why we go through all we do…only to end up in some very unexpected places having experienced some unimaginable things.

But this I do know.

Our experiences teach us valuable lessons—IF we allow ourselves to learn. ”Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn.” (C.S. Lewis)

Isn’t that the truth?

I also know this.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

We’re stronger because of what we’ve overcome. And if we got through something that difficult, we can get through anything—especially the next unexpected new opportunities we’re blessed with!

Late last summer I took my kids swimming at a friend’s pool one Saturday. Afterward, we enjoyed a barbecue. Then we innocently returned to our home after several hours of fun. We walked into the house and noticed a strange humming sound. I thought, “Darn! Someone left the television on when we left. I’ve asked my kids not to do that a thousand times!” and in a bit of frustration, went to the turn the t.v. off. Only it wasn’t on.

My oldest headed down to his bedroom right about that time, got to the basement and cried out. In a panic I raced down the stairs to see what was wrong, got to the bottom of the stairs, and unexpectedly stepped into a puddle of water at least 6 inches deep! The entire basement of our home was flooded! The “humming” sound I’d heard was the dying echo of ruined electronic equipment.

As I stood there, water sloshing against my calves looking at the utter ruin of the lowest level of my home’s interior and its contents, I belatedly thought, “Is it possible to get shocked standing in water with electronics humming and crackling as they float by?” And then thoughts of death-by-electricity fled my mind as I realized I needed to get the water to my home shut off. A pipe must have burst.

But wouldn’t you know, inept single woman that I am, I couldn’t find it? I looked high and low, everywhere I could think of, but I couldn’t locate it. I had my children down there hunting with me and it never turned up. I assigned my son to find a male neighbor who could tell us where the water shut-off valve might be located. He returned with an actual neighbor who helped us find it and shut it off. Then he suggested we look for the pipe that had burst–the source of the water.

Would you believe there wasn’t one? The entire basement was like a giant kiddie pool but there wasn’t a source of water! The ceilings were dry, the walls were dry, but strangely, in one room, there was water spray on everything below four feet in height. It was the craziest thing.

And I learned something about myself: unsolved mysteries (aka. house floods) make me think the darndest things! After hunting high and low with my neighbor for the source of the water, and never finding one, I’m ashamed to say one of my next thoughts was, “Oh my gosh! It has FINALLY happened! A Ponzi scheme victim must have located us, broke into our home, and unleashed their anger at the situation with a hose—by flooding our home!”

That was ridiculous. I put that thought out of my mind and unexpectedly it was replaced it with, “How in the world have we made an enemy like this already? Just one year living in Utah and we’ve offended someone so badly that they’d want to flood our home?”

That’s when I noticed it.

My son’s bedroom window was cracked and broken, pieces were missing. And then I noticed grass floating in the flood, mud and grass splattered everywhere inside my home, and mud and water floating in the window well.

My neighbor and I headed outside to find the source of the water. As luck would have it, the patio and everything outside near the broken window was completely dry. NO trace of water! Where were Fred, Daphne, Thelma, Shaggy, Scooby and The Mystery Machine when I needed them? There was a mystery to be solved.

Another neighbor saw us outside and came over to see if we had noticed the water outside my home. Due to the heat of the day, the outside water had dried up, so we hadn’t seen ANY water. (That was why the situation was so puzzling!) I told him, unfortunately,the water wasn’t just outside my home, the entire interior of the basement was flooded. But at least he solved the mystery for us.

It was entirely unexpected.

There are irrigation wheels in the corner of my backyard. While I was out, a farmer came to take his watering turn and failed to check that the appropriate gates were open when he diverted his irrigation water. He drove away…and my home flooded. I wasn’t home, the farmer wasn’t there, so I didn’t know anything untoward was taking place or needed to be stopped. The water ran and ran. Unchecked. Out of control.

A different neighbor happened to look outside and saw water flooding our cul-de-sac and the connecting streets so filled with water he assumed a water main had broken. Until he tried to locate the source of the “break” and saw a literal river of water running through my backyard, into my home, and into the streets all around it. Just a little house flooding, courtesy of a farmer who failed to check (as they are always supposed to) that the appropriate diversion gates are open. Just one little gate. I NEVER expected that!

I don’t think the farmer did either. As he told me later that night, “I’ve been doing this 30 years and I’ve never had a problem. I never thought to check that the south gate was open. It’s not your fault, it’s not my fault; these things happen. That’s what your homeowner’s insurance is for.” The farmer advised me to get my belongings out of my basement as fast as I could. I never expected that, either.

I stood there, alone, with my four children and thought, “How in the world am I supposed to clear my basement all by myself?” (I was tending a baby at the time, as well.) I was overwhelmed. But that is a great thing about Utah. (Get ready for another one of those, “Only in Utah” moments.) My son went to one neighbor and asked if he could help us move some furniture out of our basement as it had flooded, he came right over, took one look, made a phone call and within minutes, literally, there were 30-40 people from our neighborhood and church congregation hauling our belongings out of the flood and into our front yard. An impossible task was completed in a matter of an hour or so.

I helped, I hauled, and then I confess, I had a moment of meltdown. I escaped to the privacy of my bathroom, called a friend in Denver, CO, and lost it. For a moment there, I was afraid a house flood was going to be my undoing. Silly, I know, but after a year of shock, trauma, and attempted recovery, I was temporarily at my limit.

Thankfully, my friend “talked me down,” we laughed and I put the situation in perspective. Really, after EVERYTHING I had lived through, a house flood wasn’t that big of a deal.



And I knew it.

Sadly, compared to decades of lies, betrayal, crime, drama, divorce, vilification and everything else played out in the media and on a public stage, a flood really wasn’t that big of a deal. I had lived through worse. Much worse. So that’s what I said when people expressed their sympathy regarding the flood. “We’ve lived through worse. Not a big deal. It’s just stuff. It will be ok.”

I never expected the collapse of my family and the public downfall we endured would  be preparation for a flood; would help me keep it all in perspective. But it was. And it did. We’ve certainly survived worse.

In the unexpected life.

Yet still, “I doubt whether the world holds for any one a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice-cream.” (Heywood Braun)

Or your first house flood.

Winter Eventually Becomes Summer…If You Just Don’t Quit

At times in my life I’ve lived through experiences that seemed to be “just like the movies,” for good and for bad.

Like the day Federal Agents drove up to my Colorado home for the first time, in their caravan of dark SUVs with dark tinted windows, and every agent got out of the vehicle they were riding in wearing dark sunglasses and navy blue jackets with “U.S. Marshalls” embroidered on the back. I remember standing at the front window of my home, watching their arrival scene that appeared to be straight out of Hollywood, wondering how it could possibly be my experience. It was completely surreal, yet unfortunately, real; real enough I was terrified.

But there was nothing I could do. I had to be there, I had nowhere else to go, so I simply had to endure it.

In reality, every agent was very nice and respectful. Although my fear never left me (it’s hard not to feel fearful when a bunch of government agents are in your home because you, and everyone else, have discovered the man you’ve been married to for almost 20 years has secretly been committing a crime to the tune of 14 years and 20 million dollars), I got through it.

Sometimes, that’s all you can do.

Get through it despite the fear and uncertainty. Face what you dread. And although it doesn’t make you feel particularly courageous when you’re afraid, I’ve learned that facing your fear and not quitting in its face, is courage in itself.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)

Some days, getting through the day without quitting means you’ve conquered fear. It’s courageous just to carry on. Even if things don’t turn out the way you hoped. To never quit is brave. To press forward is triumphant. And eventually, the fear goes away. Or you learn that you can survive experiences that are epically fear-inducing and come out just fine on the other side of them, with time.

I’m so glad I never quit, despite the many moments I wished I could have!

Because in those cold, dark moments of dread, indescribable fear, utter humiliation and hardship you’re tempted to think will never end, they do. Life goes on after them. And you learn things about yourself you never knew.

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” (Albert Camus)

Summer has always been my favorite season.

That’s How We Learn

“I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance – waiting for the bathroom.” (Bob Hope)

I can relate, although I learned to dance in the kitchen watching my parents cha-cha before breakfast and taking a spin when my mom needed to stir something.

But that is the grand adventure of life, isn’t it?

Learning the most unexpected lessons at the most unexpected times and from the most unexpected places.

I learned honesty as a child, but learned, again, how committed I was to it when government agents were coming to my home to seize everything of value and I knew the contents of my jewelry box. It would have been so easy to take something I could sell to feed, clothe or shelter my children and none would be the wiser. Except me. And that was the problem.

So I didn’t do it, although I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. It absolutely did. When you’re left alone, financially devastated, and have four children to provide for, it’s amazing how desperate that situation can make you feel. However, I’ve never been one to sell my soul for “things” and even when the stakes were so high in my eyes, I learned I still wasn’t going to. I learned for myself I wasn’t going to break down and be dishonest after living a life of complete honesty just because my spouse had. I learned I’d rather starve or be forced to rely upon the charity of others than to choose to steal or sell my soul for any “thing.”

In that moment I also learned that as much as we know what is right, and regardless of how much a virtue (like honesty) we possess, we are never absolutely above temptation. At least, I’m imperfect enough not to be.

Life is an endless opportunity to prove ourselves and reprove ourselves and prove ourselves again, even when we think we have something mastered–we get to learn and prove ourselves in an entirely new, and unexpected, way!

Like dance. I graduated from high school and dancing in the kitchen to college, social dance class, and returning home for New Year’s Eve 1985 to cha-cha with my dad, one last time, but in public, at a dance. Later I added clogging, BYU Folk Dancers and Irish dance to the resume of my experience. And eventually, a dance class with Bachelor #5. He keeps inviting me to country/western dance, so that may be next on our list. But wherever our lesson, and our life lessons take us, this I know:

That’s how we learn. And we’re learning all the time. The tombstone will be our diploma, said Eartha Kitt.

“Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.” (Henry L. Doherty)

Especially in the unexpected one.