Word for 2016: Fulfilled.


At the end of every year I like to ask for a word for the coming year. It gives me something positive to focus on, to relax into, or to put my energy toward.

Last year it was ‘movement’ and boy was it eveerrr a year of movement! So many trips, and SO MUCH activity. So much running and skipping and dancing through open doors and exploring new places. And, while I believe it helped me ‘move’ through some really deep soul spaces and not get too heavy with it all, it also kept me busy and breathless alot.

So this year when I heard the word ‘fulfilled’ I let out a bit of a sigh. It sounded so nice and relaxing and comforting to me. FULFILLED. Like when you’ve just eaten a big meal and you’re so completely satisfied, and you are in want of nothing. That’s what I think of when I think of the word ‘fulfilled.’ Here’s hoping that also means a bit of REST for this adventure weary soul. That perhaps this will be a year of sitting on my front porch, sipping my iced mocha, while I watch my kids play in the grass and feel completely satisfied. Perhaps I will kick back a little and see the reward of my efforts in 2015.

Let’s hope so. Cuz that was CRAZY, and I’m a wee tiny bit tired and out of breath over here.

Do you have a word for this year? What does it mean to you? Please share it in the comments…I’d love to hear it!

What Remains. (at Christmas)


In these days before Christmas, grief tends to hit me more than usual, and sometimes the only reprieve for it is to hold the ones I love a little tighter. So today I look into the eyes of my most precious gifts and I place these moments deep in my heart, knowing that even these as sturdy and beautiful as they seem, they do not last. Even these will pass and grow into something different, and love is the only thing that stays. Through the birthdays and holidays and memories made…only love. Through the questions and disappointments and empty spots at the table, only love. ONLY LOVE remains.

May it beat loud and clear in our hearts this Christmas and remind us that there is greater than just what our eyes can see. May it thread its way through all our holiday celebrations and triumph all our days, the good and happy ones and yes even the sad ones when we remember those who are not with us, and that which is never quite the same. 


Suicide and Dying With No Regrets.

I’m going to do the unthinkable and talk about suicide today. Yes, that dark evasive thing called death that no one wants to talk about, much less to acknowledge or admit to, much LESS around the holidays. Yes I know this is a “happy” blog, and yes I know this is not a feel good subject. But the truth is, this is part of my story and it’s part of so many other precious souls that I know, I think it’s time we talk about it.

Like this guy did.

I think he’s pretty friggin’ brave. What strikes me about this story is what I will call suicide regret, and I believe everyone who’s ever attempted to end their life, successfully or not, has felt it to some degree.

I know I did.

When I first stood there outside my car and looked down over the crevices of that Tennessee mountain, I felt only fear and despair. I knew something had to change and I thought the only way it would is if I would take myself out of it. I was sure that the only chance my husband and baby had at a better life was if I got into my car and gunned it over the edge.

Nothing could convince me otherwise. I was so mad that I had believed the lies. Mad that I had walked into yet another situation/relationship that had been so hard and so hurtful, and my mind was made up.

It was eerily quiet as I stood there, thinking long and deep into the abyss that threatened to squelch my life, to still my beating heart, once and for all. The phone rang. I let it go. “I can’t.” I thought. If I answer it, he will convince me not to do it.

It was my husband. I was too angry, too afraid to talk and so I just stood there, numb and yet knowing what I had to do. It was the only way out.

The phone rang again. And again…and again. It was destroying the quiet, disrupting my plan and forcing me to start thinking…rationally, perhaps? “What if? What if I picked up that phone and everything WOULD change? What if this was the one time that things would be different? But I would never know if I was lying flat at the bottom of that hill in a pile of steel and metal…”

I got into the car and revved up the motor. I fiddled with the radio. I looked over again at the sides of that steep hillside, and wondered how fast I would need to go to make sure I did not survive. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. My hands shook. My whole body shook. I HAD to do it.

But, then…”what if? What if I regret it the second I do it? My daughter would never know..”

Ah, my daughter!

And that’s when the text message came. “Your daughter needs you. Please come home.”

Suddenly out of nowhere, I snapped out of my rage and picked up the phone. What was I doing? My daughter needs me!

I burst into tears when I heard my husband’s voice. It felt both terrifying and amazing to hear it. I was relieved in the most unexpected way. Thing is, I knew I would have regretted it as soon as my car would have left the road. I knew I would have thought about my baby girl and I would have had the same thought that this man did…

“the millisecond my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret.”


I know now that this is true. There is nothing pretty about that moment. There is nothing heroic about that millisecond where your brain has overruled your heart, where the lies have overwhelmed the truth and convinced you to take that leap.

It’s only instant regret.

I know because that’s what I felt in that moment and my hands hadn’t even left the steering wheel yet. I’m so thankful for that. I’m so grateful that I felt that tinge BEFORE it was too late.

I’m so glad I decided not to die that day. Because as God and destiny would have it, I went on to live the best and happiest life I’ve ever lived, after that. Today I live a full life, one that has sadness and joy and misery and yes,  ‘happy little surprises.’ But through it all, I’ve made it my mission to live AND die, with no regrets.

The truth is I would rather go unexpectedly and completely out of control, with fullness of heart and life, than to go being in control with even one regret, if that was the only regret I ever had, and if that was the ONE that took my life.

Truth is, I don’t want my daughter (or my son) to ever wonder if I “wanted to” die or not. I want my children to know that no matter how hard it ever was, I lived and loved life to the fullest, and that I died with NO REGRETS.

Yes, this is a heavy subject to broach especially around the holidays, but honestly I’m so tired of hearing of another beautiful soul making that leap, and wondering if they really wanted to die. Wondering if they knew how much we wanted, needed them here. And how amazing their life might have been, had their hands not left the rail.

If that is you and you are on the brink of a hopeless end, please think about this. Consider the instant regret and how you can’t undo that. Most people don’t get another chance to take that decision back like I did. Most people that take that leap don’t ever come back. Please don’t be one of them.

Instead, do something brave you won’t regret, and ask for help. There are plenty of people and organizations and healing therapies that can and will work. There really IS hope.

I am not a professional in any one of those things, but if you need a listening ear, prayer or perhaps a little encouragement, please send an email to: happylittlesurprises@gmail.com or send a message via www.facebook/happylittlesurprises.com. I am always happy to hear your story and to offer you my own.

Be brave and reach out today! You are worth it. You are loved. You are beautiful. You are valued and needed.

No regrets.

The end.



Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Northern Colorado: http://allianceforsuicideprevention.org/about-suicide/where-to-get-help/








Treatment Centers:






Today is a Good Day.


Today is a good day
For coffee and reading poetry
And taking a look at the grains
Of wood
And sand
That make up the fiber
Of my being
And my time here on earth.

Today is a good day
For resting and pausing
To reflect on all the things that become beautiful
With time
And love
And how nothing can
Come between
That isn’t meant to be.

Today is a good day
For remembering how good it
really is and how it will always be
Beautiful, and
With friendship and coffee
And words and laughter,

For those are the things
That make this day good
And nothing can take,
Replace, or
This happiness and
this bliss,                                                         for it is mine
And yours
And as long as it’s me and you,                     It will always be a good day.

-ruthie gayle

The Slowing. (A Poem)

Words come slow and steady on the paper

where my heart and my tea pours,

and I feel the warmth of the Autumn sun

against my cheeks.

It fills my mind with thoughts

of beauty, of life, of death,

and the endless cycle that it is.

How nothing in this world lasts, but how it is good and helpful

and wise, because it teaches us.

It teaches that love runs deep and love is really all there is.

That seasons come and go,

that the river ebbs and flows

and then it slows

until it becomes only a trickle of what it used to be.

How it will never die,

but it will always flow.

It will always be

the river.

It will always carry life and hope and refreshment for all who sit on its banks

and all who drink from its waters.

I soak in the warmth and remember the seasons and the reasons

why I’m here

at this place,

in this moment,


Where all is still

and the waters of time have slowed to a trickle.

The hurried days of summer have all but dwindled

and it’s only me, and the sun and the beauty

that is

this season,

this life,

this death,

this slowing down.

It always comes when I’m not ready, but it always brings me gifts.

Gifts of peace and a new understanding

of what it means to live,

to breathe,

to celebrate each moment, without fear.

No fear of the cold and the future and what comes next,

But just to be,

Fully alive.

Remembering the summer without wishing for it.

Enjoying the memories, without pining for them.

Listening to the thoughts

that come, without cringing.

Coming to peace with myself,

and the dying.

The dying of leaves and plans and ambitions

and the golden dreams of summer.


with where I am

and where I’m not.

Embracing the present,

Without the noise and the rage and the battle.

Embracing this place

where my heart becomes quiet

and the ink and the river slows.

Where all I can hear is that gentle bubbling,

the hushed and silent knowing

that all is well.

That whatever the pause, the change, the internal winter brings,

it can never take away the sun, or the beauty or the warmth

0f this moment.

For it is deep and eternal,

and it is mine to keep.


Spring: The Resurrection!

Winter is almost over now and I see the light, the light of Spring. A hint of green.

I’m beginning to breathe again.

I breathe in the blue skies. Clear water. Yellow sun.

And I sing.

I sing a song I’ve never heard. A happy one, bubbling up from a crack in the soul.

Where worry used to sleep.

Hope comes like brittle branches bursting into color. A parade of petals on a single bud.

Transforming the frozen past.

Golden Glory. White resurrection. Purple redemption.

Erupting into joy.

Like a tiny sprout pushing through the broken ground.

Dormant dreams come to life.

The streets are busy now and I hear the sound, the sound of happiness. A new day!

Rising up from the grave.

The earth awakes.

Breaking the silence and the noise, of loneliness.

I walk among the faces. And I find a smile. Divine appointments.

A fresh perspective.

I stretch out my hands. For they hold the seeds of change.

Giving the world another start. A new beginning.

My own Spring.


His Name Was Johnny.

I met him when he was three and I was sixteen.

My sister and I had traveled from our home in Ohio, to a tiny community in East Tennessee, for a wedding, and since we knew a few of his (many!) sisters, they welcomed us to stay with their family. We instantly bonded with all of them and that began a deep friendship that remained strong, through almost two decades of moves, and life changes, in both of our families.

Johnny was always a brave little fella. It seemed that whenever I saw him, he would be riding something much too big for his size, whether it was a horse or a four-wheeler, or the back of a pickup truck. He wouldn’t just be riding, he would be flipping, ramping, or hanging upside down in some form or another. He was, as some would say, ALL BOY. But even more than that, he was full of life and dreams, and love for the world.312358_10151203969447014_194607138_n

Eventually, I got married and moved to Nashville, about ninety minutes west of that tiny community.

That’s when my husband and I came to really know and love Johnny. He was now sixteen, and I was…well. Much older! We would see him when we spent weekends with his sister, Diana and her husband. Or when he came rolling in to our backyard bonfires, with his shades on, trailing a whole posse of friends and fellow teenagers.

He never came alone. He always had a sister, a brother, or a crowd with him. His light was so bright, everyone wanted to be around him. He would simply sit on our couch and light up the whole room with his smile.

Once he brought a pretty young girl from Canada, and then shortly thereafter, told me how that he would marry her. I really liked her and I was so happy for him! But then, it ended.

Somewhere, along the way, the light in his eyes began to dim. And his fascination with life-altering substances began to grow. One morning, I got a call from his sis, and she explained that something awful had happened to Johnny. Some of his friends suspected that he had od’ed, and some thought that his mind had just snapped. Nobody really knows what happened that night, but Johnny was never quite the same since.

That was over two years ago.

Some were quick to condemn his wild behavior and some could only see consequences of that behavior. But I believe, it was during this time that he gave us the greatest gifts. Parts of his true self. He offered pieces of his heart that we had never seen before. His vulnerability. His demons. His dreams. His fears. He talked more about God and his vision for helping the world, than ever before. He spoke of his love for Jesus, and going to Africa to help the poor, more frequently than he had in previous years.

I, for one, am so thankful for those gifts. I know I will never be the same, because of them.

While some saw only a troubled boy, I saw a young man whose heart was desperately trying to find freedom, not only for himself, but for others who found themselves in the same prison. The prison of hopelessness. I saw a happy spirit, held hostage in a troubled soul. A whole and beautiful life, trapped inside a fragmented mind. At that point, I wanted nothing more than his healing and his freedom.

Yes, those years were painful for us.

We all fought for his sanity, his life. There were times that we thought he miraculously got better, and then there were times of desperation, as he fought the tentacles of death, time and time again. There were several times that I got a call or a text in the middle of the night, from his sister Caroline, who happened to be my best friend, saying, “Johnny is not well. Please pray.” Another time, he was so low, that she put him in the car and drove him two hundred miles to a counseling center, which we were familiar with, and believed could help him.

We fought and prayed hard.

During that time, God often reminded me and I would reassure Caroline that he was God’s son, his chosen child, and that He would take care of Johnny. I believed that He wanted healing for Johnny more than we did. I still believe that.Johnny, and his sister, Caroline.

Even today. Even though he is gone.

Though he may have been tired, though for a moment he may have let go, the eternal, un-ending love of the Father never did. It relentlessly pursued him through the pain and the darkness, and the groping. The grasping for light.

It followed him all the way to the end of that barrel. And it never stopped.

A father’s love never stops.

We walked to the end of his life that day, and laid his broken body to rest at a rural gravesite in East Tennessee, but love carried him the rest of the way. Love picked up where we left off and carried him to the place that he gave his life, to find.

It is there, at the deepening chasm between us and him, that we make the exchange. The exchange that wrecks us of our polished philosophies and neatly built theories and thrusts us into the depths of gut-wrenching, agonizing, transforming love. We stand at the brink between life and death, breathless and numb and undone.

We stare at the empty hole in our lives, and there we release him. We release him into the everlasting arms of a loving God, the one who called Johnny his son. There in the solemn solstice of our hearts, we commit him to that embrace, the one that never lets go.

For it is there that we know he is safe. It is there that we know his spirit is free…his mind is finally whole!

And Johnny, I gotta say:

You are still the brave one. You searched the ends of the earth for freedom. And you stopped at nothing in your quest for wholeness. Too bad you had to find it at the barrel of a twelve-gauge shotgun. But you found it! You have finally met the One whom your soul longed for. May you rest in peace, my lil bro. I will never forget your life, your love, your fight. Even death cannot dim your light. It will shine forever in our hearts. Til we see you again!