Living proof that the Universe has a sense of humor.

The older I get, the younger I become.

Posted May 25, 2015 | Lessons I've Learned, Products Mentions & Reviews, Today I'm Grateful for..., Web Wisdom, Welcome to My Life, Writing | One Comment

Several months ago, I ran across a Facebook page by Evelyn Kalinosky about a new book she had coming out: [R]evolution: A Soulful & Practical Guide to Creating the Life You Want.

I ordered it in hardback, which is quite a commitment for me, but it looked like exactly what I’d been needing.

I hate being called “middle‑aged.”

Woman DancingOnce a woman hits middle-age, going to the doctor becomes an exercise in convincing him that you actually have a physical problem and aren’t just making shit up. It took me two years to convince my doctor that my aches and pains were not in my head (“Grief? Really?”) or from fibromyalgia. (Fibromyalgia is a very real condition, but it didn’t account for all my symptoms, and it’s used all too often by doctors as a catch-all diagnosis for middle-aged women.)
But that’s another story »


Up until recently, I participated in a monthly writer’s reading. Each month there is a topic. In March it was “Change.” I wrote the facilitator that I couldn’t come because I had so many changes going on that I didn’t have time to write about them.

New Beginnings

In April, when the topic was “New Beginnings,” I wrote that as a result of all the changes, I was so busy with my new beginnings that I didn’t have time to write about those, either.

If you’re feeling the need for change, in the middle of change, anticipating a new beginning or hoping for one, this is the book for you.

Us “Middle-Aged” Women”

The book is aimed a “middle-aged” women who want more than what their current lives are offering them. Perhaps the children have left home, or a relationship has gone bad, or there’s just a niggling but persistent feeling of something missing. No matter what the cause, [R]evolution can help.

Why I Like This Book

Evelyn has, as they say, “been there and done that.” She writes about the path that leads you toward the door to changing your life and holds the door open when you want to crawl back into your old life. Because change is hard work, [R]evolution is a workbook. There are questions to answer, exercises to do, and rituals to help you leave your old life behind and embrace your authentic self.

ButterflyEvelyn’s book helping me to deal with all the changes I’ve experienced recently – getting divorced after a 30 year marriage being the biggest.

But even more than that, it’s helping me challenge the beliefs about myself that have kept me stuck. I feel like a giant weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I feel younger at 55 than I did at 20, and I’m learning how to treat myself with love.

I Discover Fun

And, perhaps most important, there is fun in my life. I haven’t had this much fun in, well, ever.

I’m grateful that the Universe pointed me in the direction of Evelyn and her book. If you’re a “middle-aged” woman ready to face the past, honor it, leave the part of it behind that no longer serves you well, and find the best parts of who you are, this is the book for you.

Category: Lessons I've Learned, Products Mentions & Reviews, Today I'm Grateful for..., Web Wisdom, Welcome to My Life, Writing

35 years ago today, I got married for the first time.

Posted May 17, 2015 | Lessons I've Learned, Welcome to My Life | One Comment

I was 20. He was 18. My family hated him.

Jesu, Joy of Man's DesiringWe had a church wedding. I wore a long white wedding dress. He wore a god-awful 1980’s blue tuxedo. I had a maid of honor and two bridesmaids. He had a best man.

The organist played the two songs I requested as preludes: Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

My father had a car wreck on the way to the church. While we were waiting for him to arrive, my “little” brother, then 6’1″, walked up to me, put his arm around my shoulders, and said, “If Dad isn’t here in 15 minutes, I’ll give you away.” It was one of the sweetest things I’d ever heard.

Much to my dismay, my father arrived before then.

I walked down the aisle to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (Marcia nuziale from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”).

After the reception in the church’s Fellowship Hall, we drove to Glen Burnie, Maryland, for a one night, one day honeymoon.

While waiting for the procession to begin, I wondered how long it would take before I got up the strength to divorce him.

The answer:

It took seven hundred and three days, one 21 day voluntary stay in a psychiatric hospital for depression, four broken glasses lenses, three separations, three facial scars, and two black eyes before I was done with him for good.

The blessings – Because everything contains blessings:

There was lovely music at the wedding; I had a marriage that included a honeymoon; and, I have absolutely no pictures of any of it.

Category: Lessons I've Learned, Welcome to My Life

Better living through chemistry: Possum part prevention.

Posted May 7, 2015 | Lessons I've Learned, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment


This is a live possum. It is the state animal of Virginia.

Possums are nocturnal and not very bright. They are usually seen belly up on or beside the road, having been sent to the Great Hereafter because they don’t know enough to stay off the road when there are cars on it.

I hear they’re edible. I’ll pass on the possum roadkill pizza, thanks.

Possum Part

This is the part in my hair five weeks after it was last colored. It looks suspiciously possum-like to me.

Mind you, I don’t have anything against possums except that they tend to be mean, not very bright, and end up dead on the side of the road. And frankly, I don’t think they’re all that cute.

No possums here.

This is the result of the ministrations of my friend and hair stylist Jennifer Hare. Note the lack of anything resembling a possum.

Jennifer first cut and colored my hair in February, 2006 during a snowstorm. It (my hair, not the snowstorm) was long and about half gray. I asked her to “fix it.” By the time she was done, there was a pile of hair on the floor about the size and color of a possum, and the hair that remained on my head was a nice auburn color with highlights and an actual style.

I have gone more than nine years now without looking like I have a possum on my head. Jennifer takes care of the “possum part” every five weeks or so.

I am very grateful to Jennifer for that.

If you have a possum on your head that you’d like her to find another home for it, here’s her card:

Jennifer Hare, Body & Sole Therapy Salon & Spa

As an extra benefit, if Jennifer styles your hair, you can always tell people you just got a Hare cut :-)


Category: Lessons I've Learned, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life

An uncomfortable truth.

Posted May 6, 2015 | Lessons I've Learned, My Family - Past & Present, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said | One Comment

I ran across this on Facebook this morning. It was not what I wanted to see before I’d finished my first cup of coffee, but I couldn’t ignore it. It contained far too important a truth to skip over and try to replace in my head with cute kitten pictures.

Break the chain.“Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.”

Raised by people who confused abuse and criticism with love and guidance, I was hurt. My shame was believing I deserved it.

My deeper shame was that I treated the people I loved the same way I had been treated.

For many years I did this in ignorance. I’d never experienced a different way of being loved, so I didn’t think of my criticizing, berating, and ignoring as unloving. It was what I knew.

It took me too long to learn that those are not expressions of love, but ways to hide the shame of feeling “not good enough” and deserving of the abuse with which I was raised.

It took even longer to learn to treat myself with the empathy, compassion, and encouragement that is true love. Only then could I could treat others the same way.

No, I don’t always remember this lesson. Sometimes an event, a word, or a tone of voice will trigger my old feelings of shame, and I’ll lash out, even though I know better. But I know the difference now, and I can stop it.

For the many opportunities the Universe has given – and continues to give – me to learn what love really is, I am truly grateful.

Category: Lessons I've Learned, My Family - Past & Present, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said

Photo gallery: A westward walk at sunset.

Posted May 3, 2015 | Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life | 3 Comments

After my lovely weekend walk, I think I’m ready for the week to come.

Walking West

I was lucky that my evening walk had me heading west at sunset.

Profile of a Tree

Profile of a tree with sunset.

The Tree Takes Over

The tree takes over.

Between the Trees

The mothership hovers between the trees.

Sunset Panorama

Sunset panorama over Park Towne.

The Colors Deepen

The colors deepen as the Mother Ship descends.

Best wishes for a week as lovely as these photos.

Category: Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life

Six years ago tonight.

Posted April 29, 2015 | Caring for Elderly Parents, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said | 5 Comments

Open WindowSix years ago tonight, I got a call from my mother’s caregiver that Mom was having trouble breathing. I went to the house, and as soon as I walked in I heard Mom say (over the baby monitor we used to hear her from her bedroom), “The Golden Girls is over!”

She’d watched show after show, season after season, on DVD, and that’s how she’d let us know it was time to change the disk. The funny thing was, the TV wasn’t on.

I called the physician on call. He told me what I could give her of the medications we had to make her comfortable. I gave them to her, and she went to sleep. All night she’d breathe seven or eight breaths and then skip two or three.

In the morning, when the day caregivers came in, I ran home to take a shower and change clothes. As I put my hand on the doorknob to go back, my cell phone rang.

“Your mother isn’t breathing,” said the caregiver.

I went to the house, saw her at peace, finally free of the pain and discomfort she had endured for so long, and called the rescue squad.

Her last words were the ones I heard six years ago when I walked into the house.

The last thing I did for her was to put her to sleep.

I love you {{{ t-h-I-s }}} much, Mom. And a little bit more.

Category: Caring for Elderly Parents, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said

An unexpected spring treat.

Posted April 28, 2015 | Hiking, Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life, Working at Home | 2 Comments

AzaleasA spur-of-the-moment invitation by my friend Dan to accompany him to his friend Heidi Ketler’s house to pick up some morel mushrooms brought an unexpected treat. Heidi lives adjacent to a forest wonderland I never knew existed: Happy Hollow Park in southwestern Roanoke County.

Heidi was kind enough to give us a guided tour. Dan chronicled our visit in his blog post, Photos: The Glory of the Azalea. I’ve included some azalea pics, but I found some other interesting sights along the way, too.

Daisy's driver wore a cap. Her navigator had a Bad Hair Day.

We drove up in Dan’s car, Daisy. Daisy’s driver wore a cap. Her navigator had a Bad Hair Day. Heidi took the pic but is absolved of all responsibility for my hair "don’t."

Azaleas come in lots of colors, all beautiful.

My first ever vertical panorama shot. Azaleas come in lots of colors, all beautiful.

Heidi and Dan wander up the trail.

Heidi and Dan wander up the trail while I take tree photos.

The leaves are coming.

The leaves are coming.

Cabin & Moon

Lovely cabin with the moon showing above.

Dan in the Clearing

A clearing and small amphitheatre for entertainment – including weddings.

Dan & Tree

Dan inspects a large, old oak felled by the wind.

Heidi’s home at the top of a very steep driveway is lovely, and I enjoyed chatting with her. She’s a freelance writer who works at home – “home” having the added benefit of an occasional visit from the local wildlife. Think “Bear in the woods.”

We didn’t see any bears. I expect that was A Very Good Thing.

Category: Hiking, Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life, Working at Home

The best anti-aging treatment there is.

Posted April 22, 2015 | Lessons I've Learned, Photos & Photo Galleries, Random Observations, Today I'm Grateful for..., What Someone Else Said, Writing | 2 Comments

My friend Dan Smith and I went to lunch the other day, and he snapped a couple of pictures of me: one while I was tinkering with my phone, the other when I was smiling pretty for the camera.

Since nothing has actually happened in Dan’s life until he writes about it (50 years as a journalist will do that to a person), he wrote a post about one of the pictures. I’ve got a screenshot of it below. Click here to read it on his blog.

Flattering? Who Cares: 'It Looks Like Me'

I like his commentary a lot. And I want to share the other photo he took of me smiling because it demonstrates a very important truth about aging:

A smile is the best anti-aging treatment there is.
Staring at my iPhone 2015-04-22.5
Living in color helps, too.
On the iPhone in color Smile in color

Category: Lessons I've Learned, Photos & Photo Galleries, Random Observations, Today I'm Grateful for..., What Someone Else Said, Writing

Epic Quality Control #Fail:
Cheese‑bun misalignment.

Posted March 3, 2015 | @BuffyLinux, Photos & Photo Galleries, Products Mentions & Reviews, Random Observations, Welcome to My Life | One Comment

If you’ve ever ordered a Filet-O-Fish sandwich from Mickey D’s, you know that:

  • the cheese sticks the fish and bun together like glue;
  • if the cheese and bun aren’t properly aligned, it’s not pretty; and,
  • there’s no way to fix it. You just have to eat the evidence. Or not.

My favorite on-the-road reporter, @BuffyLinux, caught this epic quality control #fail on digital media, reeled it in and sent it to me, the intrepid reporter of random weirdness.

Cheese-Bun Misalignment

Quite possibly the worst case of cheese/bun misalignment in history.

Is the cheese even on that sandwich?

It reminds me of the time he ordered a pecan waffle at Waffle House and got a pecan waffle – if a pecan waffle is a plain waffle with a small clump of pecans on the plate under and in no way connected to it.

Would you like fries with that?

Category: @BuffyLinux, Photos & Photo Galleries, Products Mentions & Reviews, Random Observations, Welcome to My Life

Guest blog post: Being Happy: It’s a Choice  by Dan Smith

Posted March 2, 2015 | Guest Posts, Lessons Learned, What Someone Else Said | 2 Comments

Choose to Be HappyYesterday I spent some time with my friend Dan Smith. He was so happy, it was contagious. Figuring that if you want to be happy you should ask a happy person how to do it, I asked him if he’d write a guest post for my blog about being happy.

He did. It’s cool. Thanks, Dan.

A simple dynamic I learned a number of years ago as I was trying to get sober after years of alcoholism set the tone not only for the elimination of booze from my life, but for allowing in the sunshine. My sponsor at the time, the late Tom Shirley, a college professor, gave me the simple instructions:

“You are responsible for everything that happens to you, for everything you feel and for all of your reactions. No exceptions, no excuses. You choose who you will be and then you become that.”

Simple in concept, damn near impossible because we are all basically lawyers looking for loopholes. My first response to Tom’s dictum almost got out of my mouth: “But what if…”

“There’s no ‘but,’ there’s no ‘what if’,” said Tom before I could even finish the sentence.

“This is absolute. If you walk out into the street and get hit by a runaway bus, driven by a child rapist on his way to blow up the Pentagon, you are responsible for what happened to you. You should have been more careful. You can’t control the bus or the speeding rapist/mass murder, but you can control yourself. You could have looked closer, chosen a different route, left home later. Endless choices.”

Oh, that’s harsh, I thought. No excuses. Not a one. What’s a body to do?

This body had to go find a higher power and trust in the guidance of that power “praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” That’s the last part of the 11th Step of AA’s 12 Steps. The 3rd Step is finding the power, which can be a bitch.

That portion of the 11th Step, though, is basic to my understanding of responsibility. It says the only thing I should pray for is guidance and enough sense to follow it. Anything else is instructing my higher power and I haven’t reached that pay grade. So, I keep it simple.

Dan & Daisy

Daisy & Dan

The question here is how do I keep such a sunny outlook? The simple and direct answer is: I choose to. Things bad happen to me as often as they happen to you. But I look at them as learning experiences, as aberrations along the road to “happy destiny,” as AA’s founders described it. They can be overcome, as a general rule, and if they can’t, I have to accept them and adjust my thinking about them.

Daisy's Daisies

Daisy’s Daisies

The other day, on Facebook, I was celebrating the purchase of a little VW bug that I just adore. It’s yellow, bright and has a place to put daisies on the dashboard (I put them there). Most people responded to my post with glee. One woman whom I’ve known for a couple of years and who tends to look for what can go wrong, offered a list of the things that can break on the VW and the information that she has owned two, so she should know. I responded that I had done my research, knew about the pitfalls and simply chose to enjoy myself. She said I misunderstood, that she was simply a realist.

So, does being a realist mean I can’t be happy? No, it does not. I know the dangers, accept them and choose to concentrate on those things that delight me, to share them and to be happy today, regardless of what happens.

Life is better that way.

Dan Smith

Dan Smith

Dan Smith is a long-time, award-winning journalist living in Roanoke, Virginia. A member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, he is an author, radio essayist, community activist, liberal voice, father of two, and grandfather of two. He’s the co-founder and former co-owner/editor of Valley Business FRONT magazine.

You can read about Dan and what he thinks about everything else on his blog at fromtheeditr.blogspot.com and buy his books (which I highly recommend) by clicking on the links below.

CLOG! in Paperback

Dan Smith
CreateSpace - An Amazon Company


Category: Guest Posts, Lessons Learned, What Someone Else Said

keep looking »
  • Why am I here?

    JanesonThanksgiving 2014

    You'd think that with all the time I spend working on the computer, I'd pick another way to spend my time. Alas, that is not the case. I've noticed - in my advancing age - that my brain is getting full. Since I don't want to take the chance of forgetting anything interesting (if only to myself), I thought it might be nice to have a place to offload the stories and minutiae that are filling it up so I can make room for more stuff.

    Since you've found your way here, I hope that you find something that's interesting to you, too.

    Visit my profile on about.me janeson59 on ello.co Friend Me on Facebook Friend me on Goodreads Connect with me on Google+ Connect with me on LinkedIn Follow me on Pinterest Follow me on Prismatic Tumblr Follow Me On Twitter Subscribe to my channel on YouTube

    Google Authorship

  • Special Bonus Code

    Reading my stories here gives you a pass on having to hear them in person. Use code word BLOG to activate :-)

  • The Petter
  • Keeping My Sanity One E-cigarette at a Time

    Learn more about e-cigs at www.vapingexperts.com
  • Awesome People Who Follow Me on Networked Blogs