Skinny Dipping is Good For Your Soul

photo-7I loaded my small backpack with a few granola bars, a red apple and water bottle, put my bikini on under my shorts and tank top, slid on some water friendly hiking shoes, grabbed my camera, my black leather journal, headed out the door of the field station and walked down the orange dirt road that lead to Pleasant Creek.

A moth the color of a lilac bush and the size of a quarter fluttered across the path and settled on a petite yellow flower with long, pale tentacles a few feet to the right of the trail. The wind brushed through the juniper and pinion trees and I was hit in the face with a wave of dry, hot wind as it traveled across the sandy soil, rough rock walls and the through the flora. Shit. I had forgotten how high desert wind moves me through time as if it does not exist. I ran my hand along the gritty, dark-red sandstone and contemplated the sheer size of the park.

I hadn’t been to the high desert since my divorce two years ago. I used to spend long, leisurely weekends with my two boys and their dad at the cabin we had built on 10 acres in the high desert of Fruitland, Utah. We had hand built a 100 square foot camping cabin, fire pit, a shed and several small tree forts among the juniper and sage plants.

It has been two years since I sold the property. Two years since I shut the door of the small, green cabin and fell into a small heap on the bamboo floor while the boys played outside for one last time. Two years since I found a small bouquet of wildflowers my young son placed on the steering wheel of our truck as I loaded it with the last of our last belongings. The cabin had been my respite from the world, my escape, and my inspiration—my muse.

I have always been fascinated with the word muse. I used to think of it as mysterious, enchanting, and forbidden—as if one must belong to an elite category of male artists in order to obtain a beautiful woman as a source of inspiration. I felt like I was not artistic or eccentric enough to obtain a muse (and I was not the correct gender), and I briefly thought it would be ideal to be a muse. When it came down to it, I did not feel attractive or playful enough to personify a muse. To me, a muse was linked to sexuality and beauty.

As I started writing, I came to realize that my old definition of a muse was superficial. Creativity and inspiration run much deeper than sexuality; a muse is more of a guide to our deepest thoughts, to the core of emotion and spirit. A muse serves as a refuge while shedding light on our darkest thoughts and secrets, it is a safe space to simply exist, simply be. A muse can be a person, a place, or something you do.

The wilderness has always been favorite escape. I seek refuge in the wild, I seek entertainment and I seek beauty. Tears have streamed down my face while I have punished myself by exhausting my legs on long hikes, I have kicked innocent trees to let out my frustrations, I have descended long rappels and traversed exposed ridges while learning to focus on the moment and I have let go of my fears and trusted my abilities to navigate through difficult rapids. I have pushed gravity by going too fast on my snowboard, and paid the price with a few broken ribs. I have lost trust in myself and found it again sitting among giant Redwoods. The wild is always there, always willing to entertain me and provide refuge for contemplation. I seek out the silent roar of solitude.

The sun got stronger and the canyon walls got thinner as I walked along Pleasant Creek. Every time I came to the creek I would bend down and splash water on my legs and arms and hair. The wind was hot and I would dry within minutes. Large black rocks dotted the trail and sat in contrast with purple, red, orange, white and yellow flowers in fields of red sand. Slowly, the canyon turned from a rich, deep red to pale white Navajo sandstone. I was getting hungry and started to look for a place to rest. As I rounded a corner I came to a large piece of sandstone resting under a Cottonwood tree next to the water, and deep pools formed in the creek.

The rock was warm and I took out my granola bars and apple, wishing I had packed a more substantial lunch. A small cloud of gnats hung over my head and buzzed loudly, lessening the sound of the water in the creek. A carpenter bee grazed my hair. A lizard came over to say hello and did a few push-ups on his front arms before disappearing again.

One of the pools of water looked deep enough that I could get fully submerged. I took off my hiking boots and walked to the edge of the creek. My top came right off, but I hesitated before I took off my bottoms—suddenly shy. The cold took my breath away as I steadied myself with my hands and slid onto a rock in the stream. Water bubbled around me. I lay back to become fully submerged and released my grip on the rocks. The current of the stream was stronger than I had anticipated, and it lifted me and pushed me down stream about six feet. The flesh on the backs of my legs and bottom scratched against the sandstone lining of the creek bed. Startled, I grabbed hold of any rock I could and sat up.

This wasn’t the peaceful scene I had imagined it would be, and the small scratches on my legs stung. Unwilling to leave the stream bullied and injured, I leaned back again and let the cool water chill me to my core. I released my stone cold grip. The current pushed me a little farther down stream to where the water pooled. I came to rest, nude, eyes closed, three quarters submerged. I floated there, like a piece of driftwood, until I was covered in goose bumps.

I got out of the creek and lay on my belly on the large slab of sandstone, where I had eaten lunch. My flesh matched the reds, browns and white of the strata around me. I, too, had ripples and lines from age. As my body melted into the hot sand stone—my forearms, cheek bone, breasts, belly, and thighs—I thought of two white moths I had seen earlier on the trail. Their dance, their flight, looked like it came so easily to them.


Grandma Ruth’s Chocolate Roll

IMG_3859I just put my second chocolate roll of the day in the oven, and I will know in approximately 25 minutes if it is a success. Baking a chocolate roll is never easy. I am sure there is some secret bakers use while mass-producing sponge cake, but I am not privy to that information. Today is my son’s birthday, and on all of my sons’ birthdays they are allowed to request any kind of birthday cake they would like.

Some years I have spent hours making a character cake that turned out as a total failure, but they have always loved them. In fact, these days they brag to friends about my baking abilities. I will just keep those early birthday cake pictures (such as the lopsided Spongebob Square Pants) hidden and let their memories prevail.

As my boys have gotten older they have begun to request chocolate roll for their birthday cake. Not just any chocolate roll, Grandma Ruth’s Chocolate Roll. Grandma Ruth was the chocolate roll master. She would triumphantly carry her chocolate roll to friend and family celebrations, and my boys attached all the love they had for Grandma Ruth to her chocolate roll. It was truly the best tasting treat in the world.

In her later years, Grandma Ruth had the help of Grandpa Gene in the kitchen. While Grandma Ruth had the look of satisfaction and joy delivering her chocolate roll, Grandpa Gene would look slightly fatigued and whisper tales of batches thrown away: burned cakes, too much salt, over beaten egg whites, not enough vanilla. According to Grandpa Gene, a chocolate roll was a multi-day affair involving several trips to the grocery store. It was a labor of love.

The copy of the recipe I have for Grandma Ruth’s Chocolate Roll is a faded photocopy of a recipe written in artistic cursive. I can barely make out the instructions, and some items, vanilla and whipping cream, don’t have amounts. It is an art of estimating, an uneducated guess on my part. I speculate at how stiff the egg whites need to be and how spongy the cake should feel when it is done cooking. I hope for the best.

Over time, recipes tell stories. One of my all time favorite cookbooks was a gift from my sister-in-law, the Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook by Michael Northern. The recipes are amazing, many of my Nordstrom Café favorites, but it is the short narratives describing childhood (or adulthood) memories of the recipe being prepared and served before each recipe that made me love the book. Cooking and sharing food with friends and family is one of my favorite things in life.

In a way recipes are our heritage. We all eat, and through food we can instantly be transported in time—much like songs or our favorite tall tales. Recipes tell stories of resources available, regional tastes, and agriculture of the time. Elders teach youngsters recipes through guidance, often with no written instructions. Cooking sustains us.

I have just run out of cocoa powder and sugar. I have already gone through a dozen eggs. If this batch is a failure, I will have to run to the store. I only have until this evening to pull off the perfect chocolate roll. If this roll makes it out of the oven, I still have the possibility of cracking while rolling, sticking to the parchment paper, and a number of other disasters. The pressure is on, but the thought of my son’s smile as he blows out his candles, and connecting a new memory to Grandma Ruth, makes it all worthwhile.

Toes in the Sand on Mother’s Day

photo-5My two sons and I grabbed my niece and nephew, my bike taxi (I was a bike taxi driver at the time), a birthday cake and some drinks, and set out for a wild ride around downtown Salt Lake City. It was Mother’s Day and my son’s eighth birthday, and we planned to celebrate it BIG.

We rode around Gateway Mall, Temple Square, haunted buildings, and stopped for cake at a terrace surrounded by waterfalls in Gallivan Plaza. The boys fought while singing happy birthday to the new eight year-old (captured on video, of course) but the birthday boy blew out the candles with a smile.

After dessert we decided to grab some real food for lunch, and headed to my favorite family-run pizza joint, Sicilia Pizza Kitchen. I often frequented Sicilia’s at three in the morning with my coworkers when we finished riding bike taxis for the night. They closed at 3:00a.m. and would let us have the left over pizza for free or close to it. We would sit on the cement planter out front and tell stories about the crazy passengers we had that night.

The man that usually ran the counter at night, a casual acquaintance, was working that day and set us up at a nice table in the shade where we could watch people walking down the sidewalk. He took our order, and I told him to make it good because we were celebrating a birthday.

“Are these your kids?” he asked.

“These two are, and this is my niece and nephew,” I replied.

“You are alone on Mother’s Day,” he said as he walked away with the corners of his mouth slightly turned down.

My face stung, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed. This was a new feeling for me—facing the world alone. I had been separated from my husband and living on my own for just a few months, and I had never lived on my own before. I had gotten married before my twentieth birthday. Even though four amazing people surrounded me, I was still thought of as being alone because they were children.

Eating at a restaurant with my young children on Mother’s Day without a man felt worse than treating myself to a dinner at a fancy restaurant on Valentine’s Day.

I felt awkward paying the bill, almost guilty, like I had done something wrong because I picked up my own tab on Mother’s Day. I thought of commercials for jewelry, vacuums, cars, and spa days that often say, “treat your mom this Mother’s Day, she deserves it,” as if the mother’s that aren’t purchased lavish gifts are less deserving or appreciated.

Most of my family lives out of state, so I rarely get to see my own mom on Mother’s Day. I hope she knows how much I wish I could treat her to lunch on Mother’s Day—or a new car. I hope she knows by my actions all year how much I love and appreciate her. I love the holidays that I have been fortunate to spend surrounded by family.

I also love the holidays I spend alone. Being alone is different than being lonely. Learning the difference between solitude and isolation has been one of the hardest lessons I have faced through divorce and single parenting. A connection to others and the world around me is possible even if I am sitting alone at the table.

This Mother’s Day, we are escaping to the desert of Southern Utah. It will probably rain. It might be cold. But it will be worth it. I want to wake up, unzip my tent, stick my toes in red sand, stoke a fire with the boys, and savor a mug of steaming thick, dark coffee. In the desert, we all face solitude. It commands it. This year, I just so happen to have a grown up’s hand to hold.

Much love to all mothers, and all the fathers acting as both a mother and a father this Mother’s Day!

Seven Peaks to Seven Summits


photo-4When I was young my career goals bounced between being a National Geographic photographer or a marine biologist. I wasn’t sure how someone got to do those jobs, but I wanted to find out. I spent hours poured over glossy photos of adventurers, nature, and wildlife. I daydreamed about exploring the world around me.

And then life happened, and I lost sight of those dreams.

I was married at 19 years old, and had my first son at 24 years old. I was just getting settled in a life with a salaried job as a massage therapist, living in a new city, and expanding my world. For the first time since I was young I felt like I had enough security to begin exploring the world and find hobbies I enjoyed.

I was an amateur ski bum and found myself drawn to trails on sticks, wheels, or by foot whenever possible. I enjoyed running and felt powerful in my strides. I had just purchased my first climbing harness and my friend passed down an old pair of climbing shoes.

And then that positive line on a pregnancy test showed up.

I’m not gonna lie, I was thrown. Would I stay home and take care of the baby while my husband at the time focused on his career? Would I make enough money to bring any money home after day care expenses if I worked? After months of contemplating my husband and I decided to move back to Utah to be closer to family and I would stay home with the baby while he worked. Eventually, I worked part time at night and on the weekends, we had another lovely baby boy, and did the baby/work handoff for several years.

After my job cut back insurance benefits for my position, and my youngest son started first grade, I decided to go back to school. The task felt enormous after a 15-year break from classes. I started in a Math class two courses below college level. It felt like it would take forever to earn a Bachelors Degree, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. After I took the first step of registering for class, a series of doors opened and opportunities presented themselves. Several years of devotion and hard work paid off, and today I am still not sure where I am going to end up—but I have a pretty good idea and a new skill set to put my plans into action.

I still get jealous of glossy photos of adventurers in magazines, and while I am not sure how those lucky people got their jobs, I do know that every adventure starts with an idea. So, I picked out an adventure—and now my kids are old enough to join me. Utah has 29 counties, and as it turns out each of those counties has a highpoint. People climb them! This summer and fall I have chosen seven peaks to bag, and after that the rest will come. I don’t know if seven peaks will lead to conquering the Seven Summits of the world, but I do know it all starts with a first step.

Let me know if you want to join me on any of the hikes!

Writing It Down


I looked out into the small sea of faces and recognized those I had gotten to know well over the past few years and a few new faces, too. I paused as I felt tears start to well up in my eyes and I had to choke down the golf ball creeping up my throat. I looked down to my notes and the fresh-off-the-press copy of the SLCC Community Writing Center’s (CWC) anthology, sine cera, with the preface marked to read.

The reading and launch party for the XVIII sine cera: Writing It Down was likely to be the last big event I would spend months organizing and planning at the CWC, and this year’s edition of the sine cera would be the last edition of the anthology I complied, edited, sent off to the publisher and distributed.

Tears had already caught me off guard earlier in the day when I was sweeping the workshop room in preparation for the party. I set the broom down, found a chair to rest and let the tears fall. Handing the sine cera out to the fifty-or-so writers that had submitted was as joyful than Christmas morning. The anthology is a collaboration of stories, essays, and poems workshopped DiverseCity Writing Series groups. As the coordinator of the groups, I would miss working with the writers and volunteers greatly and I had a hard time imaging I would ever find a job that allowed me to connect with the community in the way I had at the CWC. What job could be better than visiting writing groups and helping to create writing?

As I was sitting there my phone rang. I hesitated to answer because the number did not come up on my caller ID. “Hello,” I said. It turned out to be a charter school my kids applied to earlier in the year. We had received letters letting me know they were not drawn in the lottery. The admissions officer informed me a slot had opened up and the school now had room for both my boys. Relief washed over me. The school was in an area with lots of affordable housing in walking distance, and was close to a Trax line I could take up to the University of Utah when I start working and studying there in a few months.

I thanked the admissions officer, and as I hung up the phone, I looked at a bookshelf lined with a colorful assortment of archived copies of the CWC publications. There were books created before I worked here, and there would be books after I left; I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to two of them.

I looked up from my copy of the sine cera: Writing It Down, excused myself from talking too much as I was losing my voice, and without further ado I started the reading with the preface I had written:

sine cera: Writing It Down


After nine days at the Capitol Reef Field Station, I sought refuge from my six companions in the solitude of the vast desert. I grabbed my black leather journal and headed down a winding, Navajo White dirt road. The sand was hot and dry, the scent of sage and juniper hung in the air, and cicadas created a roaring hum that vibrated in my eardrums. A small, light-brown cottontail bunny hopped across the path, paused to look at me, and hopped behind an large red rock.

I ventured off the road and down a well-traveled dirt path that led to two towering stone walls that formed a long canyon. A chalkboard sized rock rock felt like sandstone as I ran my fingers along the surface, stopping just before a faded white name and date painted on the rock–perhaps an early surveyor of the area. I paused at a small wooden fence built to protect archaic petroglyphs created by the Freemont people. I tried to interpret the stories held in the images of animals, hunters, and halos. As the canyon walls narrowed, I came to a large panel of names etched in stone by people passing through the area: Jed Herbert 1931, the Clark Family, Grace and Emory, and so on. The dates ranged from the late 1800s up to the current year.

I felt compelled to add my name and the year, Shauna Edson 2014, to the list on the massive rock wall. I tried to conjure up a single word I could add to define where I stood in the moment: travel, channel, passage, causeway, progression or chamber. I thought of the story my images would tell and wondered how my stories would differ from the stories of those that passed through this canyon before me. Stories of the past, of celebrations and sorrow, and stories of future adventure waiting to be had.

Stories are a commonality that draw communities together–everyone has a voice and a story to tell. In the SLCC Community Writing Center’s DiverseCity Writing Series writing groups, a diverse range of writers meet at differing locations along the Wasatch Front to discuss writing, read works, and offer constructive feedback, support, and inspiration for all writers to tell their stories by Writing It Down.

Team Meetings


IMG_4320As a single parent, one of the most stressful things I do is attend parent meetings for my kids’ team sports. Playing soccer, lacrosse, or hockey seems like a fairly simple concept. Kids go to practices and play in non-competitive recreation leagues games. However, it is at the parent meetings I always learn exactly what I am in for: additional fees (there goes the grocery budget for the next month, but don’t worry the coach gift is included), a nutrition plan for game days, philosophy of the game, uniform fees (motivation to save gas and REALLY bike to work), additional time at practices and pregame meetings (I don’t really have to work), picture day, and a complex snack schedule for half time and post games. Of course, there is always a need for more parents to step up and take on additional responsibilities, like making team roster lanyards and arranging pizza parties to boost team spirit.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not against any of these things at all. I think they are the bees-knees awesome! But, I feel like in order for my kids to play on a team I am required to step up my game a notch, and I just don’t have the time. I am strapped enough simply covering the basic necessities of life—food, shelter, and health care. I know team sports are a privilege and a bonus in life, but I also believe kids learn basic life skills from working as a team and exercise is essential for both physical and mental health.

The thing is, I want to contribute, I love Martha Stewart crafts, but I don’t have time. I am the parent who is drops kid number one off late to practice (hung up at work) with a granola bar (not on the nutrition plan), water bottle and most of his gear, runs kid number two to practice, walks the dog around the field during practice, and picks up kid number one late because kid number two’s practice went late. And that is the good scenario. I often work nights and weekends, and when work overlaps with games and practices insert more lateness to everything involved.

Game day is even worse. I don’t really understand sports and I am confused by the calls. I never know if I should cheer or not. I end up hovering behind all the other parents and giving a thumbs up when my child looks at me. I hope my kids talk about the game on the way home so I can offer constructive criticism sandwiched by positive reinforcement (according to the team philosophy, of course). I play along with the whole idea of not keeping track of wins and losses because we are now all Most Valuable Players, even though everyone knows which teams are leading and loosing the most games.

I totally understand the importance of preparing my kids for competitive high school team players and the usefulness of college scholarships. I long for the day I can keep up with all the other parents who seem to have the delicate balance between home, relationships, career, social, spirituality, and all other areas of life down. Until then, I will be the mom shows up late with a large coffee and cheers for her kid when he scores on the opposing team’s goal (do they have to switch goals so many times in the same game?).

Why I work in Service

 “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”


 The two of us stared at the large pile of papers as she dumped them out of her writing folder and on to the table. I was volunteering as a writing mentor to a teen, and glancing through her work it became apparent she had more writing skills than I did.

We decided to meet at the Main Library in Salt Lake City because it was a central location and the metal and glass building inspires creativity. The aroma of bitter coffee drifted out of the coffee shop three floors below us and greeted us at our table next to the five-story atrium. I hoped my choice of location would make me seem cooler than I really was.

I signed up to volunteer in a program I learned about, Salt Lake Teens Write, during my three-month internship at the SLCC Community Writing Center the previous summer. Salt Lake Teens Write pairs under represented teens who want assistance with their writing with adult mentors who use writing in his or her profession. The mentor and mentee meet for an hour once a week for the duration of the school year, attend two celebrations, two writing workshops, and contribute to an annual anthology. The teens and mentors work on academic and creative writing as well as college scholarship essays. The program is awesome and the idea of mentoring a teen made me smile.

I didn’t know where I would fit the time in to my already maxed out schedule. As a thirty-something single mom going to the University of Utah full time and working three part time jobs, I focused most of my energy on my boys, studying and paying the bills. Admittedly, my motivation was not entirely altruistic; I would have thrived in the program as a teenager, and a part of me hoped to find peace with the mistakes I had made as a teenager through mentoring.

I quickly found out the teen I mentored faced challenges completely different from my own at her age. I felt thrown and unprepared. High school challenged me academically and I dropped out in tenth grade. She was smart and wrote for the school paper. Her voice was strong and her opinions were valid. She excelled academically and received positive feedback and interest from her teachers. She planned to attend college. In fact, I think she had more confidence in her abilities as a writer than I had in mine. I tried my best to coach her in any way I could, but I am pretty sure I ended up learning more about writing from her than she learned from me.

I went into mentoring thinking I understood what my mentee needed, and her teenage angst would be the same as my own had been. I thought by just showing up to volunteer I would mysteriously find answers to all my and my mentee’s problems. In the end, I realized it didn’t work that way. I learned how essential it is to ask questions and listen to her response to understand how I could be of assistance—even if that simply meant writing from a poetry prompt for an hour.

All too often we assume we know the services people are in need of and get frustrated when what we do offer is not met with gratitude. However, asking questions and listening closely to the answers can open us to the true meaning of providing service; establishing a need and connecting the individual with the resources to meet those needs.

Unfortunately, I did not keep in contact with my mentee after the year was over, but I have no doubt she went on to excel in any area she pursued. While this experience was nothing like I imagined it would be, it did help to form my academic focus and work in community literacy and writing and rhetoric studies for the next several years, and guide me to find the peace and healing I was searching for through working in service.

The Life of Riley

“The blue and white house on the left is The Life of Riley. I bet the folks in there right now are loving the life of Riley. The home was built in the 1920s and is one of the few homes on the street still in its original condition…” the tour guide’s voice sounded muffled and tinny through the speakers on the bus.

I was sitting at the dining table eating a bowl of Fruit Loops at my family’s beach house on Catalina Island. I looked out the front to see tourists on the bus peering back at me. I wondered if they could see me as clearly as I could see them. I was used to tour buses stopping there; the bungalow sat just a block and a half away from the tour bus depot. I couldn’t make out what the guide said next, but the bus filled with laughter before it proceeded down the street.

As little bits of hard cereal tore apart the roof of my mouth with each bite I contemplated the name of the bungalow—Life of Riley. I had always assumed it was named after my great-grandparents (Mr. and Mrs. Riley) had purchased the house in the 1940s as a place to retire. Before they had a chance to use it, my great-grandfather died of a heart attack while mowing his front lawn. Devastated, my great-grandmother chose to never visit the house again and gifted it to my grandfather and his brother. I was part of the fourth generation of Riley’s to spend as much of my summers as I could in the house and at fourteen years old I never thought about the fact that the house had a name.

I asked my grandmother what the Life of Riley meant. She said, “It is living the good life and appreciating the things that you have.” That summer was the last time we were on the island together, had I known that then I might have had a better understanding of her words. “We are lucky to have this place and owe a lot to those who came before us making it possible for us to be here today. One day, you will bring your children here and your mother will be the grandma.”

As she went about her daily chores humming the song “California, Here I Come” I thought about our times in the beach house. Not once was I lead to believe that I was living the high life.

The house was always packed with friends and family—sleeping in a bed was a luxury. The kids slept on the floor and my baby brother spent his first summer on the island swaddled in blankets while sleeping in a drawer placed in a quiet corner of the back bedroom. I was given a strict ration of quarters that I could choose to use to purchase a souvenir or spend at the arcade. If I was lucky I got to eat one meal in a restaurant during the summer, and I got one much anticipated waffle cone loaded with mint chocolate chip ice cream, whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a single candied cherry on top. One year my grandmother found a pair of underwear in the street, brought them home, boiled them, and, lucky me, they were my size.

Every day was an adventure on the island. From a young age I was shooed out the door in the morning to go play at the beach, search for wildlife on the coast line, fish from the pier, snorkel in kelp forests, or hike in the hills surrounding Avalon. My grandma taught me to sew shorts one year and I sewed clothes for my cabbage patch kid. I tagged along with my grandpa to the hardware store and watched him pick out the right sandpaper or type of paint and pretended to be busy while I listened to the men talk about the weather and politics.

During the evening my family and our guests would meet for a homemade dinner. The adults got seats at the kitchen table and kids sat around the coffee table. Dish duty was assigned to those that did not cook and the youngsters would clean up for a night on the town. A night in often consisted of playing card games around the kitchen table until bedtime.

My favorite time of day was the morning—right around the first hint of light peeking through the curtains. My grandmother would take the first grandchild that woke up to pick out donuts from the little bakery down the block, and ride out to Pebbley Beach to skip rocks and look for shells and pieces of sea glass.

I still try to get to Catalina as much as possible. My favorite waffle joint and the kitschy souvenir store selling gold plated buffalo terds (along with many other long standing local run shops) have been replaced with wine bars and sushi restaurants. My grandparents have passed away. My two boys and all their cousins entered this world. There have been droughts and boats have sunken in storms. Time and change can bring tears and smiles—but in the end the living the Life of Riley is not about a beach house or an island, but rather a way of living life that can be found in all of us at any time or place.