Rhonda Cagle

Posts Tagged ‘The Arizona Republic’

Mom’s Gift Keeps Giving

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2014 at 8:44 am

My latest column for the Arizona Republic is really a letter to my best friend Susie. It’s also a birthday wish for my goddaughter Shaelee.

Suz & Shaelz


The morning of Shaelee’s birthday, I texted Susie to let her know I was remembering and celebrating “our girl.” The truth is that I would have given anything to have texted or called Shaelee to sing her “Happy Birthday” and tell her how much she is loved.

She’s not here to receive those Birthday wishes so I’m sharing them with you, instead. I hope you’ll take the time to read and share with others.http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/southwest-valley/2014/08/27/mental-illness-took-shaelee-soon/14698813/

In Death, We Are Reminded How To Live

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Grief and loss are unwelcome. But, they are effective teachers of some of life’s most important lessons. For starters, one can never have too much life insurance. Trust me; I know. 

Also, even close-knit families cannot be assumed to reach consensus on what kind of service to perform and who will get the china or book collection. Taking the time to make one’s wishes known can save loved ones countless moments of second-guessing gut-wrenching life and death decisions. 

But death can teach the living other valuable lessons. The first is not defining those who have passed by the circumstances of their death. In the face of great personal loss these past few years, I’ve learned not to ask a friend or acquaintance how a loved one has died. Instead, I want to know how they lived. In those stories we find the real essence of their lives – and our own.

You can read more in my latest column for The Arizona Republic: http://t.co/NKTlf0RAA5.

The Value of Failing Better

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I recently found myself at the fifth annual Education Innovation Summit surrounded by people who are a lot smarter than I am and, frankly, a little intimidating. Jaime Casap, global education evangelist at Google, Inc. was one of those people.

Let’s be honest. Anyone who has the title of global education evangelist printed on his business card is automatically cooler than I am. But I was interested in listening to his presentation so I put aside my feelings of inadequacy and found a seat in his workshop. He made an observation that has stayed with me.

Instead of asking students what they want to do when they enter the workforce, he asks them what problem or issue do they want to solve when they grow up. 


I’ve been thinking quite a bit about his question and the implications it has in the lives of both children and adults. What if our attempts – and failures – are simply prototypes of what will, one day, allow us to learn a lesson and solve a problem. What if we are brave enough to keep trying and, in the words of writer Anne LaMott, “fail better” with each choice and every step?

You can read more about my observations in my latest column for The Arizona Republic.  http://t.co/F9ajmGsFG3

The True Worth of a Picture

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2014 at 8:19 pm

A few days ago, my husband took some pictures of me. Being an amateur photographer, he is often snapping photos of me gardening, cooking, or spending time with my kids or dogs.

These photos were different, however. Initially, the idea of taking them was one I rebuffed. Now, I’m so glad we have them.

We had come home from a night out on the town and I was ready to change into my sweats. But before I could, my husband grabbed the camera and told me he wanted to take a few photos.

I’m a 46-year-old woman who just spent seven consecutive weeks on the road for business. My eyes have bags that rival the size of my suitcase. I was tired and not in the mood to smile for the camera. But my husband said something that gave me pause to reconsider.

He told me I am beautiful, not in spite of life but because of it. He told me that in 30 years, we would both look back with appreciation, even gratitude, for a photo that captures the essence of life. All of it.

I thought about his words for a few moments. Then I sat down so he could start taking pictures.

During that next hour, we talked about life. We recalled the moments when our children were born. We reminded each other of funny stories and shared laughter. We were subdued when recalling times of heartache and brokenness. And all the while, my husband was snapping photos.

The next morning, we looked at the photos together on his computer. I was amazed at what I saw.


To be sure, there are lines and wrinkles. There are imperfections. But there is a story and substance behind my eyes. There are years of happiness as evidenced by the laugh lines at the corners of my eyes and lips.

It’s said that an unexamined life is not worth living. But it’s equally true that an unlived life is not worth examining. I am certainly living a full and contemplative life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am what I have lived. The good and bad. The joy and sorrow. I have taken chances and failed. I have risked and won.

I’m comfortable in my own skin, even when it is sagging and showing its age.

Perhaps this is the gift of growing old. Life isn’t perfect. Neither am I. But life should be appreciated. It’s worth capturing the moments that are shared and celebrated, even when they aren’t picture perfect. Thanks to my husband, I have the photos to prove it.

This original content was edited and ran in my column “Bits and Pieces” in the Arizona Republic on March 12, 2014. 


The Value of Doing Nothing

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2014 at 9:09 pm

After years of skipping a vacation, my family and I are finally preparing to go away for a week. It’s a real vacation. An honest-to-goodness, charge-the-camera-battery-because-we’re-taking-lots-of-pictures vacation.

It’s a big deal.

Already, I’m daydreaming about an entire week without e-mails, conference calls or writing newsletters and reports. We’ve settled on taking our kids to Washington DC during the cherry-blossom season. My head is filled with visions of exploring museums and monuments while making lots of once-in-a-lifetime family memories.


And in the midst of my daydreams, I’m wondering why it take a long-awaited vacation to make me remember the importance of doing nothing. It’s what I’m writing about in my latest column for The Arizona Republic. I hope you’ll read along. More importantly, I hope you’ll find the time to do a bit of nothing in your own life. http://t.co/sD7HV0YbyY

A Little Christmas Magic

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Sometimes Christmas takes a little more effort. This year is one of those seasons. But sooner or later, the magic happens. For me, it happened at my nieces’ church Christmas play.


I’m writing about the play, fidgeting kids, an unwed mom, an immigrant baby, and other Christmas stories in my latest column for the Arizona Republic. Oh, and Merry Christmas! http://t.co/FC1on1DD7X

A Letter to My Daughter

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2013 at 9:08 pm

For some inexplicable reason, I’ve felt compelled to write a letter to my daughter. I’ve wanted to share with her lessons learned and my hopes for her future. This letter includes advice about applying liberal amounts of grace to her own life as well as the lives of those around her. Oh, and lots of dark chocolate, good wine, and many hours of James Taylor.


My daughter is a generous girl, so go ahead and read along. She won’t mind. You can find my letter to her in my latest column for The Arizona Republic. http://t.co/6AUTLGbwrL

Retracing the Steps of Democracy

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

This Fourth of July finds me in our nation’s capitol, retracing the steps of our founding fathers. They dipped their pen into the well of audacity and signed their names to an ideal that had yet to become reality.

I’ve thought a lot about the fortitude it takes to envision what can – and should – be. I’ve thought even more about the courage it takes to withstand the shaking and shifting involved in that process.


My grandmother had that kind of courage. I’m thinking of her as I’m standing beneath the Washington and Lincoln Monuments and celebrating America’s birthday. You can read about it in my latest column for The Arizona Republic. http://t.co/HKXV8IdjRn

What I Do vs. Who I Am

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm

After 20 years of self-employment, I recently accepted a job offer. It’s the first time in most of my adult life that I’ve had a regular paycheck, health care benefits, 401k plan, and paid vacation and sick time.

I almost turned it down.

You see, being self-employed wasn’t how I explained what I do for a living. It’s an innate part of who I am. At the end of the month, when the bills got paid and there was food on the table, it was the direct result of my ability to hustle, work hard, and God’s grace in the process.



I’m writing about the transition from self-employed to senior vice president of communications for a national education organization in my latest column for The Arizona Republic. You can read and join in the conversation http://t.co/iqzcYfdiPB.

Fly Away, Little Bird

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2013 at 7:03 pm

My stepson and daughter are moving out – all in the same week. Piles of clutter waiting to be sorted are everywhere and boxes litter every room in my home. Secretly, I’m glad for the distraction.


Between listening as my stepson gives instructions on how to enroll him for classes in 2015 and arranging for my daughter’s U-Haul, I’m painfully aware that my kids are leaving home. For good.

My husband will soon stand and watch as his boy walks through security at the airport and leaves for a two-year mission to Mexico. It pains me to know he’ll stand at that same spot two years from now, looking for his boy. Instead, he’ll welcome home a man.

I’m trading Pinterest posts with my daughter, helping her decorate a kitchen the size of a postage stamp. And with every piece of Ikea furniture we assemble, I realize she’s leaving my nest for good to begin a home of her own. Suddenly, my nest feels empty.

I’m writing about my kids growing up and moving out and how it feels to help them make lives of their own. You can read about it in my latest column for The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. http://t.co/zDQYzqxSuo

%d bloggers like this: