Friday, March 1, 2024

What Do YOU Want To Wear In 2024?

 

A little over a year ago I began my journey with Lani & Kyle with Real Life Style. They helped me curate my wardrobe, initially by convincing me to remove 17 bags of clothes, shoes & handbags that did not fit the person I am today or how I want to present myself to the world. 

After working in the insurance industry for 40 years, I’ve earned the right to dress as a successful woman. Lani & Kyle gave me tools to live my next stage in life looking fabulous, despite the undeniable fact that I will soon be eligible for Medicare! 

I’ve spent the past year upping my game with regard to fashion. I’m focusing on more fashion forward basics, elevated casual wear, quality jackets that fit beautifully, classic profiles with a twist, more structure, with a focus on fit and how I feel when I get dressed- even to work from home.
Based on the recommendations of my Real Life Style counselors, I’m loving jackets from Veronica Beard, elevated casual clothes from MM LaFleur, selection from Rag & Bone, handbags from Lo & Son or M.Gemi, costume Jewelry from Julie Vos, and dresses from Johnny Was, and vintage silk scarves. 


My new style gives me a feeling of invincibility, an aura of authority, and a feeling of authenticity and confidence. 

This is what I plan to wear in 2024. 









Saturday, February 24, 2024

Fashion Over 60- Do Not Let Go!

 

Celebrating fashion is ageless. Do not give up simply because you have aged!

One f the benefits of maturity is fiscal contentment, the ability to up one’s game, embracing a more curated wardrobe, buying fewer but better basics, knowing who one wants to be.

Yes! A year ago I retained Real Life Style to help me discover my fashion image moving into the next stage of life. I am close to retirement. But, I haven’t reached a place where I am ready to give up a professional profile or the ability to dress for elevated events. My goal has been to increase my basics to a an elevated level so that I can be prepared for any event, eventuality, passage of time, ritual or rite of passage.

Consequently, I’ve continued to edit, curate, simplify, update, tweak, recalibrate, reevaluate, and modify my wardrobe over the last year. I’ve contemplated who I want to be, how I want to present myself, where I want  to go from a sartorial perspective. I want to move beyond the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary. I’m experimenting with new labels, enjoying new profiles, trying to be all that I can be within the constraints of my socioeconomic level. It has been fun! 

I am seeking out new frontiers in fashion and embracing Veronica Beard, Johnny Was, MM LaFleur, Rag & Bone, M.Gemi shoes, Elizabetta Scarves, antique analog watches, and classic profiles. 

Thank you to my mentors at Real Life Style! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

I Read 4 Newspapers Daily & Get Little Return On Investment

 

Although I no longer watch televised news broadcasts, I do read four online newspapers daily. I actually subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post. The Daily Mail is free mind candy that provides a tabloid style distraction from the alleged credentialed press. Occasionally, The Daily Mail beats the other news outlets to critical stories.

Why do I actually pay for the above referenced news sources? Well, it is an election year and I’m hoping, notwithstanding recent history, to discover some valuable nugget or new  perspective on our world today. Hope springs eternal; and I’m hopeful that one of the major publications discovers a sense of patriotism, common sense, love for the USA and the strides we’ve made as a people over nearly 250 years and advocates for both  Trump  and Biden to put Country above ego and step aside. They are both well past their prime, toxic in the minds of 50% of the electorate, polarizing, often unintelligible, has-beens who need to retire and give the citizens of the USA a chance to move forward.

The current primary system delivers highly partisan candidates that only extremely partisan ideologues will support. The system fails to truly consider electability. Not that I would ever suggest returning to the deal making, back door, smoke filled rooms with politicians deciding who will lead a ticket. The modern world is no place for old school party “machines”. 

I’m flummoxed that this nation may well be stuck with 2 candidates for President that at least half the electorate disdains. We the people are middle of the road. We disapprove of extremes. We crave ‘reasonable’ policies, compromise, compassion for the most unfortunate, opportunities for all, a helping hand but not a lifetime of government handouts, the expectation that people who are able will get a job and work, that taxes will be FAIR, that respect is afforded to people regardless of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, disability, political affiliation, ideology, hairstyle, tattoos, marital status, preferred pet, geographical location, sexual orientation, or position on climate. 

Will any of these news organizations do some due diligence and report on an unbiased research into the heart, mind, and soul of our people? One can only hope.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

I Love Wine! Sometimes Too Much~

 

I love wine. Red! White! Rose! Sparkling! As long as it is dry, of reasonable character, with a delightful nose, and a taste that pleases my palate, I will drink it. I prefer wine to any other adult beverage. While I am far from a connoisseur, there are bottles I’ve poured down the drain. I’ve enjoyed inexpensive surprise specials from Costco to top tier vintages. 

It is the rare occasion that we open a lovely bottle of red that we don’t finish it. We are currently exploring more Spanish and Portuguese varietals and blends. They are full bodied, tasty and relatively inexpensive. 

I do not have an addictive personality (with exception of shoes). But a lovely goblet of wine delights my tongue, warms my heart, helps me transition from work, to exercise and into an evening of peace and relaxation with a beautiful meal. It is an evening ritual. It must be sipped from a vessel designed for wine. I cannot drink from paper or plastic or “outdoor” drink ware. Wine tastes better from a crystal goblet designed for a particular grape or blend. It is better in a beautiful glass. 

This evening we are celebrating the 19th Anniversary of the day we met and are enjoying a RdV Rendezvous, a left bank, merlot forward gem from our favorite Virginia winery. It is sublime. I am content. 

Wine is also a beverage of  Christian religious significance. At the wedding in Cana, Jesus turned water into wine. If that isn’t a reason to imbibe, what is? Officially sanctioned by Christianity for more than 2000 years! 

Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” – Francis Bacon


Thursday, February 1, 2024

America Needs A Common Sense Third Political Party

 

I was raised in the Midwest in a family that generally voted Republican. My grandfather was the only Republican in his Southern Indiana county. He got fired every year as a teacher because of politics; but he was also rehired annually because the county had a dearth of qualified educators. 

My personal idealogy has always tilted toward Libertarian. I believe in individual freedoms, limited government, and the right of every citizen or legal immigrant to live his or her life as they prefer as long as they don’t steal, commit physical or mental injury on another except in the case of self defense, and treat their fellow human beings with acceptance, kindness and respect. I know, asking a bit too much from my fellow humanoids, but that is what I believe.

Our political class and media have diverged from any semblance of what the mainstream American voter desires.

If pollsters, politicians and media outlets talked to real people, those who get up at 5:30am to get ready for work, ensure their kids get off to school, grab a coffee, hop in a car, bus, train or ferry to commute anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours each way to pay for life, they would find most people want the same things.

The American people want to be able to have nutritious food; a roof over their heads with heads with running water, heat, reasonable tent or mortgage, in a safe environment, with ability to find affordable transportation to and from work. They want their children to have an equal opportunity for a decent education so their children have a chance to succeed. They want access to healthcare. They want clean rat free streets, access to basic necessities, fairness, hope, a sense of self worth, and acceptance.

Most people are happy to work for a fair wage. It gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. This requires our government to consider the pros and cons of certain safety nets. They should be robust, but temporary. While I believe that America has a reason to support International order, these decisions should not be made at the expense of her residents. 

The Republican and Democrat parties have failed miserably, pandering to the extremes of their constituents. It is time to cast aside these sycophants and elevate a new era of political class that knows about and cares about the moderate, the people who believe in moderation in all things, who support fairness, equality ( not equality), who have disdain for Trump and Biden, who want to uphold our values, uplift those who need it, who has the courage to speak about the elephants in our midst, who care about the populace instead of party ideology or their own electability. 

In any event, I WILL NOT VOTE for TRUMP or BIDEN. I cannot cast my vote for the lowest of the low. It is time for No Labels to make a decision.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

We Deserve Better

 

Please! Stop the craziness! We are a nation of more than 300,000,000 people! Do we not have options beyond the geriatric polarizing choices of dimwit Biden and toxic Trump! Do the American electorate have no shame? No awareness that these two geriatric has beens are no longer representative of the PEOPLE! 

Seriously, it is time to elect a new generation of politicians. Notwithstanding the fact that I believe most politicians are self centered, egotistical, idiots that care only for self aggrandizement. But, this is the best system of government in a world of awful options.

Communism doesn’t work and nullifies ingenuity and success. Socialism has failed in every iteration. True democracy fails because the people are uninformed and unable to create a coalition. Parliamentary government is chaotic. Our republican form of government, with the checks and balances the Constitution requires is the best of the options available.

Regrettably, polarization has stymied progress for generations. Just Stop It! Do what you were hired to do! Do your job!  Compromise! Make hard decisions. Govern! If I could wave a magic wand I would impose strict term limits, return government to citizen legislators that cannot be career politicians. I would impose a mandatory retirement age of 70. I would require members of Congress to be compelled to subscribe to the same rules, regulations. Health care, tax consequences, retirement requirements and privileges as the PEOPLE! No free anything. No life pensions. No special parking spaces. No free flights. No free postage. No free gifts. No free trips. No more time off than the regular citizen. No special security.  No pay for speaking engagements. No ability to transition into the private sector without a pause to avoid conflicts of interest.  No special anything.Citizen legislators should be servants of the people, altruistic, aware of the duty owed to constituents. No profit. No financial gain. Just service. 

Monday, January 22, 2024

The American Political Experiment Is Not A Lost Cause

 

It is anathema to me to consider the American political experiment is a lost cause. Throughout our history we have faced challenges. The brilliance of our founding fathers continues to amaze me. Despite civil war, world wars, disagreements, in -fighting, diametrically opposed views, the system continues. 

The Bill of Rights amended to the original Constitution sets forth our beliefs that we are all entitled to the same freedoms and rights to oppose oppression. 

No matter who we are, we have the right to an attitude and the presumption of innocence. If government wants to convicts one of a crime, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. We believe it is better to free the guilty than to convict the innocent. While the system has not always worked as intended, there are remedies. What an incomparable system! Free the guilty rather than convict the wrong party. 

There have been wrongs committed. But, there are advocates willing to spend their lives exonerating the innocent. And they succeed. Those who denigrate our system should delve deeper into what we stand for, which is fairness. Most of us agree this is the foundation upon which our society stands. So, celebrate this gift. Find the positive instead of focusing on the negative. Unlike PRac, we do not railroad people into confessions, execute suspects and then send loved ones a bill for the bullet. Instead, we strive to do the right thing, most of the time. Celebrate this ! 


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Dealing With Seasonal Affective Symptoms

 

When the clocks fall back in autumn, and my circadian rhythms are discombobulated by awakening in the dark and ending my workday in the dark, my psyche devolves into hibernation. As one who thrives in sunlight and the warmth of summer, I struggle throughout the months of diminished sunlight, temperatures less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, bitter winds, ice, snow, frosty breath, treacherous roads and pathways, dry skin, having to wear socks, trees bereft of leaves, gloom, and an over all gray and dull brown landscape. 

Yes, there are moments when Mother Nature endows the earth with crystalline ice glistening on tree branches, shrubbery and ground cover. But, what often accompanies such beauty is downed power lines, the need to navigate ice covered streets and our ski slope driveway in the dark, and stays in motels. Bleh! 

By fate I’ve found myself living in rural northwestern Virginia on a plot of rocky ground that is inhospitable to plant life, several miles from what I consider civilization. It is a struggle to emerge from my self imposed cave to socialize, venture to Costco for wine, or even trek to the mailbox. 

In an attempt to improve my outlook, I’ve purchased a light from Amazon that is supposed to provide an alternative to the natural sunlight I crave. Although I’m only on my third day, I’ve noticed a benefit. My mood has lightened. My ability to focus on tasks is enhanced. My thoughts are less morose. I even felt compelled to experiment in the kitchen this evening with a spicy version of chicken and dumplings. 

Notwithstanding the above, I know that this too shall pass. Spring is fast approaching. Before long the Universe with scatter the land with hyacinth, crocus, and daffodils. ( the deer ate all my tulips). 

Hope springs eternal. I just need to get through the next 10 weeks of dark and gloomy days. I know I’m not alone. How do you deal with SAD?

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Maestro, Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein ~

 

When I first heard about Maestro, the news seemed to focus on the alleged politically incorrect prosthetic nose that Bradley Cooper used in his portrayal of the brilliant Leonard Bernstein. That conversation was just so inconsequential. 

Maestro is a tour de force portrayal by Bradley Cooper of the complex personality that comprised of the man known as Leonard Bernstein. Cooper portrayed his complexities with nuance, consideration, compassion and brilliance. 

My husband and I decided to watch this film because we’d decided it was worth a go. We were not disappointed. In fact, we were mesmerized.by the production. It was more likely than not that I wouid love the film. My husband HATES musical theater. But, he was mesmerized by this movie. It was so artfully produced and the scenes involving on musical theatre seemed nominal. 

So, at the end of the day, this movie appeals to the public at large that appreciates beautiful music from any era.  Kudos to  those with the extraordinary taste. 

Favorite Fashion Brands For Women Over 60 ~ 2024

 

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

This means celebrating life everyday in beautiful clothes, whether in fitness gear, casual days at home, Zoom meetings, wine tasting or those occasional days at the office. 

Too many of us don’t believe we are worthy of full price, or designer, or elevated fashion. But icons such as Iris Apfel say poppycock to such limits. As successful women of a certain age, we shall not go gentle into that good night in colors that cause us to blend into the background.

Instead, I a using the waning years of my work life to ensure I saunter into retirement with a vibrant wardrobe filled with eclectic,  classics with a twist, in my power colors. Quality over quantity (a struggle for me). 

I’ve never been one to buy fast fashion. But, I’ve often subscribed to the more is more ethos rather than less is more. A capsule wardrobe is not for me, unless the capsule is the size of Versailles. 


My current favorites for an all purpose wardrobe include Johnny Was, MM LaFleur, Veronica Beard, Rag & Bone, Banana Republic, and Citizens of Humanity jeans. These are heritage Levi’s circa 1920.

For footwear, I love anything from M.Gemi, Veronica Beard, Birdies, and Frye Boots. For workouts I love Allbirds, Ryka and Brooks. For my vintage styles, American Duchess can’t be beat. 

Outerwear my “go to” includes Overland Sheepskin, Peruvian Connection, Barbour, and vintage furs. Talbots had some luscious sheepskin coats a few years ago. They never go out of style and provide incredible warmth. And you can’t go wrong with LL Bean for a
full length puffer coat.

For gorgeous scarves, check out eBay and Etsy for vintage silk scarves for a fraction of the original prices. The only place I’ve found gorgeous affordable silk scarves recently is Elizabetta. The most beautiful patterns are often sold out.




Saturday, January 6, 2024

I Hate Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2024 ~ Peach Fuzz

 

Peach Fuzz is the worst of Pantone’s selections as color of the year since the Patone Color Institute began its marketing strategy to convince people of the world that this company based in New Jersey should be able to impose its vision of yearly trends in fashion and decor. 

Nobody actually looks fabulous wearing Peach Fuzz or any color remotely similar. While Pantone and  industry insiders claim the color is soothing, nurturing “ whose all-embracing spirit enriches mind, body and soul”, I find the color bland, boring, difficult to incorporate into most wardrobes and home decor, and overall uninspiring.

My sister required that I wear a similarly colored dress as a bridesmaid at her first wedding; and I still believe it was a plot to make me blend into scenery.

Even Mother Nature avoids the color Peach Fuzz. How many flower gardens does one see bursting with Peach Fuzz plant life? Have you ever seen a field of Peach Fuzz wild flowers? Even actual peaches have more gloriously colored flesh and fruit. 

Peach Fuzz, to me, is what a gangly male teen tries to grow on his face when that first surge of testosterone causes spindly bits of fur to sprout. It can also be the fine hair on a woman’s face that causes her to resort to painful waxing or mini shavers. 

Or, weathered adobe desert houses that have been wind whipped and faded by decades in the sun to a sad, lackluster color. 

With the exception of Pantone’s Peach Fuzz, if one does a Google search of these two words together, one discovers pages of links with advice as to how one can rid themselves of annoying and unsightly peach fuzz. 

Peach Fuzz is an absolute MISS for me. I can foresee warehouses filled to the ceiling with unpurchased Peach Fuzz colored clothes, furniture, paint cans, wallpaper, linens, lamp shades, rugs, shoes, handbags and more within 6 months. 

Friday, January 5, 2024

Celebrate Who You Are in 2024

 

As we embrace each new year it is critical that we acknowledge who we are. The person I’ve become is not remotely similar to the woman I was  even 5 years ago. Life causes us to change. It is a celebration that we accept the change in trajectory even if that changes differs from the path we thought we’d chosen.

Life is fluid. The best laid plans must be altered.But, we must embrace the changes because we cannot control the outcomes. Tis better to expect life will encourage us to take a different path than to expect a certain outcome.I’ve struggled with this concept; however, I believe that we must accept what is, rather than letting the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in a perpetual state of negativity. I am at peace with what is. 

The Serenity Prayer keeps me cognizant that I must accept the things I cannot change, which includes almost everything but my attitude and gratitude. 

Thursday, January 4, 2024

How My Experience With Real-Life-Style Continues To Guide Me ~

 

Nearly one year ago, over the New Year Holiday 2023, my husband encouraged me to research and collaborate with a personal stylist to help me refine my style and curate my wardrobe.

I’ve always been one who loves clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, accessories and makeup- sometimes to extremes. If I had the money I’ve spent on fashion, jewelry and cosmetics that I’ve tossed or donated to charity, I’ve no doubt I’d been long retired by now. But, during my years in Asia I amassed an extraordinarily robust wardrobe and have struggled to get things under control ever since that time. 

During my initial meeting with Lani and Kyle we filled at least 12 trash bags with items for donation and another for resale. In the subsequent weeks I excised at least 5 more bags of excesses that no longer served me. Ultimately, 17 bags removed from my closets. 

At the end of this exercise I was provided with a profile identifying the best and worst colors for me, a description of styles that would most flatter, recommendations for clothing brands I should consider, a short list of items I should consider to replace items that didn’t fit, a pile of clothes I needed to alter, and the caution to refrain from purchasing any more shoes.

So, how did I do in keeping with the guidance? 

All in all, it was the best of times it was the not so best of times (to paraphrase Dickens). I replaced a few of my MM La Fleur tops that did not fit properly. Whenever I considered a purchase, I tried to stick with ‘the rules’. I purchased 2  MM LaFleur jardigans, 2 Argent blazers in my power colors, a gorgeous Veronica Beard faux leather cream blazer, a Boss Hunter Green blazer at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and some vintage silk scarves on Etsy. 

Where I struggled- footwear. I tried to resist shoes, but I was totally weak and unsuccessful. Online sales are like the sirens calling to the sailors in the Odyssey. Reeled in like gullible fish. I decline to identify just how many pair of shoes because it would be embarrassing. 

Consequently, I am making a concerted effort to resist making unnecessary purchases in 2024. I have retirement on the horizon and want to focus on getting my financial goals fulfilled. So, I am taking this one day at a time. I’ve made it through 4 days! Seriously, that is a big deal! 

Who wants to help me out? Does anyone else need the support of community to stay on the straight and narrow? Let me know! Let’s do this together!!!!!

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

An Inspiring Affirmation of Faith in a 2024 Secular World

 

https://kingdomsparkle.com/spiritual-sparkle

A friend and work colleague lost his beloved wife Kimberly to illness on New Year’s Eve. I did not know her, but I was aware she was a woman of great spirituality and faith. 

If the link to her website had not been included in her obituary, I would have kept this private and resisted sharing it publicly. I’ve read several of her blog posts in the past 24 hours and shared her final two messages privately with friends I believe would find comfort in her words.

Kimberly Moore received news that her illness was terminal a few months ago. Knowing that, as I read her inspirational messages, I was overcome by the clarity of her belief in God and her amazing spirit as she faced her mortality. I believe that she was an earth angel, sent to share her vitality, strength, resilience, and faith through her blog,  books, motivational talks and finding beauty in repurposing vintage costume jewelry. 

I hope you feel inspired by Kingdom Sparks as I have been. And please share the link with anyone who needs a spark of hope. Let Ms. Moore continue to shine her light.

Monday, January 1, 2024

My Goals to Maintain an Attitude of Positivity & Gratitude in 2024

 

Instead of making unrealistic New Year resolutions, I am aspiring to act with kindness, humility, compassion, integrity, honesty, and respect for others in 2024.

My aspirations may be challenging in this polarized society; but I believe that each of us can make a difference by declining to engage in the negativity that is all too pervasive in the media and among people who have not been taught critical thinking, the lessons of history throughout the globe, understanding of the human condition, and the consideration that actions have consequences, most people do the best they can with the tools they have, and that I will not give up Starlink because people don’t like Elon Musk.



These are my aspirations for 2024:

I will continue to show appreciation to my partner for all that he does to contribute to our happy relationship. 

I will try to avoid responding to provocations on social media.

I will consider that I am blessed to live in the USA with the freedoms afforded by our Constitution and the knowledge that our quality of life is higher than in most nations on earth.

I will read the Wall Street Journal, New York Time, the Free Press, and The Daily Mail and hope that by considering all reports, I will be able to ascertain what is more likely than not to be true.

I will attempt to get to know our neighbors better.

I will try to reconnect with old friends with whom I’ve lost touch.

I will provide mentoring, a sounding board and accessibility to my coworkers. 

I will make an effort to continue trying new things and meeting new people.

I will vote no matter who is on the ballot.

I will avoid toxic people.

I will continue to say The Serenity Prayer & remind myself of the 12 Steps of Al Anon, a community that helped me find peace & serenity & an attitude of gratitude.

I will read books that bring me joy and stop reading books before finishing if they don’t. 

I will make an effort to resist buying things that I don’t need or won’t bring me joy.

I will treasure the time I have with the people I love.

I will try to live by the rules  was taught as a child:

* If I can’t saying anything nice about someone, I shan’t say anything at all.

* Don’t judge a person unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

* Sticks & stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

* Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.

* Judge not lest ye be judged.

* Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Happy New Year 2024!

What are your goals and aspirations for 2024? 



Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Adversary, by Michael Crummey ~ A Book Review


 The Adversary by Canadian Author Michael Crummey, is not an easy read. I’d not read any of his works prior to being afforded the opportunity to read a pre-publication galley courtesy of Bookbrowse.com and the US publisher, Doubleday Books, in exchange for an honest review. 

The grim, dark, brutal story takes place in perhaps early 19th Century Mockbeggar, with the primary business being salted cod fisheries, on the northern coast of Newfoundland. The book follows the hatred and competition for control of the fisheries and related mercantile businesses between two siblings: Abe Strapp and the Widow. 

The author employs the unique colorful language of the settlers and populates of  Mockbeggar and nearby Nonsuch with the Beadle, Matterface, Old Soot, the Duke of Limbs, Heater, and the Jerseyman all featuring prominently. 

Despite the presence of the Church of England and a society of Quakers,  most of the characters  are corrupt, soulless, conniving and mean-spirited. Because I love historical fiction and an author that uses words artfully in telling a tale, I am giving this book four stars. But, there is little positivity in The Adversary. Plague, amputations, scourging, retribution, piracy, graft, audaciously unsavory language, creative terms for body parts, a bit of unconsenting sodomy, more plague, death, death and more death. 

While I did enjoy a great deal about the book, it was  certainly not an uplifting book for the holiday season. Or a beach read. 

Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023 ~ A Year Filled With Challenges, New Experiences, Acceptance & Gratitude

 

At the beginning of each new year, I like to consider with gratitude the fact that I’ve lived a blessed life with experiences I could not have fathomed during my childhood in Logansport, Indiana. The journey has been enlightening, glorious, at times painful & sorrowful,  joyful, interesting, and given me tools of resilience, learning my self worth, and a realization that I’ve earned certain good fortune and privileges.

I am filled with gratitude that my 91 year old father is still among us, that my brother left a happy life in Texas and moved back to  Indiana to look him, and that whiskey and cigars have kept them mostly peaceful.

My husband and I celebrated the anniversary of the day we met in February at the incomparable Inn at Little Washington, a destination on our bucket lists that fulfilled all expectations. 


Then, I discovered my Lasik surgery had not failed after several years. Instead, I was diagnosed with bilateral cataracts. Despite the realization that my health insurance would not pay for the laser treatment that brings the most favorable outcomes, I decided it would be worth the expense to undergo the laser surgery with artificial lens implants. The results have been astounding. My vision is back to where it was 15 years ago. A true miracle of modern medicine. 

My delightful spousal unit convinced me to hire a personal style consultant to help me fine tune my wardrobe, eliminate items that did not serve me well, and curate a closet full of YES! I retained Lani & Kyle with Real Life Style in Washington, DC. The process was exciting, and resulted in 17 bags of donations, a virtual closet with outfits put together for me, a style profile, a guide to my power colors, and the suggestion to avoid buying anymore shoes. Well, I bought FEWER shoes in 2023. 


We adopted our orange Siberian kitty, Milo, on Mother’s Day. We’d been without an orange boy for a couple of years. Life is just better with an orange cat. How could anyone resist that sweet face!

The summer arrived with my having a frightening accident on the Pennsylvania turnpike, followed by two unsettling bacterial infections and the need to replace our entire HVAC system during the hottest weeks of July and August. But I am grateful that no other vehicles were involved in the auto accident and that modern medicine and strong antibiotics saved me from the infection that could have resulted in sepsis. Not to mention, I was able to replace the Honda Pilot with a car I love! We are fortunate that our hard work over the years have provided the financial resources to weather these challenges. 

And we finally, thanks to Elon Musk and Starlink, have reasonably priced internet service that allows us to stream video and move into the 21st century. Thanks to his ingenuity, we have Starlink, PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla. He’s earned his billions. 

The deteriorating health of my beloved in-laws has caused sadness. Todd and I are making frequent trips to Michigan and Indiana, generally separately because of our individual needs to give honor to the parents that raised us. But we are both grateful to have them still in our lives and want them to feel appreciated while they are alive rather than having regrets later. 

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is not always easy. But it does help me to keep things in perspective.


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

 

Merry Christmas 2023! How can it be that I am celebrating Christmas in my 64th year! How did this happen? Rhetorical, of course. The trajectory of life takes us down different paths. Life has its own ideas. It is impossible to predict where the path will take us. But, we can accept what is. 

Today, Christmas 2023, brings a multitude of feelings. My mom has been gone nearly 7 years. My heart still aches for this loss. But I celebrate the fact that my dad is still among us, a bit addled, mostly cognizant, generally positive, appreciative of friends, at times lonely. I am grateful.

My partner and I tend to eschew decorating, buying into the commercialism of Christmas, purchasing gifts that people would prefer to exchange for cash, pondering the meaning of life or considering the less than optimal choices we’ve made. Whatever!

I celebrate the best choices I’ve made, accept the less than optimal decisions I’ve made and aspire to make better decisions in the future. But, I will not give in to ideology that doesn’t resonate. Maybe it just doesn’t matter. But, I  think it does. 





 It does. HH








I’m
















 











Miles 




 away. 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Family Estrangement & Siblings

 

I love the family photographs from my childhood, when we were happy, innocent and unaware of the vicissitudes of life that would cause we siblings to become estranged. I love my brother and sister. Generally, at least two of us are amenable at a time. But, there have been lengthy periods when separation has been the best course of action.

Throughout adulthood my most fraught relationship involved my younger sister. At times it feels as if we were raised by different parents in different households. Our memories of childhood are so dissimilar that it feels as if we lived in alternative universes. 

Additionally, our political , real world and social views are diametrically opposed. 

She inhabits the ivory towers of academia, which I loathe with every fiber of my being. It is an ambiance of DEI, participation trophies, helicopter parenting and pandering to woke ideology that I believe has threatened western society. 

Despite my years of soft skills training, in a family environment, I failed to resist the devil on my left shoulder and share my opinions a bit too freely. Dare I admit, I addressed the pink elephant in the center of the room. Yes, I’ve said what I think, which exacerbated the schism.

Occasionally, I have regrets. I love my sister. She can be delightful, funny, inspiring, smart, feisty, and resilient. But, it is better for me to maintain my distance, protect my sanity, avoid being drawn into the morass, communicate by text once in a blue moon, and focus on my peace & serenity. I’ve fought hard to get here. I am content. 


Friday, December 1, 2023

Sandra Day O’Connor, The Icons of My Youth Keep Falling

 

Sandra Day O’Connor departed this world today, in the same week another icon of my youth, Henry Kissinger, left us for the great beyond.

Ronald Reagan appointed Ms. Day O’Connor  to the Supreme Court at a time when women were still pressing against a glass ceiling that has still not been shattered more than 30 years later. To a young woman coming of age at the time of her appointment, she was a lioness. 

Instead of trying to blaze a judicial trail of activism, she instead sought the middle ground, conservative, consistent, true to the Constitution, fair, equitable, considerate of precedent, unwilling to crash the Apple cart, aware of history. 

To a young woman that had to fight for equality in my own industry, standing stoic and refusing to be marginalized in the Midwest of the 1980s and early 1990’s, who endured sexism, harassment, ridicule, marginalization, discrimination and disdain for daring to take a job at what had been previously a man’s world, I understand to a limited degree the flaming hoops she had to leap through and navigate merely because she was a brilliant, educated woman.

She is a shining example of women who have braved the storm, fought the good fight, tread where no woman had gone before, and made us proud, empowered and aware of our agency. 

Rest in peace my icon. Thank you for what you endured to pave the way for future generations. Without Sandra Day O’Connor there would be no Ruth Badger Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Amy Barrett, or Elena Kagan. She broke the mold. 

Now, in 2023, we have four women on the court of nine justices! Just WOW! 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Henry Kissinger, A Man For All Seasons

 

Love him or hate him, Henry Kissinger represents the best of American exceptionalism. He was born in Nazi Germany. His family made the decision to leave in 1938 before the government began eliminating Jews. He joined the US Army before becoming a citizen. He was part of a unit that lost liberated a concentration camp. That was a seminal moment for this great statesman. 

Many people disagree with his shuttle diplomacy. Many disagree with his ideology. But, modern ideologues fail to appreciate that hard decisions must be made. Kissinger understood that sacrifices are critical to diplomacy. Sometimes it is necessary to make hard decisions for the greater good. Modern politicians do not have the abilities to make such choices because they care too much about polls,

I am grateful that I lived in an era where statesmen made those hard decision that sacrificed the few for the benefit of the many. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Not Everyone Enjoys “The Holidays “

 

“The Holidays” are overrated. Society expects us to embrace love, charity, family, consumerism and the Hallmark channel while being inundated with holiday cheer, syrupy movies, bad music and  the false promise of peace on earth with goodwill towards humankind. 

Instead, people overspend on unappreciated gifts hoping to buy love or affection. Parents hope over the top gifts will replace spending time with their children. Corporations attempt to appear generous and community minded by hosting a collection for toys for. Tots. It is all about image.

During all of this hullabaloo, real people are grieving for loved ones who have died; disadvantaged people resent being made emblems for corporate “charity”; people and animals are left homeless n the streets; government organizations send money to foreign countries while ignoring a crisis at home; politicians use disadvantaged citizens as props; news organizations eschew their responsibility to commit to honest, unbiased journalism; Congress continues to engage in partisan wars that benefit only their reelection coffers; ideologues care only about an agenda without thought of constituents. 

The media, the political class, the NGOs, community organizations, local governments, we the people must recalibrate. So what if people spend less on stuff. So what if people feel unengaged. So what if Americans decide that “ holidays” don’t mean shopping. It is okay if people refuse to engage in the holiday maelstrom. 

My mother died at Christmas.  My friends have experienced loss during th holidays. Don’t try to force us to celebrate. Accept that his is not the happiest time of year for many. Be compassionate. 


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Appreciation of Gratitude- November 2023

 

I am bereft, at a loss, confused and struggling with Thanksgiving 2023. My beloved Mother-in-law, Jan Harrington, is struggling with dementia. It is an insidious disease, that has robbed a beautiful, dynamic, independent woman of her agency, sense of self, mental acuity, and ability to have her say. I’m at a loss to describe the deterioration of this amazing woman who raised my husband and his fearless sister. 

The deterioration has been unrelenting and fast. We did not expect this. Her mother grandma Moore, was lucid at 103. We’ve recalibrated our expectations for our future lives. We see the toll this has taken on loved ones. 

But, we also celebrate that we still have this incomparable women in our live, that her husband (my father in law) still loves the woman she has been for 68 years, and that despite our sadness, we still see glimpses of the women we love, who has an amazing history and an ability to love unconditionally. For this, I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

What is the History of American Thanksgiving Day? Do you know?

 

Do you know this history of American Thanksgiving? My guess is the typical American does not. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day holiday in 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War. 

Yes, there is a great deal of lore regarding the original Thanksgiving. There are many stories about the ‘First’ Thanksgiving involving “The Pilgrims”, which results in questions about what really happened. 

At the end of the day, does it really matter? One can look at history through a 21st Century lens and judge those who came before us. But, it is folly to do so. Unless you have lived in the skin and souls of those who came before, it is impossible to judge. Modern people fail to look at the context, political environment, world order, beliefs, opportunities, oppression, fear, bravery and philosophies of people who came before us.

There have always been conquests and conquered. There have always been oppressed and oppressors; there have always been people exploring and looking for a better way of life. Study history and appreciate there are nuances. The original settlers in what became America were looking for freedom of religion. Many died of starvation and disease. Do you really think they risk everything to be deemed oppressers hundreds of years later? No! They wanted to escape oppression and execution by intolerant monarchies. 

Nuance. Context. Time & place considerations. Judge not lest ye be judged.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Gratitude- American Thanksgiving Week Monday 2023

 

Gratitude is a concept each of us should embrace. Consider that gratitude grounds us, brings us contentment and hope. No matter what each of us experiences, it is more likely than not that another human soul is experiencing something worse. 

Those of us who have descended into the valley of despair and fought our way to peace & serenity appreciate that in life all things are relative. Particularly if we are blessed to live in a place where we can thrive.

Americans who whine about situations over which they have no control are in most scenarios blessed. Those of us who had the good fortune of being born and/or raised in the country must sing to the heavens the abundance that has given us opportunities that those born elsewhere do not enjoy.

Protesters denigrating the American experience would, no doubt, reconsider their antipathy if they were compelled to spend even a week in a country with fewer freedoms. 

Have you ever visited a country where people lived in a lean to next to the railroad tracks? Have you ever seen families exist in tents with dirt floors and pigs running rampant inside?Have you ever seen parents that have disabled their children to make them more effective beggars? Have you ever visited a country where you wish you could adopt all of the at risk children with the chance to bring  them to the USA to give them an opportunity for something more? Have you ever seen a government give tours to exploit their citizens? Have you ever experienced people refusing to engage for fear of angering their government? Have you ever been so horrified by the way people have been treated in their own countries that you’ve lost faith in mankind?

I have. Multiple times. That is why I cannot understand those American citizens that denounce the very foundation of who we are. That is why I am horrified by the antisemitism rampart in Universities, member of Congress, and uninformed people. We, the people, are required by our ideology to embrace people from all cultures and all walks of life unless they denounce the rule of  law and human rights.

That requires us to eschew support for Hamas, Iran, China, Russia, North Korea and any other entity that rejects  fairness and the need to protect human dignity regardless of race, creed, color, religion, country of origin, language, socioeconomic level, sex, identity or favorite color. Anyone who supports totalitarianism, intolerance, castigation of others for their beliefs or political affiliation or because of any human characteristic. 

Judge not yest thee be judged. 





Sunday, November 19, 2023

Thanksgiving Week 2023 / Cultivating An Attitude of Gratitude ~Sunday

 

As we begin a week of Celebrating American Thanksgiving in 2023, in a year filled with international turmoil, collective disdain for the leading presidential candidates, the deteriorating conditions of loved ones, and a mass exodus of my work colleagues for retirement or greener pastures, I’ve learned that for my psychological and physical wellbeing, I must remind myself of the myriad things for which I feel grateful. 

I first heard of this valuable tool for self care at my anxiety filled, teary- eyed inaugural Al Anon meeting at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong, October 1993. 

My life was falling apart. I could imagine no glimmer of hope for healing. Then, one of those sharing said that in her darkest hours, she would go through the alphabet and try to think of one thing starting with each letter for which she as grateful. 

Sometimes, when happenings in the  world feel incomprehensible, I place my head against my pillow, close my eyes, and try this exercise. 

A- Anya, my Siberian kitty

B- bacon jam with jalapeños & bees & books & Bill of Rights & the beach

C- cashmere & crabcakes & creativity & cars & cookies & cheese & US Constitution 

D- deviled eggs & driving & our deck 

E- evening skies & eyesight & electricity & experience 

F- family & friends & flowers & FREEDOM & great food

G- gardens & guacamole & gasoline & gin 

H- health & hearing & history 

I- independence & individuality & Internet 

J- a job that pays for my life outside of work

K- kittens & my kitchen

L - laughter, love,  leisure & lights

M - memories & Mindy, our Ragdoll & Milo our orange kitty & music

N- Nordstrom 😎

O - open minded people

P - peace, plenty, parties

Q- Quince organic cotton, quiet times, 

R - respect for institutions, the American flag, & our great Republic 🇺🇸

S- silence, serenity, serendipity, sight, smell, stars, the sky, the sun, sea, 

T- time, Todd, travel, tenacity

U- understanding 

V- victory of good over evil & vino 

W- wine 

X- nothing comes to mind today but my Xtreme branded treadmill

Y - Daffodils 🌼 

Z- zippers

Try it. Make your own list off the top of your head. What is on your gratitude list today? 






Saturday, November 18, 2023

American Schools, Politicians & Families Must Teach Children To Love Our Country Again!

 

John F. Kennedy famously implored American to ask what each of us can do for our country rather than what our country can do for us. Sometime over the past decades, perhaps beginning with LBJ’s “Great Society” that created the Welfare State, Americans started to forget the foundations upon which this great country was built. 

How many young adults, leftist politicians and educators  truly appreciate the words that form preamble to our Constitution: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, infuse domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. 

The promise is aspirational. Representatives from 13 colonies, formed by disparate religious groups, refugees, countries of origin, languages, criminal backgrounds, socioeconomic groups, ideologies and beliefs argued and ultimately compromised on many fundamental issues to establish a new form of republican government. There has been political discord from the beginning. That is the nature of humankind. 

The American Civil War resulted in emancipation of enslaved people and preserved the Union. In 1913 more than 50,000 veterans of the war gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. 


President Wilson noted “We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten- except that we shall not forget the splendid valor.”

If these former enemies, some would call the Confederate veterans traitors, could meet without overt rancor, acting civilly and  without violence, why should we tolerate the civil unrest, hate, looting, refusal to honor the flag, and outright disdain for the American ideals from those who benefit from our freedoms and way of life.

Anyone who excuses terrorists, supports communism and Marxism, who condemns the United States of America, should get on a plane, train, boat, bicycle, hot air balloon or his/her feet and depart this country. Go live in Russia, China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, and see how much freedom one enjoys there. Good luck! 

In most of these countries the protestors would be shot, imprisoned, tortured, drowned, poisoned, blown up, or  just ‘disappear’. 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Genocide by Pol Pot & Khmer Rouge in Cambodia 1975 to 1979

 

Too many people do not know that the National Holocaust Museum commemorates the horror perpetrated on innocent civilians beyond the abominations committed by the Nazis against Jewish people. 

There are so many examples of totalitarian governments and people filled with hate and a lust for power in recent history. How can reasonable people process the murder and destruction by despots of its own citizens? 

One of the most heinous atrocities in the 20th Century involved the deliberate, systematic murder of approximately 2,000,000 ( two million) Cambodians by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. This was perpetrated by Marxists, supported by China, to convert Cambodia into a Maoist society reminiscent with results similar to Mao’s Cultural Revolution resulting in the Great Chinese Famine that starved millions. Power corrupts. Communism is brutal. 

Remember. Never forget. I urge you to watch the film, First They Killed My Father, directed by Angelina Jolie. This was recommended to me by a woman who escaped the killing fields as a child.

Another excellent view into the horror of this time and place is the movie The Killing Fields, a 1984 film that depicted the experiences of  New York Times reporter, Sydney Schanberg, who covered the invasion of Cambodia with the help of a local translator, Dith Pran, who was portrayed by Dr. Haing  S angora, a survivor of the Killing Fields who was later murdered in a home invasion in California after winning an Oscar for his performance.  

NEVER FORGET. NEVER ACCEPT MANS INHUMANITY TO MAN

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Difference Between Genocide and Casualties of War


Campus protesters, members of the Congressional “Squad”, Marxists, progressives and certain news outlets allege that Israel is committing genocide of Palestinian people in Gaza. This is a misunderstanding of what constitutes genocide. 

Encyclopedia Britannica defines genocide as  the deliberate and systematic destruction of a of people because of their ethnicitynationality, religion, or race. While the term was first used during World War II to describe the Nazi ‘final solution’, there have been numerous instances of genocide throughout history. 
There is no question that Jews and other people deemed ‘less than’ by the Third Reich were victims of genocide. 

Regrettably, Palestinians and other residents in Gaza are collateral damage in Israel’s efforts to justifiably eradicate Hamas, a terrorist organization that vows to destroy Israel and the Jewish people. The attacks by Hamas on October 7, 2023 constituted an act of war just as heinous as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001 and the January 7, 2015 attacks at Charlie Hebdo and the November 13, 2015 attacks by ISIL at the Batavian Theatre in Paris. Retaliation against terrorists that murder innocent civilians and use other civilians as human shields are responsible for the collateral damage. These victims are casualties of war, not victims of genocide. 

British civilians were victims of bombings, Norwegian merchant marines were torpedoed, Dresden residents were killed, the Lusitania was attacked, residents of the Balkans were murdered, opponents of Franco and Il Duce were purged, and the Romans enslaved their captives. These casualties were not victims of genocide anymore than the casualties in Gaza. 

Words matter. Much as I am not a fan of Joe Biden, he certainly has not earned the moniker Genocide Joe. That is actually defamatory. 



Tuesday, November 7, 2023

A Lesson on What Actually Constitutes Genocide - Orhdruf Concentration Camp 1945

 

Photos Courtesy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.

April 4, 1945, the U.S Army liberated Orhdruf Concentration Camp. This was a forced labor camp that was a part of the Buchenwald’s purview. 

General Patton refused to enter because it was so horrifying. General Eisenhower toured the camp on April 12th. He decided that it was critical to document the atrocities committed by the Nazis against Jews.


Any American student, resident, visitor, citizen, member of Congress, employee of government or University or business or news outlet that defends the atrocities of Hamas against Israeli citizens, visitors, contractors, civilians or foreigners has apparently been denied a thorough education. 

More than 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. Israel was founded to give Jewish people a home, where they could be free of oppression. 

Regrettably, too many have forgotten the pledge to NEVER FORGET.