Children, Menopause, Midlife

Childhoods: Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter and a Book Giveaway

Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter

Menopause, for most of us, brings on musing, lots and lots of musing.

There were days I wanted to shout to my brain, “Enough!”

Some of those musings center on our childhoods, Our parents. Our siblings.

What was.

What wasn’t.

What should have been.

What shouldn’t have been.

The good. The bad. The happy. The sad.

And the moments that forty and fifty years later, we still can’t quite figure out.

Although too young for The Great Pause, child star Melissa Francis tells a tale of parenting, especially mothering, gone horribly wrong.

Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter recounts her childhood with a woman whose neurotic and cruel behavior pushed a sister over the edge, drove a husband into the background, and confounded  and disheartened Melissa.

When the book’s publicist offered me a review copy and a giveaway, I thought perhaps Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter would be a quickly written tell-all. Instead, I discovered exquisite prose and well-crafted storytelling.

As you read, your childhood will pop in and off the stage as you compare and contrast Melissa’s to your own.

More musing, no doubt!

Giveaway:  Leave a comment by March 25 saying that you’d like to win a copy of the book. The winner will be chosen at random.

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 Melissa as Cassandra on Little House on the Prairie.  Read more about her Little House days in this interview.

Melissa Grownup

Melissa today, now an anchor on MONEY with Melissa Francis.

Aging, Celebrations, Menopause, Midlife, Stress

My Hundredth Post! Queen for a Day

In honor of my hundredth post, I am crowning each and every one of you Queen for a Day!  Thank you so much for reading Friend for the Ride.

Thank you for your comments.

Thank you for your guest posts.

Thank you for reading even if you are as silent  as a guard at Buckingham Palace.

Do you remember the old TV show, Queen for a  Day?  I used to watch it with my great-aunt, who was nuts over it.

I  keep thinking I’m going to pick some ordinary day and pronounce myself queen, not in a bossy way, but in an I have permission to just goof and not feel guilty way.

The older I am, the more I feel pulled between getting things accomplished and easygoing fun. They say this is a classic problem among women–that we are slow to pamper ourselves and when we do, we feel guilty. Perhaps men actually feel the same way.

Holidays are meant to encourage us to relax, but between the planning and executing of holiday festivities, relaxation often flies out the palace windows.

What about you?  Are you getting better at indulging your Inner Queen as you grow older?

Here’s a hundred royal wishes that we truly learn to spoil ourselves before we’re a hundred!

Photos at the top and bottom: It’s fun to look through this old booklet and see the pictures of a very young queen taken on Elizabeth’s Coronation Day, June 2, 1953.  Photos in the middle are from Queen for a Day.

Life, Midlife

Guest Post: Roots…I’m Not Talking About the Gray Kind!

A guest post by writer Sheri Lesneski:

Why didn’t I ask sooner?

That is a question I keep asking myself.   I do know part of the answer ….I was in my own little world leading my own life oblivious to much else.  My ancestry roots were just something I had heard about and filed in the back of my mind, never really giving them much of a second thought.  I knew that my dad’s side had come from England and my mom’s side was from Sweden.  Cool!  I am an English-Swede!  And that was where my interest in my roots ended.  Until now!

Now I am 53 and playing detective in tracking my ancestry.  The relatives with the answers to many questions are gone. It is only my 91 year old mom and I trying to piece together enough information to add more branches to our family tree.  Right now it is one lop-sided tree!  It looks like it will topple over in a stiff breeze!

I have more information on my dad’s side than I do on my mom’s Swedish side.  That is mostly due to the fact that Mom’s parents moved to the USA from Sweden.  Tracing roots in the Swedish language is no easy feat!  I could  kick myself for not asking questions when relatives with the answers were still around.  It just did not occur to me that later in my life I would want to know more about our family story.

When Mom and I began working on our family tree, we started off with lots of enthusiasm and some success.  We excitedly filled in missing family members on the tree’s branches.  But soon enough we ran into dead ends and lots of frustration.

Thanks to ancestry.com, Mom and I have had some  more success with researching and adding to our tree.  But, that darn Swedish side!  Anyone who has ever tried researching family ancestry knows it is definitely not an easy job. For me it was those Swedish names –those impossible names!  If you were Carl’s son your last name was Carlson.  If you were Carl’s daughter your last name was Carlsdotter.  Sounds simple enough, but Swedes are not simple you see.  Swedes that moved to the USA often times would change the spelling or change their last name altogether!  Not only that but …many Swedes have the same name—ahhhh!

Actually, ancestry.com has been very helpful and provided many valuable resources.  They even have experts available to help you trace your roots.  Unfortunately, I am not able to afford that on my own, so I have to be the detective.

Oh, and have you seen the ancestry show on TV?  They trace the roots of famous stars.  In an hour’s time, that star gets handed answers to their family roots…. if it were only that easy!

My dad’s side has had some interesting facts arise.  If I follow one line, it leads to a distant relative who was an officer in the Revolutionary War.  His uncle was President Tyler. Now let’s see, how am I related to President Tyler? And if you follow one of Dad’s branches all the way back to the 600’s, we find we are related to the King of Scotland.  I always felt I should be royalty!  But is this all true—really true?  Or did I just get lead down a wrong branch in our family tree?  Who really knows?

This is just my experience.  Many people have had the forethought to keep good family records—not us!  But being related to royalty does sound impressive.

One of the most exciting parts of this adventure was learning  a few family secrets.  Secrets that were not talked about while those relatives were alive came out now with such enthusiasm and delight.  We don’t think of those secrets as bad but quite the opposite.

We have added a couple of living family members that we did not know existed!  It is very exciting and we are all having a great time getting to know each other.

My brothers have little if no interest in this whole family tree thing.  I seem to be the only one in the family who is interested besides Mom.  But in case, down the road, one of the younger members of this family starts to ask the same questions that I am asking, we might have given them a bit of a head start on this family tree process.  Hopefully, they will be better detectives than I.

Tracing our family roots has been filled with frustration, questions and wonder.  It has also been extremely fun and very exciting.  It is especially so when you do find an honest to goodness real live relative.  But my leads are growing cold now.  This may call for a research trip to Sweden!

Sheri Lesneski lives in Locust, NC with her husband and their cats.  Sheri and her mom have been working on their family tree, hoping to learn more about their family story.

Posing in the first photo are Sheri’s grandmother and great-grandmother in the  early1900’s.

The photo above shows Sheri and her mom on Easter, 1959, when Sheri was baptized:

And here is Sheri a few years ago, on a cruise through the Mediterranean.   No relatives there that she knows of!

Menopause, Midlife

Those Intent Teddy Bear Eyes

I took this photo because last year, I decided to start a teddy bear blog.  It’s still in my plans, but in the meantime, I have a picture of  three handsome bears.

Theodore is the yellow bear on the left.  He went to Duke with my mom in the forties.

Sadly, the other bears, who are younger, don’t have names yet.  The girl bear is wearing a vintage Shirley Temple dress, but somehow “Shirley” isn’t hitting me  for her name.  I’ll keep pondering.  Send your suggestions!

Anyway, I thought you might like to see the picture. In order to post it on Friend for the Ride, I needed to figure out a what teddy bears might teach us about menopause or midlife.  The two bear boys shouted, “Absolutely not!” to menopause talk, so I stuck to the subject of midlife.

In thinking of the true character of teddy bears, what strikes me most is their determined, intent expressions.  They know their minds.  They are happy with who they are.  Wishy-washy is not in their bear vocabulary.  Even Pooh, a somewhat bumbling bear at times, is, all in all, content with his life–his friends, his love for honey, his poetry, his world in the Hundred Acre Wood.

I’ve decided the eyes on my teddy bears are saying,  “This is the honeypot.  Don’t wait for a new one to swarm into your world and sweeten everything up a notch.  Live life now, lady.  We mean it!”

What about you?  Go get your teddy bear right now.

(Pause while you get your bear.)

Now look into those expressive eyes.  What are they telling you?

Below are the original Pooh animals.  They live in the New York Public Library.  Standing in front of the showcase and seeing these beloved characters was one of the most exciting moments in the life of this writer of children’s books.  I’m positive.  As positive as the eyes on a teddy bear.

And here are the eyes of Alan Alexander Milne, the brilliant mind behind Winnie the Pooh.  I found the picture on Goodreadsa way cool literary site.