Aging, Menopause

Reading Glasses: Oh Bother! Oh Fun!

Eyes Chart

That was your official Friend for the Ride eye test.

Pass or fail?

When I was forty, the doctor examined my farsighted eyes.

“One day, suddenly you won’t be able to read small print,” he warned. “Don’t panic. Just go to the store and get yourself some reading glasses.”

Wise words.

When the day came that I couldn’t read the Tylenol bottle or the calories in a granola bar, I didn’t panic, but I was sad and annoyed.

“Bother,” as Winnie the Pooh would say.

Attitude adjustment!

I dove into the world of funky reading glasses. My reward for failing eyes.

Red.  Blue.  Pink.

Stripes.  Zig zags.  Rhinestones.

I did, however, quickly retire the white pair with green dots when someone in the church choir said I looked like an alien from the fifties.

My latest love was sent for review by Icon Eyewear.  They’re called Borghese readers. The metal sidepieces are a lovely motled bronze/gold, hence the reference to Italian nobility.

The glasses are festive yet elegant. They’re sturdy, and the lenses are excellent.

My bear models them below, although the Borghese readers look even more stylish on people.


Your turn!

If  you wear reading glasses, do you have a style, color, or brand you prefer?

Then there’s the issue of losing them.

Do you sport them with a cord around your neck, or like me, do you keep several pairs strewn about the house?


Photo:  Thanks to Pooh for modeling my new glasses  I stitched Winnie when I was on a toy-making kick in high school. His eyes, like mine, were a whole lot better forty years ago.


Trailblazing Women-From Generation to Generation


A post by writer and educator Sandra Bornstein:

Do today’s American women have anything in common with their compatriots who were born in the late 19th century?

Looking on the surface, the answer would be a resounding no.

Technological advances in the last few decades have improved the overall quality of everyday life and have greatly impacted the mobility of women.

The feminist movement likewise opened the door to an increasing number of employment opportunities both inside and outside the home.

All of these changes have allowed women to make unprecedented choices.

Back in the 19th century and early part of the 20th century, few women attended college, and those who chose to be employed outside their home were oftentimes not married and were relegated to a handful of “female” occupations. Affluent women rarely worked outside their homes.

One exception to the norm was Rose Haas Alschuler (1887-1979), a college educated pioneer in early childhood education. She stepped out of society’s ordained comfort zone for women and blazed her own path.

By having the wherewithal to hire household help, as well as relying on the unconditional support of her husband, Rose combined the role of raising a large family with working outside the home.

Rose’s education and economic stature allowed her to gain a foothold in the progressive education movement.

Banbury Cross Puzzle

Her writings and her actions illustrate that she was determined to initially make a difference in the lives of preschool children.

In Rose’s later years, her love of Israel spearheaded her support for Zionism during a time period when few reform Jews supported that unpopular cause.

While Rose was clearly an outlier, she represents women of all generations who are willing to extend the boundaries of mandated behavior by being a leader.

Not only did she step outside the private sector of her home life when most women deliberately avoided the public sector, but she also played a pivotal role in showing why preschool education was important and also became a major fundraiser for the State of Israel.

I admire women like Rose who are able to find their niche and move forward without restraint.

Far too many women would prefer to play it safe and not cross society’s boundary lines.

Today’s trailblazers can look to Rose as a glowing example of how women can be role models whenever they strive to make a difference!

About Sandra:  Sandra Bornstein, an international educator and writer, has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses at the University of Colorado and Front Range Community College. Sandra holds two master’s degrees- one in Education from the University of Colorado and another in Jewish Studies from Spertus College.

In 2010, her husband’s international job created a unique opportunity to live abroad. In India, she fulfilled three passions – a desire to travel, a zeal for writing, and a love of teaching. Sandra’s Indian adventure became the backdrop for her book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life: A Memoir.  Watch Sandra’s video book trailer to get a taste of what she encountered. You can contact Sandra at

Sandra Bornstein

Photo of Rose: Thanks to the American Jewish Archives for permission to use the lovely photo of Rose Haas Alschuler.

Photo of Sandra:  She writes, “The picture was taken at a hill top near Munnar, India. During a fall break, I joined two of my expat colleagues on a trip to Munnar/Cochin. It was a memorable moment.”

Puzzle Photo: The wooden tray puzzle, a mainstay of many preschools, is from my collection of old toys.

Women’s (and Men’s) History: I’d love to feature more guest posts on notable women (and men). If you’ve got one to offer, please shoot me an email. Thanks!


Stories! A Reader’s Digest Giveaway


Who grew up with Reader’s Digest?  My great-aunt was a devoted subscriber. When we visited, I’d drink a coke with a straw from a green glass bottle, and I’d read.

images (1)

Pages and pages of stories.  Some written by celebrities; others written by regular folks.

And even though we didn’t get to drink Coke in school, I was delighted when my fifth grade reading teacher announced that the class would have a subscription to the kids’ edition.


We each got a copy to read, although sadly, we didn’t get to keep it.  I still remember the stories about Glenn Cunningham and Helen Keller.


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Reader’s Digest was started by Dewitt Wallace, who loved the idea of condensing stories and putting them into a magazine. With the help of his wife Lila, he published the first issue in February of 1922 (when they were much younger than there are in the photo):

Dewitt and Lila Wallace

Reader’s Digest books just published this collection of their most inspirational stories:


GIVEAWAY: Reader’s Digest Books is offering Friend for the Ride one copy of Treasury of Joy and Inspiration. Post a comment by March 5  saying you’d like to win. Winner will be selected at random.

The book makes a great gift, and the stories work well as read alouds for those of you who read aloud in classrooms or other settings.


Mercy, the Menopause Angel

Menopause Angel

I’m Mercy!

You might think I’m a guy by my short haircut, but it’s breezy up here in heaven, so I like the no worry feel of shorter hair. Well actually, there are no worries in heaven, but old habits die hard, and I just think I’m better off with shorter tresses.

I’m just popping in on Friend for a Ride to tell you all, you’re doing great!  You’ve got courage, endurance, and spunk.

Along with that, I’m keeping watch over you!  That’s my job!

Just when the Great Pause is giving you pause, I swoop in to assist you:

  • Suddenly your grandma’s missing emerald ring shows up in your underwear drawer.
  • You spot that nasty white hair on your chin before anyone else does.
  • Yes, you have insomnia, but in the middle of a tossy turny night, you figure out the solution to a vexing problem at the office.
  • You’re giving a toast at your cousin’s wedding. Do you break into a hot flash right then? Absolutely NOT!

So that’s about it.

Oh and I know someone will ask about my wings.

Yes, shy though I am to say, the red splotches represent the days of, um, your period.

But the blue/green represents your happy liberation from your monthly visitor, whenever that happens.

Have a heavenly day, my Lovely Earthy Charges!

Your guardian friend,


Menopause Angel

The portrait of Mercy was done by my mom, Nancy Kiehne.


The Friend for the Ride Facebook Page!


Dear Friends for the Ride,

Announcing the new Friend for the Ride Facebook Page!

Here it is:

I’ll be adding links and pictures that relate to the themes and topics of the blog. I promise not to over post.

Please, please, please join in with your own wise thoughts and interesting resources.






Painting:  Suzanne Cheryl Gardner–“The Spirit Within”–


The Secret Sense of Wildflower and a Book Giveaway!


A post by writer Susan Gabriel:

Eleven years ago, around the same time as my first hot flash, I woke up in the middle of the night and heard a voice say: There are two things I’m afraid of. One is dying young. The other is Johnny Monroe.

Does mental illness run in my family? Did this voice come from a dream? Was it a product of a writer’s imagination? Had one of my dead relatives come home with me after a recent visit to the family cemetery?

Who knows. But any fiction writer will tell you that if you can get the “voice” of the main character in your book, it is a gift.

So I followed that voice. I got up at four in the morning (not an easy thing to do, even if you do suffer from perimenopausal insomnia) and began to write the story of Louisa May “Wildflower” McAllister.

Now, over a decade later, my hot flashes are finally winding down and Wildflower’s story is finally out in the world. So even though I am technically past my childbearing years, I can continue to birth book “children” and release them into the world.

The Secret Sense of Wildflower is southern historical fiction. It is about a girl coming-of-age who faces danger, death and new life in 1940s Appalachia whose life has been shaped around the recent death of her beloved father in a sawmill accident.

While her mother hardens in her grief, Wildflower and her three sisters must cope with their loss themselves, as well as with the demands of daily survival.

When Johnny Monroe, the town’s teenage ne’er-do-well, sets his sights on Wildflower, she must draw on the strength of her relations, both living and dead, to deal with his threat.

Ultimately, it is a story about courage, about honoring your “secret sense” and about resilience.

As a psychotherapist for many years before I turned writer, I know from experience that we can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control what we do with it. I hope Wildflower inspires readers to be the kind of person we all want to be.

Thankfully, Wildflower’s story has been well-received by readers, as well as Kirkus Reviews, who gave it a starred review, awarded to books “of exceptional merit.”

“…astute observations and wonderfully turned phrases, with nary a cliché to be found. She could be an adolescent Scout Finch…A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read.”— Kirkus Reviews (starred review).


They also named it one of the Kirkus Best Books of 2012.

So can good things come out of these roller-coaster years of perimenopause? Yes.

Our creativity can blossom.

Books can be born, as well as paintings, music, community projects and new relationships.

Like Wildflower, we can claim our own courage and resilience.  


You can buy Susan’s book through these sites:

Author’s site (autographed)


Barnes & Noble


GIVEAWAY!  I’m giving away one copy of The Secret Sense of Wildflower. To enter the contest, please post a comment by March 1 saying you’d like to win. The winner will be chosen at random.

More about Susan Gabriel:  Over a decade ago, Susan gave up her successful psychotherapy practice in Charleston, South Carolina to simplify her life and pursue writing. She writes with passion, humor and insight about Southerners, as well as a wide variety of other ordinary, odd and interesting characters, young and old. She lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Susan Gabriel

Aging, Menopause

Downton Abbey–Will I Be the Next Dowager?


A  post by Downton Abbey fan Judy Ackley Brown:

Season 3 of Downton Abbey is ending soon, and I am quietly grieving.

My obsession with the show is strong.

My Sunday nights best not be interrupted during the DA run!

This season I was intrigued with Maggie Smith’s character of the dowager.  It prompted me to double check on the exact meaning of this uncommonly used word, which is “a dignified elderly woman”.

Where are the dowagers in our culture now?

Have they lost their purpose?

Do we need to regain this quiet but powerful role?

Do we behave with dignity?

Violet is bold, opinionated, sly, but also witty and wise.

Ever present in the daily lives of the family she is the typical matriarch.

The dowager has dated opinions for sure and appears to struggle with the inevitable arrival of a new and modern world. Edith, her granddaughter, a journalist?  Tom Branson to baptize baby Sybil a Catholic?

What struck me this season, in a warm fuzzy way, is that despite Violet’s rigidity, she deeply cares for each family member.

The continuance of the estate and the well- being of the family unit is at the center of her often unsolicited advice.

She embraced Branson when a new great grandchild was in the horizon.

Despite her subtle and manipulative ways, she did play a key role in restoring peace after Lady Sybil’s tragic death.

I hope Violet sticks around for a long while.  I look to her with a new sense of awe. She has qualities I might want to embrace.

This stoic but outspoken dowager might just have her priorities in alignment.

After all, as she says, “It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding!”

Lady Violet has some of the wittiest lines in the show. Her clear opinions of Americans, as seen in this video, endear us regardless of our nationality!

Marathon!  Don’t miss the Downton Abbey Marathon Sunday on PBS

Judy Ackley Brown lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina and enjoys travel, writing, and photography. A professed anglophile, she hopes to plan another trip to England soon.

The photo below shows Judy as a toddler with her paternal grandmother, Fern Ackley. Fern sits stoically like a dowager!

Judy and Grandma