A Right Time for Everything



Eugene Peterson’s The Message has a great opening sentence for Ecclesiastes 3: 

  “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.”

As we witness the onset of autumn, I reflect upon the seasons of life, the transitions I experience, and the constancy of those seasons as well as the transitions before, during, and after all pinnacle points of my becoming and creating.   My inspiration for this pause is the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, and the way that scripture plays out in my head and heart during every chapter of my life.  This pause is also inspired by my day to day experience with my #1 husband, my forever life witness for 40 years.

“A right time for birth and another for death,”

–“So, what makes something ‘right’?” I ask.  We are born and we will die.  Do I have a say in this process?  Post Life is defined as the dash between the birthdate and the death date on a gravestone.  The in-between is the big thing, the place I am gifted the time in this body to grow, create, experience, savor, accept and learn to love all that I choose in this body; only limited by the dash between the dates, a.k.a., TIME.  Did I choose to be born into this body?  Did I have a vision and intention before I incarnated?  Perhaps, questions for another time, a time that is “right” for inquiry and discernment; maybe not this pause, but the seed for another, perhaps?

“A right time to plant and another to reap,”

Fall is the time of harvest.  As I inhale deeply the smell of autumn’s settling into its time of glory, I am reminded that as a 60-year-old, I, too, am breathing into this new decade thing with rapid transitions and changing colors.  What I have planted in the early years of my life is now up for harvest.  I plant new seeds each springtime of every year.  Now is the time for awe, wonder, miracles, the crops to be brought in, a time to give thanks.

My husband and I were married in the spring years of our lives, our early 20s.  We were deeply in love and dreamed big dreams with passionate feelings about our every day and our tomorrows.  The world was our oyster.  We followed our dreams, birthed a family, created our identities together as the Roth family.  We worked hard to bring our best selves to our endeavors, hoping our energy would be rewarded for the highest good.  We hoped we could do our best to be our best for our sons and their futures, and that our lives could be abundant with good, love and possibility.

“A right time to kill and another to heal,”

Sometimes the things we believe are important, really aren’t.  Status, Fame, Wealth, Recognition…all of those things come and go.  When ego becomes paramount, it is time to subdue the wants and desires, to let them die and begin again.  Often, destruction, death, illness, loss bring some amazing lessons because they kill the weeds that threaten to consume us.  In our late thirties, the important things transitioned into the necessary things when I was diagnosed with leukemia.  My diagnosis impacted the Roth family:  marriage, sons, finances, values.  It was an ongoing tumultuous transition as we discerned what to kill and how to heal.

“A right time to destroy and another to construct,”

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”  The lyrics to this inspiring song often lead me to necessary losses.  If I find the time to create the peace I seek, I often need to destroy false hopes, assumptions, limiting beliefs in order to begin again, to construct a new context from which to operate, a new dream, a new vision.  Gerry and I have experienced  marital challenges during the transitions, peaks, and valleys of our marriage, especially prevalent during my 15 years with a leukemia diagnosis.  It was necessary to build new relationship visions frequently over the years to experience the peace I sought to experience in our relationship.

“A right time to cry and another to laugh,”

Time brings healing that requires tears, laughter, and blessing.  We get to embrace how life is often sad and at the same time, it’s often funny.  Moment to moment choices grace the times of change in our lives, every season.  Every place we go, we are invited to feel what we feel and reveal ourselves to those around us so we can share, heal and create lifelines for each other.  I live on the edge of tears and laughter.  I would never choose to maneuver my life any other way.

Ecclesiastes 3 continues in the same vein for its total of 22 verses.  I briefly thought about continuing with all of the right time stuff (particularly because I wanted to point out 7b:” A right time to shut up and another to speak up,”.). I like to be “right!”😉

 A bone of contention:  Yesterday, Gerry asked me a question to answer while he focused on his morning coffee and newspaper.  I answered his question, and then I proceeded to discuss and ask him a question. He replied, “I am busy and don’t have time to talk right now”.  Perhaps the autumn of our lives brings this kind of disregarding bluntness—Where did springtime go?  Seriously, the learning of our lives brings us recognition that there is a right time for everything, and we get to learn our methodology for addressing time and those with whom we share it as we age and grow.

The author of Ecclesiastes (Was it truly the wise king, Solomon, I wonder?) closes this chapter by telling us what we already know:  We will all die.  We don’t know for sure what happens when we die until we die.  There’s probably nothing better for us to do than to have a good time in whatever we choose to do.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  Sounds like…

A “right” time for everything.

Perfect timing?




Time: Week One

This week’s pause is inspired by the first methodology I learned to reframe time.

This week, I’m approaching the concept of time from the perspective of my teenaged self, specifically, the lessons and gifts I experienced in regard to my first job at a fast food restaurant, circa 1975, in Peoria, Illinois.

I remember when I was a teenager, managing “school” (classes, extracurricular activities, studying), working part time for desired money to spend, and determinedly aspiring to cultivate a vibrant social life,  finding time for everything was often challenging. There were numerous occasions when my work, school, and social aspirations conflicted with what I wanted most in a present moment.

 My first job, the summer I turned 16, was as a cook and cleaner at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Peoria, Illinois.  I rode my bicycle two miles to the restaurant location every Monday through Friday and two miles home (rain or shine because my mother didn’t want her car smelling like fried chicken).  My work hours were 9-2, unless I was asked to work longer to cover another worker’s shift for some reason.  My father pooh-poohed my inspirations to spend a summer, reading, writing, at the pool, and hanging out with friends, demanding that I earn my own spending money, so I chose to apply at what I thought were upscale establishments like grocery stores, shops at the mall, and fancy restaurants.  To my chagrin, no one wanted to welcome an inexperienced, naïve and rather full of herself young lady to their payrolls.  I suggested to my dad, that maybe, I could spend the summer writing a book or composing music, but he wouldn’t budge from his position.  Kentucky Fried Chicken offered to hire me, and I sighed, “yes.”   I imagined the managers would put me behind the counter (because I knew that was where I belonged in this busy restaurant). To my dismay the manager had other chickens for me to fry: my jobs that summer were scrubbing bathrooms, floors, and deep-frying chicken.

My days that summer consisted of getting ready and dressed, out the door -by 8:30 am on my bike.  I mopped up grease, emptied cole slaw into containers, scrubbed toilets at least twice each day, cleaned out fryers, and got burned by grease from the fryers at least every other day.  Between 2 and 3, I would clock out, ride my bike home, and sit out on the patio until the smell of chicken diminished enough for me to enter the house, shower, and wash my uniform for the next day.  And every Monday through Friday that summer (except for our annual family vacation week), I plowed away at the same routine.

My days were made up of how I spent my time.  The clock, the travel time, the hours, the minutes, the days—all prescribed to a schedule created by an employer/another for me.  I chose to take time for this job because of several factors:

1. Order from my father.

2. Money to go out to eat, shopping, to events, buy gifts and go to movies with friends.

3. I was learning how to grow up and work was a part of my training.  

There is a time for everything in our lives.  To learn about time is an ongoing process of living.  Whenever my mom would tell me to do something and I was busy with something else, I would reply, “I don’t have time.”  She would raise her voice and admonish sternly, “Then make the time.”  I found that an odd expression as a teenager. Did she think  I could wave a magic wand and spin grease into gold?

My imagination has been my stuck like glue companion for most of my life.  When I struggled with my thoughts, my tasks, or my feelings, I would try on a program of pretend, a beyond present time imagining where the dirt and filth I scrubbed to shining freed me from the spells of servitude and showered me with joy and blessing.  I played songs and scripts in my head, and the drudgery of my greasy job provided inspiration for happy daydreams. 

When I practiced this “fake it til you make it” method of reframing my daily labors, I discovered my time spent laboring was actually okay. It was a temporary time, and with an attitude shift, it could be (almost) fun. My job brought me the money I wanted and taught me that time is relationship to what is present in my experience. If I want to experience possibility/positivity/pleasantness, I could choose to find one way or another in order to make time and room for what I wanted to think and feel. I learned to let go of negative thoughts that didn’t serve me. 

Did I succeed?  Rarely, but the seed was planted. With all the secretive herbs and spices flavoring the Colonel’s recipes, I added a few of my own:  Acceptance of how I spent my time and a smile to pave the way.

When the summer of 1975 ended, I retired from my employ at KFC.  It was a rather wistful farewell to an experience that taught me how to manage time through employment.  When I recall that summer of my life, I smile, shake my head, and imagine I smell fried chicken.  Time for lunch!






One Day at a Time

ONE DAY AT A TIME: A Pause for the Blessing of September.

dried leaves on brown wooden table
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com



“One day at a time, and that done well, is a very good thing, as many can tell.” (anonymous)

I don’t recall when I memorized that time-inspired adage. I do know it’s glued to the corridors—especially the dark ones– of my life. Kind of like a mantra/inspiration/compass through the exasperations, desperations, defeats, griefs, and “less than moments” of life as I maneuver with, in, around, above, below and through what I choose to create: the valleys, bridges, mountaintops, and plains… Being present with “what is” in the actual moment, knowing this moment and perhaps, the next one (if it arrives) will always hold possibilities for transformation and a new beginning.

When I was a kid, a new school year began in September. Sometimes school started earlier, the end of August, so we could celebrate a long weekend after a short week of adjustment to the rigors and protocol a school schedule demanded—often, without overwhelm. September’s first Monday is Labor Day, heralding the official cessation of summer break, a day of vacation from work/school, the approach of fall, a new season, another beginning again.
September presents itself to me as a brand new year, a clean chalkboard upon which to write, erase, repeat. It’s when my volunteer activities for the year get chosen, and all the new activities in the communities to which I belong commence in full force. I pause to recognize the pathways for another grade of my life, choosing which path I will travel for this unique and as yet, unexperienced year of my being, doing, and having while practicing presence and possibility, one day at a time.

Fall, for me, is a time of reflection. I realize that last year today, Gerry had his third heart attack and it turned our lives into a serious “what if?” dilemma. We made concerted choices to navigate our worries, fears, dreams, and visions into possibility using the tools of choice, responsibility, and acceptance available to us. We chose different housing, to live “in the now”, and to consciously cherish and celebrate that which we hold dear. We stopped refraining from our dreams and visions. We accepted that we may not control the past or the future, however wisely we make our health, wealth, and happiness choices. We can only be here and now, with what sits in our laps, beckons us around the corner, or hums in our hearts: This day. This Time. All there is.


Today we are celebrating Gerry’s happy healthy life—going out to dinner, gifts and celebration of the blessings that are ours here today. 🥳

One day at a time is somewhat like climbing a mountain (on my bucket list) when I’ve made it half way and feel really tired. Go to the summit or retreat to the base? It’s a moment to moment choice in every hike of my life. To decide how, what, why, when, and where is based on one uniquely particular choice in one uniquely particular moment in that one uniquely particular day. No figuring it out beforehand, and no looking to past lessons to navigate what is before me in new adventuring. The memories that matter I absorb into how I create myself in this one day. Presence in the here and now is the gracious way to reverence life as I inculcate lessons and learning into body, soul, mind, heart, and spirit.

One day at a time. One step in front of another. Moment by moment. Day by Day.
Three things I pray this day:
Gratitude for everything.
Grace for the moment.
Peaceful, loving presence.




Sometimes, activity level gets to slow down. Often, Life accelerates. So much of life is measured, defined, created, and remembered with and through the context and constraints of time. Time for this and time for that; not enough time, too much time,timeless; time as a friend, time as an enemy; time as linear, time beyond circumference. Time is relationship to what we know and love; to what we imagine or fear; to what is or what may be. Our connection to who, what, and whose we are and what we aspire to be–the framework that holds us together in the perspective of where, what, when, how, and now; yesterday, tomorrow, and always. Time: my choice for this week’s blog as I Pause in wonder, awe, and questioning for the rest of 2019.

Currently, Gerry and I are transitioning through every corridor, roundabout, and backwoods trail of our lives. Changes in residences, detours, remodels, and adjustments related to time and space have been exciting, paramount, and all-consuming.

Time to pull back and recenter, a.k.a., time for vacation. Vacations are the occasions we let go of to do lists, meetings, obligations, and schedules. Adventures lift us to rechargers, outside of routine and the ordinary, creating space and time for new ideas and exploring.

I’m grateful Gerry and I are alive, together, celebrating exciting happenings and becomings in this new chapter of our lives. For me, I choose to take time to consider what’s next to create from my love of writing. This August marks my 9th transplant anniversary. Life is full and wonderful. I feel blessed, grateful, and so happy!😊.

August is a vacation from blogging so that I intentionally take time to question what I choose to create with the gift of time I’ve been given. Writing is a great love of my life, and it may not manifest as weekly blogging come September.

To Pause is to be still. To take time is to be with myself and God. To be. Amen.

Love and blessing,




X Y Z…

alphabet letter text on black background
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Remember the “A, B, C” song? First three letters of the alphabet begin the song, and the last three, “X, Y, Z,” end it. The final lyrics in the song are, “Now I’ve said my ‘A, B, Cs. Tell me what you think of me.” I’m now at the end of the alphabet with this series of blogs (26 in total) about words beginning with each letter of the alphabet, and I must admit, many of these pauses have truly challenged my self-acceptance, desire to remain neutral, yet committed to finishing what I started, remaining true to doing what I said I would do. I have hoped you’ve enjoyed some of these blogs. Honestly, however, my greatest delight is that I’ve now reached the end of the alphabet, and won’t be writing about something because it contains the letter of the week on a weekly basis. I’m happy dancing as I write this litany of freedom. It’s down to the end, and I get to deal with the three letters with the least inspirational words I can imagine. Xenophobia (fear of strangers)/x-ray? Youth, Yoke, Yoga, Yearning? (These words I’ve already addressed this year.) Zenith/Zero? (Not really inspirational measurements for literary excellence, in my opinion.) In this pause, I will change my process as I write the last weekly alphabet blog for this year.

The learning I’ve experienced with this alphabet adventure is that life is not about kudos or soliciting praise or likes for what I write. I write because I feel called to write, almost like I feel called to breathe. Many days I don’t feel like writing. This weekly Pause has kept me writing beyond my daily journaling practice. It has been humbling to publish something not well-written and gratifying to publish something I strongly advocate and feel excited about. I’ve learned there are beginnings and endings to experiences. The endings always morph into another beginning of something else so I never consider them the absolute finale because everything becomes new, one way or another.
I’ve learned that I don’t write for an audience. I write for me. Graciously, we are connected at levels of awareness we don’t always recognize or appreciate, and often, my thoughts/words may touch another in an affirming, perhaps pivotal, or incentive manner. The writing itself expresses my thoughts, feelings, and experiences with the subject of my writing. Some subjects I love and others I tolerate. Some facets of a weekly blog inspire me to greater awareness, and some aspects drag me deep into “my stuff.”

abc books chalk chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Writing, for me, mirrors life. Some days life flows and other days, to flow is a struggle. When I feel challenged to accomplish what I planned with intention to create, I remember my mother, Mary Alice. My mother always admonished me: “Finish what you start.” This edict colored my childhood. When chores, homework, or a project weren’t finished in a timely matter or by appropriate, advised, or congruent methods, there were consequences. If I said I was going to do something, I was expected to do it. If I started a project, made a resolution, or set an intention, I was to be true to my word and complete it. I was to do my best, mean what I say and say what I mean, and to follow the standards and rules that were set for me by my parents and teachers. These precursors to the four agreements guided my upbringing in the Hohlfelder household.
Needless to say, I wasn’t always successful at following these rules. I often felt shamed or blamed, not enough, a failure because I gave myself no wiggle room with these absolute standards. I developed a strong perfectionist judge within myself, one who could never be good enough. Not anyone outside myself was this inner critic. I was my creation, my adaptation to experience, unique to Carol Margaret Hohlfelder.
As I grew life experiences over decades, I learned that I am not what I do, and that who I am is not defined by my association with others. What others think of me is none of my business. I am what I create myself to be, and in my quest to be the best me I can be, I’ve learned that congruence matters. How I act, what I think, how I feel matter in relation to how I choose to respond, contribute, and what I commit to be, do, and have. The best way I know to be congruent is to accept, forgive, and take care of myself. To live by vision and with intention. To bring to others what I want to create for myself and our world: Joy, Love, Peace, Inspiration, Gratitude, Grace…. Lots of different words describing attitudes, feelings, and thoughts that are healing, connecting, and worthy of aspiration by and for all.

I’ve rambled a bit in this “X Y Z” blog, but I’ve followed my mother’s advice and finished what I’ve started. I’ve preferred this discourse to pontification about zenith yokes of xenophobia.


Thank you for traveling from “A B C” to “X Y Z” with me.





This week’s pause is about “wondering”. I spend the majority of my life wondering about various sorts of stuff: ideas, silly thoughts, significant life and death matters, worries, and marvels. Wondering includes the gamut of thoughts and feelings I collect, seek to relish, understand, or learn from. Wondering allows me to live with the questions, curiosity, dreaming, and awe. It requires nothing less or more from me than presence, attention, and engagement with the wondering itself. Wondering, when done wonderfully, can inspire, entertain, elevate, and navigate magic, miracles, grace and possibility into living presence and wakefulness. Wondering, when used as a driver for worrying and pre-occupation is not the kind of engagement that encourages growth in awareness, awe, or being; rather, that kind of negative wondering gets to be permanently stashed in a locked closet as far as I am concerned.

adult attractive contemplating face
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Wonder of wonders, the wonders of creation, wondering as I wander…all expressions from songs and words. Those kinds of expressions describe wonder as a delight. Wondering is to be diligently embraced as one of the highest and best ways to navigate life. Seeing the miraculous in everything, wondering when the next wonderful synchronicity will appear. Life lived as a witness to good, love, and possibility. Life lived attentive to what is and what’s next while seeking to find the wonderful in all of it is the constitution of wondering. A life comfortable questioning, thinking, feeling, all the while wondering at everything crossing its/his/her path is a life open to good, love, and possibility. Blessed are they who wonder, for they will be graced with awe, inspiration, and surprising delights.

What does it take to live the life of a wonderer? Comfort with not knowing it all, acknowledging that I am rarely if ever in control, in charge, or the authority. Openness to mystery, surrendering fear, judgment, competition, and comparison. Willingness to sit, to be present to whatever is and wonder what could be the gift of that present moment.
I often wonder if I’m living my dharma as authentically and purposefully as I could be. I wonder because I don’t know. And, I keep dreaming, exploring, savoring, and celebrating the gracious gifts of discovery, inspiration, delight, and surprise I find when I wonder my way through life today. I wonder how you are delighting in life today.

Wishing you a wonderful day!



A Pause for Vitality

Vitality is defined as the state of being strong, active, and energetic. To be vital is to be alive, spirited, exuberant, vibrant, zestful and sparkling. Dynamic, passionate, vigorous, zealous, buoyant, and fiery are adjectives describing someone exhibiting vitality. To claim vitality, one chooses his/her freedom of expression energy to embrace fully alive and courageous manifestation of being, doing, living; a.k.a., experiencing life at its finest; wholeness pieced together with drive, fortitude and determination. Courage, creativity, and aliveness are vital to well-being, manifestation of miraculous possibility, and life-living from the edges to beyond circumference of what I know: an extravagant dance of invitation life calls me to dare to live fully with grace and bravery. Vitality is like a vitamin on steroids. It is the well spring of my desire to embrace life with gusto and joie de vivre.
To be who I truly intend to be requires the creation and embrace of vitality. When I choose vitality as a state of being, I bring my power to the continuance of life, the presence of possibility in all living beings, a tiny seed to a mighty oak. Vitality is life force. Vitality can be physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is the required vigor providing for the capacity to survive, thrive, and grow meaning and purpose with vision and intention.
Many articles have been written about how to increase one’s vitality. From sleep, green tea, greens, cardio, breathwork, mind work, emotional release, purging and beginning again, our culture contains various techniques, differing methodologies, assorted inspirations, visions, and processes to obtain, sustain, revive, or enliven vitality. At one or another point in our lives, we may feel the surges and purges of vitality coloring our moments. There are times when we can’t discover where our energy has hidden. Our mountain summits when we feel like we can fly are vitality at its highest. Vitality is like the ocean wave that ebbs and flows with different rhythms and flows based on the time of day, the position of the moon, or the chapter currently written and read with my own cycling of dazed moments in time.
I’ve learned that my own vitality often requires me to be still, silent, and solitary. Other times, I feel called to action, momentum leading my soul with the energetic call to serve justice, community, service, or to manifest what is wanted and needed for the vitality of my world. Our world.

Again, and again…what is vital for me is part of what is vital for all. As a consciousness, we don’t create and achieve vitality until we empower its conscious and aware presence for every sentient being.
I believe it is vital we share what grows, sustains, and nourishes us with every other “me” we meet. My story, my lessons, learning, and love include all parts of the stories, lessons, learnings, and lovings all of us share. May we heed our calling to live into the vitality we were created to embrace, create, manifest, and share.