12. The smell of roses…my V-day footnote

Ahh, Valentine’s Day…day of roses, chocolates, candy hearts, and love.  As soon as New Year’s Day passes, the stores’ shelves turn into an endless sea of pink and red. Over the years, I have come to develop a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day, “V-Day,” as I call it…all stemming from February 14, 1988-the last day I spent with my mother.


I really did intend for my next post to be a knee-slapping, fun-loving tale where I entertained you with an embarrassing story from my past and then enlightened you with some kind of “purpose, passion, and love” life lesson.  But, with the 30 year anniversary of my mother’s death just days away, I needed to share a different story.


This post is not so much about that terrible day but rather the aftermath..the days that followed where life was just never quite the same again.  It’s about how days like that change you in ways you don’t expect…ways that create a little footnote to your story that needs to be explained to anyone new in your life.


I won’t torture you with all the sad details of my mother’s passing.  It was difficult and tragic.  I was 15, just months away from a 16th birthday that no one dared to call “sweet.”  My mother was only 49 years young and had just accepted a new job that not only offered her a great salary but also a boss that truly appreciated her skills and talent.  After a few unexplained episodes of dizziness and other symptoms, she was admitted to the hospital for further testing.  No one had any idea what was wrong and her doctors gave us no indication that her condition was life-threatening.

On the evening of February 14, 1988, my father and I visited my mother.  It was Valentine’s Day, so I purchased a single long-stemmed red rose from the hospital’s gift shop and gave it to her. I then proceeded to spend the rest of our visiting time watching television and not talking with my mother, something to this day I feel guilt and anguish over.  As we left that evening, I told my mother I loved her and kissed her goodbye…not knowing it would be the last time.


            My beautiful mother, Lorraine when she was in her twenties

The next morning, I was awakened by my mother’s voice which woke me out of a deep sleep.  I looked at the alarm clock on the nightstand and it read 8:33 a.m. which I later learned was my mother’s time of death.  No lie.

It was a Monday but also President’s Day and the beginning of my Winter Break.  I got up, poured myself a bowl of cereal, and got ready for a lazy teenage day at home alone.  A few hours later, I saw my sister and father pull up in my dad’s car and watched through the window as they made their way toward the house, carrying the single rose I had given my mother the night before.


The days that followed were a blur of intense grief and complete shock.  30 years later I can remember only scattered details of the funeral home, church, and service…some appear sharper than others in my memory’s eye. The one memory that has stayed with me as if it were just yesterday is not one of sight or sound, but that of scent.


We had several days and nights of visitation so that relatives near and far had time to travel to New York to pay their last respects to my mother.  Because she was so beloved, flowers, primarily roses, poured in from all around the country.  The air was filled with the strong fragrance of several-day-old bleeding hearts and other floral arrangements…roses taking center stage in the battle of the scents.

From that day forward, the scent of roses has had the ability to return me to my 15 year old self, sitting in the largest room of the Moore Funeral Home, stunned by the realization that I would have to live out the rest of my life without my most important person.  From that day forward, I became a part of the minority of women who do not like roses, especially on Valentine’s Day.


Don’t get me wrong…I think roses are truly exquisite flowers.  Regardless of form or color, they possess a duality of strength and fragility.  Their razor sharp thorns protect them as they mature from tightly wrapped bud until they unfold petal by petal into sensual bloom. It is no surprise that they are a flower of strong emotion, delivered and received with great joy to celebrate friendship, deep love, romance, and passion.

But as I said, the aftermath of great loss can change a day of love into a day of sadness, a flower of romance into a flower of grief.  After receiving roses from my first serious boyfriend, I decided that I would tell my Valentine/rose story to all future love interests and have done so up until my current relationship.  As I have in the past, I recently shared my story, notifying J that roses were on my “do not like” list.  I always feel awkward and embarrassed saying that, as if I’m telling someone I hate puppies or babies. If he thought my feelings about roses was peculiar, he didn’t show it and instead listened empathetically.

As I approach this Valentine’s Day, the 30 year anniversary of the last time I saw my mother, I find my attitude toward roses beginning to change.  This is the first year since my mother’s passing that I really want to like roses.  Instead of holding on to the pain of the past and surrendering to the power I have given to my grief, I hope to move on and embrace all the beauty and fragrance the roses in my life may bring me.

For so long I have been like a tightly wrapped bud, resisting the natural process of healing and growing. It has taken me 30 years to realize that it’s harder to resist change than it is to allow change. So, on this February 15th, I will say a little prayer to my mother, tell her how much I love and miss her, and then I will head down to the local florist and purchase for myself a single beautiful rose in full bloom.

On that day, I will attach a new memory to roses and revise my V-day footnote so that it no longer describes me as someone that does not like roses, but rather someone who embraces the opportunity to blossom.


Peace ☺ and love ♥

11. Latch-key kids and dumpsters…being your own guru

I recently saw the quote, “I was a latch-key kid and I turned out just fine” and it brought back many memories from my childhood.  When I turned nine, my older sister went away to college in upstate New York and was no longer around to watch me after school.

At the end of each school day, I would head to the candy store across from my elementary school and buy one of my favorites–either Whoppers, Razzles, or Goldberg Peanut Chews.  The crossing guard would then help me safely across the busy street (Rockaway Parkway) that my school was located on and I would walk the remaining four blocks to my home.


Once safely inside my house, I would tear into the day’s candy bag while watching my favorite shows, Dukes of Hazzard and Little House on the Prairie. I never felt unsafe or abandoned by my mother and father, who both worked 9-5 to help our family of four stay afloat.

Among my close friends, I was the only latch-key kid.  All my girlfriends had stay-at-home moms that greeted them each afternoon with a special snack, hug, and help with their homework.  I learned to make my own snack, was satisfied with the furry hug and wet slobber of my German Shepard-Collie mix, and worked out each math problem all by myself.

None of this really bothered me.  In fact, many of my friends enjoyed coming to MY house after school where we could do homework and play without a meddling parent around. So each day, alone or with a friend, I was without an adult until my mother arrived home between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m.


It was only during the summer months that I resented the fact that both my parents worked.  It was during these months that I wanted to be like everyone else and have my mother around to take me to the town pool or beach where I could meet up with friends and family and enjoy beach picnics and treats from the ice cream man.  Instead, I was shipped off, like a boarding school kid, to a day camp located nearly an hour from my house.

At first I was quite resistant to going away to camp mainly, because I wanted to spend the summer with my friends.  My mother assured me I would make new friends–special “camp friends” that I would get to see every summer when I returned to camp.  Returned?!?! I couldn’t believe my mother expected me to go back again the following year!!

As usual, my mother was right.  I did make wonderfully special “camp friends” that first year.  I enjoyed many activities such as swimming, hiking, art, canoeing, and so much more.  I even helped lead my camp group to a first place win in the talent show by choreographing the moves to our “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” musical skit.

In addition to making new friends, I also discovered a side of myself that had yet to emerge—that of a leader. Among my school friends back home, I had always been more of a follower than a leader.  As one of the tallest girls in my grade who also went through quite the ‘awkward stage’ in my pre-teen years, I enjoyed blending in with the pack, rather than standing out.  But in camp, my wallflower tendencies melted away in the hot, summer sun.  I was not shy and was unafraid to stand out in the crowd…in fact, I kind of liked it!

On the last day of camp, we all boarded the bus to go to the movies together.  The new comedy, Airplane was playing and we were all excited to see it!  As we exited the bus, we eagerly chatted about who would sit next to who, what snacks we would buy at the concession stand, and how happy we were that we would be seeing each other the following summer.



We walked single file through the parking lot toward the theater’s entrance.  As we approached a big dumpster in the parking lot, I watched as each student walked dangerously close to the dumpster and when arriving at the long metal arm used for lifting, they ducked under the metal piece as if they were doing the dumpster limbo!  One by one, each student ducked in time, safely passing under the metal arm.  Each time a student passed under, I thought to myself, “That was close…I’m not sure I want to do this.”

Soon, it was my turn and I had to decide whether I would step safely around the dumpster or follow all the campers before me and duck under the arm.  At the last second, I made the decision and like all the others before me, I followed their lead and began to duck under the dumpster’s arm.  Unfortunately, I did not account for my height and I misjudged my ducking, slamming my forehead into the metal arm with ample force.


Within minutes, the bump on my head swelled to the size of an orange!  My counselors gave me an ice pack and had me sit in the theater’s lobby, not far from the tasty popcorn and snacks I would no longer be enjoying.  All my friends headed into the theater while I waited for my mother to make the long journey to pick me up and take me home.  I could hear the sounds of laughter coming from the theater and sat there quietly sobbing from the pain of my injury and the sadness of missing out on our end of camp excursion.


So, what have I learned from my nine-year old self? Well, as a latch-key kid, I learned independence, something that is not given freely or at least early in today’s age of helicopter parenting.  I have tried to be less coddling with my daughter and have seen her maturity and independence grow in leaps and bounds because of it.

In that moment when I had to decide whether to step around the dumpster or follow the other campers under the metal arm, I had the opportunity to not only be smart, but bold and step around the path of ‘followers.’ I could have lead others behind me to do the same but instead, resorted to my follower mentality. For that, life rewarded me with a figurative and literal whack on the head!


As I stepped up to that dumpster and prepared to duck under its metal arm, I ignored my inner voice, my personal guru, telling me what action I should take.

We all look for answers in our lives…answers that will help guide us to make the best decisions in our personal lives, careers, finances, etc. Many of us have our go-to advisers, those people we look to when we face difficult choices.  It’s important to have these people in our lives to give us an outside perspective that we may not see ourselves.  However, after listening to this advice, it’s important to keep in mind that—“you are the expert on you” and know what the best choice is deep within your core.

“I am serious” when I tell you that…

         You are today, and will always continue to be, “your own best guru!”

So, trust that voice and follow your own path and please, “don’t call me Shirley!!!” 🤣🤣🤣

guru2 I had almost forgotten this story until recently, when discussing the movie, Airplane with the man I’m seeing, J.  We were quoting lines from the movie, a game we like to play to see if we can stump the other…a game I usually lose.  All of a sudden, I was transported back to that theater and saw my nine-year-old self sitting pitifully in the lobby, with a huge knot on my forehead.  I shared the story with J and he suggested it would be a great topic for my next blog post. So, here is my shout out to him for helping me recall this memory and encouraging me to share it with my small, but hopefully growing, group of followers. 😘😘

Peace ☺ and love♥

10. Romance and roller coasters…thrill or churro?

We’ve all heard Rascal Flatt’s cover of the Tom Cochrane song,  Life is a Highway.  The song compares life to a road that we travel along.  When we share this road with someone special, life’s burdens and detours become manageable, motivating us to travel this road for as long as possible…or at least “all night long.”


If life is a highway, then romance is a roller coaster.  Whether it’s our first ride or fiftieth, we approach the line, ticket in hand, with the same excitement, apprehension, and fear each time.  As the ride operator pulls down our harness and checks that we are safely locked in place, doubt and fear flood the mind.

“Why am I doing this?  What if my harness fails and I wind up plunging to my death on the first inverted loop?  Maybe I should just call to the attendant to set me free and go get a churro instead.”

But then the thumbs up signal is given, and the car takes off before you have a chance to chicken out and run to the safety of the churro stand. Most coasters begin with a long and terrifying climb up a traditional ‘lift hill.’ This hill creates the potential energy that then turns to the kinetic energy necessary for the flips, turns, and exhilarating speed the car will experience.

During that climb, you say one last prayer as you approach the top, willing your harness and every nut and bolt holding your car on the tracks, to remain in place.  The view from above is breathtaking.   And in that last moment, suspended at the top, your heart beating out of your chest, you surrender to it and prepare for the ride of your life.


Like any high thrill coaster, online dating is not for the faint of heart. Most online profiles speak of loving the outdoors, fitness, music, and the beach. They boldly declare their mission of finding their best friend, partner in crime, or one true soul-mate…even though many are just looking for a “good times” friend, partner in the “sheets,” or one night “bed” mate. While some are upfront about their intentions, others falsely advertise who they are and what they are seeking.


In my profile, I mention that I am a roller coaster enthusiast, sharing that I love the thrill of all the emotions one feels as the car leaves the safety of the loading area and then screaming my head off as I enjoy every dip, twist, and loop.

Soon after writing my profile, I made the connection between romance and roller coaster rides while speaking to someone I had met on online.  After a few days of messages back and forth through the site, we had exchanged cell phone numbers and began texting.  The texting soon led to a phone conversation, which then led to a date.


In a week of texting and speaking over the phone, I had learned quite a lot about this man…his divorce, child, job, likes, dislikes.  Our conversation was easy, playful, and full of laughter. We already shared some private jokes that made our connection seem comfortable and genuine.  Each message or call was like the climb up the lift hill, building on possibilities for something more.

There are no set rules for online dating.  Some say don’t waste your time texting and talking but rather meet and see if the sparks fly as soon as possible.  Others feel the opposite, that ample communication should take place before a meeting is arranged.  I found myself somewhere in the middle and after some texts and a phone conversation that went really well, was ready to see what happened when our car “reached the top of the lift hill.”

Before entering the restaurant the afternoon of our meeting, I found myself very nervous.  I had high hopes for a great in-person connection since we had already hit it off so well over the phone.  In the moment outside the door I felt that fight or flight response…walk through the door or make a run for the safety of my car.  I had to make a decision…what was it going to be?  Thrill or churro?

Luckily, I chose thrill.  I took a deep breath and walked right up to my date already waiting for me with a glass of wine at the bar.  We greeted each other with a warm hug and quick peck on the cheek or was it the lips? I was too nervous to take aim properly.

The rest of the date went as well as our messages and calls.  We had made it past the lift hill and were zooming along the track of real in-person dating.  While it’s still early, I am excited to see where it leads.  So for now, I’m just holding on tight, laughing and enjoying every dip, twist, and loop that may come my way.  More importantly, I am just really proud of myself for being brave enough to stick around for that thumbs up signal!

Peace and love ☺♥

9. I hope you dance…my wish for 2018

As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself, like many others, reflecting on the past year while looking forward to a new year of possibilities.  Looking back, 2017 was very good to me…and to my daughter. I can say with certainty that it was a year where both of us grew and changed for the better.


At the close of each year, as the countdown reaches zero and we welcome a new year, confetti fills the air, lovers share passionate kisses, and the song, Auld Lang Syne is sung by all.  This song, based on a poem by the Scot, Robert Burns is a reminder to remember and hold dear in our hearts the old friends of our past. It makes a toast to the year ahead with hopes of health and happiness for the future. I can’t seem to listen to the song without thinking about my mother and sister, both of which are no longer with us. The song brings to mind all the happy memories we shared as well as the many life lessons they taught me over the years.


In the short 15 years I had my mother on this earth, she taught me how to love with all my heart and soul.  She showed me the importance of empathy, kindness, and family. While I’ve lived more years without her than with her, we are cut from the same cloth and I am fortunate to have her admirable traits woven deep within my core.

My sister and mother at my sister’s college singing recital, 1984 Fredonia, NY

My only sibling, my older sister, was also my best friend and second mother from the age of 15 on.  She taught me more lessons than I could fit on this blog. Among the most important, she taught me to believe in myself and to never give up, no matter how hard the fight.  As a high school music teacher, she taught her students so much more than scales and breathing techniques.  She pushed them to be their very best and she inspired them to reach for their dreams.

My daughter and sister in the summer of 2014

Me, my daughter, and sister.   Christmas 2014 in Little Rock, Arkansas 

At the close of each school year, my sister would gather all her graduating seniors in her chorus room and serenade them with the song, I Hope You Dance.  Her students loved to hear her sing and were genuinely touched by the message she sent to each of them as they were about to head out into the real world–to live their lives without fear and never sit out any opportunity that life may put in their path.


Upon my sister’s death a few years ago, hundreds of past students attended her services.  On the last night of her wake, these students, joined by my daughter, returned the favor and sang the most beautiful, heart-felt version of the song back to her. Anyone who was there that night will tell you that they now have a special connection to my sister’s memory through this song.  For myself, when I hear it, I know it’s a sign from her, telling me to keep taking chances and going after my dreams and to never “sit out” any opportunity that life brings me.

So, inspired by the upcoming new year and the important messages my sister continues to send me to “dance,” I have included 4 lessons that I have learned in 2017 that I will carry with me into the new year.

1. When given the opportunity to do something amazing…do it!

2017 was a year of travel with trips to Florida, London, Paris, and Aruba.  Although these trips altogether were expensive, the benefits certainly outweighed the monetary cost. Experiencing a great deal of loss within a short period of time teaches you to seize the moment and make as many wonderful memories with loved ones as possible. rocketship

So, when the opportunity to meet cast members from the Harry Potter movies comes up, grab your wand and head to Florida..even if it’s just for a day and a half.  When a friend from your college days invites you to stay with her at her flat in London and suggests a few days in Paris, renew your passport and dust off your high school french.  And when your week to visit your late sister’s timeshare in Aruba arrives, pack your bikini and sunscreen and finally head to that “one happy island,” even if it’s a place that had been too painful to visit in the previous two years.

2. Take care of your body…it’s the only one you’re going to get.

2017 was also a year of committing to my health.  I began the year at my heaviest weight ever and within 6 months dropped almost 80 pounds. It was a strict program but I was dedicated to looking and feeling good and being around a long time for my daughter.  One year later, I have more confidence, energy, and a completely new fabulous wardrobe!


3. Put yourself first by finding out (or recalling) what makes YOU happy.

In 2017, I started to put myself first.  By recalling the things that used to bring me joy, I found myself again after being lost for a really long time.  My priorities still include the well-being of my daughter but I have learned how to balance my responsibilities as a mother with my responsibilities to making myself happy.  The biggest joy that is back in my life is writing.  This blog has become my saving grace, reminding me to never stop doing what gives you joy.


4. Don’t be afraid to love again…there is someone out there for everyone.

This year I was finally ready to enter the dating scene again.  After a bumpy and very hesitant start on a couple of online dating sites, I am hopeful that I will one day meet my Mr. Right-be it online or the old-fashioned way. Last month, my friend set me up with a great guy visiting from out of state and we had a wonderful time.  It felt so good to talk, laugh, and feel attracted to someone again.  The date definitely helped relight a flame that had been extinguished for too long. Although the idea of dating as a single mother in her 40’s is scary, I am excited about the future and the possibility of finding love again.


I hope you all have had a wonderful 2017 full of love, adventure, and many lessons to learn from.  My wish for all of us for 2018 is that we “dance” and “never lose our sense of wonder” when it comes to this amazing journey called life.


Dedicated to my beautiful sister and guardian angel, Michelle. ♥

Peace and love ☺♥

8. Tattoos and travel…finding my “something”

When I was 25, I traveled to Colorado with some friends to see the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks, Boulder, and other amazing sights.  The ten-year anniversary of my mother’s death had just passed and although I was happily living in Boston, surrounded by great friends, something was off. I was at a place in my life where I was searching for something.  I didn’t really know what that ‘something’ was but I was pretty sure I would find it in Colorado.

Before leaving, I not only decided on the places I needed to see on my trip, I also decided on the things I must accomplish. The first thing that I needed to do was find a very special place with a babbling brook where I could sit on a rock and listen to the sounds I was sure would help me find the “something” I was looking for.


                                                 Me and my babbling brook, Colorado 1997

The second thing I was determined to do while there, was to finally get the tattoo (my first) of a “tribal seagull,” inspired by the book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Before my trip, my good friend, Leah gifted me a special journal with an inspirational dedication page that featured the sketch she had drawn of my tattoo. It was before the time of Google, so I flew west, not knowing where I was going to get this meaningful ink.  However, I did know that like my babbling brook, I would find it and it would bring me closer to the “something” I needed to discover.

After many days witnessing the beauty of Colorado, I finally found my babbling brook. One of my traveling companions snapped the shot you see above and then left me to sit, think, and listen to the sounds I so needed to hear.  When they picked me up later that day, my friend, Eric was carrying a local paper with an ad for a tattoo parlor called Bolder Ink in Boulder, which was the next town we would be visiting.


The following day, journal in hand, the cutest tattoo artist you ever saw tattooed my tribal seagull on my right hip.  Placement of a tattoo is very personal.  For me, the most important thing was that I would be able to see my tattoo, since it was for me and no one else.  Once it was finished, I looked down and smiled.  It was as if my feathered friend had always been there.  Both this bird and my visit to the babbling brook brought me peace and gave me the “something” that I needed…something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  I returned to Boston refreshed, energized, and content.

Just this past April, I celebrated my 45th birthday by taking a trip to visit friends in London and Paris and by getting my second tattoo.  After a difficult stretch of years that included the loss of my sister and my divorce, I had to again begin the search for the “something” I needed to bring me back to life again.


The twelve days spent abroad were incredible.  The places I visited and people I met, were like the soothing sights and sounds of the babbling brook I had found in Colorado twenty years before.

Those who love to travel will understand when I share David Mitchell’s quote, “Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” There is so much beauty in our lives, yet sometimes one must travel far enough away from it to really appreciate it.  Somehow, visiting new places and meeting new people is just the refocusing tool needed to return to your own life with the “something” you need to be happy.

After returning from my trip, I knew exactly what tattoo I needed to get–a lotus flower. It was the perfect symbol to remind me of all the beauty in the world that persists no matter how difficult life may get.


I will always love to travel and dream of going many more places in this great big world.  But for the times when I cannot get away, I will just look down at my wrist with that perfectly beautiful lotus flower and know that the “something” I need is right there within me.


                  My lotus flower tattoo and an important message I need to remind myself often

Peace and love ☺♥










7. On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love…

I recently took my daughter to see the Jones Beach Holiday Light Show, something I try to do with her each year. One night (sometimes more) each holiday season, we jump in the car and head down the Ocean Parkway headed for the beautiful display of lights along the shoreline.


After paying the rather hefty car entrance fee, everyone turns off their headlights and enjoys the illuminated images of polar bears playing hockey, Santa fishing, musical instruments, angels, and so much more.

Halfway through the show, there is a turn-off where one can park and visit Holiday Village.  Here, families can enjoy hot chocolate, make s’mores on open fire pits, take a picture with Santa, or just relax and listen to music in the massive heated tent. Everyone is smiling, full of excitement for the upcoming holiday.  While under that tent, all the stresses of the holidays seem to melt away under the giant portable heaters.

On the night we visited, I experienced something else truly wonderful in the Holiday Village.  Upon entering the tent, hot cocoa in hand, we were met with smiles from perfect strangers. People actually stopped and allowed others to pass, saying “excuse me” if they happened to bump into you, and some even shared wishes for a Merry Christmas.  The warmth of the heaters was equally matched by the warmth of the people within that magical tent.

While sitting on one of the many comfy couches, my daughter and I enjoyed the holiday music playing.  As each song came on, those sitting nearby sang along and soon, we were all caroling together.  The last song that played while we were there was The 12 Days of Christmas.


I’ve always loved to sing this song but this year the words hit me a little differently than in the past.  The area we were in was filled mainly with families of children along with both their mothers AND fathers. Now, I’ve been a single parent for around three years, longer if you take into consideration the years I was married and may as well have been single! During the past three years, I’ve had my hands full and the last thing on my mind was the need or desire to get back into the dating scene.

But 2017 was a big year for me.  I made many life changes and began focusing on my health and happiness, both of which I had lost sight of for quite some time. As the year went on, I started to feel a shift in my attitude toward dating and soon signed up (hesitantly, mind you) for one of those online dating sites.

Now, who doesn’t know at least one person who met their husband or wife on Match or eHarmony?!?!  One of my best friends had met her husband online, so along with her help and the help of other close friends, I signed up, created my profile, uploaded some pictures, and was off. But I soon found that this process was really NOT for me.

I know what you’re thinking…I have to be patient OR my favorite comment, “Sometimes you have to kiss many frogs before you find your prince.”  Well, what if I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to the depressing process of swiping through people’s faces?!?!  What if I don’t want to kiss any frogs, especially those that are strange frogs that could have ‘warts’ or some other scary disposition?!?!

Needless to say, I have not enjoyed my time in the online dating scene.  If there is something positive that has come out of it, I have realized that I would much rather meet someone, as a friend called it, in a more “organic” way. This way does not include online surveys, cyberspace winks, or awkward photos of shirtless men in bed with their rottweiler.

So, getting back to The 12 Days of Christmas…have you ever listened to the lyrics??  “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree…two turtle doves…three french hens…” and so on.  Even though the song was written in the 1700’s, it makes you wonder what kind of true love would give you such terrible gifts!

As I sat in that tent singing along, I wondered about my true love and the gifts he would give me…once I finally found him, of course. So, in the spirit of the holiday I decided to write my own version of the song to my future mystery man.

Here goes, starting from 12 and working my way down:

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love should give to me…

12 jokes for laughing,

11 spontaneous moments,

10 simple gestures,

9 bedroom breakfasts,

8 warm embraces,

7 passionate kisses,

6 words of encouragement,

5 hugs for my kid,

4 vows of honesty,

3 love letters,

2 hands to hold,

and a lifetime of loving me.


Whether you are surrounded by your true love or a tent full of caroling strangers, I wish you all a holiday season and upcoming new year filled with love, kindness, and peace.

Love and Peace ♥☺

6. Seeing red…through Barney’s Purple Dinosaur head

This week’s theme is something I am quite familiar with…embarrassing moments.  We’ve all had our share but some of us, me in particular, have had a larger share than most.  I used to think these moments came to me frequently because of bad luck or terrible timing but as I grew older, I realized that some embarrassing moments can actually be blessings in ‘disguise.’  It just so happens that in this story, I was WEARING a disguise—that of Barney, the Purple Dinosaur.


I know what you’re thinking…you HATE Barney.  I couldn’t agree more.  I despised him before I was a mother, during my daughter’s toddler years, and even up until this day. His voice and his songs are like nails on a chalkboard.  When he begins to skip around singing, “I love you and you love me…” I have the strong urge to hurl…hurl something at the television and even hurl my lunch.  So now that we are on the same page about how strongly we all detest Barney, I can explain just how I wound up being him for a period of two weeks!


During my freshman year of college in Boston, my father fell on hard times. He had spiraled downward after my mother’s death and soon after, he lost his job and my childhood home.  The university I was attending was an expensive one, and even with scholarship and financial aid, I could not afford to stay there.  I moved back to Long Island before freshman year ended and moved into an apartment with my sister.  My plan was to attend Nassau Community College at night and work during the day to earn enough money to return to my beloved Boston.  I got a job working as an assistant to the Box Office Manager at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, which was the perfect location since it was directly across the street from the community college I was attending.

For an eighteen year old girl, it was a dream job.  I loved my coworkers, many of them around my age, and all the perks that went along with the job.  I could see concerts, Islander games, and any other event there for free.  Another huge perk was that I got to meet and even befriend many athletes, musicians, and other interesting people.  There was even opportunity to make extra money.


Nassau Coliseum concourse (as it appeared in the early 90’s)

For two weeks each summer, the Coliseum hosted a big outdoor fair with rides, games, and entertainment.  They offered the staff the opportunity to work certain jobs, such as manning the ticket or information booths, but there were only several positions available so you had to act fast.  Unfortunately, I had waited too long to tell the big boss that I was interested in working the fair.

“I’m sorry but there are no more positions available,” the general manager told me.

“There has to be something I could do,” I pleaded.

It was at that moment, that my friend, Rich, who worked in marketing, interjected, “What about Barney?”

They both looked at me with mischievous smiles on their faces.  It was as if the trap had been set and I had found my way directly into their 6-foot purple snare. Desperate, I agreed to take the position, one I was assured was a “piece of cake.” For future reference, anytime anyone describes something as a “piece of cake,” be leery because they are most likely lying to you.

Wearing the costume was extremely uncomfortable and smelled as if hundreds before me had spent many hours sweating in it, which of course, they had. It was a massive costume made up of two parts-a big furry body and a huge dinosaur head.  The nostrils in the dinosaur’s snout were the only openings and provided an obstructed view of my surroundings.  For this reason, I had a young girl accompany me around the fair.  She guided me as best she could around people, over the many wires of food trucks and carnival rides, and stopped me frequently to meet and greet my many fans.  Kids and adults of all ages hugged, kissed, and high-fived me throughout the night.

In the summer heat, it was not long before I was overheated and begging to get out of the costume. But I had a schedule to follow and was not allowed to end my shift until 8 p.m. each night. Another rule was that I could not talk nor could I remove any part of the costume in the presence of fans. My favorite part of each night was when I finally made it into the building’s concourse, waved at my adoring young fans through the glass windows one last time, and entered the privacy of the elevator that would take me back to my office.  Once inside the elevator, the massive head came off and I could see and breathe once again!!

On the last night of my stint as the big purple guy, there was a concert going on inside the Coliseum. Thousands of Lynyrd Skyryrd fans had packed the Coliseum to see the great Southern hard-rock band play.  As in the nights before this night, I happily made my way with my escort’s help to the door leading into the Coliseum’s concourse at 8:00 p.m. sharp.  My young fans followed me and pressed their faces against the glass, calling, “Barney!! Bye Barney,” waving as they sadly watched me head toward the elevator.

It was at this precise moment that the opening band for Lynyrd Skynard had finished their set and masses of fans spilled into the concourse for MORE refreshments.  I say more, because it soon became clear that these fans had already partaken in MANY alcoholic refreshments prior to this time.  Soon the young voices sadly saying “Bye Barney” were drowned out by the deep voices of many men shouting loudly, “Barney…hey Barney!”  Within seconds, I smelled the stench of beer. Through the nostril holes, I could make out the burly, tattooed forearms of these men as they surrounded me and began to jostle me back and forth like a human, or rather prehistoric, ping-pong ball.


Soon, the screams from the children outside were heard as they looked on with horror as their precious Barney was being attacked. The situation was becoming more frightening as the seconds passed and I lost sight of my escort.  I was about to take my head off and scream, “I’m not Barney!  There’s a girl in here that you are attacking!!” but I didn’t want to traumatize the young fans any more than they already had been.  I pushed with all my might to get through the crowd but each time I did, I was pushed back again.  Luckily, a security guard showed up and got me safely to the elevator.

Once inside, I ripped off the dinosaur head and tried desperately to calm myself.  My face was bright red, flushed from heat, fear, and anger as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. The security guard that rescued me helped me remove the rest of the costume and gave me some water to drink. Once it was clear that I was okay, we broke out into a fit of laughter that lasted the rest of the evening.


That security guard wound up becoming one of my closest friends and we spent many a night reminiscing about the embarrassing (and frightening) moment when I was attacked by Lynyrd Skynyrd fans while wearing a Barney costume. It was our story…one that bound our friendship. Because I could laugh about it (or rather because I survived TO laugh about it), I was able to turn a negative event into a positive one.

So, when you find yourself in an embarrassing or awkward situation, one that you think you may never recover from…remember my story.  As the saying goes, you may not be able to control what happens to you, but you can control how you deal with it.  In most cases, your best option is to just laugh out loud and with luck, you may be blessed with someone wonderful to laugh along with you!

Peace ☺ and love ♥

5. Year without a Santa Claus…am I doing it wrong?


Okay, so who remembers the movie, Mr. Mom?  Classic 1980’s John Hughes’ comedy starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr, where a father who loses his job, must switch roles with his wife and become a stay-at-home dad.  I know this movie is not a Christmas movie so you must be confused right now.

There are many great scenes in Mr. Mom but the one that has always made an impression on me is the scene where Keaton is learning the daily drop-off routine when taking the kids to school.  As he approaches the drop-off circle, his kids plea with him that he is “doing it wrong” which is confirmed soon after by several parents echoing the same sentiment…”Hi, Jack.  I’m Annette.  You’re doing it wrong.”

*Click the picture below for the video link for this scene!

mrmomThis phrase is one that haunts parents often as they deal with the challenging task of raising a child who will hopefully become an adult who is happy, kind, independent, responsible, empathetic, brave, loving, loyal, generous, and a whole slew of other important character traits. There’s no manual to follow and when it comes to your first (and for me, my only) child, you really are in uncharted territory.

As I just mentioned, my daughter is an only child.  The past five years have been especially rough on her as life has forced her to mature faster than most kids her age. In 2012, at the age of 8, she and I became co-caregivers for my sister who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the blood cancer, multiple myeloma.  The next two years were spent in and out of hospitals in Long Island, New York City, and eventually a last-resort hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I tried to keep life as normal as possible for my daughter during this time but anyone who has had any experience with cancer knows there is nothing “normal” about life with cancer.

During my sister’s illness and leading up to her death, I constantly second-guessed my decisions about what to expose my daughter to or hide from her. Death is a part of life and I knew this early exposure would not only frighten her but also make her stronger.  It had done the same for me when I lost my mother at age 15.

It was also during this time that my ex-husband and I were in the process of a divorce and soon she had to deal with him leaving the state and moving across the country.

Luckily, with the help of friends, family, support groups, and our love for each other, we survived these difficult years and are still standing today stronger than ever.  I’m proud of my decisions and though I do allow regret to creep in every once in awhile, I am at peace with the past and hopeful for the future.

So how does this all tie into Santa Claus, you might ask??? Well, as I said, my daughter has had to mature quite rapidly. Yet in many ways, she is tightly clutching onto the remaining aspects of childhood she has left.

Quickly approaching 13 and dealing with the changes that go along with that age, she still believes in Santa, the magical elves, and all the other mythical figures we share with our children.  Or at least she did, until this past summer.

As we prepared for another start of our school years, me as a 6th grade teacher and my daughter as a 7th grade student, we chatted about what she may need for school.

“I really need a laptop computer but don’t worry, I’m going to ask Santa to bring that for me for Christmas,” she told me with the sweetest, most innocent look on her face.


Now, to be clear and before I go any further, my daughter had posed many questions in the previous year about the logistics of Santa but never point-blank asked me if he was real or not.  She had even spoken in great length about how she could not understand why many of her classmates thought their parents were Santa.  This is mainly because the Santa gifts I had given her in the past were ones that I had told her I wasn’t really thrilled about (video systems, video games, and the over-priced fad of the year). Each time she would bring Santa up, I debated whether that was the moment to finally tell her.

Many have opinions about the right age and best way to break “the news.” I listened to the advice given by friends and “experts” on the internet that shared special letters and excursions to go on that would gently deliver the truth.  But because I knew the news would crush her, especially because Santa would lead to the truth about her elves, Smiley and Holly, I put off choosing a time and method…right up until that moment when she mentioned the laptop from Santa.  In that moment, it was as if my body became possessed with the Grinch or the Heat Miser, and I blurted out, “We have to talk.” She took one look at my face and she knew.

grinch               heatmeiser2

As the words spilled from my mouth, there was no eloquence, no sweet story about how Santa is in all of us and no one can ever take away the magic of Christmas…all of the things I had read I should do.  The more I talked, the more upset she became and soon we were both crying.  She then asked to be left alone and each of us retired to our bedrooms and had a good cry.  All I could think about was the scene from Mr. Mom and I kept telling myself, “You are doing it wrong.  You have done it ALL wrong!!”

When she emerged from her room, we hugged and I did the only thing I could think of to make the situation better…I took her down to Best Buy and bought her a shiny new laptop for school!  Since then there have been a few negative incidents…one involving her scrawling the word “lies” in the Target Christmas catalog.  But there have also been some positive effects too…the best one being that SHE now moves the elves around the house daily and has quite the creative flair for it!

img_2697                    img_2698

So what have I learned from this experience??? Well, I guess it’s that we all make mistakes and sometimes we “do it wrong.”  But sometimes, we have to just go with the moment and let our maternal (or paternal) instincts kick in.  Some moments require the special touch, the letter or eloquence of a poem to soften the blow.  While other moments call for that parental “ripping off of the band aid” when it’s just time to tell them that this is life.  In those moments, we prepare them for future losses and heartbreaks because life doesn’t always deliver news gently. And the most important thing we can do after we  dry their tears, is remind them of the many blessings they still have in their lives.

Peace 😊 and love ❤️


4. Sock, sock, shoe, shoe…what about you?

As I mentioned in my last post, this week’s theme is:  The Quirks of Daily Routine.  I say quirks here because what is normal for some, may seem absolutely crazy to others.  From the moment you wake up until the moment you rest your head on the pillow each night, you follow certain patterns or routines. I had never really given the subject much thought until this past week when a friend and neighbor posted a question on Facebook about whether there were others out there, like herself, who put socks and shoes on in the order-sock, shoe, sock, shoe.

allinthefamily**Click the picture above for the link to the video clip!

This post soon blew up, mostly with comments calling my friend and her routine insane.  Time and again, she stood her ‘one socked and shoed’ ground, deflecting all the negative comments with humor and many smiley emojis ☺☺.

Even when a friend challenged her by discussing the dangers of her routine, she did not falter.  The question was posed, “If a fire or other emergency were to occur in the middle of your one-at-a-time foot-dressing, wouldn’t it be dangerous if only one of your feet were protected from the cold and dirty ground when you ran outside to safety?”

A valid point, I thought.  But my friend adeptly dealt with this scenario stating that because her one foot was so well protected with both sock AND shoe, she could stand on that foot, like a flamingo and hop to safety. She further argued that at least she would have one dressed and protected foot whereas everyone else would soon have two cold feet in their single sock layer!

After reading her comments, I was intrigued by this sock-shoe dilemma so I turned to the one source that is always there for me when I am faced with life’s big questions…Google!  It turns out this very debate was first exposed in an episode of the 1970’s hit comedy, All in the Family. In the episode titled, Gloria Sings the Blues, Archie Bunker tries to correct his son-in-law, Michael (Meathead), who puts his sock and then shoe on one foot. Like my friend, Meathead is left defending his routine up until the time Archie storms out of the room ordering him to start doing it the “right way.”


Which leads me to the bigger question here…who decides what the right and wrong way is to put on your socks and shoes?  Or the direction you load the toilet paper?  Or the way you live your life?

At the end of the day, the only person that can decide the right way is YOU.  People may not like your choices or decisions.  They may call you crazy and criticize your ways. But you keep doing you and face that criticism with humor and lots of smiley emojis ☺☺

And if the negative energy the nay-sayers send your way start to bring you down, you just hop, like a flamingo, as far away from them as you can. Your one strong, protected foot will carry you further in life because you are not afraid to do things YOUR way,

3. Hitting my stride…with a little help from my friends

Ok, so as I begin post #3, let’s recap. Cliff notes summary: I rediscovered the things that bring me joy and found myself again with the help of Amazon Prime and standing up to my ex. With those big events out of the way, I felt it was time to set up somewhat of a routine for the future of this blog.

So far, I have gotten great feedback from my first two posts. Two of my friends, Jenn and Leah, both old friends from my days living in Boston, reached out with great pieces of advice. Both of these women have known me since I was in my twenties. They have seen me at my best and worst and I know that while we may no longer live in the same city, they are always there for me and vice versa. Today, Jenn lives nearby in New York and Leah lives on the other side of the world in New Zealand.


My old Beantown roomie, Jenn has always been my “in the know” friend. Quite the traveler and music buff, she’s one of those people that you can have an engaging conversation with on nearly any topic. She is one of the most generous people I know and also happens to be the best cook ever! I still dream of the beer-cheese soup and mouthwatering dish simply titled, ‘Cheese-Thing’ that she would make for us. I’m grateful she and her husband live nearby, as they have become my Broadway show and concert buddies. I’m looking forward to seeing the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play and the Bare Naked Ladies concert with them this spring! Maybe Jenn will bring a thermos of Cheese-Thing with her for a pre-play or concert snack!  A girl can dream…


As a blogger herself, Jenn suggested that I have themes each week to guide my posts. I loved the idea and am excited to do just that beginning with this week’s theme: The Quirks of Daily Routine. This theme presented itself to me when a friend from the neighborhood posted an interesting question on social media:

“Do you do sock, sock, shoe, shoe or sock, shoe, sock, shoe?”

As you can imagine, her question caused quite the stir and the responses were hysterical…well, maybe not so much for my friend.  But more on that in my next blog entry which will likely be called, Sock, sock, shoe, shoe.


  *Disclaimer:  The above is not from my friend’s post and does not represent the opinion of this blog.

I met my friend, Leah while working at the Boston Hard Rock Cafe on Clarendon Street.  Yes, among my many talents, I am also a damn good waitress and slinger of Hard Rock “pig” sandwiches and sizzling fajitas.  I have perfected my YMCA after much practice of standing on tables in my short, white dress embroidered with my name and chock full of collectible pins across my chest.

 hardrock2  Rita, one of the original Hard Rock waitresses, wearing the white dress I used to  wear.  My dress was shorter and tighter.
     The Hard Rock Cafe Boston in its original location on Clarendon Street.

Leah, who we affectionately called Kiwi, had moved from New Zealand to live near her brother in the states. She was hired as a hostess and we immediately hit it off.  Although she was 6 years my junior, Leah had an old soul. Life had handed her some difficult challenges yet she was never jaded by any of them. She had the purest heart and when she gave you a hug, it was one of those hugs that radiated the love she had for you.  Her hugs are second only to my daughter in my history of best hugs. Yes, I keep track of that kind of stuff.  Don’t you?

Many a night, after a long shift at the Hard Rock, Leah would come back to my apartment and we would stay up late talking about life, listening to music, and unwinding with a beer or a smoke.  I shared my writing and she shared her artwork.  She actually drew up the “tribal seagull” I described to her which would become my first tattoo dedicated to my favorite book, Jonathon Livingston Seagull.  I often thought that Leah knew me better than anyone else as she was able to read my mood without a word being spoken.

For these reasons, I was eager for her to read my blog because I knew she would understand just how important it was to me.  Her words of advice to me, after telling me how happy she was and how she had enjoyed the posts?  Keep going…I am looking forward to seeing the blog and your thoughts evolve.  With those words, I was up to the challenge to keep writing.  I made the decision that whether I had 1 reader or 1,000, I would use this blog to continue searching for my purpose, passion, and love of life.  I am hopeful that one day my travels will take me to New Zealand so that I may experience the beauty of the country and my dear friend’s warm embrace.


So, with help from my two life-long friends I have mapped the course for this blog.  I hope that you have enjoyed reading my posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  Tune in next time as we answer the incredibly deep life question:  Do you do sock, sock, shoe, shoe or sock, shoe, sock, shoe? I promise not to “drag my feet” and complete it as soon as possible!  Sorry, had to end it with a ‘corny’ joke!

Peace and love 😊❤️