Category Archives: Australia

The Liebster Award: Get to Know Me and Other Bloggers!

The Liebster Award: Get to Know Me and Other Bloggers!

Fellow blogger, Kim Acedo of Transformation Wellness for Women, nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is an award for bloggers to recognize and get to know other bloggers.

I was asked to answer some questions and I get the opportunity to nominate other bloggers to participate. Check out the blogs I nominate at the end – their writing inspires me and I am committed to reading, tweeting and commenting on their blogs because I know how much it means to me when my readers tweet and comment on mine [hint, hint!].

Yours, Heidi

Here are the questions Kim asked me to answer:

1. What makes you happy?

Spending time with my family: kids and husband! I also enjoy yoga classes, stitching, meditating, reading and writing. But I get a thrill in my heart when people respond positively to my work. Motivating and/or inspiring people makes me very happy.

2. Why did you start blogging?

After I retired from my marketing consulting business I wanted an outlet and I wanted to create/be a part of an online tribe. And as we were getting ready to travel out of the country for 5 months, it seemed like it would be a great way to keep in touch with people and explore parts of my creative side. At the suggestion from my son, I thought I would develop a forum to help teach women how to mother their kids by sharing my experiences, but the blog is morphing into something new and different; I plan on changing the title soon. [Suggestions are most welcome!] I still want to reach/teach women, but now in a different direction from just focusing on motherhood.

3. What is the best thing anyone has ever said about your blog?

Recently I was invited to a yoga retreat because of a post. Receiving comments that are appreciative of my perspective and life experiences makes my heart sing.

4. What is one piece of advice you would offer or one saying you live by?

I used to say that “life was too short for shit,” but now I find myself thinking, “if not now, when?” Meaning what is holding me back from joy and love and connection?

5. What are your top three bucket list items?

1) To create an outlet to reach women through life-transformation workshops and seminars.

2) To finally find a business partner who wants to work collaboratively with me.

3) To maintain my health and weight loss through the rest of my life.

Short term goal is to have my ankle heal so that my husband and I can resume real hiking.

6. What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?

Drinking expresso and stitching! And of course because I am a woman, dark chocolate anything!

7. What is one product or service you cannot live without?

My smart cell phone/tablet.

8. What is your favorite U.S. destination?

Bottom line is that I love being/visiting any place in which my kids are living. But other than that, I love visiting New York City, where I lived in my 20’s and my father and his wife still live. If it weren’t for the weather (and money!) I could see myself living there again. Other places that I want to return to are Hilton Head, SC, anywhere in Hawaii, and Crater Lake, OR.

But I have to admit that I am loving our new home town of San Jose, CA. We just moved to the downtown area and exploring all that is within walking distance is exciting to me. After living in the suburbs for 22 years, while raising our kids, I am experiencing a re-found love affair for city living!

9. What two countries make you the happiest to visit?

Spain and Australia. I loved visiting both and would be thrilled to go back to either/both again

10. What is your dream destination?

I know it sounds corny, but at this age and stage of my life, I want to go with and where my husband and/or kids are. And I would love to get a chance to spend time in Greece and Portugal someday.

I now nominate the following bloggers to answer these questions as well. Reading their posts has inspired me and my writing. I hope they accept this award because I can’t wait to read their responses!

Lisa Owens of My So Called Glamorous Life, The Adventures of a Domestic Engineer!

Lorrie Goldin of Shrinkrapped

Jennifer Arlin of Still Life with Crockpot

Janelle Daniels of Thirty Plus Mom

Dawn Quyle Landau of Tales From the Motherland

Susan Macaulay of My Alzheimer’s Story, the joys and sorrows of an amazing journey

Melissa of Psychobabble

Thanks for reading! I’d love to get to know YOU more as well. Would you care to answer a few of the questions? Please comment below!

 

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Buying a Bathing Suit Used to Suck!

 Buying a bathing suit use to a suck. It was a miserable, unpleasant experience that always left me selecting one that I hated the least. That all changed when I lost 55 lbs in 2011. It still isn’t as pleasurable as buying a new purse, but it is no longer traumatic. When I lost the weight, I didn’t do it to make bathing suit shopping easier. I did it because I didn’t want to end up in a hospital bed, weighed down by fat and medical problems stemming from being overweight, as my beloved aunt was that year.

Four years later my weight is still gone and I feel great but I am still getting used to my new body and what that means. Frankly I never believed it possible to lose that much weight, much less maintain it. I am embarrassed to admit that one of my apprehensions about our wonderful Australian sabbatical was that I would gain weight; to my amazement I actually lost weight while we were overseas. And one of my first thoughts after waking up from my three hour ankle surgery last November was concern about gaining weight. After a lifetime of dealing with food and weight issues, it takes time to retrain my mind.

One big adjustment has been buying a bathing suit. For years buying a new suit sucked. It was stressful because I never looked the way I wanted to. I never shopped for a suit in a store, preferring to try on suits in the privacy of my own home. I envied women who could walk in to a store and walk out with a bathing suit.

So you can imagine my panic when I found myself needing to buy a bathing suit on my way up to Tahoe for a long weekend with my son two years ago. We were heading up to spend some time together while my husband and daughter were traveling in Europe for her school’s choir trip. The house my son rented had a hot tub and by the time I realized I didn’t have a suit, we were too far away from home to turn back. As we approached Davis, CA I looked online and didn’t see any department stores listed, only a Target. I approached the store with a lot of stress and a pinch of panic thrown in for extra measure. You see while my new body walked in, it was attached to my old mind.

Within a few minutes of looking, I found a great looking suit, and lo and behold it fit—right off the rack! If you have ever been overweight, you can appreciate the flood of joy and relief I felt at that moment, standing in a Target dressing room, looking at myself in the mirror and loving what I saw. I wanted to run around the store, jumping for joy, but I knew my son was waiting in the car. So I paid for my new suit (and cute cover-up, because you know!) and strolled nonchalantly back to the car, as if nothing huge had happened.

But something huge did happen. I walked into the store with my old body image in my mind, but I walked out a new woman—one who can shop for bathing suits at Target! Now when traveling I no longer stress about packing pants or bathing suits (both of which used to be hard for me to find). I now travel lighter, figuratively and literally.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

What’s In A Name?

My blog needs a new name. I love the current name, but it no longer reflects who I am and what I want to write about. So I need your help.

On October 2, 2013, my son and I spent the day together in Carmel. He was restless and wanted to spend the day away from the 2nd company he had just started as he was concerned that it was not going to be all that he had hoped it would be. I was thrilled that he valued my thoughts as a sounding board. After talking for some time about his business he turned to me and asked me what I was planning on doing. At the time, we were preparing for our sabbatical in Australia and I had not given much thought for my future beyond packing up our place for the renters and moving overseas for 5 months. I knew I was closing down my marketing consulting business but what would be next for me was a mystery and I was going to figure it out as I went along.

My son, ever the idea person, said to me that I should do something to help other mothers be as good a mother as I had been to him and his sister. Of course, I was flattered and touched and then I started to think about it. Out of that comment (and my 24 years as a La Leche League Leader, helping young mothers to learn how to mother their babies through breastfeeding), I came up with the idea to start a blog and I called it, “The Magic of Mothering“. The idea was to write about my experiences of raising kids and to connect with other mothers, both in the trenches and beyond. And on November 21, 2013, I launched this blog site with my first post: I Had No Clue, a post about my becoming a mother.

As we were leaving for Australia, several friends encouraged me to write and share about our adventures there and so I added a section on our wonderful time as empty nesters in Australia and New Zealand. And I added pieces about motherhood and breastfeeding, although that time of life had long passed/changed for me. Additionally I have started to write more about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, although I have only posted a few of these pieces so far.

But the reality is that my life changed significantly when our youngest went off to college in the fall of 2013; I spend more time developing my creative side and on the yoga mat than I do mothering my kids these days.

And so this brings me to the need I have to change the name of my blog as focusing just on mothering is no longer accurate to what I do and what I want to write about. So I came up with a few ideas and would love your feedback.

Ideas so far:

Reinventing Heidi
Life Post Kids
I am Not Old and Dried Up
Post Kids Diary

Perhaps you have an idea after reading my blog. If so, please send me your thoughts on what my blog should be called. And if I end up choosing your idea, I will send you a present!

PS: if you are uncomfortable with posting your ideas publicly, please send me an email. I really want to hear from you!



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

My Tablet Died

I felt like having a funeral for it, but I am too overwhelmed by the stress of feeling disconnected, which is ironic due to the fact that I still have a smartphone and a laptop. But I had come to really love my Nexus 7 tablet. It wasn’t my first tablet, and it won’t be my last. The reality is that it only lasted 17 months, but I really used it a lot, especially having experienced multiple hard drive crashes last year.

My first tablet was a Nook. I bought it after a trip in which I was charged a fee for being over the airline weight limit due to all the books I was carrying. As soon as I landed I made the switch and have never looked back – I have also come to depend on having a full dictionary at the tip of my fingers (both the Nook and Kindle apps have them).

And then last year I had terrible luck with my laptop experiencing four hard drive crashes, two of which occurred while we were living and traveling in Australia. According the Dell it was just a string of bad luck, and they finally upgraded me to a newer, faster, and better laptop. Note to self: always buy the extended warranty! According to my kids, it was all Dell’s fault for not being Apple. No matter who is at fault, I came to rely on my Nexus 7 even more than I thought I would when I bought it to replace my Motorola 10” which I bought to replace my (original) Nook.

I chose the Nexus 7 because it was small and lightweight and came unlocked, which meant I could use any carrier for coverage in the states or overseas. It worked beautifully until it didn’t. I won’t end up losing any data, and while inconvenienced for a few days it is not a big deal in the scheme of things.

But the issue is the withdrawal I am feeling from not having my tablet in my purse, by my side or in my hands. I feel disconnected. I know that real connection for me is when I am able to be with real people in real time. However the illusion of connection from being online is huge. And I was sucked into the false sense of connection through my tablet.

For Christmas 2010 we took the kids to Costa Rica and had a terrific time. Part of what made that family vacation so great was that we went unplugged. No smartphones, no tablets, no online distractions, only us. We connected by being together and playing games. It was wonderful. We all felt a little bit of electronic withdrawal at first, but it wasn’t long before we were just playing and enjoying being in a beautiful place on the planet.

So I was bit surprised at the depth of loss I felt when my tablet died the other day. The good news is that I didn’t panic, no momentary thoughts of crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head—which I literally did in 2001 when I experienced my first hard drive crash. The other good news is that it died just two days before I was off for a three day stitching retreat with some girlfriends, which is the ultimate in connecting in my book.

Knowing how to take care of ourselves is critical. For me, hanging out with my family and/or good friends is a great way for me to mother myself. Connecting online is fine, but nothing beats as connecting in person.

How have you coped when your technology has let you down?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Moving

Moving has always been considered one of life’s most stressful events. It is right up there with death and divorce. So what does it say about me that I actually enjoy moving? I know that it is a lot of work and a huge hassle. Moving brings chaos at all stages: packing, the moving, resettling. But I really like changing my environment. Does this make me a stress junkie? Unstable? Or what?

I like moving to a new home and organizing our furniture and live in a new and different way. I like imagining myself in new spaces as this allows me to picture myself in new ways. For me, a move means being able to have new dreams for what I want in and out of my life. It opens up new ways for me to create a life I want. Moving into a new space feels fresh and sparkly to me. It is a way that I mother myself.

When we moved back to northern California in 2008 we downsized in order to afford a home in a community with great public schools for our daughter. [It was a bonus that our son started a university that was a short 15-minute drive from where we moved.] Going from 3000 square feet to 1400 square feet was a huge challenge. I held estate sales and garage sales and Craig’s List Sales before the move. After unpacking into our 5 walk-in closets and installing an armoire, we were able to squeeze our full household into a lovely, but small, condo that met our ‘big picture’ needs: good public schools, near my husband’s work, in a community that was safe, welcoming and friendly.

Now, seven years later, we no longer need the local public schools. Additionally, we liked living a more urban lifestyle during our time in Australia. So we are opening our lives to moving chaos once again. For me, this will be my 17th move (not counting various college apartments and dorms). The joke is that I don’t know how to clean a house, but I sure know how to pack and unpack one!

But moving isn’t a joke. It takes a lot of work to muster up the energy to make such a change. And even though this is a local move, only 20 minutes from where we have been living, we will need to recreate our lives using new services: yoga studio, grocery, pharmacy, pet store, coffee shop, dry cleaners etc. And it might mean that some of our friends will choose to drop away because we no longer live nearby.

We hope to make new friends while keeping the old ones—that childhood song wasn’t wrong, after all! The optimist in me believes this is possible, but the realist knows that while absence makes the heart grow fonder in poems, many people are more the “love the one you’re with” kind of friends. In other words, proximity determines contact. This is one of the stresses and downsides to moving: we risk losing friends who we like.

Only time will tell who stays in our lives and who doesn’t. Did our year in Australia weaken friendship bonds such that this move will break them? Or have we made good enough friends for whom location doesn’t matter? Do they value us and the joy we bring to each other’s lives more than the convenience of running into each other while doing errands around town?

The bottom line is that this is a good move for us. We are getting a large home in an urban environment that is close to my husband’s work but not too far from family and friends for a LOT less money.

Here are some photos of our new home, staged by the previous owners.

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Moving is a crap shoot, either our lives will be better or they won’t. Most of the time it is a mixed bag: I am already thinking about what I will miss about living in our current community as well as what I am looking forward to about our new one. If at the end of the day there is more positive than negative than we are ahead. My dream is that this move will mean keeping dear friends, while making new ones and a new life for ourselves in a new environment.

How has moving gone for you? What did you regret? What was better?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Excuses I tell Myself

Writing takes discipline and over time it becomes a habit. However, I have lost the habit. Last year I was in a groove while we traveled through OZ. Beyond writing and traveling, I had very few responsibilities and spent most of my time reveling in that. Yes, I cooked, I shopped, I worked out and I paid bills, but writing was built into my day. Since my injury last November, attempting to write while just sitting at a desk, with my feet on the floor – it has been terribly difficult. Sitting or spending too much time on my feet means swelling and pain – both which just get worse the longer I do either.  With limited time to be active or seated, I wanted to use it to walk around, go places, drive somewhere, take a yoga class, etc. So I allowed myself to get out of the habit of writing daily. But this was really just an excuse.

When I was a marketing consultant, I used to tell clients that it takes 3 weeks to make or break a habit. I know this from personal experience. This was how I quit smoking in 1984, how I finally lost 55 lbs. back in 2010-11 and how I reclaimed yoga in my life 2 years ago: one day at a time.

I made the decision to quit smoking and to stop overeating so as to welcome what I wanted in my life on a daily basis – I chose to create the habit every single day. This is how I mother myself. It isn’t always easy. It takes discipline. On days when I don’t feel like writing or eating healthy or working out, I take a moment to remind myself to look at the big picture and it smooths the way just enough for me to get my butt in gear and to move forward.

My latest excuse, on top of my foot pain, is our new adventure: we are moving from our suburban home to one in the city. For the past two weeks, I have been packing up, throwing out unwanted things and getting our current home ready for market (this link will take you to an electronic flyer for our listing). I have been telling myself that all my standing time needs to be spent sorting through our things, thinning out what is in our home and then storing what we want to keep. But this is just another excuse I tell myself.

The excuses I used to tell myself when I was fat and wanted to eat something that wasn’t good for me was that I had had a hard day (or night or week or month) and that I deserved being able to eat that muffin or drink that mocha or have a 2nd or 3rd helping. Or how unfair it was that my friends could eat [fill in the blank] and still look great, why shouldn’t I? But when I turned 50, and I started thinking of my life at 80, I realized how lame those excuses were. I started to accept who I am and what my body needs. So the reality is that while working on getting our home ready for sale has been hard work, it hasn’t really prevented me from writing. I prevented me from my writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been writing up a storm in my head. There have been posts about moving, about decorating, about empty nests, about Alzheimer’s, about loving and forgiveness and about healing. But that isn’t what I want. My hope is to be able to create short blog posts that touch other people in ways that motivate them to share my posts and/or post comments about the pieces. Having beautifully written pieces in my head won’t get it done. And they don’t mother me. Actual writing does.

So while I still have many distractions and way too many excuses, I will find a way to post more regularly. And hopefully those of you reading my posts will want to engage enough to share your thoughts and your comments.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Confessions of a Worrywart: Or How I almost missed Christmas this Year

I used to worry a lot about all sorts of things and, in fact, have done so all my life. I suppose you might diagnose me with a disorder, but I am not sure where the line is between just worrying and real anxiety. When I was young, I worried about becoming an adult; when I was an adult I worried about finding love (which I did!) and having children (which I did) and becoming successful (still working on this one). When I was fat I worried about becoming thin and then now that I am thin and healthy (yay!) I sometimes worry about becoming fat again.

Before our Australian adventure, I worried about renting out our home, I worried about packing up our valuables; I worried about being so far from the kids in a foreign land. While there I worried traveling. I worried about our parents back stateside. When my laptop crashed and died on our trip to  Tasmania, I worried about recovering my data.

When I started my blog, I worried about finding an audience. [Full disclosure: I still worry about this one.] I worry about being articulate, finding interesting enough subjects to write about, and I worry about getting my thoughts and inspirations down on paper. And I worry about being as open and vulnerable on paper as I am in my heart.

And then last fall I fell and broke my leg and ankle. This meant that for Christmas I would be in a wheelchair, unable to “mother” my family through our holiday traditions, such as they are. To top it off, this past Christmas was the first one we were celebrating with my son’s girlfriend, so I wanted it extra special as we welcomed her into our chaos family.

But my accident changed all that.

I was unable to organize and orchestrate our holidays as I had before. I certainly was not up to our annual trip to the mountains to chop down a tree. Actually if truth be told, our normal Christmas tradition is to go to a tree farm and argue about which tree we will chop down. If you note in the photos below from Christmas 2013, my husband and son are each kneeling at different trees, showing off their different tree preference. (The photo of the kids together with the final choice just gives me pleasure.)

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For Xmas 2014, plans had been made, and dates carefully negotiated to find a day during which all five of us where available to get and decorate a tree. And then my father decided to join us and suddenly there were many moving pieces to plan and organize and feed. I was both excited and worried.

For days I worried about everyone showing up—there were trips from the east coast involved for my daughter and father. Then I worried about what to feed everyone. I made plans in my mind and then changed them back and forth, back and forth. I worried about the house looking great, and I worried about it being clean. I didn’t realize it, but all my worrying had become a prison. It was keeping me from being excited about getting to spend the day with some of my favorite people in the world.

When my son and his girlfriend arrived, they burst into my bedroom, grabbed my comforter off to look at my injured leg/ankle. In that moment, I had two choices. I could freak out for being seen in bed, in my nightgown, with my ankle all purple and swollen (and gross) OR I could take a deep breath, relax and allow their love and attention to override my need to present myself as put together.

And it was at the minute that I burst out of my worrywart prison. I took that deep breath and it hit me; all my worrying was ridiculous. Here I was, about to spend the day with my family, and I was thinking about what to feed them. In my worrywart prison, I was miserable and small and contained. My worrying meant I was missing out on experiencing the joy of being with my loved ones.

The day turned out great. We had fun, and yes, it was overwhelming and exhausting. But more importantly I saw the error of my ways. Since then, as life’s adventures come up and my worrywart monster starts to rear its ugly head, I have been taking deep breaths, reminding myself that I want to break free from my prison of worry and perfection.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Sabbatical Time = Think Time

As some of you know, earlier this year my husband and I were able to spend 5 months living and traveling around Australia. It was fantastic – truly a trip of a lifetime. I got to visit places and see things and meet people that I could have never imagined. We had a great time.

One of the best parts of all our time in Australia was the ability to take a break from our regular lives and our normal routines and be in a totally new environment. Of course, we used this time to travel and explore Australia, New Zealand. I even got to spend a day in Fiji (must get back there someday and really explore!). But more than the travel, being away for so long gave me the gift of time to think, to daydream, to meditate and to clear the clutter in my head. It felt freeing.

I view our time there as my “think time.” It allowed my thoughts to wonder, it allowed me to think longer and without interruptions or distractions. I admit I resisted the trip in the beginning. There was a tremendous amount of work to be done prior to leaving: rent out our home to strangers, find a place for our cats and then pack what we would need while away.

Once there it felt magical being away.  There was no pressure to see places and do things in a hurry. We had plenty of time. We made plans and then changed them on a dime, just because we could and were not in a rush.

While in Melbourne, our home base, I was able to explore the city as well as my inner thoughts and feelings—this was a true gift of our sabbatical time. I got to think about my early childhood, analyzed patterns in my relationships, thought about my adolescence, as well as my early adult life.  We also celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary there and so I spent time thinking about my life as a wife and as mother. As it so happens, we timed our trip to Australia as our youngest started her second semester at university. So it was the perfect time to take stock of my parenting tenure and to think about my new life without kids living at home.

When we returned back to the states in June, I thought it was time for me to begin my new life, whatever that meant. One promise I made to myself while away was that I would make plans for lunch and/or coffee with more girlfriends more often. I started to explore what the next phase of my life would look like, trying on ideas in my head, thinking of how I wanted to spend my time. I was just beginning to get into a routine that felt good for me when I fell, broke my leg and ankle, and all of my routines and plans flew out the window.

Before the fall, I had been wondering how I could find that solitary “think time” in my life in Northern California as I had in Melbourne. I had started to miss my time to daydream, to think, to wonder. And now, forced off my feet for six weeks, I have found it again.

How do you carve ‘think’ time into your life?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

The Road to Recovery

Two weeks ago I fell down two small, but mighty steps, while having dinner at my son’s house. As I landed, I broke my ankle/leg in three places and dislocated the joint. During a three hour surgery the following day, I was outfitted with all sorts of new hardware to hold my ankle and foot together. I have four more weeks of non-weight bearing on that leg, so now my new reality strictly includes activities I can do while sitting. I have made use of my time by reading and stitching. Lots of reading. Lots of stitching.

Here are some of the pieces I have stitched and finished (so far!):

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I found the material and the instructions for these beautiful felt applique ornaments at a quilt show when I was in Melbourne. They stitched up fast and fun.

 

 

 

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These hardanger angels are made from Norwegian fabric and stitched with patterns that I found in a book and overlaid onto the angel outlines. I backed them with felt and embellished them with decorative stitches and beads. I love doing hardanger pieces.

 

 

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More hardanger patterned ornaments.

 

 

 

Books I have read (so far):

The Ships of Brides By Jojo Moyes is about a group of young war brides, from Australia, being sent to their new home and husbands in England at the end of WWII. I am a sucker for Jojo Moyes books and enjoyed this one, although I can’t say that it was great literature, it is historical fiction, one of my favorite genres. And I loved that it was about Australian brides given our time there earlier this year.

The Captain’s Daughter by Leah Fleming is a novel about two women who survive the sinking of the Titanic and their subsequent friendship. This was not a heavy read, but was perfect for lying in bed, on heavy medication. Can’t say it was great but it held my interest while I was bedridden. It was predictable and the characters a bit over simplified, but then again, I am a sucker for a happy ending—which this one has.

The Mill River Redemption, A Novel by Darcie Chan, is a sequel to her earlier best seller, The Mill River  Recluse, which I did not read. This is the story of a woman who leaves NYC after her husband dies and heads for small town Vermont to raise her two small children with the help of an aunt that she barely knows. When the daughter are young women, they become estranged and after their mother dies, they find out that the unusual terms of her will are supposed to help them forgive each other.  This book raised all sorts of interesting questions for me. What would I have done if something had happened to my husband when my kids were little? Would I have stayed in northern California or returned to the east coast to live near family? You see when my kids were six and one my husband received a cancer diagnosis. He is fine now, but this theme struck home (although please note that the husband in the book did not die of cancer). Another theme that interested me was the notion of estrangement. Is there something that a family member could do that would make it so that I wouldn’t speak to them for decades? The sisters in the book had not spoken to each other for over 10 years when their mother dies. I come from a family in which I didn’t meet one of my grandparents because of this: one of my parents cut off their mother for over 10 years – it is an interesting thing to think about.

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro is a novel about art and value. It was very interesting and I learned a lot. I read this one for my book club and I liked thinking about what gives a piece of art its value: is it simply because it was painted by a famous painter? Or is it because the piece has meaning or beauty or evokes emotion? The book is a bit of a mystery, but it unfolds well and the characters are well developed and mostly make sense.

One thing I noticed is that all four of these books make use of going back and forth in time to tell their stories. And even though they varied in depth and sophistication, they each made use of history and I always enjoy reading about the past.

What would you do with you time if you were suddenly forced to sit and heal?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

A Thanksgiving Toast to My Blessings and My Struggles

Next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving: gratitude, the giving of thanks. I have many blessings: my 25+ year marriage with a man who still loves me; two healthy, loving, and interesting kids. We have lived in lovely parts of the country and been able to travel to many wonderful places. The fruits of our labor and the luck of the draw have been good to us.

I also have gratitude for the parts of my life that are a struggle for me—not just the blessings.  Some yoga teachers remind their students to give thanks to the poses that we cannot do, even when those poses are difficult and stressful. Just as I learn to be grateful for the poses I can’t do in class, I chose gratitude for the issues in my life that bring me stress.  I see how they reveal my potential. I chose to embrace my struggles. A fellow blogger posted this 1 minute video about stress on her blog and it hit home for me:

Here some of the things that I am currently mulling over in my head — next week they could be different. I am grateful to these issues as well as all my nachas.

1)      I struggle to live a creative life. I still hear the words of a grade school art teacher telling me I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Unfortunately that man’s voice was in my head for years. Even after writing a best-selling book, Fortune is in the Follow-Up®, I struggle to express myself creatively. This blog is one of several current creative endeavors of mine. I love this quote from the historical novel, Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan about Fanny van de Grift Osbourne, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson, who also struggled to live express herself creatively:

“She really was an artist, but her art was not something that would be viewed in a museum or contained between the covers of a book. Fanny’s art was in how she lived her own extraordinary life. She was her best creation.”

2)      I struggle to be the wife I want to be: less critical and more easygoing. I hope I am less Olive Kitteridge (another book I highly recommend) and more Camille Braverman from the TV show Parenthood. I have yelled over ‘split milk,’ made mountains over mole hills that were a complete waste of time and energy, and I have spent money that should have been saved. I want to be patient and loving to the man who is my life partner. Yoga and counting to ten helps, but this is a work in progress!

3)      I struggle to be the daughter I want to be with my mother. The good news is that since her Alzheimer’s diagnosis 18 months ago we have been on a positive trajectory that pleases us both. But the bad news is that we live across the country and short visits every few months are not ideal. I feel pulled to her in ways that are new and surprising to me. Still trying to figure out how to solve this one.

4)      I struggle to find a community of women with whom I can share my joys and sorrows. I had such a community years ago when we lived in the Bay Area from 1993 to 1999. After moving back in 2008, I expected that I would be able to find and/or create one again, but it has not quite happened. I have made friends through my different interests: yoga classes, stitching guilds, book club and a few other activities that keep me out of trouble. One friend called these micro tribes. But it feels segmented and I yearn for a more communal feeling from my circle of friends. Look for more posts on this one!

None of these are life shattering. I appreciate that my struggles are all first world and that I am a work in progress. I claim these struggles and the issues I work on that both stress and interest me. What are you struggling with in your life? Can you relate?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!