Sunday, September 3, 2023

Body Positivity Should Not Require A Lack Of Self Dignity

We should all appreciate, love and dress for the bodies we currently inhabit and be grateful for eyes that see, legs that help us ambulate, arms that are able to reach or move our conveyances, hands that can grasp, skin that breathes and covers our bodies no matter the size, physical challenges, mental struggles, or current fashion. 

However,  those who encourage young women to dress in clothes that are unflattering just for the sake of embracing body positivity are doing a disservice. There is a time and a place for sexy, revealing, skimpy, tight, micro short, revealing, sheer, exhibitionist fashion. Alleged celebrities who desperately seek media attention should not be emulated at the supermarket, Walmart, SCHOOLS, houses of worship, museums, libraries, fine dining establishments, commercial airlines, or any place where decorum should be considered.

I don’t care what one’s BMI, weight, size, socioeconomic environment, geographic region may be, but look in the mirror….a full length mirror. Ask yourself, are you dressing like a sex worker because you truly thing you look great? Or do you crave crave attention? Want to fit in? Want to shock someone? Want to annoy your mother? Do you want to copy one of the reality TV, TikTok, or Instagram influencers? 

There are plenty of celebrities or fashion icons that dress appropriately and still look alluring, sexy and cutting edge while not exposing every inch of skin. Rihanna can wear anything because she’s Rihanna. The rest of us….not so much. Look at Pinterest ๐Ÿ’™

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Not Ready For 2024 Presidential Politics ~ The Reality Impacts My Serenity


I am thoroughly disgusted with the political establishment and the segment of the American electorate that continues to blindly support former President Trump and the mentally incapacitated current President Biden into the abyss. The concept of these two geriatric chuckleheads sparring in the media and at the polls for the next 14 months makes me want to hibernate and avoid all news sources to maintain a semblance of peace & serenity. Well, I take the NYT only to play Wordle and Spelling Bee. I click on the Daily Mail because for mind candy. But, we haven’t watched the news, debates, read about the candidates latest exploits, and even decline to discuss the matter when out with live humanoids. We are not the only formerly politically engaged Americans to opt out. If these two has beens are the candidates, I will not even be able to hold my nose and votes for the lesser of the boll weevils. Nope. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. 

Instead, I will celebrate that my 91 year old dad is still vibrant. I will enjoy our menagerie of cats. I will sit on my screened in porch, surrounded by plants, listening to the fountain on the deck, reading books or listening to music, sharing adult beverages with my spousal unit, thanking the Universe that having to pay for bilateral cataract surgery, a new car and a gold plated heating & air conditioning system didn’t send us to the food bank.

Seriously, I’ve been handling wrongful death and catastrophic injury claims in the insurance industry for decades. It is less stressful than listening to or watching or reading the news. 

Monday, May 29, 2023

After 17 Years of Gardening ~our Property Remains a Moonscape in Progress


To look at this view of our property, one would think we had created an oasis on the rocky ridge in rural Frederick County, Virginia. That assumption would be woefully incorrect. Despite 17 years of toil; pouring thousands of dollars and hours of sweat equity into attempts to cultivate the landscape;  the shrubs, flowers, trees and countless seedlings planted with great optimism only to find withered, shriveled, leafless, blighted remains by the end of a season; we have adjusted our expectations. Now, we focus just on the areas we can view from our deck. 

There have been successes: Japanese maple trees, bearded Iris, peonies, weigela, and hostas close to the house.

Lessons learned: wisteria was a very bad idea. It destroyed the porch railings…even the American plants. Mint must stay in a pot. Deer LOVE day lilies. Roses hate our environment. We want vinca to spread like an invasive bamboo. 

Tomatoes……I keep trying. This year: cylindrical grow bags placed in the sun amidst the moonscape. They are always the most expensive tomatoes we eat each year๐Ÿ˜† 

But, I find gardening and landscaping therapeutic. My regular job is stressful. Any position in corporate America is stressful thanks to COVID, post COVID return to office policies that make recruiting challenging, DEI, continuing to do more with less, the unfathomable jury verdicts, declining ethics of plaintiff attorneys and politicians and mental exhaustion. 

So….scratching out a spot for planting seeds, spreading bags of mulch, digging in the dirt, stalling the potted flowers on the deck, and gazing at the tiny slice of an oasis in the midst of our desert brings peace, serenity and a feeling of accomplishment…even if some of the efforts are less than desired.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Americans Need a Candidate to Vote FOR Instead of AGAINST

 Political pundits and media outlets forget that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election because he was NOT Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden was elected in 2020 because he was NOT Donald Trump. For 2024 I do not want to have to choose between the lesser of two awful candidates. It is time to marginalize these unfit candidates, stop pandering to the extremism on the right and left, and choose two candidates that actually have the welfare of the American people at the forefront, do not offend 50% of the voters because of obnoxious self interest or lack of cognitive dissonance or cognitive function. 

The American political arena has always been divisive. That was actually the intent of the founders of the Republic. The only President elected without dissent was George Washington. Think about it! Even the Continental Congress fought over the Articles of Confederation followed by the Constitution. It was nearly impossible to find agreement among the representatives of 13 colonies much less 50 states.

But we deserve better than what the primary system has produced in recent history. The primary elections and caucuses pander to the hard core right or left. But, elections are won or lost based upon the tolerance of those of us in the center, who loathe extremes, who believe in the rights of the people to live freely without onerous regulation, who agree that contribute to the common good through reasonable taxation is acceptable, who dislike being forced to pay for  projects or appropriations that do not benefit the entire nation, who truly agree that all persons have a right to live their lives without oppression, but do not believe that ideology should trump common sense. It is time to replace the septuagenarians and activists with a new generation of ideas. It is time to reflect on our similarities instead of differences. 

Republicans and  Democrats, please give us a choice that doesn’t force independent voters to hold their noses, close their eyes, cringe and pick the least awful candidate and hope for a not terrible outcome. 

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”― Nelson Mandela

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Long Ago by Michael McGarrity

 I read The Long Ago in one day. I waffled between  rating the book ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and decided that while the story has some predictability and a few slow parts, overall, I loved the themes of loyalty, ties that bind, that family isn’t necessarily biology, and the role of fate. 

Perhaps The Long Ago resonated with me so much because the story takes place during the earliest days of the war ( AKA ‘conflict’) in Vietnam, when I was a child. It fueled memories war correspondents on the 6 O’clock news. Ray Lansdale joined the Army to escape from his dysfunctional childhood in rural Montana. His sister Barbara ran away as well. During a leave from the Army, Ray embarks on a search for his sister the old fashioned way….paper trails, interviews with people, missing persons posters, police assistance, like gum shoes before cellphones and the Internet. 

The Long Ago is a mixture of intrigue, family dynamics, romance, and just a little bit of Mickey Mouse. Now, I want to read some of Michael McGarrity’s earlier works. 

Thanks to Bookbrowse.Com and WW Norton & Company for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishes July 2023

Friday, March 10, 2023

So, Now I Have Cataracts


At least 15 years ago I had Lasic surgery with Dr. Andrew Holzman, one of the most respected Lasic practitioners in the country. He transitioned me from nearly blind to 20/15 in both eyes. It was a miracle. Retrogression is very unusual with Lasic. So, it was with a modicum of alarm that I began to notice deteriorating vision just around 2018 or 2019. It was just before COVID.

I had an examination and discovered my vision had devolved to 20/30 in each eye. A year later there was more retrogression. In 2022, it was within 6 months that I could no longer see chalkboard menses or watch television. I called to schedule an appointment before my annual eye exam. But I was told to wait for my regular appointment. 

By the time of my exam, my vision impairment had doubled. I was almost as impaired as I’d been in 2007. What! 

After a few tests with dilation, I was told I had cataracts on both eyes. This explained the halos, poor night vision, blurry Vaseline filtered sight, speedy deterioration. I said I wanted to consult with an ophthalmologist for a surgical consult. And, I was really annoyed! I thought cataracts were for OLD people! That is NOT me!

Monday, March 6, 2023

My Journey With Real Life Style- Alterations

One of the biggest eye-openers during the initial closet edit involved my realization  that minor alterations to some of my clothes would make such a significant difference, resulting in a much more flattering garment. Raising a hemline of a dress by an inch lengthened my legs. Hemming trousers to wear with a specific shoe or heel height changed the look entirely. 

Lani showed my the way replacing shoulder pads in a jacket or dress elevated the look. And I learned that my good fortune in being born with an appropriate ankle curve makes everything look better! This is not something I’d ever considered. 

While I’d often heard that a good tailor is your best friend, I’d really not considered taking the time to alter off the rack clothes so they would fit me  better. Again, I thought that was for the rich and famous. But it makes sense. I’d created a toile and used a dress form to ensure my Civil War wardrobe fit perfectly. Why did I not realize that my 21st Century clothing should fit as well as my 19th Century wardrobe! 

Because I had to experience sewing I made the decision to complete my on alterations. If I was able to make a  Civil War  era taffeta boned evening bodice, fashion a spoon  bonnet and sew a double lined ankle length camel hair coat from a 1954 Vogue pattern, surely I could manage my own alterations. 

Consequently, I have set about hemming my trousers and dresses, taking up the shoulders on some tops, and updating the fit on the items Lani pinned. And I’ve completed nearly two thirds on my projects. What a feeling of accomplishment! 

And I’ve completed the work while enjoying true crime podcasts! 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Journey With Real Life Style ~ After The Initial Closet Edit


A second session was scheduled to take place via Zoom on March 1st during which time Lani and Kyle would guide me through the process of editing my summer clothes, shoes and handbags. 

But almost immediately I felt compelled to begin my own preliminary review based upon what I’d already learned about colors that definitely did not work for my 2023 self. I was able to immediately determine that two of my shawls ( peach and berry) needed to go, as well as some swimwear, ballets flats and linen dresses. 

I was also able to sort through some bins on the floor and top shelf of my closet and move the ‘keepers’ into now empty drawers. I’d not felt to organized in decades.

The impact of the initial edit and organization was immediate. The very next morning, as I walked into my closet, I found it much easier to get dressed. I pulled out a pair of my MM LaFleur Oshima pants that I hadn’t worn since before the COVID epidemic (because I forgot I owned them), pulled on  one of my easily accessible top, and paired it with my newly styled Merritt Jardigan  and was ready to face my Zoom meeting feeling completely comfortable. 

I had previously had so many arguably lovely items stuffed to the gills that I had no idea what I had or how to put things together. Instead, I would walk in the closet and just feel frustrated, thinking I had nothing to wear. 

Now that my focus is on curating and keeping the best of the best, I feel liberated.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

My Initial Wardrobe Edit With Real Life Style

 Catharsis! As defined  (in  part) by Merriam -Webster as a purification that brings about spiritual renewal.

The morning of February 23, 2023 Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy with Real Life Style arrived at my home in Winchester, Virginia with a rolling clothes rack, trash bags, safety pins, labels, shoulder pads, cameras and a keen fashion sense to begin the initial edit of my wardrobe for my journey to a new stylish Vivian. 

We began the process with the clothes hanging in my well organized but overflowing closet. I needed to try on everything to develop an appreciation of my best silhouette, fit, colors, sleeve length, hem length, shoulders, shoulder pads, distracting details, rise, where the buttons are situated for a jacket, trim, whether jeans bag in the belly when one walks, what shoes work, type of neck on tops, whether an item accentuated the wrong features of my body, and if a piece was just okay or fabulous. At 63, I deserve fabulous. 

Certain words caused me to cringe. Really, is there any word more offensive to a ‘woman of a certain age’ than MATRONLY? I would rather one denigrate my honor, my family, my cats, my sense of humor and my professional reputation than call me MATRONLY! Yikes! That resulted in my tossing an entire drawer of what I previously considered pseudo flattering merino wool cardigans. 

When we reached the skirt category, my beloved friend piled on. While Lani and Kyle considered ways to style a selection of easy care, cotton knot, maxi skirts, my friend Gina vociferously argued NO!  NO! Be gone with you! So, out they went into the donation bags. 

At the end of the day, 12 trash bags were filled with items that no longer served who I am in 2023. Certain colors…specifically peach, orange, bright pink coral, burgundy, merlot, most pastels, dusty gray and anything “busy” ended up on the cutting room floor. If it didn’t say ‘elevated sophisticated’ I said goodbye. I thought the deselection of certain cashmere sweaters might cause a bit of angst, but it did not.

After 6 1/2 hours a the grueling wardrobe extravaganza, I felt at peace. Lani & Kyle took the bags of discards with them so I wouldn’t have the opportunity to reclaim any of the rejects. Those clothes were donated to charity the next morning.

Gina and I celebrated the fashion success  for me and her new fabulous professional opportunity by splitting a delicious bottle of Greenhill Winery Blanc  de Blanc, the best sparkling wine Virginia has to offer.

Next steps ~ Stay tuned๐Ÿ˜Ž

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Engaging A Personal Stylist~The Selection ~Real Life Style


After my initial 45 minute telephone interview with Lani Inlander, the owner of Real Life Style in Washington, DC, I knew I’d found the solution to my overwhelming wardrobe challenges. It was clear she appreciated what I wanted to accomplish. I was impressed with her resume and the depth of knowledge the team at Real Life Style brought to the table.

It is not a particular secret that I love to shop. The dopamine rush I feel when finding a treasure online, in a brick & mortar store, or in an alley in Asia makes my heart sing. But, this tendency to make purchases of clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories resulted in a stuffed closet and overflowing drawers and bins with no concept how to create outfits that fit who I am today, in 2023. My out of control purchasing has no doubt delayed my ability to retire for at least a couple of years…combined, of course, with my appreciation for dry red wine and delightful sparkling whites.

Lani came up with a preliminary plan, which she emailed to me with an invoice, to reserve the date for she and her partner, Kyle Dunphy, to journey to the hinterland to analyze my wardrobe. It was set for Thursday, February 23rd. 

I was so excited about this event that I invited my friends Gina and Missi to join us and see the process as it unfolded. 

In the next episode I will detail what was truly an epic event in my style journey. I made an intentional decision to approach the process with an open mind, fully prepared to listen to the experts and let go of what no longer served me. The prospect was exciting and daunting. Stay tuned!

The link to the Real Life  Style website:   

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Engaging A Personal Stylist- The Search

Since Winchester, Virginia is not renowned as a fashion Mecca, I knew that I would need to investigate personal stylists and fashion consultants based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. While not ideal for me from a logistical perspective, there were really no other viable options. The distance is approximately 90 miles and with that, commensurate cost increases for travel time. However, I decided if I were to take the plunge, I wanted the best consultants I could find for my price point.

I conducted my preliminary investigation via Google and located several consultants that seemed like viable options. Primarily, I was looking for stylists that felt approachable, have a verifiable history and footprint, multiple reviews by customers, free vetting by phone or Zoom, and in- person wardrobe analysis. An in-home closet edit was a non-negotiable requirement.

This is not an overnight process. The investigation, interviews and scheduling took about 6-8 weeks for the first meeting.

I’ve posted a few photos to show just a bit of my pre-edit sweater collection.

Monday, February 27, 2023

An Everyday Woman Engaging a Personal Stylist


Personal stylists are for royalty, celebrities, power brokers, and politicians seeking to appeal to voters, right? A-listers, B-listers or wannabes- not 63 year old insurance claims professionals with an eye towards retirement! While I loved the many seasons of What Not To Wear when Stacey & Clinton played fairy godmother to an unsuspecting fashion disaster, helping to transform Cinderella from dowdy to fabulous in a week, it never occurred to me to hire a style consultant to help me curate my wardrobe and create outfits that would take my style from fairly good to fabulous.

But during our post Christmas mini vacation, my husband suggested that I explore utilizing a stylist to help me refine my style and ‘kick it up a notch’.

It did take a bit of time to contemplate moving forward. After all, it is not an inexpensive endeavor. 

Ultimately, following a cost/benefit analysis, I decided that I could save money by refining my style, learning how to make outfits with items I already own, develop an appreciation for what styles, colors and silhouettes work for me, and identify WHAT NOT TO BUY! 

Essentially, I wanted the equivalent of the nuns in elementary school telling me Do Not Talk During Fire Drills. Walk away from the peach hued sweater! Give me a list of flattering colors and provide guidelines.

I’ve already learned one thing….no more cotton tees needed!

I will share additional aspects of this journey in additional posts. 


Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Angel Maker by Alex North / Book Review


Because I loved The Whisper Man, I was thrilled to receive an ARC of The Angel Maker courtesy of Celadon Books and NetGalley. The premise is fascinating. Is our destiny pre-determined or do we have the opportunity to change it by exercising free will? Serial killer John Locke wrote obsessively on the topic. After his arrest, his writings disappear as do his two sons: one who participated in his father’s hobbies and the other who did not. 

This story is juxtaposed with a contemporary story involving Katie Shaw, married mother of the precious toddler, Siena, who is pulled into the search for her estranged brother Chris, an addict who never recovered psychologically from a random attack when he was a young teen. 

The multiple story lines weave from distant past, to the current day murder of a beloved philosophy professor to flashbacks to the attack on Chris. 

The book, which feels part police procedural, part mystery, party family dysfunction and part thriller never truly gels for me. There are too many non linear pieces that don’t fully create a cohesive story. While I truly enjoyed The Angel Maker, it did not leave me feeling satisfied, that the many loose ends ultimately worked, or left me wanting more.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Mainstreaming Children With Behavioral Problems Has Destroyed American Public Schools


Once upon a time children with behavioral problems were kicked out of public schools. They were sent to reform school, juvenile detention, military school, or a mental health facility where their violent behavior did not result in harm to other students, teachers or administrators. But in the 21st Century, the bullies, mentally disturbed, psychologically unbalanced and behavioral problems are protected by social activists, administrators that care more about money and/ or image than safety, panderers, woke ideology, and society focused on the misguided belief that public education should be available to all. 

A public school education should use the tax dollars of citizens to educate those who have an ability to learn, the social skills needed to act civilized in a group setting, and the appreciation of what is right and what is wrong.

The evidence that has been uncovered regarding the first grader who shot his teacher in  a Chesapeake, Virginia primary school is horrifying. The school administrators allowed a violent, disruptive, disturbed child to attend school in a classroom with children he was tormenting, bullying and threatening. Students in his class were not in a safe learning space. Administration personnel knew he was a problem, but let him attend classes with a parent. What an utter failure! The kid should not have been allowed across the threshold of the playground. 

What about the teachers and administrators in the New Jersey school that allowed four other students to kick and beat with a water bottle another student! What, and the superintendent tried to blame the child’s father for giving other young people an excuse to bully? 

Why did nobody stop the horrible behavior? In either case? Perhaps it is time for responsible adults to stand up, fight back, take the asylum back from the lunatics, believe teachers, institute a process for disciplining those who deserve it, and get back to teaching the basics: reading, writing (including penmanship), arithmetic (without laptops or calculators), civics, history, geography, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. It wouldn’t hurt to include music, art, home economics, industrial arts, and respect for fellow humans. 

If we weren’t forced to attempt to educate the uneducable, those tax dollars collected could be put to far better use. Instead, many classrooms just provide free babysitting for parents. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Hypocrisy of the Duke & Duchess of Sussex


One would have to have been stranded on an uncharted island to be unfamiliar with the media frenzy pertaining to the grievances of the Duke & Duchess of Sussex. One would think they’d been stripped of their titles, cast adrift with nary a cent, forced to panhandle for spare change at random off ramps in a California while living in a tent city under an overpass- all while professing how they live a selfless life of service whilst filled with fear over random acts of violence merely because of their celebrity.

Apparently, this duo fail to appreciate the number of billionaires, multi millionaires, A-List celebrities, scions of other royal families, and children of other high profile persons who live within the state of California.

By virtue of my job over the last 40 years, not to mention media, I am well aware that there are residents of LA, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Mountain View, Brentwood, Malibu, Palo Alto and numerous other enclaves that have more money, higher profiles, better credentials, greater philanthropy, more visibility, are more controversial and are are more likely to be targets of violence than these two who apparently feel compelled to tell everyone just how oppressed, service oriented and at risk they are in their compound. 

Dialogue from The Scottish Play comes to mind regarding he/she/they/its protest too much. Consider these individuals who live in the USA who have far more assets than Team Sussex, engender more publicity but support world wide charities yet do not complain:  Jeff Bezos, Bill & Melinda Gates, Mackenzie Scott, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg & Priscilla Chan, the Walton family, Michael & Susan Dell, the DeVos family, the Koch family, David Geffen, George Soros, Pierre Omidyar, the  Marcus family, Chuck Feeney, the Hilton family, the Hewlett-Packard Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, the Ford Foundation, the Getty Trust, the Kellogg Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, Heinz Endowments….to name a few.

And what do these philanthropists and humanitarians have in common? They do it mostly quietly, without self promotion, without complaining about perceived wrongs and trying to create personal wealth while pretending to perform service, with cameras commemorating every move. 

And then there are the everyday humanitarians that volunteer locally, donate to church/food banks/ community organizations/ museums/ homeless shelters/ schools/ universities/ the United Way, Go Fund Me/ addiction centers/ etc. without any recognition. 

The survival of the British Monarchy is not something that is likely to impact my life or that of the ordinary American. But, self promoting, self indulgent, self-possessed, wealthy, hypocritical bellyachers do not appeal to pull yourself up by your bootstraps Americans. 

In case one wonders, I do not watch reality TV. As such, I have not scene the Sussex show, the  Kardashians, any real housewives, Honey BooBoo, or Survival shows. Okay, I did watch What Not To Wear๐Ÿ˜Ž


Monday, December 19, 2022

The Christmas Spirit

 As 2022 comes to a close I want to wish everyone peace, contentment, good fortune, health, happiness, joy, enough food, shelter, warmth, kindness, resiliency, hope, electricity, safety, comfort, freedom from oppression, enlightenment, the ability to let go of anger and resentment, and safety.

I know it is a huge ask that the Universe, one’s higher power, governments, talking heads, social media pundits, warring tribes, Putin, political adversaries, dumb bunnies, smart alecks, obnoxious sorts, evil doers, partisans, warmongers, thieves, politicians, power players, ne’er do wells, scofflaws, cretins, and anybody who would harm children, the elderly, those who have physical or mental challenges or household pets to try, even just a little, to do the next right thing.

But in the words of Neil Armstrong, ‘ One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. Take one small step. Practice a small, random act of kindness. Pass it on. Pay it forward. Smile at a stranger. Open a door for somebody. Round up for charity. It is the little things that make the world a better place.

Be a gracious loser. Admit when you are wrong. Forgive. Let it go. Over tip. Say thank you. Recognize that you are more fortunate than somebody else no matter you challenges. Try not to judge unless you’ve walked in somebody else’s shoes or know what goes on behind closed doors. Clean up your own side of the street. Embrace the spirit of the holiday season no matter your beliefs. We are all members of the human race and each of us deserves consideration. ❤️๐Ÿ’™

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Reminders of the Necessity of Self Care & Gratitude

  It’s funny where we find reminders of the challenges to living a life of positivity, the importance of self care, and maintaining an attitude of gratitude. I subscribe to The The Well Dressed Life, a blog and Facebook group by Megan Kristel, who.launched her personal style business, Kristel Closets, in the Philadelphia area in 2006. Now, at age 43, she provides style tips and shopping suggestion for the “every woman” over 40.  Here is a link to the website.

Having previously been a follower of Brenda Kinsel, the author of several wonderful books, including 40 Over 40, who sadly succumbed to cancer in Autumn 2020, I’d already learned what works for me from a fashion perspective. But, who doesn’t love a blog that tells where all of the best sales can be found every Sunday?

This morning I read Megan’s post titled The Year I Burnt It To The Ground about her journey to letting go of toxic relationships, working on self care and finding a new way to live with gratitude. That resonated with me because I’d experienced a similar reset at about the same age, hitting the reboot button and recalibrating who I wanted to be, how I wanted to live, and what steps I had to take to get there. 

I was fortunate to have my Al Anon family group provide support along the way and impress upon me that life is a journey that would require constant work to live a life of serenity. Reading Megan’s post reminded me that every time someone bravely shares such a journey, they give hope to others.

So, I continue to share bits of my journey and tools I use to keep on a positive path with wellness, happiness, abundance and gratitude.

* let go of resentments,..forgive yourself for being imperfect

* love your neighbor or family member, but sometimes at a distance. Detach with love

* make a gratitude list

* let go of people, places & things over which you have no control. Essentially everything but your own attitude or reaction.

* practice yoga or take a walk or meditate or run or perform community service or get a massage or take vitamins. 

* tell your loved ones how much you love them, often.

* eat healthy foods, but indulge in a piece of pie/ cake/ cheesecake/ cookie/ chocolate occasionally


* turn off the TV, put down the phone or iPad, limit social media, go outside and absorb the beauty of our world 

* read a book

* pick up the phone and talk to people instead of sending a text or email.

* send someone an actual card through the mail

* try something
* share your life with  a dog, cat, hamster, fish, bunny or another sentient being.

* be kind, do the next right thing, avoid somebody else’s drama

* laugh 

Just a few things that have helped me on my journey, which continues each minute, hour, day….

Sunday, September 25, 2022

My 45th High School Reunion


Last weekend I attended my 45th High School Reunion, the Class of 1977 in Logansport, Indiana…the Logan Berries. We played football in the berry patch and basketball in the Berry Bowl. Our mascot…Felix the Cat. Jimmy Carter was President. There were no mobile phones, personal computers, voice mail, email, satellite TV,, eBay, on- line banking, MTV, CNN, Digital music, global warming, school shootings, beach volleyball at the Olympics, ‘woke’ ideology,  Fox News, Sirius radio, blogs, Facebook, TikTok, micro breweries, or Kardashians. 

We still believed in the American dream; baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet; hometown parades; the work ethic; fairness; that every person who worked hard could achieve his or her dreams; before the embassy takeover in Tehran; before 9/11;  before we lost a collective belief in America.

But what I experienced at my 45th reunion was a collective appreciation for who we are in 2022, how far we’ve come since 1977, the fact we have not only survived…but thrived through the years, the changes, the heartache, the losses, the triumphs, the good times, the bad times, family drama, children, grandchildren, different belief systems, varied geography, political differences, life choices….we came together as strong survivors of the 70s filled with contentment, joy, appreciation for where we’ve been how far we’ve come, and how much we still have in common…from the same place and time…filled emerald gratitude that we were able to meet again and remember our commonality. 

Photo: me with my 90 year old dad๐Ÿ’™

Monday, August 22, 2022

Wake Up America! Our Civil Legal System is Broken!

I urge you to follow this link and read the article. A jury in Georgia decided to award the adult children of two individuals who died when their 2002 Ford truck rolled over after a tire blew. It was alleged that Ford failed to ensure the vehicle could with stand rollover impacts and prevent death. 

The jury awarded punitive damages in excess of One Billion Dollars! Apparently, a jury of the typical American’s peers believes that manufacturers of automobiles should ensure the safety of occupants to a degree that requires punishing the company, the American public and international purchasers of Ford vehicles to an extent that could cause the company to raise its prices significantly or fold the business…thus putting untold numbers of people out of work.

Billion! What had happened to the intellect of the 21st century juror who can, with any sense of competence render such an award!?

Where do these numb skulls think the money comes from? It isn’t from fairy dust. Do you know who pays for these ridiculous verdicts? We do. You do. How?  Higher insurance premiums. Higher prices for goods and services. American companies deciding to close manufacturing plants, trucking companies, retail stores, wholesale operations, shipping companies, pharmaceutical research, construction of new buildings,  research into new products. 

There is risk in everything we do, every step we take, every breath, every transaction. People make mistakes. But most do the best that they can with the knowledge and tools they have at the time. Stop it now!

Do you want to pay $80k for a car? $45 for a roll of toilet paper? $200 for a ladder? Higher maintenance fees at your condo? Higher state taxes? Fine if you do. Otherwise, stop and think. 

Who do you think really benefits at the end of the day? For the Ford case, the state of Georgia will get 75% of whatever punitive damages mat be left after years of appeals. The attorneys representing the beneficiaries of the estate will rake in 40% of what is left. Ford will just raise prices to cover the costs. And whatever portion is covered by insurance will result in increased premiums for everybody. 

This system is broken. We need tort reform, limits on non economic damages, caps on punitive damages and limits on what plaintiff attorneys can charge. People! Wake up! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Listening to Rain


This has been a rainy day. When I headed out mid afternoon for a long overdue massage to release back pain, it was necessary to embrace a torrential downpour to run from my car to the spa. Instead of resenting the rain and my resultant drenched self, I decided to embrace the downpour and laugh. The rain didn’t cause injury, just a bit of wet clothes and hair, all of which dried while I indulged in the pleasure of a healing massage in the middle of a workday afternoon. For me, that is essential therapy, an exercise that is necessary for me to stay healthy, pain free and able to endure yet another reorganization of my workgroup. There have been so many in the last 7 years and 6 weeks that I’ve no ability to quantify. 

Because I’d embraced self care during the workday, of course I logged back on to my VPN when I arrived home followed by my 2 miles on the treadmill, an exercise that helps me shed the stress of the day and leaves me calories to guzzle a bit of fermented grape…today a bit of Greenhill Blanc de Blanc…why not I bit of bubbly in the middle of theveeek! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

After my cooldown I retreated to the screened in porch porch with our two indoor spoiled cats, Mindy and Anya, to listen to the rain. What a glorious sound! There are few sounds as peaceful as the drops of rain combined with the smell of the freshness that a hard rain brings. It is smooth peaceful, to sit in the dark with a flute of bubbly and purring cats…it elevates all of my senses. I know I will enjoy peaceful sleep tonight.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Reflections on Turning 63


I celebrated my 63rd birthday a few weeks ago. I’m not sure how I got here. I recall snippets of memories from my childhood, my teens, my university years, my party days, my first marriage, my life overseas, and the last 18 years in rural Virginia enjoying a healthy relationship, 3 acres of rocky ridge land, a plethora of cats,  wine tasting, great cooking, a mesmerizing fountain, and peaceful hours reading books, enjoying the sounds of nature, my few excellent friends and contentment. 

Sometimes it feels as if I’ve lived several lives…like the Shakespeare quote about an actor playing many roles. But what really resonates with me is my desire to reconnect and embrace my Midwestern roots. Virginia is my home. I’ve found family history in Winchester back to the Revolutionary War. It is where I am settled and at peace.

But, I owe my foundation, my ethics, my code, my belief system to where I was raised In Logansport, Indiana.

My husband, a native of Lennawee County, Michigan, feels the same. We are who we are because of the way we were raised, to believe in fairness, law & order, the miracle of the USA and its Constitution, the concept that we are all created equal and deserve equal opportunities, that it is necessary to work hard to achieve success, that giving back to community is important, the golden rule, acceptance of people for who they are, and that kindness is always the right way to go.

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, successes and failures, joys and heartache, good fortune and challenges, highs and lows, celebrations and depression. But overall, I know I have been blessed. Even the difficult times when I thought I would not be able to crawl out of the abyss to see the light again, I’ve found the strength to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.

Lessons I’ve learned helped me to reset my hard drive from a place of negativity to an attitude of positivity. If I can do that, so can you. Celebrate the beauty in every day and practice an attitude of gratitude. It will change your life. It changed mine and helped me to accept the aging process with joy, humility and gratitude. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Press on Nails 2022

Those  of us of a certain age surely remember the cheesy commercials from the. 70’s advertising Lee Press on Nails. We howled with laughter at  the awful faux fingernails that resembled construction paper pasts ons. Press on nails did not compute. They seemed tacky and low brow. But, those of us at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation still had youthful, strong fingernails that could flick the pull of a Coke can with nary a scratch.

Forward 45 years. Our strong as horse hoof nails have deteriorated to thin, brittle shadows that we never expected. When my mom complained of skimpy nails I suggested she embrace jello. Well, apparently diet can’t save us from the vagaries of aging.

WTF! I awakened one day to discover my previously concrete nails had become brittle, thin, sad, ridged, aged examples of deteriorating youth. This I never expected. I thought strong fingernails were ageless. How wrong! 

I tried cuticle oil, nail strengthening,  o poly shower, short nails, gel polish and every remedy I could find. Nothing worked. Gel looked Brest, but destroyed the nail bed and natural nails.

So, a few weeks ago I read about the modern glue on nails that received rave reviews. They became popular during COVID lockdowns. I was suspicious of the product. But, I started to conduct red arch and discovered that glue on/ press on nails had evolved exponentially in the last decades including mail safe glue and an abundance of options in length, shape, application and price point. Wow! I am amazed how natural they look with easy application att a price point far less than even a regular manicure that lasts less than a week. 

I am sold! You can buy these press on nail at the grocery store, Target, Walmart and specialty retailers online. 

Cheap options: Olive & June.

Upscale: Static Nails or LA Nails.

And if a nail falls off, you can glue it back on. No downside. Lots of options. And a set lasts up to 3 weeks. 

Monday, July 4, 2022

Give Patriotism a Try This 246th Independence Day | Let Go of Anger


Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime..Mark Twain

I have been privileged to travel extensively through Europe and East Asia which included 6 years living abroad. Living on foreign soil gave me the opportunities to break the bubble of organized tourism that most Americans, including those in the political class, experience. Those who travel in that bubble on the plush heated or air conditioned coach, or luxury staterooms on a cruise, stay in western style hotels, and dine in carefully selected restaurants do not truly see a country. Instead, these travelers are escorted by guides or handlers to meetings, historical sites, cultural shows, museums, ruins or places that insulate the traveler from scenes of poverty, pollution, environmental devastation,  oppression, disregard for safety or government surveillance. ( with the exception of Kuala Lumpur where they drive tourists by the prison and mention execution for drug possession).

In the USA at this moment we have cultural and political divisiveness that is exacerbated by 24/7 media, partisan politicians, inflammatory rhetoric, an undereducated population taught that the sins of the Founding Fathers stain generations of sons and daughters, the devaluation of a liberal arts education that teaches critical thinking, an inability to recognize that America promises opportunities but not outcomes, and that we the people can alter the course of history by getting involved at the grassroots level and working to change what we don’t like through peaceful persuasion. 

I’ve spoken to a multitude of immigrants who came to this land for political freedom, religious freedom, freedom of protest, the right to due process, the right to avoid persecution, the ability to start with nothing and create a peaceful life, a small business or a conglomerate, a chance to start over, the right to an attorney if arrested, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, an infrastructure that provides people with access to clean water, mostly well paved roads, safe air travel, safe food, free primary and secondary education, libraries, and the right to remove government representatives we don’t like by casting a vote.

I still believe that America ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Contrary to what many want us to believe, this is not the most tumultuous time in our history. Read it. All of it. The good, the bad, the ugly, the great, the individuals who remain for the most part unsung heroes or heroines in somebody’s life. 

I felt most fortunate to be an American while   celebrating Independence Day in Taipei, Taiwan, a place separated from PRC by the 110 mile Taiwan Straits, shortly after the crackdown in Tiananmen Square, knowing I had an American passport and a ticket to freedom.

On the July 4, 2022~ A Reminder~ In Case You’ve Not Read Beyond the Preamble

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Supreme Court Was Right on the Law but Wrong In it’s Decision on Roe

The 49+ year debate over a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy baffles me. Why does anybody not involved in the decision care? How does this decision adversely affect another? Why do Right To Life people believe they should have any influence over another woman’s choices? Are any of these people donating significant dollars to raise an unwanted child? 

I was raised Catholic. I tend to support the Libertarian view that another individual should not infringe my rights in my bedroom, on my property or in my bank account. 

While I do believe from a strict reading of the Constitution that abortion is not specifically enumerated as a right, the 1973 court created a right with twisted interpretation. As Congress well knows, once a program or a right has been deployed, withdrawing that program or right becomes a hornets nest.

There has been a lot of discussion about legal precedent. Much has been said about the overturn of decisions such as Dredd Scott and Plessy. These cases were clearly wrongly decided. And the decisions to reverse course has been argued to support overturn of Roe.

But, there is a significant difference. Plessy and Dredd Scott deprived people of rights they should have had under the Constitution. Roe created rights that never existed and were not enumerated in the Constitution. Overturning Scott and  Plessy righted terrible wrongs and reinstated rights that should never have been abrogated.

But Roe created rights that had not been previously conveyed. American women relied on these created rights for 49 years. Withdrawing rights previous confirmed, notwithstanding the original error, is inexcusable. Women have come to depend on the rights expanded by Roe. How is removing the right to a safe and legal abortion any less heinous than attempting to nullify Medicare, Aid to Dependent Children, SNAP, or. Medicaid?

Again, why do you care? If you want to have a kid, do it. But do not tel anyone else how to live  their lives. Unless you plan to adopt, pay for and raise an unwanted child, STFU ! This issue should not be the subject of legislation in the states or the federal government.

And, if you really value life, don’t buy oil produced in Saudi Arabia. Don’t buy any goods manufactured in China or Mexico. Don’t purchase anything made Russia. Don’t put grandma is a nursing home. Invite a homeless person or refugee to live in your spare room. 

Monday, June 6, 2022

Reasons for Supporting the Second Amend


I am an avid supporter of the 2nd Amendment, which supports the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Too many apologists argue that 2A only applies to a well regulated militia. Anyone who actually studies history knows that the intent of 2A is to provide citizens with the means to protect the people from an oppressive government.

While many liberals in the 21st Century opine that the Founders of our Republic (not democracy) did not mean for the citizenry to be armed, history defeats this notion

Those who collaborated to write and ratify the US Constitution understood that governments and its citizens were often at odds. 

As examples, consider the 100 years war, the English  civil wars, the wars fought by the Church, the Crusades, the wars against heretics, the Spanish wars against the Moors, the French Revolution, the Chinese murdering citizens. In the time after the ratification of the US Constitution one must consider the War of 1812, the French & Indian War, the Mexican Wars, the SpanishAmerican War, the Spanish Civil War, the Pograms in Russia,  Kristalnacht, the Holocaust, the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s Red Guard, the Vietnamese re-education camps, Pol Pot’s killing fields, Tiananmen Square

 in China, the repression of the Hong Kong people, Cuba, Venezuela, Erdogan in Turkey, the Theocracy in Saudi, despots in Iran/Syria/  North Korea, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Russia invading Ukraine, Serbia in the late 20th Century, Amin in Uganda, Cuba, Venezuela, leaders supporting the Soviet Union east of the Iron Curtain. These are regrettably just a few of the autocrats that have subjugated people within its territories. One of the most heinous is the repression of Hong Kong, at one time one of the freest, most Capitalistic places on earth.

China imprisons those who even mention Tiananmen Square patriots.

The federal government will not disarm its citizens because liberal idiots have failed to study history.

Read the writings of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. The intent of 2A it to protect citizens from oppressive government. History shows that corrupt politicians will exploit the citizenry when people give up rights. I will not give up my rights.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Troubled Sibling Relationships

 Anybody who grew up with siblings has, no doubt, experienced episodes of rivalry, anger, disagreement, schism, dysfunction at some point during life. I am the eldest of three, with a younger brother and sister. As children , we had pet rivalries and disagreements. As adults, however, it has occasionally felt as if we were raised in alternative universes or different planets with completely differing memories of childhood. 

At various times we have experienced estrangement. It is rare that all three of us have gotten along swimmingly together. It is generally two against one…with the simpatico siblings varying for days, months or years. 

The most challenging relationship has been that my younger sister and me. We are four years apart in age, both born at the end of the baby boom, but unable to see eye to eye on much of anything. I’ve been fortunate to experience life in technicolor since my teen years . I’ve studied and lived overseas, work in corporate America, consistently try new things, embrace all that life has to offer, and have been blessed with a renaissance that began with my second marriage in 2006. 

My sister is a whip smart mother of two with a PhD and teaches at a university. She has suffered with an autoimmune disorder for 17 years. I admire her resilience and determination to live as normal a life she can despite her health challenges. 

But, we’ve never seen eye to eye when it comes to family. Her theory of raising children:  milk spoils. You cannot spoil children. This has been at the core of our schism at every turn. In fact, my father, brother and I never mention her children or husband when we have a rare conversation. It never goes well. But, after several glasses of a fine Cabernet a few weeks ago I was compelled to reach out about a proposed mini family reunion over Memorial Day weekend. None of us truly believed she would make the trip to Indiana to see our 90 year old father. When she suggested another time, I reminded her that when one is 90, every day is a remarkable gift. That did not resonate. So, in my wine fueled state, I texted what I thought. And, I’m okay with it. 

 Amber it was better to cut the head off the snake now rather than later. I am at peace.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

What to write about to avoid family angst?

 I’ve been writing this blog since 2013. During the first few years I focused on issues that spoke to me. Then, I started  to question the wisdom of being completely honest about my views while I’m employed by a multi national corporation. A part of me has felt repressed because of my employment situation. Further, I’ve been hesitant to express myself because of concern my bold approach to writing could reflect negatively on a family member that has diametrically opposed views.

At this juncture, I’m prepared to set the record straight. I may change names or omit them to protect the not-so- innocent. If a family member feels tossed under a bus, there must a reason. There are reasons from my humble perspective.  Our parents gave us every opportunity to succeed and paid for our undergraduate education. If one does not appreciate that, or chooses to espouse positions that are anathema to my understanding, I will call them on it.

What I will not do, is toss my parental units under a bus, tractor trailer or train. My mom & dad always said they would support usb in achieving an undergraduate degree. They overcompensated in supporting my niece and nephew who have no gratitude or appreciation for the support of their grandparents. They have not expressed any interest in their maternal grandparents. As such, they deserve nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nothing. Not even a scintilla of consideration. I am appalled at the failure to show even one iota of gratitude. 

So, our estates will go to charitable organizations, including my parents’ scholarship fund. Our cats have shown more appreciation than certain relatives. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ