Posted in Midlife Journey, Returning book, Spiritual Practices

Returning – “aimed deep.”

Today’s review of my upcoming book, Returning – a woman’s midlife journey to herself, comes to us through local musician and composer, Dorothy Zerbe.  (See Dorothy’s Bio below)  Thank you Dorothy for your well thought-out and beautifully articulated review.  More importantly, thank you for your beautiful ODE TO MY BELLY!  Well done sister, well done!  🙂

Dorothy Zerbe
Dorothy Zerbe

Dorothy’s Review:

Lauri Lumby’s book Returning – A woman’s midlife journey to herself is full of honest and frequently dark emotions. Lauri forges ahead with the very best-suited and colorful language in order to depict accurately the author’s often-painful journey through girlhood, family dysfunction and coming of age into womanhood. Yet her language does not offend; it simply challenges the reader to ask herself “Have I felt this way too?”

Returning offers a deep look into a reality that many might deny – that life is hard and demands our full attention if we are to live in a meaningful way. Perhaps some people can skim along the surface and find happiness in a simple, non-confrontational manner. Not this author! This collection of poetry and interactive writing is aimed deep. It is directed toward those of us whose challenges in life have exacted a toll on the emotional fabric of our humanity. Yet we are not looking for a scapegoat. We are looking for answers and are willing to take as many steps as necessary to find them. We are grateful and are looking for a way to give back. The author takes us on that journey, not only into many of her major challenging experiences and her responses to them, but also invites us along for her climb upward onto the top of these events and emotions. She shows us how the very things that hurt her and held her down are now the things that help create her mountaintop experiences.

The various writing and meditative exercises included in this book give the reader a chance to connect with the material and make it a part of her own journey. This is a book that could be taken on a solitary weekend retreat, at the end of which a woman would surely know herself much better. Or, it could be used on a daily basis for a season of self-exploration.

Here are some examples of what struck me in my reading of Returning:

Her description of Hades was surely the most interesting that I have ever read!

Lauri offers a most generous view of who God is, the way God talks to us and allows us to be who we are. The sum of it is that God allows us things in our lives to teach us how to deal more generously with ourselves. This is very different from the view that I heard frequently when I was a teen-ager, from the religious group that I was affiliated with, the view that God allows things to happen to us in order to teach us not to rely on ourselves so much. I like the way Lauri’s view of God is more positive instead of a “cut-yourself-down-to-size” approach.

The story of the goddess Persephone is an amazing contrast to the Judeo/Christian traditional view of Heaven and Hell, and challenges our stereotypes of what it means to be happy. I related very well to Persephone, as one artistic/melancholy personality to another.

I liked the exercise that challenged me to write an ode to my belly:

ODE TO MY BELLY by Dorothy Zerbe

Oh, middle part of me, the core of all I do:

How can I ever get over you?

I have left you behind because you got too big

You hung over the top of my pants and that really bugged me

Your essence is strength but you cover it with soft stuff that doesn’t really help anybody

Oh, belly, oh my little mound of sweet potato roll dough:

How can I lose you and be happy?

Yet when you’re gone, I feel strangely free

Like I could run for a long time and not get tired

You delivered me 4 beautiful babies and for that I will never forget you

But let’s not forget, once they were out, your job was done and

That was no excuse to balloon up into something over-important and pretentious, like

“Feed me! Fatten me! Take care of me!” in all those ways that you and I both know

Are very unhealthy!

So let’s keep the peace –

I’ll feed you amazing greens, fresh fruits and veggies

Lean meats, nonfat dairy and whole grains (and the occasional* piece of chocolate)

And you stay where you belong, lean and strong

I’ll stop complaining about you, and

You stay flat and out of the way and in place behind the waistband

You continue to be my core, my rock,

Giving me the strength and fortitude it takes to walk

And I’ll stay with you and we’ll be the best of friends!

*occasional = yep, pretty much every day

Dorothy Zerbe’s writing is influenced by nature, family, friends, animals, love, life changes and emotions of every color.   She performs in coffeehouses, small concerts, festivals, churches, parks, nursing homes, yoga classes and private parties.   Her training includes a lifetime of classical, jazz and sacred/spiritual influence,  with a great big dose of folk and pop from the 60’s and 70’s to lead her guitar, voice and keyboard skills.  Dorothy studied piano from age 7 to adult,  and began guitar in high school. While raising her children,  Dorothy taught herself to play piano by ear and began writing childrens’ songs.  One cycle of songs that came from that time is called “Lands Where I Live” – themed by the various emotions we all go through, recorded in 1991.    Other recordings include  2 CD’s of original songs,  listed below, recorded in 2001 and 2006.  Dorothy runs a series of concerts from her home featuring other artists, called the Savage Beast House Concerts.   She is currently employed as Music Ministry Leader at  Faith United Methodist Church, Neenah.  She also works as a liturgical musician for the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, Oshkosh, and as a piano accompanist for local choirs and soloists.  Dorothy teaches piano, voice and guitar at the Keynote School of Music in Shawano one day a week.  For more information about booking Dorothy to play or about the Savage Beast concert series, please contact Dorothy at

Listen to and purchase Dorothy’s music at:

To hear “A Long Way To Go” songs, go to:
To hear “Rooted and Free” songs, go to:

Posted in Midlife Journey, Returning book

Returning: “leaves no stone unturned.”

Today’s review of my soon to be released book, Returning- a woman’s midlife journey to herself, is from poet, creator, lover and overall beauty maker, Ann Hartenbach.  We have the great fortune of having Ann living in our own backyard near Oshkosh, Wisconsin where she daily creates and inspires others to do the same.  Ann is passionate about women’s issues, specifically, a woman’s journey to her own freedom and passion.  I heart Ann and her work and am honored for her kind and beautiful words!!!!  Thank you Ann!

Returning - A Woman's Midlife Journey to Herself
Returning – A Woman’s Midlife Journey to Herself


AnnHartenbachLauri Lumby Schmidt really delivers with Returning–A woman’s midlife journey to herself.  She is fearless in laying out her own transformation and gives us a much needed guide from a woman’s perspective on how to navigate our own. Her refreshing approach with poetry and prose is deeply honest and you will find yourself following along gladly for a deeper understanding of yourself. Returning is intimate, rich and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to women in midlife. It couldn’t be better for anyone wanting to unravel the very best of who they are.

-Ann A. Hartenbach,

Ann is the author of:

–Where Blue Birds Fly-Poetry for Ascension (2005 Creative Heart Publications)

–Christmas Coffee, poem published 2007 by The International Library of Poetry in Forever Spoken 

Posted in Midlife Journey, Returning book

New Book Announcement!!!!!!!

I am excited to announce that I have been hard at work on my next book release and we are on the fast-track for a Spring 2013 release!  Whoot!  The book, Returning-a Woman’s Midlife Journey to Herself, is thirteen years in the making.  It is a collection of poetry and prose that came forth out of my own journey to finding myself and provides exercises to assist other women in their own journey of returning.  In the coming weeks, I will be offering you a sneak peek into Returning and inviting you to contemplate your own longing to come home (to yourself, that is).  Today, the Prologue and author’s bio:

Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case
Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case


It was in high school Theology class where I was first introduced to writing as a form of prayer, but it wasn’t until it was required as part of my ministry training that I uncovered the profound gift of journaling and was compelled to embrace it as a spiritual practice.  Before I knew it, writing became my primary vehicle for guidance, healing and comfort.  I learned that as I wrote my struggles, I found insight and understanding.  When I wrote through my pain, I found relief.  As I wrote to who I thought myself to be, I discovered more.

Writing became the vehicle through which I came to know God, found meaning, purpose and connection in my life, but most importantly, it is through writing that I have come to know myself.  I soon discovered that as I shared writing practices with my clients and students, that they too began to find themselves. It is toward this end that I share the writing that came forth out of my own journey and the tools that helped me along the way.

But this volume is more than just my own personal confession.  The exercises offered here are intended to help you to get in touch with Yourself – the quiet, often hidden truths that are seeking to be known and seeking to be made known, and to empower you to provide a safe place where these truths can find their way into your life.  The exercises can be as simple as reading a poem or piece of prose and finding a word or phrase that speaks to you and creating your own poem using these words or as complex as pulling something out of thin air.  But it is not only in writing that we find ourselves, it is also in using our imaginations, in dreams and daydreams, in drawing and coloring, in music, in body awareness, and in ritual.  The ways in which we find ourselves are endless, we just need to invite ourselves in, create a safe space free of critique, and let her speak.  (In support of the no-critique rule, this volume is being purposefully released raw and unedited because the last thing we need, when writing to find ourselves, is someone telling us our poetry is crap!)

As you prepare for this journey, you will need four things:  a hard-bound journal with BLANK pages, your favorite writing pen, a 64 box of Crayola® crayons, and finally, courage  – courage to allow your hidden truth to let itself be revealed.  And as it has done for me, may your writing lead you to Yourself.

Lauri Ann Lumby has been known as mother, daughter, sister, friend, wife, lover, student, teacher, counselor, minister, healer, writer, poet, heretic, witch,  shit-disturber, and blasphemer.  After forty-eight years of asking the question, “Who am I?” Lauri has come to the realization that she is just plain Lauri, and that on any given day, she can be whomever she wants to be.  Lauri is the author of the blog, Your Spiritual Truth and the books, Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy and Christouch – a Christ-centered Approach to Energy Medicine through Hands-on Healing.   She is also the owner of Authentic Freedom Ministries in Oshkosh, Wisconsin where she lives with her two amazing children.  You can learn more about Lauri, her professional services and workshops at