The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Twenty-eight



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Doors encore!

From Susan, the Australian Bar and Restaurant in New York City. Women’s above. Men’s below.

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Also from Susan, the visitor’s center at Indian Grinding Rock State Park in California. The signs are also written in a Native American language. Susan thinks it’s Miwok.

Indian grinding hole women's sign


I snapped this one at the airport in Albany, New York. I thought it was rather elegant for an airport.


And I took this at the Dallas Farmer’s Market

From Lisa, the ladies room door at Top of the Rock, Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum.

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I found this at a local shopping center. Walked by the back of the store, turned my head, and there is was: Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Durham, North Carolina.


These signs are from Parker and Otis in Durham, North Carolina.. Restrooms are unisex.





From Judy, these festive doors at Cirkusz in Budapest.




Thanks one and all for your vigilance in finding doors for our Ladies Room Door Art Series!


I’ll Let You Go

Sometimes, it’s the simplest songs that get ya. I kept hearing this one, and finally looked at my car radio dial to learn I was listening to Jessica Allossery

Back to those very simple lyrics. My first thoughts went to my daughter Laura, who is expecting a baby girl near October 1.

But then they drifted back to me. To my own days of letting kids go. I did well with empty nest. My girls loved college, and after they were both gone, I went to Vermont College to get a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing (a low residency program). Those were happy days for all of us.

But now, as I get ready to leave this old house, I’m feeling a new sort of empty nest, the thoughts of an empty house. I can still hear the girls’ footsteps in the upstairs hall. The bounding down the stairs. The slamming of the kitchen screen door.

The girls are delighted we’re getting a new house, and I’m already thinking how I will decorate the grandchildren’s bedroom. So a good letting go, if I can only get brave enough to walk out of that old screen door for the last time.

“Will you do better if someone buys the house who really loves it?” Cliff asked me the other night.

That might be one of those “duh” questions, but I get what he means. Yes, then I can let the house go.And it might be nice to let someone else tackle the dilemma  of the porch floor.

Any advice for those new to empty nest?

What about you? Any advice on leaving a long-lived-in house?

Younger Girls

Photo: Daughter Kath, mother of my now four-year-old grandson Mazen, is on the left, and Laura, is on the right. We were on our way to a baby shower for Laura in July.  Note the floor. Paint refuses to stick.

Letting Go: I found this great article the other day on Tiny Buddha. One of the best I’ve read. Check it out here.


Happy Fifth Anniversary, Friend for the Ride (and a Gift Card Giveaway)

Friend for the Ride started when my daughter Laura, low on cash in grad school, asked, “Is there something I can do for you to earn some money?”

I replied, “I’ll pay you to set up a blog site for me.” And she did! She’s a techno whiz, and she blogs herself at Taking Back my Twenties.

Is Laura still broke?

No Sign

Happily, no. And it’s a good thing because she has a baby on the way VERY SOON!

It’s been five years, do I still love blogging (after 650 posts)?

Another Yes

I love sharing my thoughts with you, posting sometimes useful information, and writing about life from a creative angle. I’m so appreciative to all of you for reading.

I’m always in need of guest posts. What should you write about? Sky’s the limit. Shoot me an email, and we’ll figure it out. Thanks! See the blog’s very first guest post here, written by my friend Susan Bellinger.

Do I plan to stop blogging any time soon?

No Two


Do I wish I had more readers?

I’d love more readers! The blog has not grown as I hoped it would, but my readership does increase slowly.

Does my family read my blog?

My mom did.That’s how she found out I was downsizing my Santa Claus collection. Mom was NOT happy. But she liked most of my other posts and even did a painting for this one. Cliff reads many of the posts. Not so sure about my girls…

Do I have a hard time coming up with topics for new posts?
No Three

This answer should really be “Sometimes.” But then a new idea will pop into my head, often inspired by a photograph. I took these signs on Bald Head Island. I thought they were vacancy/no vacancy signs until Cliff explained they are to signal if you have garbage to be picked up or not. Of course I could argue, most of us have some garbage…

Do I have a favorite post?

That would be like picking a favorite child, but the ones closest to my heart are those I wrote to celebrate or to face important moments:

The birth of my first grandchild.

The wedding of my daughter.

My cancer.

My mom’s death.

I appreciate the grittier and quirkier posts too, like this one about periods and cramps and romance and Smokey the Bear. I never would have guessed at age thirty that I’d one day write about personal body stuff. But once I start, it just sort of flows. (Yucky period reference somewhat intended).

Do I have a  favorite part of blogging?

Yes Six

I love uploading the photos and seeing how they look on the page. I love tweaking and editing. I love the moment a new post goes live. And I love getting comments and ladies room doors sent from all over the world!

Is there anything I hate about blogging?

No, but I’ve accidentally had posts go live when they weren’t finished. Talk about a panic!

 Am I going to do something special for this Fifth Blogging Anniversary?

Yes Five

Gift Card Giveaway: In honor of Friend for the Ride’s fifth anniversary, and because I’ve had fun shopping here for my new house, I’m giving away a fifty dollar gift card to Bed Bath & Beyond. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by October 10.


Thank you again, one and all, for your support. Thanks to Healthline for putting me on your Best Blogs List; to those of you who wrote guest posts; to agent Erzsi Deak for encouraging me to write about menopause; to Cliff for photography help and pointing out typos; to my daughter Kath of Katheats, who models blogging with class and creativity; and thanks to Laura for expert help and for needing a few bucks. Now it’s time for me to spend some money on that baby of yours!



Menopause Awareness Month: Tips for Finding Natural Hot Flash Relief

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Happy Menopause Awareness Month! This post was written and sponsored by NovaSoy

As women enter their 40s and 50s, it’s inevitable: perimenopause and menopause will begin. And, so will the hot flashes—one of the most common, symptoms of menopause.

There are a variety of natural solutions for overcoming these unpleasant hot flashes. Natural remedies typically involve plants or habitual lifestyle changes. As we embark on Menopause Awareness Month, we wanted to share these effective options for natural hot flash relief:

  • Take a Supplement based on Nature – Supplements containing soy isoflavones rich in genistein, naturally-occurring compounds with a chemical structure similar to estrogen, have been scientifically proven to reduce the frequency and severity of menopausal hot flashes by approximately 20 to 30 percent. To make sure the supplement contains the right amount of soy isoflavones, just look for the green NovaSoy® brand leaf on the labels of over-the-counter supplements widely found in drug, grocery and health & nutrition stores.
  • Focus on Nutrition – The right kind of diet is full of fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, legumes and soy. For some women, certain foods trigger hot flashes. Common triggers include coffee, spicy foods or alcohol. Additionally, avoiding caffeine or alcohol within three hours of bedtime may decrease the likelihood of night sweats interrupting sleep.
  • Exercise Regularly – Exercise has been shown to reduce hot flashes as well as a host of other menopause-related issues women face, including sleep disturbances. However, to reap the full benefits, it’s important to incorporate a variety of techniques including aerobic, weight-bearing, strength training and relaxation exercises like yoga.
  • Deflate Stress with Therapy – It’s been proven that lowering stress levels helps decrease menopausal hot flashes. There are many ways to alleviate stress, such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga exercises. Some women are turning to more creative therapies such as hypnotherapy, herbal therapy and aromatherapy.

It’s important to remember, though, that you should still consult your health care provider if you are using nature’s remedies. Discuss your symptoms, treatment plan and how it may impact your overall health.

Interested in discussing hot flash relief and your menopause journey with other women going through the same experience? Join the NovaSoy Facebook community! Discussion topics include exercise inspirations, healthy recipes, and menopause blogs, videos and cartoons. There’s also an interactive symptom checker to let you know if you’re experiencing menopause.


And if that’s not enough, you have until September 30 to enter to win a three-month supply of a product containing NovaSoy that you’d like to try. Just click here:  GIVEAWAY!



The Breast Archives: Nine Women Bare Their Breasts

Could you bare your breasts and then talk about them on camera? Read the fascinating story of  the upcoming film, The Breast Archives, directed and produced by Meagan Murphy:

An inspirational and gently provocative documentary, The Breast Archives explores the complex, yet elusive and hushed relationship women have with their breasts. In the film, the women share their deeply personal memories of puberty, aging, sexual pleasure, nursing, and breast cancer–to name a few. As they give voice to these memories, they find an innate and guiding wisdom as they realize how they’ve tied their feelings about their breasts to their self-worth. These women courageously bare their breasts to the camera, each inviting the audience to accept her naked, imperfect truth.

Making The Breast Archives was a powerful experience for every woman in the film. “I can honestly say to you this may be the first time in my life my breasts and I are befriending each other,” says Sandy. “I am a whole woman as I sit here with you.”


Through bold & candid personal narratives the film illuminates many significant themes and often-stifled experiences of womanhood in America: adolescence, sensual and sexual experience, health and aging. The Breast Archives will make some people uncomfortable. It will elicit emotions, memories, and provocative conversations. It will compel people to explore their own stories. By exposing themselves, the women expose and challenge all of us.

 The participants, aged 32-68, knew beforehand that they would be asked to expose their breasts to the camera. They chose to participate because they felt empowered to take part in what they knew to be a new and necessary conversation, and they understood that baring their breasts was part of that. There were moments of nervousness as they removed their tops, but these moments tended to be fleeting and quickly shifted toward feelings of generosity, authenticity, and dignified courage.

Once the breasts were revealed, the interviews shifted dramatically, becoming more profound and openhearted. Being topless gave the women a heightened awareness, and was visibly transformative. As the women sorted through their experiences and feelings, and as they articulated their insights, their perspectives began to shift.

The camera captured everything as they began to assimilate experiences that had been previously compartmentalized. As one woman said, “There are so many things that I haven’t really thought about concerning my breasts and their ability to open me up.” Removing their shirts wasn’t just about daring or boldness, or even self-acceptance, but about asserting a right to claim their identity and love themselves.


Read more about the film here, on the website.

Like The Breast Archives on Facebook. 

Follow the film on Twitter.

About director Meagan Murphy: 

Meagan Murphy is an award-winning Director/Producer with 25 years’ experience in both film and broadcast. In addition to earning a BS from Northeastern University in 1992, Meagan received two certificates from the International Film and Television workshops in Maine, as well as certificates from a New England-based Women’s Mystery School, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, and a 200 Hour Teacher Training certificate from Expressive Arts & Yoga through Northampton’s Embodiment Institute.

She earned a Communicator’s Award for her work with teens and a Medical Journalism Fellowship through Blue Cross Blue Shield. While at PBS-WGBY, she contributed to and oversaw several award-winning series. Her film repertoire includes Night DepositFathers & Sons, and Victor’s Big Score.

Meagan is active in several industry and networking associations, including the International Documentary Association, Women Business Owners Alliance, eWomen and Women in Film and Video/New England. Additionally, she sits on several committees for the Arts Council in Easthampton, Massachusetts.


“I’d like to be a role model who inspires courage, compassion, and authentic expression. I am also deeply committed to changing society’s faulty perceptions of women and their feminine bodies as somehow dispensable, and I intend to use The Breast Archives as a springboard to make a difference in this arena.”




Life Reimagined: Part Two!

Setting Purposeful Goals

In August, I began exploring Life Reimagined, a program sponsored by AARP.  Friend for the Ride readers are invited to try it too, free of charge. Please do! Just follow this link.

I’ve had a wonderful time and learned so much about what I want in my years ahead. You can read my first post here.

You begin your work in Life Reimagined by coming up with a purpose statement. Here’s mine:


This purpose statement becomes your guiding light as you navigate all the activities their website offers.

In my first conversation with my life coach, Christine Ryan, we looked at my purpose statement together. At the close of the call, Christine encouraged me to focus on the very last word of my statement: “content.”

“Look at the activities that relate to contentment on the Life Reimagined site,” she told me. So I did.

The activities led me to this conclusion: Above all, I want to make strong strides toward better health. One activity I found especially helpful was on how to avoid getting stuck. Many of us know the getting stuck story when it comes to diet and exercise.


Two recent blood tests confirmed that my blood sugar is close to pre-diabetic. Yikes!

“I first ask my patients to stop drinking sugar,” my doctor said. “That’s where most of us go wrong.”

“I don’t drink sugary sodas or fruit drinks,” I told her. But then it hit me. I put too much sugar in my beloved Lipton’s tea. And I often drink four cups every morning.

Solution: Sugar cubes! I love dropping them into me tea, and now I know just how much sugar I’m using. (It’s a lot less messy than measuring too). My tea isn’t nearly as sweet, and I was surprised how quickly I got used to the lowered sweetness.


I’ve cut myself back to two cups a morning, which not only slows down the sugar but the caffeine. (More on my insomnia soon.)


I’m ramping up my walking. I love to walk, but sometimes, the day gets so full, I don’t get to it. New goal: Walk earlier in the day. With my new plan, many mornings in the last month, I’ve hit Hillsborough’s Riverwalk right after dawn.


I sometimes bring that second cup of tea with me, later hiding the empty mug in the grass. Trick is to remember to pick it up on the way home.


I never quite understood why so many people are into counting steps. I downloaded a step counter on my phone called “S Health,” and I love it. Here’s the report from a five mile river trek one morning.


I’ve taken in the morning mist in Gold Park (an extension of the Riverwalk).


The light through the trees.


And the new bridge that connects the Riverwalk to the historic Occoneechee Speedway.


Is this the wet squiggle of a snake?


When I come home, I’ve already hit my tea limit, so I’ve taken to making smoothies. I’ve never been deep into smoothies, mostly because I tire of washing the blender. But gosh are they good. This one features bananas and frozen berries with a splash of milk and a few ice cubes.


On to my insomnia. My friend Joanna told me that cutting out all alcohol has cured her insomnia.I seldom have more than two drinks,usually just one (except for Beach Week and a really fun wedding). But after talking to Joanna, I began to wonder: Could just one drink keep me from sleeping? So I am drinking only tiny bits of alcohol, if any at all.

We had dinner the other night at a favorite Hillsborough haunt, Radius Pizza, I asked for a mocktail made of seltzer. Yum!

My sleeping has improved dramatically. We’ll see what happens as time goes forward, but I’m encouraged.

In my second conversation with my coach Christine, we talked about my eating and fitness goals. “Small steps,” she said. “Success builds success builds success.”

Perhaps this is why attempts like these have failed me before. I want all or nothing. And I want it in an instant. So I keep repeating:

Success builds success builds success

Life Reimagined offers group coaching sessions too. I signed up for this one.

Setting Purposeful Goals

Our leader, Elissa Ashwood, talked about the difference between purposeful goals and performance goals. With purpose-driven goals, we’re accountable to something inside of ourselves. “Go back to your purpose statement,” she told us. “Purpose is the why, and it’s got to be bigger then the objections.” She laughed: “Your why has to be bigger than your but.”


I liked the group session and definitely got some takeaways. I even spoke up! I plan to sign up for more.

The Life Reimagined website features excellent articles, too. Here they are listed by topic.  This one, written by a grieving father, address purpose: How Purpose Saved My Life.

Another question I’ve been exploring through Life Reimagined is  what to do about my writing for children. My blogging and health writing are going well. The children’s book field is a tough one. I recently parted ways with my agent and am in search of a new one. Not an easy adventure.

My illustrator friend Wendy Wahman wrote me about my agent search: “Hang in, my talented, sensitive friend. It could be a long road. Make it one of the courses on your plate. De-intensify. You do other things, and your blog is great.”

Speaking of talent, here’s Wendy’s upcoming picture book, coming out March 2, 2017 from Boyds Mills Press.

You can read more about Wendy’s work here. 

Other writer friends have chimed in: “Keep writing for kids! You have a great voice.” My friend Margaret Nevinski just read my novel and gave me wonderful insights on the plot. I’m ready to revise.

Small steps to finding an agent, to writing, and to health!

I tell my Life Reimagined story to keep myself accountable to the changes I want to make. But I tell it too, to encourage you to give Life Reimagined a try. Once again, here’s the link! 




A Ladies Room Door Special: Chuy’s!


A few weeks ago, we went to visit daughter Laura and son-in-law Matt in Dallas. Laura always plans outings to a few of the city’s fabulous restaurants.

“Tell her my only request is to sit outside and eat unlimited chips and salsa,” Cliff said before we left.

Laura is expecting a baby girl, and women who are expecting aren’t eating outside this summer in Texas. The Zika virus has not hit Dallas yet, but pregnant women are warned not to expose themselves to the possibility of mosquito bites.

So Laura found bottomless chips inside this place: Chuy’s!

The second I stepped inside, the vibes instantly told me: LADIES ROOM DOORS. And I was right.

But first Elvis.


Look at the way cool floors. Wish I could have these in my new house:


A wall of dogs:


This lovely ancient lady:


Ah. He loved her for the wrong reasons:


On to the bathrooms.

A good sign of what I was soon to find. This festive sign:


And this one:




And a door! Lipstick!


For the gentlemen:

A second ladies room: (Chuy’s is a big restaurant.)

The men:20160805_181413

Chuy’s is Bathroom Door Heaven. And the chips are heavenly-lighter than most and quite flavorful. Cliff ate so many bowlfuls, he could barely eat his own tacos much less pine for mine.

“The next time we come, we’ll have the baby!” I said when we left.

I can’t wait to bring along a little girl to help me in my quest for ladies room doors. Now that would be heaven on Earth!