Lessons From The Elderly.



It’s early Tuesday morning and I’m sitting at my mother-in-laws bedside at the local community hospital.  It seems as though this is the hundredth time I’ve found myself in this situation since moving her and my father-in-law back to Chicago because of failing health.  My Father-in-law, or Poppi as he was endearingly referred to by all, has since passed away.   He left behind his wife of over 65 years with a void in her heart as wide as the universe.  Their love was deep and strong and centered around their faith.  It was a strong union.  Among the strongest I’ve ever witnessed.

My hubs and I drove to the hospital in separate cars because, well, life is busy and our hectic schedules would pull us in different directions after our visit.  For us, even in the midst of emergency and tragedy, life doesn’t slow down. But, for my sweet mother-in-law, June, life had come to a screeching halt.  Looking down at her in the narrow, uncomfortable looking hospital bed, I saw the shell of the woman that she once was.  She lay there frail; shallowly breathing.  I grabbed her hand and whispered to her that we were there.  She struggled to slowly open her eyes.  She fought to say something to us but her mouth and throat were too dry and her voice was whisper soft.   We leaned in closer and were finally able to hear that she wanted to know what happened.

There’s something very humbling about visiting the elderly in the hospital.  Especially when they are at the end of their life.  If they’re able to communicate still, they tend to treat you to the stories of their lives.  And, through those stories you realize that the things that have made the biggest impact on their lives and the treasures that they’ve carried with them to the end have very little to do materialism.

They remember experiences and people.  They remember driving across the country in their car to visit a married daughter and her family.  They remember growing up in simpler times, before technology.  Beach days and sunsets.  They remember overcoming hardships and being thankful for what they had rather than wishing they had more.  All of their stories have a common theme.  The topic always centers on people, love, experiences and faith.

I thought about all of this as I sat next to this wonderful woman who had, so far, lived through 9 decades and had seen so many changes in her lifetime.  Both June and Poppi had treated me to hundreds of stories in the years since I had joined their family through marriage.  Stories that painted a picture of who they were and what was important to them. Stories that I would forever treasure and that I had heard so often that I could retell them in perfect detail, myself.

When I first came to know this sweet couple, my first thoughts were, “what a striking couple.”  They seemed to have the best of everything.  My mother-in-law was always impeccably dressed in coordinating outfits, would never leave the house without perfectly styled hair (and her lipstick on) and lived in a beautifully decorated, large home that most people would love to live in.  My father-in-law was handsome, jovial and at his happiest when on the golf course or tennis courts.  He loved good food, travel and the nicer things in life.   He was one of the most generous men I have ever met.  He was unique and outspoken and everyone loved him.

It did not take long after my marriage to Clark to get to know his parents deeply.  Likewise, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the fancy material things that they were blessed to be surrounded by were not what mattered most to them in life.  It was their love of God, family and friendships.  They showed me this preference of theirs through their actions time and time again.  I’ve always considered that lesson a gift and one I want to pass on to my children.  Love and people matter most in life.

Back in her hospital room, June and I sat in silence, as we had so many times before, and memories of her life swirled through my thoughts.  As I sat there, somewhere in the background was the loud whirring sound of some kind of machine she was hooked up to.  Her legs were wrapped in special socks to keep her circulation pumping as she lay there.  I could hear different doctors being paged over the intercom system in the hallway.  There was the faint smell of Lysol and ammonia and some kind of disinfectant in the air.

Even as all of this commotion went on around us, it felt oddly serene and quiet sitting there holding her hand.  I looked down at my now sleeping Mom.   She was laying there naked faced, no lipstick, her thinning hair completely flattened and messy, and wrapped in a flimsy, faded hospital gown.  And, I thought she had never looked more beautiful in her entire life.  Her life had gone from fancy to humble in the period of a few years. Because she had never put too much weight or value into the material goods of life,  she seemed at peace to me.  She knew she had a family that thought the world of her.  She had her faith.  She knew that one day she would be reunited with her husband again.

I can never thank this sweet couple enough for the deep lessons they’ve taught me in life through their actions.   When I’m at the end of my life, I pray that I will have made some kind of an impact on someone else’s life, too.  I hope that someone will look down at me in my hospital bed with gratitude for lessons I’ve passed on to them.  Lessons of faith and love.


Look, There’s a Cardinal



I’ve always loved the snow.  I’ve written about winter many times and by now you should have a pretty good idea that it is by far my favorite season of the year.  I’m not sure why it so gently pulls on my heart-strings but when I see the snow falling to the ground it always takes me back to a time long ago.  My childhood.

Growing up in South Bend, IN, there was always an abundance of snow from November through February.  Sometimes even into March.  The snow was always piled high everywhere you went.  It lined the streets and highways, which back then were mainly two-laned.  It covered bushes and tree branches and lined yards throughout our neighborhood.  Which in the winter would morph into a snowy blanket of soft white.  A true winter wonderland.

It’s the beginning of March.  March 3rd.  As I sit in my cozy, warm kitchen looking out through the ceiling to floor window lined walls that surround me, snow if gently falling to the ground.  It’s a very light snowfall.  A snowfall that movies are made of.  The ground is already blanketed and the grass is covered.  So, the snow falling now is the icing on the cake.

As I look out at it and write, something catches my attention out of the corner of my eye.  I turn to look at the tall evergreens that line the entire side of our yard and spot a bright red cardinal.  It spot’s my movement as I walk over to the glass door.  I stand there for a moment and look at it.  Soaking in its beauty.  It turns its head and from where I stand, it seems to be looking back at me.  paralyzed.  Both of  us are completely still.  We continue to spy each other for a few moments.  And then, just like that, it fly’s off.  I watch it as it quickly streaks through the sky.  Over the top of the neighboring homes.  Over the tops of the trees.  Into the sky.  And then just like that, it’s gone again.

It’s been said that when you see a cardinal, it’s a sign of someone you’ve loved and lost coming back to visit you.  Last month marked two years since I lost my beautiful mom.  Taken from us all so suddenly and too soon.  I’ve written about her Here  and Here.  And, she’s sprinkled all throughout my blog.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and miss her.  She was the reason I started to write.  Well, one of the reasons.  My dear friend Bonnie, who I wrote about Here – was the person who encouraged me to start writing.  But it was my mom who was my biggest cheerleader.   She would say to me, “Peggy, you need to write a book. I’ll be your publicist!”  And then we’d laugh about it together.  Over the phone.  If it was in the morning, we’d laugh together while on the phone and chat over a pot of coffee.  If it was in the evening, we’d spend our long distance time together over the phone, both with wine in hand.

She was such a treasure to me.  I realize that not everyone in this world is blessed to have a true friendship with their family, but I was given the special blessing of camaraderie with my Mom.  We had a very special bond.  I miss her deeply.

So, the red cardinal came to visit me today.  As we sat there, frozen in time, looking at one another, I could hear the distant voice in my heart of my mom speaking to me – “Peggy, here’s that beautiful snowfall you love so much.”



Out There In The Forest



Last year, just about this time, I surprised Clark with a puppy.   It was a spur of the moment decision on my part to go out and get him (against the wishes of my dear, sweet hubs.) I saw no reason not to adopt a four-legged, fury friend into the family.  My hubs could think of many reasons to just keep things they way they were.   In the end, I decided to just go against his reasoning and take the plunge. So, I went out and adopted Duncan, our adorable 12 month old Puggle.  And for that reason, I take full responsibility of my faithful companion.

Now nothing makes Duncan’s tail wag faster than knowing he is going for a car ride.  If the destination at the end of that ride is anywhere near a park or woods, he is in heaven.

One of the most appealing things about living in Palos Park is that you are centered amid the forest preserves of Cook County.  There are acres and acres of recreational land and open space where millions of visitors and residents alike can take advantage of hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing or simply relaxing and taking in the wonders of nature.  And, spending time with their dogs on walks or hikes.

My youngest son, Brian, has been trying to convince me for the past 6 months that the preserves are by far a better place to go with Duncan than just taking him on  our usual walks around the neighborhood.  I’ve been reluctant to heed his advice because frankly, I’m with the little pooch all day long and have come to learn about his deep streak of stubbornness.  In short, we have trust issues.  I’m not so sure he’d stick close to me or would come if he got too far away and I called him.

Now, this past week, it was unusually warm for this time of year.  I found myself standing at the sliding glass door looking out over what I had hoped was the end of the frigid, Chicago weather. It was gorgeous outside.  The sky was clear blue.  I looked down at my puppy who was sitting next to my feet, looking back and forth between his outdoor playground and up at me.  His tail would wag every time our eyes met.  It was as if he was speaking to me through his big brown eyes.  In the back of my mind I could hear my son’s voice  – “take him to the woods.”

And so, I did.


I changed into my hiking boot and grabbed his leash and off we went.  He bounded into the backseat of the car as if he knew where we were going.  His tail was wagging furiously as he pranced from one window to the other, back and forth, all the way until we got to our destination.

When we pulled into one of Palos Park’s many beautiful forest preserves, I parked the car and grabbed his leash.  I held it in my hand rather than attaching it to his collar, as Brian had encouraged, opened the back door of the car and out Duncan bound.  He stayed close by my side, walking briskly through the parking lot and over the attached opened field, his nose to the ground the entire way – sniffing as if his life depended on it.

We took the path that wound along the tree line as far as we could see. It eventually disappeared into the woods – and so did we.   And here, this was the spot that DDuncan4uncan felt free.  He started to run.  He ran along the ravine, jumping over felled trees and their stumps and through the thick patches of roots and brush.  I was walking at a brick pace behind him.  He’d get just so far ahead of me, stop to look and make sure I was still there, and then wait for me.  As I would catch up, he’d begin this routine again. He’d race down hills and then back up again, huffing and puffing and panting.  Always keeping his eye on me to make sure I was there.



I was amazed!  I Loved it!  And, I knew he did too.  It was beautiful out and so peaceful in the woods.  There were leaves matted all along the forest flogooddunca5or and winding trickles of streams.  If you stopped and listened carefully, you could hear the sounds of forest life all around you.  I felt invigorated!  And, Alive!  And like, Pioneer Woman!  Yes!  I was keeping up and hiking deep into the forest and through muddy underbrush – (very unlike me!)  I quickly discovered that I loved this part of Palos and wandering freely all through this peaceful, beautiful setting. It was a glorious afternoon.



Soon it was time to turn around and head back.  So we did.  Back along the ravines and the hills.  Back over the felled trees and muddy earth.  Duncan led the way, I followed.

When we got back to the car, he hopped up into the front seat as if he felt he had somehow earned that place today.  I walked around to my side of the car, got in, opened up the windows of the stuffy car, turned on the ignition and slowly pulled out of the parking lot.  We were hot and dirty.  My shoes had mud on them.  He had dirt all over his fur.  And, I was sorry to see our time in the woods come to an end.  It had been such a great first experience together out there.

I looked over at Duncan.  He was standing sideways on the passenger seat, head sticking out the half-opened window.  His ears were flying back in the wind.  His big gummy lips were flapping in the breeze.  His tail was wagging.

I smiled to myself as we headed down the road towards home.  I thought back to the time one year ago almost to the day when I went against Clark’s wishes and brought home our new family member.  I knew deep in my heart that my decision was the best one.  And, Nope, not a single day had gone by since that decision where either of us have regretted adding him to our family tree.




How popular are you?



My life has recently taken a 360 degree about-face.  It went from spending every spare moment I could squeeze out of my day on writing, to journaling 24/7.  Some might say that those are the same thing.  I’m here to tell you that they are very, very different.

Think of  journaling as the reader’s digest version of writing.  It focuses strictly on the peaks and valley’s of your day, month or  year.  I stumbled upon this creative art form while lurking and posting on Instagram – (one of the very many addictions and time soaks of my day.)

In last month’s post I touched on this new fascination of mine.  I mentioned that I had started an Etsy Shop at this address – Journal Creations –  where you could view and purchase my lovely planners and journal books. <— another shameless plug.

I did not, however, mention at that time that some people consider it a place of online popularity as well as very competitive and highly lucrative business opportunities.  I ignorantly neglected to mention this fact because until recently, I was not aware of it.  I mean, c’mon!  How was I to know that there were people out there looking to get rich off of the idea of planning and journaling those very special moments of your life.  I was clueless to the fact that there were women slinkinkg around the dark corners of the internet, keeping their ever watchful eye on the total number of their competitor’s “Instagram likes & views” and growing online presence.  Apparently, it’s a cardinal sin to rise above someone else’s popularity who happens to be peddling the same wares as you.  Once someone rises to top spot of queen bee on IG,  they plan on settling in and staying there come hell or high water.  (Sheeeeesh – I had a lot to learn.)

I became personally aware of this nasty side of the competitive nature of Etsy Shop owners last month.  I was logging into my account feed to see if anyone had noticed anything that I had posted since late the night before when my eyes about popped out of my head.  I could not believe what I was seeing on my ever so virginal feed.  Someone had not only posted rude comments directly under one of my journal photo’s, but also, viciously abusive remarks as well.   I sat dazed and a little offended and surprised.  Did this kind of stuff seriously exist?  Was it an acceptable and normal practice for an online community to speak to each other in this fashion?


I got a creepy feeling.  I looked over my shoulder as if  I was being watched.  I could feel my heart start to race a bit.  Looking back at the screen, I reread the vicious words again hoping that I had misunderstood their meaning the first time.

Nope.  I had not misunderstood.  There they were staring me in the face.  And, if that wasn’t bad enough, they were big and bold because just that morning I had changed my usual discreet font to the more popular Comic Sans Size 12 Bold Font.

What in the world?   I again looked over my shoulder.  Then quickly up at the small dot of a campeephole1era on my laptop screen.  I wondered if I should cover it up with some thick masking tape in case the culprit was somehow spying on me.  (And, if they were, did I look all skewed and bow faced like you see on TV when someone is peeping at someone through a peephole in a door??)

My first instinct was to quickly log out of my account, turn off my pc and hide it under something heavy… ( like my hubby’s fully lined arctic suit which he keeps in the back of the basement closet in case we ever get stuck in a blizzard and can’t get out of the house and he has to trudge slowly across the neighborhood through the chest high snow for milk and bread…..)

Oh this was ridiculous.  This new journaling interest of mine was just a little hobby I had become interested in doing during my free time.  The last thing on my mind was that I’d  suddenly become rich and famous and the bread-winner of our humble household because of my popular online presence and business talents.  Sheesh!

I was no online newbie with my head in the sand.  I had heard all about online confrontations and these kind of unpleasant things happening.  I wanted no part of some foul-mouthed, super scary cyber world, popular wanna-be.  I didn’t want some online tough guy (or, in this case, tough girl) finding out where I lived.  Or worse yet, muddying up my good online fake name to all of my online virtual fake named friends whom I’ve never seen or met or talked to and probably never would!


So, I ended up doing what most middle-aged women would do who found themselves in this unsettling situation.  I called my hubs.

Me: sounding a little sulky – “…hi clark….”

Hubs: loud, hectic noises in the background – “Hey, honey bunny!!”

(Hurray! That salutation was a sure sign that he was in a good mood.   Otherwise I would have gotten a distracted grunt.)

Me: still sulking – “….are you busy?”

Hubs: “Nope, I was just thinking about what to have for lunch”

(It was only 9:30am)

Me: silence & a little annoyed that he did not notice the distress in my voice.

Me: continued silence and a big sigh

Hubs: “Is everything ok?”

(Ding ding ding!!!  OK, that was better.  Now we were getting somewhere.)

I went into every gory detail of what had turned my usual happy morning coffee and online lurking time into an unpleasant experience.  I told him about how nervous the entire incident had made me.  I told him that I was going to give up painting and journaling forever because there was an online bully that was after me!

He listened intently and gave a audible sigh of relief realizing that this time it was not him that I was perturbed with this time.

After I finished relaying all the gruesome facts to him, he scoffed.  He told me that the entire thing was uncalled for.  He said that the online browbeater was out of line!  And then, for good measure, he tossed in that if he found out who it was, he was going to kick their ass for upsetting me!  (My hero!!)

I felt better about the situation after emptying my troubled soul to Clark.  He called me frequently in the next few hours to make sure I was ok.  I think he was so relieved that he was not the subject of my dismay (this time)…that he went full on caveman.

That evening when he got home, we looked into it together.  And, together we found out that the source of the online intimidation was a loud mouthed, 20-year-old punk who was trying to get me to walk away from what was sure to be heavy competition for her.

Good Grief!!  I was being bullied by a snot nosed 20-year-old?  It was laughable!   After getting my nerve up and wiping the moisture from my sweaty, nervous palms, I fired back a mildly mature, rather annoyed reply to her through a private message.  (After-all, I didn’t want to scare off any of my possible future customers.) I told her to watch her language and attitude.   I  also told her that I was very sorry if she felt she was the only Etsy shop owner that had the right to sell this type of product, but that I fully intended to continue to sell mine.


Then I cowardly put her on ignore and blocked her from my account.  And, wallah!.. just like that, my world was all roses and sunshine again.

I’ve not had any trouble since.  My business has grown and the ideas are flying out of my head at a pace faster than I can keep up with.

I think about that bully every now and then.  I feel sorry for the youth today.  I feel badly about how the virtual world plays such a significant role in their lives.  It’s disturbing how caught up in all of this online stuff people get.  How they keep track of their “likes”…and how many followers they have…and how well-known they have become to the swarms of people that they don’t even know in real life.  It’s sad and disheartening.

Ok, and if I were to be honest with all of you and confess full disclosure, I’d admit that I peek at her account from time to time………..just to make sure I’m more popular than her.








A New Spin on an Old Custom


We made it to Mid January!!

Throughout the first days of the new year, after the dust from the holidays settled down and our routines started to get back to normal, we did what we always do immediately after the new year — we took stock of our lives, digging deeply and reflecting upon the previous 12 months and made big bold (and often unrealistic) resolutions to change for the better.  Not that there was necessarily anything wrong with the previous year or with us, but because that’s just what we do. (How’s that resolution working out for you??)

In 2015, I started to obsess with Instagram.  The main attraction for me on this amaazzzzzing social media venue had always been the photography.  If you’re a photographer at heart, like I am, you’ll be thrilled to know that there’s an endless sea of photo’s at your disposal to scroll through.  (Well, it’s also a hugeee time soak.  So, be prepared and be warned.  If you have an obsessive personality like I do, you might want to set a time limit for how much of your day you spend there.  Otherwise, before you know it, it’s time to start dinner and you’re still in your pj’s.)

I got hooked on Instagram because of it’s photography, but something wonderful happened as I got more versed in all that was available there.  One day I was utilizing the search function and suddenly I stumbled upon an entire creative art community. There were people from all over the world with different talents, passions and gifts that were involved with this social wonderland.

I found photos that calligraphers and artists and poets had posted.  Their work journalcarefully portrayed through the lens of a camera for all the world to see.  It was gorgeous.  Good grief!…I was instantly hooked all over again.  I found peace and solace in their words.   I found comfort and a sense of belonging in their works of art.  I had been a calligrapher when I was first married, which seems like a lifetime ago to me now.  I had three young children under the age of 5  so I chose to stay home with them and find some way to make extra money.  And, that ended up being calligraphy.  I cared for my kids during the day and addressed wedding envelopes at night.  It was a fun hobby which turned lucrative for me.  That is, until the home computer and printer became a mainstream item in every household across America putting people like me out of business.  Suddenly everyone was printing their own envelopes.  And, just like that, handwritten calligraphy would become a lost art.march

I was so thrilled with this community I had found and quickly became involved.  I revisited my calligraphy and my art hobbies.  Carefully studying how everyone was applying and utilizing their talents these days.  It was like riding a bicycle and before I knew it, I was back at it.  I started to design and create journals and planners with artwork and calligraphy for people.  Journals that could be used for anything from daily devotionals to weight loss logs.  And, planners that could be used for menu planning, goal setting or time management.  And,before you knew it, I had opened an Etsy shop to sell my journals.  (which you can visit at http://www.etsy.com/shop/journalcreations ) <—shameless plug.



When the end of 2015 rolled around and everyone was making resolutions, I noticed that my Journal/Art community was doing something quite the opposite.  Instead of setting themselves up for failure through some unrealistic goal for the following year, they were choosing key words to be “their word” for the year.  Words like commitment, involvement, dedication, grace, faith.   Their intent was to make this word something that represented their life throughout the next year.

I liked it!  It was a fresh spin on an old custom.  It was realistic and attainable.  And, it would set you up for success.  The definition of the word you chose could be something you worked at throughout the year.  Honing and bringing it into your life in small steps.

My word?  Intentional.  I wanted to be intentional in my goals, my faith and my actions in 2016.  And so far, I have been.  It’s working for me.  Success!

So, I’ll ask you again.  How are those resolutions working out for you?  It’s never too late to do something nice for yourself.  Pick out a word!  Watch how that word starts to work in your life and how it ends up positively influencing your 2016.








Standing on the mountain top.


I’ve always had a beef with New Year’s.  Not the actual Eve or Day, exactly.  But all the other hoopla that surrounds it.  There’s that depressing song for starters. It’s so bittersweet. As if you’re supposed to reflect on the could have beens, instead of the thank God there was’s. And then the expectations. Oh, the expectations!

My normal new year routine is to go to the mall when the holidays die down and shop for bargains with the other 2 billion people out there looking for bargains.  I bundle up in a lightweight outfit (because lord knows the malls are steaming hot and between that and my menopause, I tend to sweat ) and fight the traffic and the weather and head out.

Because I usually get all kinds of nifty kitchen gadgets and candles and lotions from Clark and the kids, (which I LOVE!) I tend to veer towards the women’s clothing department.  Last year (and the year before that and the year before that) I learned a valuable lesson.

I went to the mall (surprise, surprise!).   I didn’t need anything, but of course that wasn’t the point. One of my favorite stores was having a “70% off everything in the store!” sale.  I shopped myself silly and avoiding the glare of other shoppers waiting in the dressing room line behind me,  I stepped in with loads of bargains piled high in my arms.

It wasn’t long before I realized that none of the clothes I chose, fit. I tried on a red dress two sizes too small and stared in the mirror.

Wow, my mom was right! Red really IS my color!! I guess it’s kind of tight, but, it’s still a great price.  I could wear this, Yeah! …Or maybe…maybe in May for Mother’s Day it’ll fit…

I closed my eyes.

Stop.  Just, Stop.

There’s some insistent force that tells us buying our goal weight outfit will make us feel better, when in fact all it does is make us feel like a pile of crumbled up rice cakes and diet seltzer.

I was 50-something years old, and there was a lesson I needed to finally take to heart.

Dress for the body you have today.

I carefully lined up the five tops, one dress, and two pairs of pants that didn’t fit. In another pile, I placed the one top and one dress that did. I took a deep breath and headed for the register. With only two items.

And yet, in 2016, I want to learn to finally and forever learn to live a healthy lifestyle.  I want to lose 20 pounds, instead of celebrating the thousand (this might be a slight exaggeration) I’ve already lost. In 2016, I want to celebrate all of the blessings I’ve been graced with in my life.  In 2016 I want to remember that beauty is skin deep and that it’s what’s inside that truly counts.

So I’ve got this fab idea! Maybe instead of focusing on our shortcomings in 2016, why not stand on the mountain top and send echos off into the distance that we are fabulous – Just.The.Way.We.Are.   Sound good?




With a wink and a nod



The “Happy Holiday” vs. “Merry Christmas” debate heats up every year around this time.  Well, let’s be honest people, the holiday debate probably starts in September when the department stores start to set up their Christmas displays in a pitiful effort to outdo the sales of their competition.  Shameful!!

Since when has saying a very simple “Merry Christmas!” become such a crime?  I know, touchy subject.  But, bear with me and let’s see if we can’t sort this entire mess out.  OK?

If I understand it correctly, when in public, I’m supposed to avoid the words “Merry Christmas” at all costs for fear of completely offending someone to their core if they are not a Christian?  Is that correct?  Now, if someone came up to me and said “Happy Kwanzaa!” I’d be like, right on!…”Happy Kwanzaa to you as well!”  Of course I myself do not celebrate Kwanzaa but I also don’t find the expression offensive in any way, shape or form.  Oddly enough, I also don’t find the words Happy Hanukkah offensive.

Maybe we’ve all just gotten a bit too sensitive and things have gotten blown out of proportion.  So, this year, instead of getting upset over this same, stale topic, let’s see if we can’t sort this misunderstanding out.  Shall we?

Maybe instead of saying anything at all to each other, maybe we should just give each other a big spirited wink and a thumbs up as we pass each other on the street.  That would be jolly!  Or, we could all wear hats and jauntily tip them to each other as a silent signal of holiday greeting.  No words, no offense!  We could heartily slap each other on the backs as a happy greeting or we could simply shake each others hands.  No, wait.  Then we get into the entire spreading germs debate.  I know!  We could all wear bow ties and bow to each other in greeting rather than shaking hands!

Maybe if we shifted our focus to these fascinating (and fun!) new greetings rather than staying stuck in the quagmire of the old, boring argument of whether or not we’re offending each other, things would settle down and we’d all get back to just enjoying the season for what it is.

Or, we could all just accept the “Merry Christmas” greeting for what it is – a simple expression of the joy of the season.  Not a sinister, thought out plot to offend one another.

If you don’t believe, try not to get offended at someone the next time they say “Merry Christmas” to you. Think about what they are wishing you, what they are sharing out of their own belief. And if you do believe, and someone says “seasons greetings” or “happy holidays” or ‘joyous Kwanzaa”   just smile and say, “And to you  as well.”  Your countenance alone might just extend to them the meaning of the season; at the very least it will warm your own heart, and you’ll be that much happier for doing so

So, Merry Christmas, Christians; Happy Hanukkah, Jews; Super Solstice, Pagans; Hurray, Human Light Humanists; Joyous Kwanzaa to African Diaspora and to everyone all together — Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!


25 Things All Women Should Be Able To Do Before The Age Of 25


As the Month of November leaves us and December lands on our doorstep, chaos ensues.  Busy and hectic days are upon us.  It’s hard to find time to sit down for a moment and think, let alone, find the time to pound out a well written blog post.

As is my usual habit, December posts tend to fall by the wayside.  This year, rather than taking a small holiday hiatus, I’m going to concentrate on writing just a few original posts. In between those posts, I’ll be sharing articles and essays and interesting tidbits that I run across from a variety of venues.

So, Enjoy!! Take time to savor the month of December. Slow down when you can, look around, open your eyes and really see all that this magical month has to offer.

25 Things Every Woman Should Be Able To Do By Age 25



Here are 25 things you should aim to learn how to do by age 25 — or whenever you get around to it.

1. Negotiate a raise. Women –especially women of color — earn less than their male counterparts If you don’t think you are being paid what you are worth, know how to ask.

2. Whip up a signature drink. Bees Knees, anyone?

3. Give unwelcome news with tact and compassion. There are times when brutal honesty is OK — and times when it is not. Learn the difference, and practice being an effective communicator.

4. Put together furniture. You’ll feel so proud every time you sit on that IKEA sofa that took you three hours, two beers and one private temper tantrum to assemble.


5. Read and think critically. Don’t believe everything you are told. Know how to read between the lines and analyze something for yourself, whether it’s the morning news or someone’s convoluted Facebook post.

6. Spell properly. If you don’t know something, look it up.

7. Be a good houseguest. And for the love of god, write a thank-you note.

8. Understand your finances. No, your student loans won’t magically go away. Yes, you should put money into your 401(k), especially if your company matches it. And so on. Financial literacy isn’t something you learn in school, so you’ll have to take matters into your own hands. It’s worth it.


9. Have fun on your own. Not everyone is built for traveling the world solo, but being able to entertain yourself is a seriously underrated skill.

10. Make at least one simple, nutritious meal. 

11. Trust your instincts. Constantly second-guessing yourself is exhausting.

12. Walk away. From a friendship, a job, a relationship, an argument, and anything else that you know in your heart just isn’t right.

13. Advocate for yourself.  Ask your doctor for a second opinion if you really think something is wrong. Ask that manspreader to move over so you can sit down. And don’t let anyone steamroll you into making a decision until you’re ready to make it.

14. Perform simple repairs. YouTube will teach you how to sew that button back on or use a power drill to re-hang that badass feminist print.

15. Say “no.” It’s a complete sentence.

16. Cut yourself off when you’ve had enough to drink. Enough said.

17. Stick to a budget. Apps like Mint and You Need A Budget make this easier than ever.

18. Take rejection well. This one is easier said that done, but as Aaliyah famously said: “If at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again (you can dust it off and try again, try again).”

19. Use the items in your toolbox. Because the days of paying your friends down the hall in beer to hang your pictures are over.

20. Argue without losing your cool. If you can stay logical when you are angry, any conversations you have in the midst of conflict will be far more effective.

21. Speak passably in public. Be prepared for that future work presentation, maid of honor speech or casual toast at a party.


22. Tell a totally inoffensive, hilarious joke. Bonus points for clever puns.

23. Apologize with sincerity. No matter how old you are, you’ll mess up and get things wrong sometimes. But how you react after the fact is up to you.

24. Go a full day without complaining. You’d be surprised at what you learn.

25. Make a new friend. The squad goal of #NoNewFriends can’t last forever. You can do it! After all, you’re a grown-ass woman.



Hey, Norman Rockwell, That’s Not Thanksgiving!.


Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell


Right, so Im not so sure that Norman Rockwell’s famous print, Freedom from Want, is an accurate portrayal of what Thanksgiving truly is.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve romanticized the ability that the Holiday’s have to unite the family.  Especially Thanksgiving.  In my head, it’s a time when we should all gather ’round the table together, enjoy an old-fashioned specially prepared meal, and recognize all that we have to be grateful for.

As you  walk through the door of the of the home where you’ll be celebrating the big day, you immediately notice a blazing fire in the fireplace as you shake off the cold and bits of snow that stick to your wool jacket.  As your host helps you with your scarf, gloves and dish that you’ve brought to share, your senses are assaulted from the aroma of pumpkin pies, cinnamon pinwheels, or maybe even the pine tree scent of a live tree. (for those of you who jump the gun on Christmas!!)

You look around and spot a children’s table set up somewhere in a discreet corner where chaos is sure to break out.  The women are gathered in the kitchen, each with an assigned duty to help make the meal flow – All the while catching up on news from each other’s family’s.  The men, all gather in a room with a giant screen TV  watching some must-see football game. In good nature, they slap each other on the back and laugh loudly at something just out of your earshot.  They debate and argue about whose favored team is best and sure to go to a bowl game.

All of this activity leads up to some fantastic meal that you’ll all gather around, while celebrating the pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock.  This is Thanksgiving!!

Or, is it?  Is Thanksgiving really all about this festive scene that’s been planted in our heads with the help of the media and storybook tales and long-lived family traditions?

Let’s face it: as wonderful as the holiday may be (a day dedicated to football, gluttony and awkward family moments) maybe Thanksgiving is about something deeper.  Something deeper than this gluttonous tradition that we’ve all been raised to treasure.  A tradition with a very questionable beginning might I add.

Last September, something joyous happened in our family.  My husband and I were having Sunday breakfast with my son and daughter-in-law.  They told us about a shopping trip they went on in which they found a little something for us.  It was an early “Christmas gift” but they wanted us to open it together that morning.  Lauren handed me the bag and I  peaked inside. I saw a gift along with a homemade note.   I pulled the paper out and read it aloud.  On it was written – “Only the best parents get promoted to grandparents.”   *blink*   I had not even made it through the end of the note before I started squealing in happiness.  I turned to my hubs and he was tearing up.  I continued to squeal, ran to the kids and hugged them.  They were giggling.  I was squealing.  Clark was crying.  It was a beautiful scene! We were going to be Grandparents!!

baby copy

Fast forward thirteen weeks.  Fast forward past thirteen weeks of my beautiful daughter-in-law, Lauren, being cautious and keeping the pregnancy on the down low until just the right time to make the announcement. I couldn’t wait to share the news with my sisters and friends and relatives.  Lauren and my son Bruce were doing everything right.  They went to the Drs’ appointments together.  There were ultrasounds and multivitamins.  They were eating healthy.  There were checkups. Everything was moving along perfectly.

And then, the phone call.  This past week, Thanksgiving week, I woke early to a text… “Hey Mom, txt me when you get up.  Bruce left for work already so it doesn’t matter how early it is.”

As a mother’s intuition goes, I instantly got a knot in my stomach.  I immediately called Lauren. It was before 6am.  Something was off.  I could hear it in her voice as she answered.   And then her words hit me like a brick.  “Something’s not right.”  She had phoned her Dr and was told to take her time but to meet her at her office when she had a chance that morning.  They would check things out.

I threw on some clothes and raced through the Chicago rush hour traffic to her apartment. Ninety agonizing minutes.  And then we drove to the hospital together.  Bruce was waiting for her there.  My hub was there.  Clark and I watched as the kids walked into the exam room.  An hour later our worst fears were confirmed.  Lauren had lost the baby.  It was heart wrenching to watch their world fall apart.

Outside the downtown office, it was cold and windy that day.  Clark and I looked at this young couple who had just gotten the worse news of their lives delivered to them.  In the span of a few days they were catapulted from cloud nine to a state of agonizing devastation. It was more than any of us could bear.  Our hearts were broken.

The days to follow were solemn.  Everyone tried to hold each other up.  My boys, who would have been uncles for the first time, were heartbroken for Bruce and Lauren.  Devastated, Clark and I kept a close eye on the kids to make sure they were processing this tragic loss.  They came out to stay with us.  It was open-ended.  They wanted and needed to be with family.  And so, we gathered and just stayed together.  It was without a doubt the hardest thing that both Bruce and Lauren had ever gone through in their lives so far.  And, they were right where they needed to be for the time being.

The day before they were going to leave to go back to their own apartment, the news stations were warning people about an early snowstorm that would hit the city. We don’t usually get snow in November.  We rarely even have snow on Thanksgiving. But, we were being warned over and over again that we were about to get hammered.

I woke up very early that morning after that predicted snowfall.  I pulled the drapes back and l looked out my window.  The outside world was lit up from the glow of the moonlight.  The predicted snow had come.  The ground and streets were covered with a deep blanket of undisturbed white that stretched from one yard to the next..  There were no tracks on the streets yet and no footprints across any lawns.  It was beautiful. And, peaceful.

My eyes were drawn to our driveway which had four cars parked on it.  Those were my kids cars hidden under those mounds of snow.  Cars that last week would not have been parked on that driveway.  Cars that were there that morning because we, as a family, had gathered together to hold each other up while mourning the loss of something so precious to all of us.

I thought about the timing of it all.  It was Thanksgiving week.  I smiled to myself and got a feeling of warm love inside.

This…. This is what Thanksgiving truly was.  Family.  Love.  We feel each other’s pain.  We celebrate each others victories.  And I’m so truly thankful for the blessing of Family.

Wishing you and your loved ones a truly Happy Thanksgiving and a Joyous start to your Holiday Season.