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What Stories Are You Telling?

In preparing a speech and workshop for a group of writers on memoirs, I thought about how the threads of our past continue to have an influence on everything we do. Those threads are the many stories that make up our lives.

There are many stories that need to be told – stories that only you can tell.  While we may live through similar times, everyone experiences those times differently and each of us will have a different interpretation of what occurred.

There will be funny stories and stories that break your heart, but all have an important message to share.

They tell us we can endure hard times and gain something positive from even the worst of situations; there is hope for the future.

It’s not only the stories we tell other people, but the stories we tell ourselves. We constantly relive what happens in some way.

Does your story include hope and grace and some redeeming qualities?

Within the worst of situations, we find elements of bravery, compassion, sacrifice, understanding, and even humor.

Memoirs – Our Special Stories

What Stories Are You Telling? | Focuswithmarlene.com

A memoir is a slice of life, a story within the story of our lives. They are highly personal and we may find them difficult to write because we are asked to go beyond the recall of events. In our narrative, we identify our weaknesses and shortcomings as well as our strengths and triumphs which make us and our story human, relatable, credible and engaging.

Within memoirs, there is a theme – a subject or distinct and unifying idea or principle. You can write about your childhood, the places you have visited, a funny event, giving a speech, anything. The people you share your narrative with want to experience something vivid and a story that will shine a light on their own experiences or lives.

A memoir shows how much we all have in common. It doesn’t have to be dramatic to be of interest. We want to come away understanding, however subtle, what it means to be human.

Writing is both powerful and therapeutic. It helps us re-examine events objectively and coherently, and come to terms with life-altering changes. It gives us the opportunity to grieve old losses, heal old wounds and put to rest difficult memories.

Your Slice of Life

You may not consider yourself a writer, but you do tell stories. Imagine you are writing about things that have happened in your life. This is a fun exercise anyone can do.

  • Take a piece of paper and write down some of the events that have happened over time, events that had some influence or made a difference in some way.
  • Beside each event, write why this had importance. Maybe it is a crazy event that enabled you to see the humor in the absurdity of what happened. Maybe it reminded you of how we can persevere and survive even in the toughest of times.
  • Pick one event and write a story about it.

Writing gives voice to what we have experienced.

Be honest.  Don’t skip over the tough parts. We need to know the facts as we identified them along with the emotions we felt. How did events affect us both in the short term and long term? Don’t omit the questions, struggles, and doubts you had about life, others, God and yourself.

It is in the struggles where we gain humility, insight and become better people. That does not reflect weakness – but a desire to be honest and genuine.

Clarity comes as we begin to tell our story in some way and helps to coherently piece together our experiences, and re-frame the ending. Expanding our understanding of our life experiences helps us to come to terms with difficult times.

As you write, think about the strengths and resilience and determination you have gained over time. We tend to forget what it takes to go through tough times. Whether you share your story with others or not, in the writing and telling it to yourself, you acquire a greater appreciation for you and others.

Accept and celebrate all the parts of your life’s journey – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.

I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

An Interview with Yourself

Several years ago, I did an interview with Stephanie Hill Williams, a Christian radio station host. Before the interview, I was given a set of questions to preview that would be used in our discussion. They included my childhood years, family, career goals and my aspirations as a writer and speaker.

This interview made me pause and think about who I am, what in my upbringing helped me achieve and what things continue to make me struggle. We rarely stop to consider who we are because we are too busy living life.

When facing difficulties, all the negative attributes we have placed on ourselves rush to the front and center of our thinking. We forget all the productive things we have done.

Exploring who we are may seem scary at first.  After all, we left home hoping to leave everything unpleasant behind us. But exploring those early years will help us recognize the strengths we have.

Who am I?

Imagine you are a radio host who is asking questions about who you are. This is not an interview for a job but a conversation you are having with yourself. Consider the following questions and suggestions as a way to have this conversation.


  • How would you define who you are and what makes “you” you? Think of the following questions as prompts to help you put into words your description.


  • What qualities or attributes do you believe you have? Do you see yourself as upbeat, strong, determined, cautious, leader, follower, peacemaker, etc?


  • What personality traits or characteristics describe you? (Thoughtful, contemplative, caring, introspective, charismatic, stubborn, assertive, etc.)


  • What are your talents and abilities?  Are you artistic, computer and technology savvy, athletic, gardening enthusiast, homemaker, designer, problem solver, musician, etc?


  • Would you consider yourself an extrovert who is energized interacting with other people or more of an introvert who feels less comfortable in social circles?


  • On a piece of paper, write a short story about what it was like growing up. Were you part of a large family or a small one? Perhaps you were an only child? Where did you fit into the family structure (eldest, middle, or youngest)? Research indicates that birth order has predictable outcomes.


  • Were you encouraged to develop your potential growing up or were you constantly compared negatively with others? Do you continue to compare yourself, always seeing others as more competent and successful than yourself?


Taking time to reflect can reveal the many attributes we have that have helped us succeed in the past that we can use again.

When we’ve hit some major roadblocks or setbacks, our thoughts typically revolve around all the reasons we can’t succeed and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Change your focus from what you can’t do to finding solutions you need.

Throughout life there will be turning points, defining moments when we can stop and reflect.  These are opportunities to eliminate what isn’t working and put in place the resources we need. Beginning with a more measured assessment of who we are, and what helped us become successful in the past can make a new start both exciting and productive.

Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.

I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

7 Ways to Turn a Major Setback into an Advantage

When you were little, life was exciting. Those first tentative steps as a toddler soon became an adventure as you ran around exploring your world.  Before long, you were enrolled in kindergarten, then grade school, high school and on to college.

Excited about all the possibilities, you set out to conquer the world.

Then life hit. Others got the jobs you wanted. College debts mounted and your first paychecks barely covered the rent. Relationships you thought would last ended with bad feelings and the hope for marriage and family evaporated.

Each time we get knocked down, it becomes harder and harder to get up. The goals and aspirations we had are abandoned. Obstacles become impassable roadblocks or dead ends, and our enthusiasm and excitement for the future vanish like early morning mists. Instead of possibilities and promises for a brighter future, we feel discouraged and dejected.

It’s hard to remain motivated when everything seems to constantly be going wrong.  Instead of seeing the successes we have had, we only see failures and disappointments.

When life hits hard, we are faced with asking the tough questions:

Is this really where I want to be?

Is there anything positive I can take away from this?

7 Ways to Turn a Major Setback into an Advantage

1. Leave Old Baggage in the Past.

We leave home carrying a lot of baggage of unresolved disputes, negative messages and hurt feelings. This baggage will continue to trip us up until we take the time to reflect, work through troubled times and let go of hurts and past grievances.

As we look at events and people who had an impact on us growing up, we can make a purposeful decision to let go and leave it in the past.

Sifting through our memories reminds us of the times and people who encouraged and believed in us. We want to take these nuggets of optimism with us moving forward.

2. Let go of Grievances.

There are no perfect childhoods or perfect parents. We will encounter individuals who are troubled, struggle to survive and lack the skills to encourage and nurture.

However, our past does not define who we are unless we allow it to.

As we work through the difficulties of earlier times there will be a tendency to hang on to resentments, unfairness or ill-treatment. We do that to our own detriment.

Hanging onto grievances is like drinking toxic acid every day – it gradually eats you up. Forgiveness is for you.

3. Ask the Questions: What is working and what is not working? How do I spend my time?

We hear a lot about time management and struggle to put a reasonable plan in motion. Record your daily time schedule for each day for one week, starting from when you get up and when you go to bed. Then put together a new schedule that includes time for fun activities with family and friends.

4. Recognize Critical Self Talk and Replace.

What messages from your past continue to persuade you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?

Recognizing critical self-talk enables us to challenge irrational thinking and biased core beliefs and replace with encouraging constructive affirmations.

5. Reframe Difficult Situations.

Reframing circumstances give us the ability to see more of our current situations and maximize our problem-solving efforts. Acceptance helps us get un-stuck and focus on what we can do and look for successful outcomes. As we see more options our choices can be better attuned to win-win solutions.

6. Setbacks are Opportunities.

Setbacks give us the opportunity to stop and consider who we are. We discover more about ourselves.

  • What makes us tick?
  • What makes us feel good?
  • What do we love to do that we have been ignoring and how can we incorporate that into our everyday lives?
  • What are the values we want to live?

7. Focus on Your Successes.

What made them successful? Give yourself credit for doing a good job.

Develop a list of all the successes you have had, no matter how small. Don’t minimize the importance of anything. This helps us balance the vulnerabilities we feel.

Acceptance of ourselves, just as we are, the good and the bad, enables us to live more genuine and honest lives.

When we give ourselves the grace to fail and try again as often as it takes, we develop a bold yet humble attitude that allows for stumbles, falls and setbacks.

Imagine today that you are at a crossroads and are required to choose one path over another.

This is the first blog in a new series that focuses on the theme “Picking up the Pieces.”  Over the coming months, you will learn how to create a new roadmap, navigate detours and roadblocks that will put you on a path of exciting new opportunities.

 Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.

I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

5 Essentials to Successful Goals

Last week you previewed your potential goals for this year by reflecting on the following:

What do I want?

Why do I want it?

Am I willing to work to achieve it?

Included in that blog posting was a Goal Development Inventory that had additional questions to help you answer those questions that included identifying our personal barriers, what was important in your life right now and what you had accomplished in the past.

To complete this segment on setting and completing goals, I have listed five important considerations that can help you succeed with your plans.

5 Important Essentials Needed to Make Goals Successful

1. Goals are easy to make – they are not easy to complete.

We have lofty ideals and aspirations that rarely include the reality of how we will complete them.

Review your “what I want” list and eliminate items that are “wishes” which you are unwilling to commit to action.

Add to this list some personal development goals, such as becoming kinder and more understanding, a willingness to listen instead of rushing to judgment or discovering something to be grateful for every day.

2. Pick one item you are serious about and willing to commit to making it happen.

Then pick a personal development goal. Personal development goals are ongoing and you work on them every day in some way.

As we improve our attitude and responses to those around us, it will have a positive impact on the success of all our other goals.

If your life is currently in chaos, with struggles in your marriage and family, any goals you make will be at risk for failure.

3. What has failed in the past and what has worked?

We learn from living. We have had successes and failures. To keep from repeating past mistakes we need to stop and evaluate those mistakes.

  • What did you learn – about yourself or others?
  • How can I keep from repeating them again?

Don’t rationalize why you didn’t follow through. We need to be completely honest with ourselves.  It is the only way we will make changes that become beneficial and long-lasting.

4. Check your confidence level.

Often goals remain incomplete because we lose confidence over time.

  • Do I need to adjust the time frame for completion?
  • Have I articulated what I want and why?

Confidence is gained as we continue to move forward one step at a time.

Obstacles are just that – obstacles that we can go around or remove. They remain stumbling blocks when we believe there is nothing we can do to overcome them.

Affirm your capabilities every day.

We are not perfect – we will make mistakes – we will fail. That is human. Be willing to assess and try again.

Write positive affirmations that you repeat every day until they become second nature in your thoughts that doubts and uncertainties can’t alter.

Put in place a mantra of “Yes I can,” or one that says, “I refuse to let failures define me.”

We can start again. Every stumble, every problem, every obstacle teaches us something even if that reminds us we are resilient and strong.

5. Habits.

One of the obstacles rarely addressed in goal setting is habits. We are creatures of habit. We do the things that are expedient, easy and give us some immediate, pleasurable reward that makes us feel good at the moment.

These habits rarely keep us healthy, happy or successful over time.

Recognize the habits that have kept you from accomplishing goals in the past. Face your excuses and denials. Be honest with yourself.

Habits cannot just be changed or stopped – they need to be replaced. Give yourself time and grace to master that replacement.

Mark on a calendar every time you were successful.

Monitor your self talk. Replace belittling thoughts with affirmations. Remind yourself, “I can do this.

Replace the words should and must with “I want or choose to do this.

Work on one habit at a time so you won’t get stressed, lose motivation and quit.

Next step

When you have completed your goal statement and plans of action, post it somewhere where you can view it every day as a reminder that you were serious about achieving it.

If you would like a goal statement template that takes you through the important steps in goal setting, send me a quick e-mail and I will forward it to you.

Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.

I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

What Goals are Right for Me?

What Goals are Right for Me? A Goal Development Inventory | FocusWithMarlene.comLike you, I have made many goals. Some were completed but many others were not.

As I think about the goals I want to make for this upcoming year, I am challenged to ask, what made the difference between success and failure with past goals? Why did I abandon some but not others?

In reflection, I think one of the most important reasons was because I hadn’t been specific enough in defining my goal. To be specific you need to know what you want, why you want it and must be willing to work to achieve it.

So much of what we do is due to a moment’s desire: if I had such and such or could do such and such I would be happy.

Why should we bother with goals if we so seldom complete or accomplish them?

What do I want? – Why do I want it? – Am I willing to work to achieve it?

Years ago, when studying goal setting, we were told the goals we made needed to include every aspect of our life:  family, physical, mental, social relationships, religious/spiritual, financial, career. In workshops that I have given, the need to consider all aspects of your life was strongly emphasized and explored. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on career goals to the exclusion of the other areas of our life – we consider other areas important but those remain only partially developed.

When we exclude some areas in our goal setting, our lives become unbalanced and instead of finding the satisfaction we crave, we experience dissatisfaction and sometimes turmoil.

Below is a Goal Development Inventory that I have used in presenting workshops. Before finalizing your goals for this year, take a moment and consider what you truly want.

Goals need to go beyond the desire or good intention of the moment. They need to be associated with our values and principles and long-term development of us as individuals.

  • What will make me a better person?
  • What contribution will my goals make to others?
  • How can I become the person God created me to be?

What Goals are Right for Me? A Goal Development Inventory | FocusWithMarlene.com

Goal Development Inventory

What do I want?  (this is often hard to define but incredibly important)


What goals do I want to accomplish in the following areas:








Select one goal you want to accomplish in the next six months


Select three goals you want to accomplish by next year


Select three goals that you consider the most important life goals


Within the past month, what have you done to accomplish any of these goals?  Why? Why not?


Do you really want these things?  Why?  Why not?


What do you consider to be your strengths?


What do you consider to be your weaknesses?


List five of the most important things in your life right now


List three peak, meaningful events you have experienced in your lifetime


What peak experiences would you like to have in the future


Make a decision right now on a goal you want to complete this year


To develop and complete successful goals, we need to understand ourselves better. Even when excuses are legitimate: example, struggling with overwhelming technology, we can make it our focus to discover ways to do what is needed.

Identifying your personal barriers to completing your goals can help motivate us through the tough spots. My personal barriers have been technology, time, learning curve and not making a more formal commitment.

A formal commitment would include a reasonable time commitment for my writing, but also social commitments, maintenance, and upkeep of my home, marketing, and continued education.

Marlene Anderson

If you would like a free download of the above inventory, send me an e-mail and ask for Goal Development Inventory and I will e-mail it to you as soon as possible.

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

New Beginnings

Every January we start a new year – a new beginning – making goals we think we will keep but seldom do.  I am no exception.

As I thought about what I want to accomplish by the end of 2019, I reflected on past times when I had succeeded with my goals. What did I do that made the difference from success and those times when I wasn’t successful?

I came up with two things that seem to be a motivating factor. One was having a “need” or necessity that became a driving force.  And the other was when I made goals that I was passionate about.

“Needs” require attention so we can survive. Such times might include health problems or major financial concerns. When I needed a new hip, pain dictated paying attention and following through with surgery and physical therapy.  After the death of my husband, financial concerns precipitated the sale of my home, decisions as to where to live, and what I could afford.

Creating purpose and meaning for our lives is also crucial. Losses compel us to re-think what is important.  As a licensed therapist, I love teaching, working with people, and creating workshops and retreats. Both passion and needs became the driving force for the creation of a website, blogging, speaking and writing where I could interact with people, share information and life strategies.

While both passion and needs can be motivating factors, without specifically defined goals that direct their outcome, they can become sidetracked. Health and fitness require a permanent central focus in our lives. Without good health, we will neither have the energy or well being to achieve other goals.

Belief in yourself is another critical factor; belief that you can do it. While we may need more education or training, without a positive belief in our abilities we will sabotage our efforts. When struggling with my life-changing goals, I had to believe that I could build a house by myself.  Later, I had to believe that I could perfect my writing skills to blog and publish, resulting in the publication of my first book and a second one ready for publication. Despite doubts and anxieties, with the help of God, I was able to affirm my abilities to do both what needed doing and what I had a passion to do.

This year, I want to take my goals to a new level.  To be attainable they need to be realistic. Larger over-arching goals require a series of steps to accomplish. Reflection on past goal completion can reveal what is necessary to complete them successfully. Daily affirmations are needed to motivate and encourage success. When we are unable to maintain motivation and perseverance our goals end up on the garbage heap  Recognizing stumbling blocks and planning ways to overcome them is a necessity.

Successful goals are those where the process of moving towards them becomes a life-changing and character building process.  It is the journey of creating a roadmap, navigating detours and roadblocks and redesigning as need be as we go along.  It is on that journey where we see unexpected, dazzling sunsets, panoramic vistas of exciting new opportunities and the reassurance that God is there with us every step of the way.

Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.





“For God so loved the world….”

Love: It seems we use it so casually, almost superficially – sometimes even flippantly. We often demean or reduce it to levels of lustful desire.

God: we exploit Him for our own purposes –throw Him in the trash can when we are no longer interested – group Him together with all the superficial little gods we create to make us feel good.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son to die for us.”

In this simple statement, God and love come together in a comprehensive understanding. We are told exactly what kind of love God is offering us: one that is solemn and significant enough that it will die for us. People are being killed today in the name of some god. But would a god of hate die for us? I don’t think so.

Love – we have diminished it – tarnished its value, while desperately needing it. We need to receive it – we need to give it. We cannot live without it.

  • Gives
  • Reaches out
  • Lifts up
  • Cares
  • Sacrifices
  • Needs others
  • Listens
  • Is patient
  • Forgives
  • Is necessary to live
  • Offers grace, mercy, and  understanding
  • Disciplines and sets boundaries
  • Is never cheap
  • Is given freely – cannot be earned
  • Offers purpose and meaning


Christmas – a time to reflect


We have made it a time for “I want”  lists” and “to do” lists. Yet it is so much more. Christmas is a time to remember and anticipate a gift of love given to us – freely – without a charge on our credit card. Yet at a great cost to the Giver.

I love my tree lights, greens, and bright ornaments. But without the gift of love given to us so many years ago, Christmas would have a shallow and superficial meaning.


St. Paul gives us a better definition of love in I Corinthians 13:11: 

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

Does anything else need to be said?  Who wouldn’t want to find that kind of love under their Christmas tree this year?

Marlene Anderson

(First published in Dec 2015).

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Hope that Sustains

When I write or speak about picking up the pieces of our lives, I share my own personal life experiences of hope as well as examples from scripture and science.

Throughout the Bible, we read stories of God interacting with His people where faith, hope, and trust are played out. Within science, we know that the thoughts we dwell on will have an impact on us mentally, physically and spiritually.

Hope can change the chemistry in the body.

Hope says there is the possibility of something good happening.  It is not only a belief but a feeling that “something desirable” might happen.   Without hope, we give up or find ourselves repeating the words made popular in a song of the ’60s that said, “Is this all there is”?

Hope encourages 

When we are encouraged, we gain confidence.  Within confidence, we find courage.

Hope motivates 

With encouragement, we become motivated – motivated to look for solutions to tough problems and difficult life situations.

Hope energizes 

When we are feeling helpless and hopeless, our energy is drained and depression settles into every cell and fiber of our body rendering us at times almost catatonic.  Hope can change that in an instant. Hope allows us to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t do.

Hope expects 

When we feel hopeful, we expect a different outcome.  We don’t worry about whether the earth will keep rotating; the sun will come up in the morning or go down at night.  When the sun is hidden in clouds, we know it still exists and takes for granted that it is there.

Hope played out in our lives expects that tomorrow has the possibility to be brighter than today, that our pain will recede, and that we can experience joy again.  Hope says that when the world is all dark and we think we have been locked in a prison of despair, that we can place our expectation on a God who we can call upon in our time of need and trouble.  We can go to Him anytime and anywhere.

Hope believes

When our expectation is placed on God, we believe that He exists, that He loves us, and that He will never leave us or desert us.  He will give us the strength to endure.  Hope believes God’s word that tells us He cares about us personally, and that His love is so great, He is willing to die for us.  In fact He did – on the cross at Easter and rose again.

Hope never gives up

Hope doesn’t quit.  When we are exhausted and think we can’t do anything more, we hear God whispering to us, “I am there with you. Try again – one more time”.   We feel His arms carry us.  We hear his promises in our ear and feel His strength flow into us. He intervenes in our lives.

Hope is surrender

Hope relies on something greater than ourselves.  When we surrender to the knowledge that we do not know it all, will never know it all and we need God in order to survive, we begin to experience hope.  We recognize that we are not sufficient unto ourselves.

Sometimes in that surrender, we are asked to let go and allow.  The focus is no longer making something happen, but surrendering to what is happening and adjusting our responses. In that surrender, we find peace in acceptance. Hope than reveals itself in looking for blessings in all things.

The Easter story is that revealing of hope for us that there is life after death – a new life that goes beyond the grave; a hope of salvation made possible by God.  The Christmas story is where it all begins. Within our tragedies lies new hope and new life as well.

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.


Love – Hope – Peace

In reflecting the events of this past year, there were times to celebrate but also times when horrendous acts resulted in the deaths of innocent people.  Too often, the stories of the later were played over and over again in the media, and we would watch trying to understand; to make sense of it all.

What drives people to such extreme measures of killing others and self?  For many, it is the pain of mental illness or drugs along with a continued focus on resentment and hatred that create an ongoing inner turmoil.

In reflection, we have the opportunity to look at ourselves and how we have chosen to live our lives.  Do we reach out to those who are struggling?  Do we care enough to listen and offer compassion? While we can’t solve all problems, we can be an instrument of love, hope, and peace to all we encounter.

Love – Hope – Peace


We speak to these themes each Christmas in our Christmas card mantras. Peace is thought of as a potential outcome of a battlefield somewhere between countries or cultures. We view hope as something we want but have become jaded about.  And love: well, we have been rejected and hurt too many times to trust or love anyone anymore.

Love, hope and peace begin in our hearts.  It cannot start anywhere else.  But how are we to love that person who has taken advantage of us, hurt us, used and abused us?  We don’t get that ability from our culture or love songs or peace rallies.  A love that can bring hope and peace to our hearts starts with God and that little baby in the manager.  It is what agnostics, atheists and those who want to be in complete control of their lives fear above all else – that there might be some truth to the Christmas story.

Perhaps the most important healing component we have for our lives is love. True love is the only weapon against the assault of hate. Without love, we are lost.  Without love, there is no hope for us as a people on this earth.  A love that risks all – embraces all – gives all – endures all. That is what we received when a helpless, vulnerable baby boy was born so many years ago. What parent wouldn’t willingly sacrifice their own life for that of their child?  God, our heavenly Father demonstrated that for us, His children, when He gave His only Son to die for us that we might live.

As we pray for comfort for families who have lost loved ones this past year, let us remember the thousands of families whose lives are torn apart by hate, hurt, pain, greed, isolation, bitterness, and revenge.

Love, hope and peace are only hollow words unless they are followed by positive personal action. It’s a time for humility and honesty and openness.

Marlene Anderson

If you have a story of hope and endurance and faith that you would like to share with others, please let me know so we can post them on upcoming blogs.


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True Blue

Yesterday I attended a memorial for a friend of mine whose son had died.  Family is so precious and we want to always remember them.

So, I decided to re-post a blog I did in remembrance of my son who died the day after Thanksgiving in 2009.

We continue to remember his bright smile, his humorous quips, and his incredible drawing and art. And we can’t help but smile and laugh as we think about him.

You are never forgotten, Don.  From me, your sister and your brother, we post again some of your incredible art, pictures of you growing up and the recording of the song written for and about you by your friend, David Abramson.



True Blue

(for Don Anderson)

Every now and then

The phone would ring

And he would ask me simply

How is everything?

And though I seldom called him

His kinship kept its hue

He was true

True blue

The first time I met him

He was doodling

And again with phantom pen

As he lay fading

From the dawn of the Don

To the midnight gone

He was true

True blue


And sometimes we would wonder

What’s in store for him

Whether charcoal clouds would sully

The good lines in him

But even his demons and dragons

Had a wink in the way that he drew

He was true

True blue


When we shared a dinner

I now recall

His kind defense of others

He made room for all

His friends were a colorful gumbo

A spicy and marvelous stew

And we still

Love you


And so we arise from the mourning

With the wiser smiles we’ve Donned

And the love

Lives on

And the love

Lives on

(c) (c) David Abramson, Feb. 6th, 2010


David was Don’s friend and he wrote this song for Don after he died.  The song in many ways represent the feelings of so many of his friends in California where he worked and lived.  They loved him.

And so do we – his remaining family members.

Don died, November 27, 2009

We all still love you – you will always be a part of our lives.


Some pictures of him and family.

Don - early drawingBob and Don



He was drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil







Don and his brother Bob



Disney Land



Don and I at Disneyland







Eliz and DonHis Sister, Elizabeth and him enjoying one of their many rollicking laughs – both Bob and Elizabeth adored their brother Don.





Our 40th anniversary - 1



He came to help us celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  He had been working in Santa Monica for many years as a Conceptual Creative Artist






Some of his creative talent – Throughout his grade school and high school years he was sketching and would absolutely amaze people who came to visit as he would complete a sketch in about 15 minutes.

Don's scanned art 009Don's scanned art 001


Don's scanned art 008


Don's scanned art 007

















Some of his monsters and creatures

Don - Monster - 43










Misc 13 jpg








Concept Design - 1 jpg










Commissioned to create the designs that would be used for the Crayola Anniversary Bus tourDon - Crayola bus - 1 - Don designed bus and set



Illustrations - 2















Illustrations - 3 jpg












There are boxes and boxes and files and files of his work.  There are video’s of short stories he wrote, produced and directed.  The pictures above don’t begin to give credit to the huge repertoire of art and accomplishments before pancreatic cancer took his life.

You are always with us.

Love you,

Mom, Elizabeth and Bob