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Do You Let Your Pets Sleep in Your Bed?

Paisley in her favorite afternoon napping place, my side of the bed. A few years ago.

Another Way for week of April 13, 2018

That Cat! That Dog!

I wake up. The cat—all 15 or so paisley pounds of her (and her name is Paisley) has taken over MY pillow. This is not cool. It is 2:15 a.m. I am not happy.

I go to the living room and fetch a super plush half-blanket, designed to keep old ladies warm on couches in cool houses. It was originally a ninetieth birthday gift to my mother from a niece-in-law, very sweet. But my mom didn’t think she needed more throws like that. She re-gifted it to me. I love it.

So I bunch it up as a nest for the cat to claim, and lay it next to my pillow on our king size bed, a giant hint to the cat. Husband sleeps on.

Paisley doesn’t take the hint and moves back to claiming a corner of the pillow I have turned over so I wouldn’t have to sleep in her uh, germs and worse. I had already changed the pillow case several times that week because of this cat-and-me pillow fight.


My most loved cat ever, Riley. Someone caught me sleeping with another male.

Undeniably, our cat has now taken to hogging my side of the bed. I can sympathize better with what my husband was dealing with for weeks, maybe months. The cat was absolutely loving his side of the bed, near his feet, and he had to be careful not to kick her. He truly loves the cat, which our daughter had adopted but had to pass on to us when she moved to different housing. So Paisley has learned to jump out of the way of his night-time wiggles and flailing legs.

But cats change their habits more quickly than humans, and so currently I am the lucky lady having the cat sleeping on my side of the bed. I say to the husband that I’m just glad we never got in the habit of allowing dogs to sleep in our bed (no offense to those who have this custom), but as we get older, it is hard enough to get a good night’s sleep without a third (or fourth!) body in the bed.

Wendy, our first dog, meets our first baby, Michelle. Holding the two are my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law.

I grew up in a family that only had outside pets. How about you? My husband and I faced the issue of whether to keep pets inside or out after we bought our first home, the year after we were married. My husband soon wanted a dog, and he wanted it inside. At that point, we didn’t have a secure fence so I acquiesced. Wendy was a good first dog: smart, affectionate, able to do tricks. She trained me well. But no dog in bed.

Our dogs have been mixed breeds on the larger side. Our current dog, Velvet, (notice the “fabric” name theme currently going with our pet population, thanks to our daughter) is the smallest at about 45-50 pounds. I can truly understand people who enjoy sleeping with smaller breeds of dogs, and I know the loving attachments so many experience with a small lap dog.

Riley (Alpha cat, now deceased) and baby Paisley.

Paisley (left) and Velvet (right) share my husband’s lap in the evening. Along with his small notebook.

Oh, speaking of laps, both the cat and the dog like to share my husband’s recliner chair when his footrest is pulled out. Now that makes a chair full, and I’m thrilled that they cuddle up there on his leather rather than my fabric couch. In the winter, they keep him warm; when I’m away, they are great company. Sometimes, though, he wants to shift around or get up, and they have other ideas. Many times the cap plops down five minutes before I call Stuart to supper.

But we try to make sure the cat and the dog know who is boss. No alpha dogs or cats.


My first published poem. Click to enlarge.

My first piece of published poetry when I was a teenager was a poem about a cat and how humans and cats are similar but different, especially in their ability to love. Yes cats give and receive love, but they are not human in terms of what they are able to give. As that poem ended, “For, whoever heard of a cat dying to save all the other cats?” My theology may have deepened or expanded since my teenage days, but there is still truth there, that we remembered especially over Easter weekend. God has given us so much love, even more than that extended by the dearest cat or dog.

For that we can be so grateful, even when the cat gets us up in the middle of the night.


Do you let your pets sleep in your bed?

Do you have different rules for different pets?

Are you a cat person or a dog person or neither?




Comment here, or send stories to me, pro or con, at or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22850.

 Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


When You are Stuck

Another Way for week of April 6, 2018

My dear sister hamming it up in the role of “dunce” at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement school we toured in north Florida several years ago.

When You are Stuck

Most of us have had to work on something that was slow, frustrating, and just plain difficult. Whether at home or work, whether young or old, whether because of something you did or no fault of your own, you labor on.

You know you can’t give up because it is your job to get it done.

I was in that kind of stuck place a couple of weeks ago at work with a major project. The details are too hard to explain on paper, but the point is the same.

Why didn’t I ask for help?

At my age, you don’t want people at work to start wondering if you are still competent for your job, and productive. But if we are younger and new on a job, we are particularly apt not to want to ask for help—even though that is when we need the most help.

For me, it was hating to admit that the technology had me bamboozled. I looked for solutions online but couldn’t quite get to the bottom of my problem.

It didn’t help that I was not only snowed at work, but at home as well. Income tax deadlines and paperwork were looming. My list of to-do’s was daunting, and depressing.

Finally, I asked a colleague to whom I would pass the project next, for some pointers. Another colleague overheard our conversation and she pointed to just the tool I needed on the computer. If you use Microsoft Word, it’s called “Clear all formatting;” it looks like a little eraser, but it had disappeared from my tool bar because I never used it. But it did the trick very nicely. I wanted to cry or shout halleluiah, I wasn’t sure which. It was then I realized what a heavy load it had become on my psyche.

There are lots of reasons we’re slow to ask for help. We don’t want to be considered incompetent, a time suck, a freeloader, or annoying. Some people may have the opposite problem and indeed lean on others too often. I’m more of an introvert, and enjoy working alone; my husband on the other hand loves working with someone to bounce ideas off of all the time.

When our offices moved four months ago, I observed others—much younger, and guys too—struggling with aspects of our technology hook ups that surprised me. We had gotten a new phone system, different servers (for the computers), new online storage of documents and photos, and migrated our email accounts—all of which amounted to a lot of change and stress. It made me feel better to know others were needing help figuring things out as well.

 Becca J.R. Lachman is the recent author of a helpful six-week group Bible study called Upside-Down Living: Technology. She does not address the kind of technology problem I was having, but notes that we all need help at times, and also that, as she says, “I need community and accountability … so that possibilities like sharing libraries (where members loan out their items instead of buying their own), and time exchanges (where members contribute their talents and resources in equal exchange for needed services and resources without exchanging money), feel not only doable, but preferable” (published by MennoMedia, 2017).

In doing a little more research about why I was so reluctant to ask for help, I learned that introverts generally have a harder time asking for help than extroverts. That was a bit of a revelation. Not wanting to feel like a burden is definitely something I can relate to. Another blogger/writer who focuses on introverts, Andy Mort, says we think “Bringing other people into [the issue] will take energy; explaining things, answering questions … all deplete energy reserves. So asking for help, especially right away, becomes an overwhelming concept” (from Try a Google search such as “Why we don’t like to ask for help” and you’ll find additional ideas! Or check with a friend for their perspective.

Perhaps the best thing this frustration and experience taught me (besides finding that nifty eraser tool) was that it’s okay to ask for help, and others likely won’t think you’re a freeloader, annoying, or hopeless, unless it happens all the time.


I would love to hear your views, or your stories and experiences around asking for help. Send to me at or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22850.

 Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.


Ironically, more tech problems–and deadlines–prevented me from posting last week.  


How do you feel about asking for help? Are you quick to do so, or slow? Why? 

Tips for others with similar problems?


Resurrection People

Jackie, at our daughter’s wedding.

Another Way for week of March 30, 2018

Resurrection People

It seems like my husband and I have been going to a lot of funerals or memorial services lately, for people we have known and loved. I’m thinking about all these friends as we come to this beautiful and life-affirming Easter season. We are Easter people! For Christians, the supreme hope and belief that life does not end this side of the grave, but goes on in everlasting joy with God.

I want to share one story of a loving and helpful friend named Jackie. She would have been 89 this coming April. Widowed at an early age, these later years had not been kind. She occupied a house that was unsafe, but our small group from church did not know how to help her with that. Whenever we went to drop off food or good water, she never wanted any of us to come inside. So it was somewhat a relief when she was hospitalized after a bad fall, and social services moved her to a nursing home for rehab. At least there we knew she had safe drinking water and healthy food, with people looking out for her, and not living by herself in pitiful conditions.

We did not know much about her family but she adopted us as family—she often said that. By us I mean a small group who operated a free clothes closet for the community at Trinity Presbyterian. We enjoyed worship, fellowship, and nurture times in addition to the mission of the clothes closet. Jackie first came as a client at the closet—but quickly asked if she could also volunteer and help give out clothing. Our long time organizer, Emily, opened her arms and heart and Jackie felt love, acceptance and the important gift of being needed.

The Trinity Clothes Closet at an earlier location.

Then Jackie somehow lost contact with us after the closet had to move its location twice. But she reconnected at the memorial service for Emily back in 2006. She read about Emily’s death In the newspaper. Jackie began helping out at the closet again and called us her family as she hugged and kissed each of us goodbye when she worked. She adored Mr. Jim as the husband of Emily, and was excited to attend his 90th birthday party the year before he died.

Jackie, seated, chatting with a Trinity friend at the wedding reception.

When my second daughter got married a few years ago, there were extra seats available at our reception venue, and kind of at the last minute, I invited everyone from the small group including Jackie, even though she did not know our daughter who lived out of state. Jackie was thrilled. She got dolled up in a white pantsuit with lovely necklace, earrings, and pretty shoes. I think she felt like Cinderella invited to the ball. When this daughter had her second son and he needed to be hospitalized for over three weeks at a children’s hospital, she prayed earnestly for our little grandson. I will never forget that. In this past year as Jackie’s health continued to decline, I think she asked me about that child every time she saw me.

A distant relative of Jackie’s eventually offered to care for Jackie in her own home because Jackie begged to be removed from the nursing home. Patricia cared for her as she would have her own mother—she did not have a large home but provided Jackie a room with a bed that faced a window where she could watch the world go by on a country road. Jackie entered hospice care four months ago.

There’s much more to her story—much I don’t know but I do know she always had a sweet word of affirmation or “God loves you” to share with clothes closet clients.

Jackie’s pain and ailments and suffering are over as she now waltzes the streets of that eternal home, perhaps in a beautiful white garment not made by hands. There she’s meeting my dad, Mr. Jim, Emily , Chad, and all the saints: Peter, Paul, Mary , Lydia and many more.

I used to feel sorry for Jackie. No more! She’s got it made while we labor on. I want to remember her gift of warm and open acceptance for us all, and deep need to be hugged and cherished. May I become more like Jackie.


Whose life has impacted yours in a special way? I’d love to hear and share your story.


A blessed and beautiful Easter to all!

Write to me at or Another Way Media, Box 363 , Singers Glen, VA 22850.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



Threads of Faith among Annoying People

Another Way for week of March 23, 2018

Threads of Faith among Annoying People

What’s this? A pastor who says you can expect to find annoying people in her church?

She got my attention right there. Ok, she didn’t say it exactly in those words. But because we’re all human, yes, we can all be annoying.

Dr. Tracy Kennan is senior pastor for Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Columbus, Ohio, assisted by associate pastor Katie Kinnison. We were happy to visit there recently and didn’t mind learning that yes, people at this church were pretty human.The reason the pastor was talking about annoying people was that she was inviting us to go deeper in all of our relationships–beyond the hello, good morning, how are you doing, terrible weather we’re having–repartee of a typical gathering whether at church, PTA, Rotary Club, Quota Club, or wherever. She was encouraging folks to become more involved, both in activities and with each other.

I have found that this is truly the way to get to know people better, especially at church where it is too easy to just show up Sunday morning and then quietly leave. Instead, volunteer to be on a committee, sing in the choir, clean up after an event, or help with a church work day. It is in those activities and relationships that the rub and the irritation happens, but that’s what makes families or a group of people grow in understanding and connection, right?

I recently finished reading a book by Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church (Nelson Books, 2015). Evans, a popular blogger, grew up going to church every time the doors opened as did I, although in a different conservative circle. Her family went to a very traditional Southern Baptist church where women were not allowed to serve as pastors. However, that did not dissuade her at that point in her faith journey. In high school and college she was very active in campus faith groups and would have been known as the “girl on fire for God.”

Rachel Held Evans speaking at Eastern Mennonite University. Photo by Melodie Davis

But as so often happens, as she grew and matured, she begin to question things she had always believed. She and her young husband went through a phase where they just slept in and “had pancakes in our pajamas like everyone else.” The book is insightful and gratifying to read how and why they eventually made their way back to church. Earlier, Evans came to some national renown when she wrote a book exploring what would happen if Christians lived literally by some of the rules of the Old Testament, called A Year of Biblical Womanhood. In that book, she spent time sitting on the roof of her house, which was mostly a stunt she contrived to help her learn to tame a somewhat lippy mouth. And it helped sell books, which as an author I can appreciate.

I’ve met and spoken with Evans twice, and she is down to earth, honest, smart, funny and helps many of us better understand not only young adults but how and why they might approach faith genuinely but perhaps differently.

Back to Pastor Tracey Kennan as she reminded us that faith can be a stretch for the modern mind. Her sermon was called “This is Ridiculous!” and she noted the cross of the Christian faith can sound ridiculous, like lunacy. “God came to us, and we killed him. But he didn’t stay dead and he rose again.” Ridiculous! Even the Bible admits as much in 1 Corinthians 4:10: “We are fools for Christ.” You can find Kennan’s excellent sermon at the church’s website,

I started this column saying you can find annoying, very human people in church. In fact, Jesus himself was also human—and also divine. Not to say that Jesus was annoying, but he struggled mightily with his mission on earth and in the Garden of Gethsamane, begged God for a way out of the suffering of the crucifixion.

Kennan’s sermon helped me look at myself again: Am I annoying? In what way? Is there grace for me? Absolutely. As I prepare my heart for the great reminders of Christ’s eternal sacrifice of Good Friday, I want to be open to all messages from God.


Have you discovered deeper relationships as you’ve worked with or opened yourself up to others in social circles beyond your family and work colleagues? How did that go? I would love to hear your comments.


Or, the easier question perhaps: how do others find me annoying? 

I’m again offering a booklet I put together last year of Lenten Conversations, available as a free download at Or receive a printed copy by mail. Send your name, address, and two U.S. postage stamps and I’ll send you a copy. Mail to Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  




Health Issues Part 2: The New/Old Drug Crisis

Another Way for week of March 16, 2018

Health Issues Part 2: The New/Old Drug Crisis

(The second of two columns on health and drug issues.)

A woman left a message on my office phone. The name and the story sounded familiar. She had talked to me about six years ago when our office was producing a radio program, Shaping Families, featuring interviews with various individuals and their problems. I returned her call, and sure enough, she was still seeking help for her son with addiction problems.

It was heartbreaking to talk to her and realize they were both still struggling: he with his addiction and bipolar illness and her trying to stand by and help. Their problems had way outlasted our little radio program. She had made the rounds of help: sent him to rehab programs, seen counselors, went to group therapy sessions, was acquainted with the family-oriented help of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Yet, yet. They were still just limping along. She said at church when caring people ask how her son is doing, she answers “fine” because she doesn’t want—can’t—repeat the long list of woes, again. She knows people don’t really know how to respond.

My heart goes out to them and many others with similar struggles. Those who’ve successfully fought addiction often say the will to deal with an addiction problem comes with a life change like relying on a higher power or God, if you will, and leaning on that faith every single day. Fighting addiction is a daily fight, and the support and encouragement of others is crucial, we know.

I know of one family whose struggles with drugs came because their daughter became addicted to pain medications given to her in emergency room visits for frequent migraines. Addiction is a family affair—impacting the whole family as siblings sometimes feel estranged and at odds with parents and siblings as they deal with the issues, hospitalization, or imprisonment.

The Center for Disease Control reported on spikes in overdose cases and death from opioids already this year. Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat says overdoses are up (not necessarily deaths, and not necessarily rates of addiction) but the overdose factor has risen because of “newer, highly potent illegal opioids, such as fentanyl,” according to a report on NPR. “The substances are more dangerous than five years ago,” Schuchat says. “The margin of error for taking one of these substances is small now and people may not know what they have.”

Journalist Sam Quinones is the author of a book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. Quinones said this at a recent event in Indiana that I read about on WNDU TV’s website: “It really started with modern American medicine and doctors being convinced and pressured to prescribe these pills,” he said. “We wanted a quick fix. We don’t want to deal with the issues that cause pain.”

My own doctor recently prescribed codeine for the cough I was experiencing when I had flu that I wrote about last week. As I started reading more about this opiate, I curtailed my use. There is likely a place for such prescriptions but I challenged my doctor that wasn’t it addictive? He said, “Do you think I’m going to let you get addicted?” I laughed and said no—because he’s been my doctor over 40 years and I remember him complaining about patients who wanted him to write pain killer prescriptions at a number of drug stores. Still, it wasn’t like I went to him asking for a cure or to ease the pain. As patients, we need to be our own advocates. Finding information online is easy but we need to get input and advice from several sources.

In the end, anyone can easily get addicted when the prescriptions are so common and many seek desperately needed relief from various kinds of emotional or physical pain. I’ve talked about several different issues here from mental illness to prescriptions that may be addicting. The bottom line is our brains and bodies are very susceptible to becoming addicted—whether it is an opiate, alcohol, heroin, gambling, food, shopping. Anyone can become addicted; there is no shame in it. But I also believe that with help and faith in God, who cares more for us than any parent or friend, people can and do fight their addiction every day—and overcome it.


What are you addicted to? How do you deal with your cravings?

Do you worry about any prescription medications you take or have been given in the past?

Finding Hope In Recovery - .MP4 Digital Download

The documentary we produced was called Finding Hope in Recovery and it is still available from Vision Video.


My office also produced public service announcements for radio out of various documentaries. You can listen to them here.


I would be happy to mail you a CD of the radio spots shown above, for use on any radio station or website, class, or therapy group. Write to or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22850.

Another Way is a column © by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.


When the Flu Bug Comes Calling

Another Way for week of March 9, 2018

When the Flu Bug Comes Calling

Most of us don’t have many photos of ourselves sick, for good reason. Here’s one though of our middle daughter many long years ago, with a bad case of chicken pox. Caesar the cat kept her company. Winter viruses and bugs are no fun for anyone.

I’m bummed. I don’t do sick well. You would think a woman who is active all week long and juggling three jobs would be oh so happy to have a doctor order her to bedrest.

Like duh, maybe there’s a connection here? The flu that rampaged the country this year finally caught up to me, even though I had a flu shot.

Actually I don’t know anyone who does sick “well,” other than maybe a hypochondriac or someone who enjoys complaining or is downright lazy.

I found myself incredibly restless by not being able to do much. Yes, my husband made me soup a couple of times, made breakfast, and took care of me just fine. But I wanted to be up and doing! I was glad I had a good book to read about the 100 year history of my alma mater, Eastern Mennonite University. I love history and I will likely write more about that book in the future.

I also learned things from my doctor, who, I had to laugh at him, was having a “train wreck” of a morning when I could finally see him. He was over an hour getting to see me for which he apologized profusely but said it had just been a train wreck. Not literally but there was a patient who gave him trouble but of course he didn’t reveal details.

He told me not to be too quick to clear the gunk out of my throat because the mucus acts like “a film that protects the important parts of the inner nose and lungs.” Those are the words of allergist and internist Tania Elliott, MD, (since I wasn’t taking notes when my doctor told me something similar, I did some research online). Elliot is the chief medical officer at a New York City-based healthcare company specializing in preventive medicine. “The mucus [ugh] keeps nasal passages and lungs well moisturized, Elliot says, “You don’t want those things dried out!”

Protects your lungs, maybe from getting pneumonia? My doctor was surprisingly blasé about pneumonia shots. He used to push me to get one and I politely resisted. I’m sure there’s a time and a place for certain patients to get a pneumonia vaccination, but he felt like it didn’t do people that much good this year.

The website goes on to explain, “When a cold virus enters your nose, mucus production goes into overdrive. Another doctor, Thomas Welch chief medical officer of Mercy Health in Toledo, Ohio, explains: “It’s a reaction of the body against viruses, bacteria, or even particles of dust. It prevents those irritants from burrowing deeper into the lungs. Then, the tiny hairs in the respiratory tract called cilia help to sweep up the infected mucus like little brooms, so we can cough or blow it out.”

Little brooms, eh? Isn’t that too cute? (My house grew dustier by the minute and I had all this time at home but no energy to clean!)

All joking aside, my short bout with flu made me so much more aware of friends and relatives with serious illnesses, or of those who lay in bed day after day in nursing homes, waiting for someone, anyone, to come visit. I admire one woman who has fought cancer for more than 15 years, including a partial leg amputation. My hat is off to the husband who takes care of her. I also salute her children who are as loyal and attentive as they can be while raising their own children. I don’t deserve to complain one minute when I look at the suffering Donna and her family have endured. Yet she has remained cheerful through intense pain and I’m sure, not a little boredom.

Does an overly busy schedule and demands have something to do with my getting sick this year, the longest I’ve been sick in years? I don’t know. The Lord only knows but I suspect it might. I’m looking forward to another new book coming out later this year by one of my favorite writers, April Yamasaki: Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. Sounds like medicine I need.


Have you been ill this winter? What have you learned about yourself or others? I’d love to hear from you.

Email me at or at Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22850.

Another Way is a column © by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



Watching Out for Hazards in Parking Lots and Buildings

Another Way for week of February 23, 2018

Watching Out for Hazards in Parking Lots and Buildings

We all know about ramps to help make buildings more accessible for those with mobility problems. Architects and building designers have gone to great efforts to make their creations easier to navigate for millions of folks of all ages.

But until recently, no one was even cognizant that building design can be a big deal for those who are not blind, but cope with low vision. It is a problem affecting at least 19 million people in the U.S. and many more millions worldwide with specific medical problems like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinitis pigmentosa.

The fact is, more of us are living longer and longer lives (yay) leading to more people having vision problems (boo). Which means we need to plan for and include thoughtful and caring building design as a way to create spaces that are—visually and physically— not a problem for millions.

Are builders, architects, and administrators up to the challenge? At first they may squirm: no huge light-filled, airy atriums at hospitals, universities, and businesses that cost zillions and cause glares that blind some users. Atriums are particularly onerous if the light is not directed with some nifty fixes, so say members of the Low Vision Design Committee of the National Institute of Building Sciences.

Two things prompted me to write about this: my own mother’s increasing difficulties with vision in terms of light glare from glaucoma (which is well managed with medical supervision and various prescription drops and medications). My husband and I recently also attended a Lions Club regional meeting where Vijay Gupta, a retired mechanical engineer, has been lighting fires under designers and architects to improve design environments to help people with low vision live independent lives.

We’re not talking about complete blindness here—and we are talking about issues for the over-65 population. As we age, our eyes are less able to respond quickly to changing light conditions so we enter a hall or artistically designed atrium we can be completely blinded as eyes adjust, and suffer confusion and falls if we’re not careful.

Good example of well marked steps at the newly expanded MCC Gift and Thrift Store in Harrisonburg, Va. Most employees, volunteers and many customers are in the above 60 age group and appreciate this great marking.

So simple a thing as crazily patterned carpet on a stairway may make it difficult for some to see the edges of steps—they blur together; marble floors may be pretty to look at but cause glares that confuse or blind. For myself, in the last 3 years, I have fallen twice over stumbling hazards: on cement steps to a third floor balcony where edges were not painted, and once at a new garbage drop-off site (below) that had unpainted concrete parking blocks in the path between vehicles and the garbage chute. I tore some pants and crunched my big toe but it was a wake up call to stay more alert. I also try to focus on lifting my feet—not scuffing along— whenever walking over uneven surfaces. No reading the phone or sending texts!

The parking blocks are well painted now.

Since about 2012, the design committee I mentioned has done diligent work preparing complete guidelines to help designers and builders, called Design Guidelines for the Visual Environment. I won’t go into detail here, but if you’re part of a church, school, business, or medical care facility planning new space, it behooves your group to check it out. The “Design Guidelines for the Visual Environment” to find a free 80-age PDF is found here online.

A few difficulties this guide points to are:

  • Glare from windows and light fixtures
  • Confusing reflections in polished wall and floor surfaces and stairs
  • Optically misleading geometries in floor patterns and stair finishes
  • Inadequate lighting on vertical surfaces, walking surfaces and stairs

In outside space and parking lots, watch out for curbs that pop up from nowhere, drains, and unmarked balusters. I drove into a grocery store parking lot recently that had red curbs blazing everywhere and I thought, wow, can’t miss those and wondered if there had been a recent unfortunate event there.

Ultimately if all of us paid more attention to where we are going (if sighted) and work to see that hazards are removed or well identified, we will reduce falls for everyone. Accidents happen but awareness and better building design can reduce the risk for us all.


Bad fall? Or was it mainly embarrassing? One where you should have known better but weren’t paying full attention? Or, perhaps, it was life changing, and not it in a good way.
Too many older people end up dying from all kinds of household falls.


Or air your gripe about a local building, parking lot, staircase, atrium–you name it–that is difficult to navigate safely!

Share your stories and take aways so we can all learn from each other! 

Comment here or send to or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22850.


See here for more about the National Institute of Building Sciences, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Another Way is a column © by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication. 

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