Monday, December 31, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Embrace Impermanence

The last day of the year is upon us! It’s a great day to reflect on the blessings and experiences you’ve had over the past 12 months.

It’s also a great day to anticipate the good that will come in the new year that begins tomorrow.

With each day, each month, each year, we see that things are constantly changing and evolving. Things don’t stay the same. They may appear to remain constant, but they’re not. Change can happen so slowly that we scarcely recognize it as such.

When we understand that change is happening around us and inside of us all of the time, we can more easily come to a place of acceptance and even anticipation. We start to see that now, this very moment, is what we have. Each day is filled with “now” moments worthy of our attention.

So, on this final day of 2018: Embrace impermanence and live in the moment.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Give Joy!

If you could package up something lovely to give to another person (or for yourself), what might it be? 

Many of us exchange gifts at this time of year. It’s the season of gift giving after all: A good book, a new tie, some warm socks, the latest toy. 

But what about those intangible gifts, those gifts that you can’t quite put a bow on?

What if your gift-giving ideas included giving joy, peace and love—not just to those on your list, but to as many people as you possibly can?

The holidays are joyful for many people, but for many others, they’re a reminder of losses, tense relationships, loneliness, a shortage of cash, a difficult health diagnosis.

Today, this week: Give the gifts of joy, peace and love wherever you go.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Seasonal Sprinkles: Winter Solstice

Today is the first official day of winter. Tonight also marks the longest night of the year. Tomorrow, increased daylight will begin to return incrementally.

On this first day of winter, this winter solstice, what would you like to see happen in your life? What are your dreams? Where are you seeking answers? Are you craving a new experience or adventure? Are you looking for hope?

The first day of a new season opens up possibilities for new things to come into your life. Have faith. Have hope. Have energy. Look to the starry night with optimism. Daylight is coming.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Be the Light in the Darkness

The days are short, the nights long. At times, it feels as if you get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, come home in the dark, go to sleep in the dark.

For some of us, life itself can feel dark with grief, sadness, loss, tragedy, uncertainty. We crave light—just a little ray of light—in all of that darkness.

Be the light where there’s darkness. Be love where there’s hate. Be kindness where there’s cruelty. Be hopeful where there’s uncertainty.

Today, this week: Cast your light into a dark world.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Rest, Relax, Renew

This is a busy time of year. It’s easy fill your calendar with holiday commitments, celebrations and to-do lists. It’s easy to feel as if you’re running yourself ragged.

There is a gift, however, that you can give yourself during this holiday of gift-giving. Give yourself time to refill your spiritual well and recharge your battery.

Each day, make room in your busyness to take care of you. Read a chapter in a book. Take a walk. Listen to some good music. Close your eyes and take a cat nap.

Today, this week: Rest. Relax. Renew.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Spread Love

In a world that often seems to be filled with fear, worry, division and differences, love is the answer. Love works. 

Love is the greatest gift that we can give each other. 

Love builds bridges, offers compassion, displays kindness, shows patience, is gracious, is generous, values others. 

When unsure just what to do or say, come from a place of love.

Today, this week: Spread love.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Busy, Busy, Busy

I was racing around, grousing about my lengthy to-do list, grumbling that I had too much to get done in the little time I had allotted. I was feeling overwhelmed. My husband is handy and helpful. But on this occasion, he simply sat in his chair, watching me run from one task to the next, listening to me complain.

Suddenly, he asked me in a quiet voice why I was putting myself through such angst, especially when I had intentionally divested myself of many of my previous commitments and obligations so that I could have more time to simply be and enjoy life.

His question stopped me cold. Why was I putting myself through such torment over such small and insignificant concerns? How had having just a few responsibilities tilted to having too many? Why did I expect so much of myself? Why did I allow for my to-do list to get so long? What impossible perfection was I seeking?

As I replayed my husband's question over in my mind, I realized that I had been piling an unrealistic number of tasks onto each of my days, hurrying from one task to the next to the next without enjoying any single one of them, without giving any particular attention to anything.

I looked at my to-do list, crossed off some items that just didn't need to be done period, moved others to future days that didn't have anything listed so far, delegated where appropriate and let go of fruitless expectations. 

I started focusing on having no more than five things on my daily to-do list. I prioritized them. Consequently, I made my anxiety-inducing calendar more manageable. 

Instead of succumbing to the din of busyness, I became more quiet, centered and mindful of what I realistically felt I could get done in my day. 

The weeks between Thanksgiving and the end of the year can be hectic. Are you feeling overwhelmed these days? How might you reduce those feelings? 

Our days are meant to be enjoyed. Take a deep breath of peace, set realistic expectations for yourself and feel the joy of the season.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Affirming Words: Abundance, Joy and Blessings

Consider adopting these Affirming Words for this month. Say them often to yourself -- whenever you see yourself in a mirror, when you get out of bed to start the day, whenever you need a little pick-me-up:

My life is filled with abundance and joy. I gratefully share those blessings with others.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Celebrate! Give Thanks!

It's the week after Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean that thanksgiving is over. 

In the 1970s, a song called Celebrate was made popular by the musical group Three Dog Night. The lyrics to that song called us to “Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music.”

Look up! Smile! Celebrate! Dance the joyful dance of gratitude for all that you have in your life. Invite others to join in that dance with you, passing your blessings freely on to them.

Today, this week: Give thanks for the abundance in your life. Feel the light in those blessings. Then, share that light with others.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My Dad, the Snake Man - Part Five

This post is "Part Five" of five, the final post that highlights aspects of the life of my late father, Roy Paul "Chuck" Naidl, who dedicated his life to educating people about the value of reptiles in the ecosystem.  He was often referred to fondly as "the snake man." (To view the My Dad, the Snake Man - Parts One through Four posts, please scroll down to July 30, August 21, September 13 and October 2, 2018.)

Frank Naidl and Josephine Fronk were married on September 27, 1911. The groom wore a suit and a white bow tie, his thick, curly hair tamed to the best of his ability by parting it on the left side. The bride, a beautiful woman with expressive hazel eyes, was dressed in an airy foam of white cinched by a wide band of ribbon that accentuated her tiny waist. Her white net veil, secured to her head by a crown of flowers, cascaded behind her. Mr. and Mrs. Naidl were on the beginning of a journey of love and life together.

My paternal grandparents, Frank and Josephine "Josie" Naidl

Frank and Josie made Two Rivers, Wisconsin their home. Two years into their marriage, Frank and Josie welcomed their first child, a daughter named Edna Victoria. Soon thereafter, they welcomed a second daughter to their family, Norma Mary. By 1918, the family was to expand again, this time with the birth of their son, Roy Paul, on November 21. Another daughter, Maryan, would follow in May of 1925.

My dad, Roy Paul "Chuck" Naidl--always with a smile on his face

Roy Paul was a chubby-cheeked little boy, who as a toddler, liked to say "chucky, chucky, chucky." The child's "talking" drew his family's attention. Soon little Roy Paul became known as Chuck, a nickname that would stay with him through the remainder of his life, with most people thinking that his legal name must be Charles.

My grandmother, Josephine "Josie" Fronk Naidl, was born in 1891 in Bolt, an unincorporated community located in Kewaunee County in northeastern Wisconsin. While still a small child, she and her family moved to her grandparents' farm in nearby Tisch Mills, another unincorporated community located in Kewaunee and Manitowoc Counties. As a child, Josie would walk across farm fields in order to attend school. When her family sold the farm, Josie, age 14, and her sister, Anna, moved to nearby Two Rivers, Wisconsin to find work. It was there that Josie became a nanny and where she would meet my grandfather. 

My grandfather, Frank Naidl, was born in 1884 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. He was known throughout the community and greater Two Rivers area as a beloved portrait photographer and member of the Gloe-Naidl Orchestra.

In this 1918 photo, the newspaper referred to the group of gentlemen pictured as "this dapper collection of Two Rivers' finest" -- members of the Gloe-Naidl Orchestra, a popular local musical group.
Standing in the back at the left is my grandfather, Frank Naidl.

My father was close to his father, as evidenced by this charming photo of the two of them:

My grandfather, Frank Naidl, and my father, Chuck Naidl.
I love my grandfather's kind eyes and the joyful smile and sailor suit my dad is wearing.

Dad didn't share many stories about his father when I was growing up, likely because Grandpa died when Dad was so young. Dad did share this one story about Grandpa, however, that epitomized his gentle character. One year, Grandpa offered to buy my dad a pony. While outside playing one day, Dad smacked a baseball that  resulted in a broken window on a neighbor's property. Grandpa reportedly explained in a calm manner that the money that would have been used to buy Dad a pony would now have to be used to replace the neighbor's window. Dad accepted the outcome and never forgot the important part of the story wasn't that he didn't get the pony he wanted, but that his father had relayed that difficult message kindly and calmly, with no raised voices. My dad went on to become that type of father, too.

Sadly, Frank passed away suddenly in 1925, only 14 years into his marriage, from what family members indicated was probably a brain aneurysm. His death took place only a couple of months after his daughter, Maryan, was born.

At the time of my grandfather's passing, an article in the local newspaper reported: "While at work in his studio, Saturday morning, Frank Naidl was stricken with a sudden attack of illness that caused his death at noon, two hours after the attack....While not of a strong physique, Mr. Naidl always appeared to be healthy and of a quiet, but happy disposition....He had been in his usual health and was at work in his (photography) studio and about the city, Saturday morning. He complained of a severe headache and went to his room where he suffered severely until the end came."

My dad was only seven years old when he lost his father. His oldest sister was only twelve. His youngest sister was only an infant and would never know her father.

A newspaper article about my grandfather, Frank Naidl's, sudden death at age 41.

With the death of his father, my dad became the only man of the house--at age seven. His mother, my grandma Josie, would keep the family intact by selling her baked goods to wealthier residents. Dad would report of transporting those baked goods in a coaster wagon, delivering them to the households where orders had been placed. Grandma later worked for the Hamilton Company in Two Rivers. Despite difficult times, especially during the Great Depression, Grandma Josie, with strength, faith and determination kept her family together. Grandma died in 1972 at age 82.

My father, Chuck Naidl, as a little boy. I love his Buster Brown haircut and little-boy clothing of the day.

From childhood, my father had a deep curiosity about and unwavering interest in reptiles, especially snakes. If he wasn't playing or coaching basketball, Dad devoted his time to studying snakes and collecting them. According to my dad, Grandma Josie wasn't particularly fond of his pets, yet she indulged her only son by allowing him to keep a few snakes in cages at home. She even would help him by moving the cages from window to window whenever he wasn't around in order to give the snakes ample sunlight.  

My father's senior photo. He graduated from Washington High School in Two Rivers in 1936 at age 17.
In his 1936 yearbook, he signed his name as "Roy Naidl 'Chucky.'"
Beside his name was this quote: "Yet, what are they, the learned and the great?"
It was accompanied by the notation that he participated
in the "Commercial Course" and the "Civic Service Society 4."

Six years after his high school graduation, on March 16, 1942, Dad was inducted into World War II service for our country in the U.S. Army. 

Dad rarely spoke about his war experience, choosing instead to keep those memories hidden deep inside him. Among Dad’s belongings when he died on July 30, 1984 were items from his military service, including his Honorable Discharge paper, which reported that he had served in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe.  He had seen some of the worst WWII battles in Europe.

Dad, as he appeared in his U.S. Army dress uniform during World War II

One not prone to argument, let alone battle, war must have been a very difficult experience for my father. As a medic, he saw atrocities and battles that he couldn't talk about afterward. Yet, he served with honor. 

Dad received training in the U.S. Army as a surgical technician.

Dad came home with a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct Medal and a European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with one Silver Battle Star, among other medals.

In February of 2014, I was reminded of Dad’s military service when I found myself staring into a black and white photo of him as a 27-year-old man. A good family friend and his nonagenarian mother had been looking through old photo albums and found that photo of my father. Dad is shown squatting in tall grasses, his forearms resting on his thighs, his hands clasped casually. His face is thin and tan, his brow furrowed, his eyes focused, his hair thick and perfectly groomed. He appeared to be dressed casually. He might have been wearing his U.S. Army-issued fatigues.

On the front of the photo, Dad had written "'Chuck' Naidl - 7/10/45 Germany."   On the back, he wrote: "10 July 45, Bad Sooden-Allendorf, Germany (viper hunt!). With regards to ‘Pete’ from Chuck."  Underneath his signature was the cartoon rattlesnake that Dad often drew under his name when he sent letters to me. 

A photo of Dad "viper hunting" in Germany at the end of WWII.
The photo came into my possession in 2014--30 years after Dad's death--from a family friend.

What a gift it was to receive this surprise photo 30 years after my father had passed away and to be able to look deeply into the face of the young man who would a decade later become my dad and who would, for the rest of his life, share the good news about reptiles in our ecosystem.

The backside of the WWII snake-hunting photo, inscribed to his good friend, Pete (Dorrell St. Pierre), who
would later serve as a witness, along with his wife LaVerne, when my parents married in 1948.

Although the atrocities of war must have affected him deeply, my dad found a way to feed his passions by going on a "viper hunt," even in war-ravaged Germany.  While stationed in the Mojave Desert for a short stint during the war (where he mainly referred to having to eat lots of fig cookies as a source of nourishment, something he consequently never chose to eat afterward), my dad acquired a dark blue tattoo on his upper right arm of a rattlesnake and the word "MOHAVE."

Dad had a dark blue tattoo of a snake on his upper right arm
that he received while in the Mojave Desert during World War II.
Next to the snake's extended tongue is the word "MOHAVE."

My father was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army on October 13, 1945.  His Honorable Discharge citation read, "This certificate is awarded as a testimonial of Honest and Faithful Service to this country." 

Coming home from the war wasn't easy for Dad, as he had experienced such horrific battles. To aid him with his restlessness, he turned to his favorite subject of reptiles, spending time at Reptile Gardens, an animal park located south of Rapid City, South Dakota, and also in what is now the Everglades National Park on the southern tip of Florida.

Dad, camping in the Everglades post WWII. Note the raft for his snake-hunting expeditions.
Dad appears to be holding an Eastern Indigo Snake.

Another scene from Dad's time in the Everglades, holding an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake in his bare hands.

Dad's travels would eventually take him to Baraboo, Wisconsin, a place with which he fell in love and which would become his home and that of my late mother--the only home the two would share for 35 years until his passing. Together, they would operate Chuck Naidl's Reptile Farm on U.S. Highway 12 south of Baraboo.

My parents, Barb and Chuck Naidl, with their friend, Stan Bran (at left)
at our family's reptile farm in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

My father's lifelong fascination with reptiles would cause him to study them in earnest and to spend his career lecturing about their virtues to students of all ages in school programs across the United States for some three decades. 

My young father, eye to eye with a Timber Rattlesnake.

We end where we began with the first post about my dad on July 30, 2018 (the anniversary of his death) -- just like the circle of life.

Dad and me having some piggyback time at our family's reptile farm.
Note my high-heel "play dress-up" sandals and the snake cage on posts in the background.

As I noted in my first post in this five-part monthly series, while known across the United States as "the snake man," Chuck Naidl was first and foremost for me, simply Dad.  My father enjoyed an extraordinary career doing exactly what he loved to do, being "the snake man." And I was lucky enough to be part of that amazing life.

Thank you for joining me on this journey about my dad, Roy Paul "Chuck" Naidl, who would turn 100 years old today.

I drew this picture in celebration of my dad's birthday when I was around six years old.
An artist obviously I am not, but there are some fun glimpses into our life revealed throughout.
You'll notice that reptiles don't factor into my depiction, but our pet cat with extremely long legs does.
Dad would turn 100 years old today - November 21, 2018.
Happy birthday, Dad!

If you would like to learn more about my father, please visit the Sauk County Historical Society (, which preserves photographs, archival items and artifacts from my dad's life and career.

Happy 100th birthday, Dad. Love you, always.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Enjoy the Joy of Being

At this time of year when the commitments on our calendars seem to increase, leave the hectic pace for just a while. The Thanksgiving preparations can wait. The holiday shopping can wait.

Slow down.

Observe the beauty around you.

Enjoy the joy of being.

Today, this week: Learn the art of slowing down so you can enjoy your day.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: It's a New Day!

You have just received a gift—a beautiful, big gift wrapped in the finest of paper and tied with an elegant bow. That gift is this new day!

We may think that our days will go on and on forever and ever, but we know (especially as we grow older and are forced to confront the realities of life) that those days have always been numbered. We will receive only so many of them.

Therefore, what will you do to honor the gift of this day?

Today, this week, show your gratitude for the day’s gifts and blessings.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Cultivate a Spirit of Contentment

It’s November. Thanksgiving will be upon us in just a few weeks. When you think about Thanksgiving—both the holiday and the state of being—what can you name right now that you’re thankful for?

When you’re grateful and you see abundance in your life, have you found that your perspective changes and it’s easier to see more and more abundance, that your abundance grows?

When you’re grateful, does it help you to see that you have “enough” in life, that it changes your needs and wants?

Today, this week: Ask yourself, “What does having ‘enough’ mean to me?” Then, cultivate a spirit of contentment.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Where Am I Going? And Why?

This post was first published on November 10, 2011, one month after I had started this Time to Be blog. 

As I celebrate seven years of blogging and the milestone of my 1,000th post this month, I delved into my blog archives and drew out this post. We're all on a journey. I hope this post helps light your way. Thank you for being part of my blogging community!

Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? Why?

These questions are fundamental to my life's journey, but how often do I ask them in order to shed light on my path? 

The questions originated from my friend Don's encounter with security at an airport in the UK.* 

When taken in a different context, they can serve as a metaphor for life's bigger questions and our continuous quest for fulfillment and happiness. 

I dare say that the answers are not always easily found and they will likely change with the seasons of our lives. But, I appreciate the act of pausing, asking, listening and reflecting on them, all the while having faith that I'm where I'm supposed to be right now.

Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? Why? Spend time contemplating these questions. Are you satisfied with the answers you hear?

* November 2018 addendum to my original, seven-year-old post: Read With All We Are: Mission, purpose and transformation by Donald Eggleston, M.ED, M.DIV, published in 2018 by Mission Works Publishing, LLC, for more about these vital questions -- and more. Don’s thoughtful approach makes the questioning journey for individuals and organizations both accessible and revealing.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Affirming Words: Make Time

Today marks my 1,000 post in this Time to Be blog! 

From the beginning, this blog has been about making time -- time to be, time to renew, time to refresh, time to recreate, time to do what is important to you, and time to be with those who matter to you most. Today's Affirming Words celebrate that concept:

Consider adopting these Affirming Words for this month. Say them often to yourself -- whenever you see yourself in a mirror, when you get out of bed to start the day, whenever you need a little pick-me-up:

I’m happiest when I make time for those I love and care about. My life is richer because of them. Therefore, I make time in my day and my week to dedicate time to those who are most important to me.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Let Your Worries and Fears Float Away

We hang onto them as if they were among our most prized possessions. We keep a firm grip on them so we can draw upon them throughout our waking—and especially our nighttime—hours. They are our worries and fears.

When we give them our attention and energy, our fears and worries become bigger, darker and more foreboding, especially in those middle-of-the-night hours when all seems darker, bigger and scarier.

Today, this week: Turn those worries and fears around and scoot them out the door. Let them float away with the wind. Fill those empty spaces instead with gratitude. Focus on the blessings of this moment, and your worries and fears won’t find room to come back.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Be Strong. Be True to Yourself.

It isn’t always easy. The pressure to conform, to remain silent, to go along with things that don’t feel right to you is strong.

But you have an option. You can be strong. You can be brave. You can be true to yourself and your values.  That wisdom that you carry deep inside of you is real and shouldn’t be ignored or squelched.

The truth that you feel deeply and viscerally is important to acknowledge. The words you have to say are important. Give voice to them.

Today, this week: Be strong. Be true to yourself. Listen to the wise voice deep inside of you. What is it telling you?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Wisdom Resides in the Silence

Our calendars and date books are packed with back-to-back commitments, obligations and have-to-dos. Everything becomes a blur as we run from one thing to the next.

We reach out so much in our lives. The only way to balance it is with time when we reach within.

Become still and silent for a while each day. Allow the silence to fill your spiritual well and give you the answers you seek.

It is there where Wisdom is waiting for you.

Today, this week: Give yourself time for silence and stillness.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Human Being, Not Human Doing

Sometimes, the journey takes us where we least expect it and to destinations we could never have dreamed of. 

Today marks seven years since I started this Time to Be blog. It grew out of my writing little essays about joy in small composition books during the last months of my mom's life as a way for me to cope with my sadness and grief. 

Today, I celebrate that those little essays about joy turned into a blogging, writing and speaking adventure that allows me to be my authentic self and to use my voice to hopefully bring some joy to others.

Here, once again, is my first blog post, published on October 11, 2011:

Time to be.  Why call my blog by that name?  Because I enjoy the peaceful act of simply being as much as doing.  I've learned that it's necessary to set aside regular time for solitude, reflection and introspection.  With this blog, I'll focus on being, not just doing.  I'll express opinions and observations, offer thoughts about items in the news, reflect and ruminate, reminisce and ramble, dream.  I will look to see life for all that's good and report on the simplest tasks and most fundamental of relationships with nature and others.  With a deep respect for the gentle steadfastness of my beloved mom who passed away four weeks ago and with a nod to her favorite author, Gladys Taber, I will write of joy, of loving and of living in the moment.  Time to be.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Embrace Abundance

With the changing of the trees to beautiful autumn color, think blessing. Just as you see the change in the trees, change your way of thinking to recognize all of the abundance in your life.

As you embrace that abundance, the lens through which you see the world will change so that even more abundance will seem to naturally come to you. 

Blessing begets blessing when you direct your focus there. Being in a grateful state sets the stage for more and more for which to be grateful.

Today, this week: Use the autumnal changes to the landscape as a prompt to shift your thinking and your energy. Embrace your abundance and give thanks.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Curiouser and Curiouser

I'm a big believer in lifelong learning. My schooling didn't end with a college diploma. Learning doesn't have to happen in the classroom or for credit. Learning something new is a daily adventure!
I tend to be a curious soul, especially when I hear people's interesting stories about their lives. I love to explore new topics and concepts. I believe I inherited the "curiosity gene" from my maternal grandfather. Grandpa Joe was always fascinated with people's stories. He soaked up new information. Consequently, Grandpa's perspective stayed young, despite his years.
Sometimes a word or concept comes into my life repeatedly for a short period of time and I'm challenged to pay attention to it and to determine what it means in my life. 
And so it was about a year ago when the word curiosity kept manifesting itself over a period of days--first in a chance conversation with someone who told me he is curious about so many things that he will never grow bored. He told me about the books he was reading. They were diverse and fascinating. Then, I saw a tweet about curiosity being the cure for boredom. And then again, I saw yet another tweet about curiosity keeping us present and reminding us to be open to change, meeting new people, challenging ourselves and growing.
The repeated messages about curiosity were meant for me! I had been overwhelmed by many professional directions at one point a few years ago. I had taken professional multitasking to my limits. As those professional endeavors came to their natural conclusions, I was left with just one project--one that led to the writing of my third book, Find Your Heart, Follow Your Heart: Get to the Heart of What Matters and Create Your Abundant, Authentic, Joyful Life, published in July 2017. 
Media exposure, speaking engagements and a series of Facebook Live videos followed, marking the next fulfilling chapter in this new venture. However, in the midst of it all, I started to feel that itch again, questioning as to where I was being called next. 
That was when the messages about curiosity came into my life with increased frequency. My tendency toward curiosity led me to even more opportunities for growth, fulfillment and enjoyment this year. 
With the calendar turning to 2018, I began writing a new series of blog posts called Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday, Affirming Words and Seasonal Sprinkles. Nudges from all directions also caused me to write a five-part blog series about My Dad, the Snake Man that has been posting this summer and fall. Another nudge caused me to submit my father's interesting life story to a magazine, where it is now awaiting publication. 
As I write this post, I'm exploring even more exciting, new avenues this fall.
I offer these examples of the joy and adventure of curiosity and their recent effects on my life as a nudge to you. 
What is appealing to your curiosity? What new concept, skill or subject might you like to learn about? Are there new people and new places calling to you? Are there new adventures waiting for you to say yes?
A curious mind is a fertile mind that eclipses fear, obstacles and limits. A handy dose of curiosity can lead to fresh insights, thoughts and ideas. Curiosity can lead to fresh starts. 
Stay curious, stay present, stay aware. There's so much to explore. The sky's the limit!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

My Dad, the Snake Man - Part Four

This post is Part Four of five posts that will highlight aspects of the life of my late father, Roy Paul "Chuck" Naidl, who dedicated his life to educating people about the value of reptiles in the ecosystem.  He was often referred to fondly as "the snake man." This year, Dad would turn 100. (To view the My Dad, the Snake Man - Parts One, Two and Three posts, please scroll down to July 30, August 21, and September 13, 2018.)

My parents, Barb and Chuck Naidl, on their wedding day 70 years ago - October 2, 1948.

The bride wore a softly tailored suit in her favorite shade of blue. The groom looked dapper in his suit and boutonniere. It was a day of beginnings for this newly married couple. There was so much to anticipate, so much to enjoy in this new life together.

Following a small wedding ceremony flanked by their witnesses, Dorrell St. Pierre and his wife, LaVerne, the newlyweds stood on the lawn of the Methodist Church parsonage in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and had their pictures taken. The newlyweds were my parents, Chuck and Barbara (Wood) Naidl. The day was October 2, 1948. Today marks their 70th wedding anniversary.

My parents fell in love in Two Rivers, Wisconsin while my mom was caring for a great-aunt who was dying. Dad was back in his hometown, honorably discharged from his stint in World War II and Mom was a fresh graduate as a registered nurse from St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My mother had received her schooling courtesy of the U.S. government as a Cadet Nurse, agreeing and anticipating to serve in the war when her three-year education was completed. The war had ended by the time she graduated, however, so with diploma and nursing license in hand, Mom accepted the responsibility of caring for her great-aunt instead, and traveled from Iowa to Two Rivers.

My late mother, Barbara Naidl, while in Cadet Nurse training during WWII.

Upon marrying, the agreement had been that if Dad learned how to dance, Mom would learn to like snakes. For the longest time, only Mom held up her end of the bargain. Finally, about four years before his death, Dad danced a slow dance with Mom. They rehearsed in the kitchen at home several times before trying a public dance floor.

This doesn't appear to be the face of a woman who is afraid of snakes.
Mom overcame her fear once she met Dad.

My parents honeymooned at the Warren Hotel in Baraboo, a south-central Wisconsin community of fewer than 10,000 people at the time. Dad had discovered the community while on his snake-hunting expeditions and he found Baraboo to be appealing. He loved the Baraboo Hills and the wide variety of snakes that inhabited them. On one of his earlier visits to the area, Dad had met and become friends with Forrest Zantow who introduced him to the Baraboo Hills and to others who had an interest in reptiles. Dad also discovered great places to socialize, such as The Panoramic Resort, owned by the Roche family at the entrance to the north shore of Devil's Lake State Park.

Forrest "Woody" Zantow, left, and Dad. The two gentlemen became friends
during some of my father's earliest visits to the Baraboo area
and remained close until Dad's passing some 40 years later.
Woody and Dad are shown holding a bull snake, Wisconsin's largest non-venomous snake.
A beaded lizard is on the table in the foreground.

By 1949, Mom and Dad had purchased a five-acre parcel of land south of town on U.S. Highway 12. It featured a one-story, ranch-style structure that had at one time served as a bath house when the property was a trailer park. When the trailer park was closed and the property sold to a family from Illinois, the building was converted into a summer home. However, a miserable experience with seasonal allergies caused the family to sell and my parents to purchase the property.

Chuck Naidl's Reptile Farm, as it appeared in the 1950s, based on the vintage of the automobiles.
Dad and Mom would go on to plant many trees and renovate the building to become our family home.

After having grown up on main street in his hometown due to the location of his late father's photography business, Dad wanted nothing more than to live in the country where there were open spaces and he could plant as many trees as was possible. Mom, who had also lived within the city limits in her hometown of Charles City, Iowa, had never experienced country living either. Fortunately, once they bought their Highway 12 property, they were surrounded by kind neighbors who helped them acclimate to the country ways of life, including mending fences in order to keep neighboring cows from meandering.

Dad and Mom spent their summers at their rural Baraboo home, quickly turning a portion of the property into a reptile farm that would bear Dad's name. My parents would operate the reptile farm each summer for the next 35 years.

Chuck Naidl's Reptile Farm with the ambiguous address of Route 4 and the even more interesting
phone number of 723-R-1, from a Baraboo phone book of the 1950s.

During the remaining months of the year, Dad and Mom toured across the eastern and southern sections of the United States, with Dad giving lectures in schools about reptiles and Mom serving as his assistant. In those early years, my mother worked on and off at St. Mary's Ringling Hospital in Baraboo as a registered nurse, often doing private-duty nursing for patients needing more care.

The mansion of Alf. T. and Adella Ringling, of Ringling Bros. Circus fame,
whose home would become Baraboo's first official hospital in the 1920s.
My late mom, Barb Naidl, worked at the facility on and off for the better part of 40 years,
first as a hospital nurse, then as director of nursing when the building became a skilled nursing facility,
and later as director of nursing when it became a convent for retired Catholic sisters.

At times when they weren't touring, Dad would find other work, such as road construction where he helped build a new section of U.S. Highway 12 between Baraboo and Madison. He and Mom even worked for a short time in the 1950s at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant in nearby Sauk-Prairie, Wisconsin, with Mom serving as a nurse there.

My late parents worked for a short time at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant
on the Sauk Prairie in the 1950s.

My parents' touring years were filled with the adventure of new places, new people and new experiences that naturally come with travel. They also experienced segregation for the first time in their lives. My late mother would tell me again and again how jarring and disheartening that experience was for her to witness. But my parents also met many lovely people along the way, including the owners of motels where Mom and Dad would repeatedly stay when lecturing in the vicinity. Many of those friendships remained throughout the years, even if contact was made only once a year with the exchange of Christmas greeting cards.

My mom, Barb Naidl, could be counted on to assist Dad with his lecture programs,
even bringing some of the program right to the audience.
These little girls look as if they're enjoying the experience.

In some of the early years of their touring, Dad and Mom not only traveled in a vehicle filled with reptiles for Dad's lectures, they also traveled with their beloved Dalmatian, Jigs. The dog was so named because he "danced" with Mom whenever a popular television program from the day, Dairyland Jubilee, was on. Mom would ask Jigs if he wanted to dance and he would respond by standing on his hind legs and placing his front paws on Mom's shoulders so they could "polka" together. Traveling with a dog proved to be too difficult in the end, however, and Jigs found a home--as would seem appropriate--at a fire department.

My maternal grandmother, Carolyn Wood; my dad, Chuck Naidl; and Jigs, my parents' beloved Dalmatian.

Even before my parents married, my dad had experienced a few venomous snake bites. By the time I was born in 1958, my dad had experienced his tenth and final venomous snake bite. That last bite struck a nerve in his right hand, causing his thumb to become paralyzed. Rather than amputate his thumb (which was on his dominant hand), it was decided that it would better serve him by being folded across his palm. Despite that disability, Dad's handwriting, both cursive and printing, continued to be exemplary and he had complete use of his hand, even without a functioning thumb.

When Dad experienced that tenth and final snake bite at the fangs of a diamondback rattlesnake, Dad drove himself to St. Mary's Ringling Hospital in Baraboo where Mom was working. She met him in the ER.

This photo explains the injuries Dad sustained from his ninth venomous snake bite,
this time by a Wisconsin timber rattlesnake in May of 1948,
about six months before he and Mom got married.

Dad's right hand, draped over Mom's shoulder, is bandaged from one of his snake bite experiences.

Mom was never bitten by a venomous snake, but she could very well have been during one incident when a shipment of snakes arrived at home while Dad was on the road lecturing. The shipment was anticipated and was to include a boa constrictor, as I recall. However, when Mom opened the large Styrofoam box's lid and lifted out the sack containing the snake, she could see the shadow of a cobra lifting itself up and flaring out its head inside the bag. Mom quickly and carefully placed the still-closed sack back into the Styrofoam box and affixed its lid. Then, she called the school where Dad was lecturing and left him a message to call her. When she picked me up that day from school, she was still shaking from the experience, even as we shopped at the local A&P Store on the way home.

It didn't take Mom long to become comfortable holding snakes,
as evidenced by this photo from the New York Sport Show in New York City circa 1950.

Needless to say, we always had an ample supply of blue boxes of Wyeth Laboratories' antivenin in our refrigerator in the event of a venomous snake bite. To others, it probably seemed strange to open up the frig, only to find venomous snake antivenin next to the condiments in the refrigerator door, but it was a necessity in our household.

For the years leading up to my birth, Dad "milked" venomous snakes, collecting the venom for the antivenin and selling it to Wyeth. Dad even milked snakes in a store window in downtown Baraboo, which surely must have drawn a crowd.

Dad, milking the venom from the venom sacs of a venomous Timber Rattlesnake.
As always, Mom was by his side.
Note the snake tattoo on Dad's right arm.
Although too small to read, the word next to the snake's head
reads "MOHAVE," meaning the Mojave Desert where Dad got the tattoo during WWII.

As the photo's label shows, this picture gives a close-up view
of how Dad extracted venom from a venomous snake.
The venom was used in antivenin for venomous snake bites.
Note Mom looking through the doorway.

When I was born, which was a surprise to my parents after ten years of marriage, Mom and Dad's lecture tour experience changed. While we continued to tour during my preschool and even kindergarten years, once I was enrolled in elementary school, Mom stayed home with me and resumed her work as a registered nurse and soon as a director of nursing, while Dad toured alone except during my school-year breaks. 

That change in our lives required that Mom learn how to drive. Dad ended up serving as her driving instructor. I recall riding along with them, crouched down on the floor of the backseat playing with my dolls, as Dad coached Mom down the snaky South Shore Road to Devil's Lake State Park. Every time I take that road, even to this day, I can still feel that same excitement for Mom as she deftly negotiated the hairpin turns and went on to get her driver's license at 40 years of age. 

My parents enjoyed a close marriage. They were partners in life in every way. My father requested my mother's wisdom for his every major decision and he respected her career as a nursing professional. In return, my mom gave my dad his work freedom. His months away from home on lecture tour didn't create quantity time for them, but it did foster quality time, and they took every advantage of that time together.

All smiles as Dad, Mom and an unidentified gentleman, at left, deal with a handful.

In the final years of Dad's life, he spent more time at home. During winter evenings, Mom and Dad would enjoy hours in their cozy kitchen playing cards. In the summer, they would sit in lawn chairs in the backyard and look up at the star-studded night sky. Theirs was an unusual marriage compared to those of my little friends' parents when I was growing up, but theirs was a charmed life together and surely a devoted and loving partnership. They showed me each and every day what a successful marriage looks and feels like. I owe them that and so much more.

Happy 70th anniversary, Mom and Dad, with my love always.

Birthday pie amidst a game of cards.
Dad favored pie over cake, so his birthday always featured the pie of his choice.
It looks like pumpkin pie was the preferred choice for his 61st birthday.

In next month's installment, posting on November 21 at 9:00 a.m. central time, I'll cover Dad's early years on what would be his 100th birthday. See you then.