Art Class! (with My Friend Gail)


My mom was an artist. The first time I understood she had talent was when she drew a face in the sand for me at Ocean City, Maryland. Mom encouraged me to paint and draw. Although I liked it, I figured out early on that I have no real talent. I couldn’t add character to my faces in the sand like Mom could.

But something came over me a year or so ago. Our local senior center offers a class in acrylic painting that meets Tuesday afternoons. My friend Gail agreed to take the class with me, and we signed up! I got such a thrill out of buying my supplies, pictured above.

At our first class, our instructor, Danny Eubanks, asked us to pick a painting to copy. I knew I needed something simple, so I chose Kasmir Malevich’s Head of a Woman (1920). I think she might be menopausal. She’s red in the face and may be exhibiting a touch of brain fog.

The lure of the blank canvas…

Danny had us sketch outlines.


Next, he instructed me to to fill in the area around the woman.

Then she began to take on color.

More Paint

Danny talked to us about mixing paints, applying paints, and what brushes to use.  Gail chose a more complicated piece, Van Gogh’s Japanese Vase with Roses and Anemones.  Her fine motor skills are lots better! She makes jewelry and is skilled with intricate work.


Now it was time to add the stripes to my painting. Some artists use tape to create straight lines.I might have thought that was cheating. Love painter’s tape!

Danny worked for the Sheriff’s Department here in Orange Country, North Carolina, and is now retired. Although he’s been an artist all his life, these days he has plenty of time to work on his paintings and to teach art.

I want to do a geometric next, so here’s one he painted to show me the possibilities. He’s an excellent artist.

Back to my woman with the red head. More stripes!

After four sessions, she was finished. Painting my signature felt like a moment of moments.

Here are Gail’s flowers.

I’m having a great adventure in art class, but I’m willing for Gail and Danny and my mom to outshine me.  As a younger woman, I would have felt competitive and perhaps beat myself up for my lack of talent.

Now, I just want to paint, to have fun with color and design and the camaraderie of my fellow artists. Ah. The liberation of menopause.

But I do wonder what my red-faced woman is thinking. Any clues?


Genneve Lubricants and Moisturizers for Women: A Giveaway!




The folks at genneve sent me their product to try. Good stuff! Thank you, genneve. Now they’re offering a prize package to two lucky Friend for the Ride winners and free samples for all. Take it away, genneve!

Win a prize and extend your tribe – genneve wants to you feel your vibrant best

At team genneve, we’re on a mission – to help women feel fabulous in their bodies at any age.

Being at your fabulous best can be especially challenging in the years around menopause. As estrogen levels drop, we can experience symptoms that impact our lives: hot flashes, insomnia, headaches, vaginal dryness, and more. As estrogen’s protective properties decline, we’re more vulnerable to larger health concerns like heart disease and osteoporosis.

Many menopause symptoms can be managed or avoided

Here’s the good news: women in or approaching menopause are in the most vibrant years of their lives – or we can be. The kids are pretty independent now, professionally we can demand the respect we’ve earned, and our self-confidence is sky-high because frankly, the silly stuff just doesn’t bother us like it used to. And many menopause symptoms can be managed or even avoided so they don’t negatively impact our quality of life.

If we treat ourselves right, if we exercise, eat well, love well, limit stress and make time for our families, friends, and ourselves, our bodies can feel as awesome and vibrant as we are.

At genneve, we’ve worked hard to perfect a line of moisturizers and lubricants that relieve vaginal dryness, so you can feel comfortable during exercise, daily life, and those special intimate moments. And we’ve just introduced a brand-new Ultra Gentle Body Wash that’s great for “down-there care” every day. All our products are formulated and pH-balanced to replace your body’s natural moisture. Free of fragrances, parabens, flavors, or hormones, you can trust our products to moisturize and protect vulnerable tissues.

Thousands of women have tried our products and come back for more, and we couldn’t be happier to be helping women regain their bodies and their confidence.

That’s why we’re so excited to offer two prize packages of our products to you, the Friend for the Ride community! (And if you don’t win, we hope you’ll try our FREE SAMPLES to find the genneve product that works best for you!)

Saying “sayonara” to the stigmas

Our mission can’t be achieved by moisturizers and lubricants alone. The more we talk to women in the perimenopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal stages of their lives, the more we realize what a hunger there is for knowledge and understanding. We hear the questions all the time: Is what’s happening to me normal? How can I relieve my symptoms? What else can I expect? What steps should I be taking now to protect my future health?

But women’s bodies are still so taboo, we’re reluctant to talk about our issues with each other or even with our doctors. And the information that’s out there can be hard to find, sort through, and understand.

We want to change that.

On our media platform, thegspot, we share blogs, podcasts, videos, and advice from leading health care professionals, nutritionists, physical therapists, femtech specialists, and more so you can ask and get your questions answered. No shame, no embarrassment, no stigmas, just honest answers and solutions from some of the best minds out there on women’s health care.

But our commitment goes even deeper. One of the best indicators of success in surviving and thriving during the menopause transition is having a strong network of support. And so team genneve is creating a community of “gennevers” – women who feel all the vibrancy of this time of their lives, or are working towards it. We share real women’s stories of learning to take control of their health care, dealing with breast cancer, taking on the risks of pregnancy despite migraines, learning the lessons of motherhood, embracing aging, and so much more.

You can see it in awesome blogs like Friend for the Ride: There is enormous wisdom among women, on every topic you can think of, and we’re tapping into that wisdom to share the wealth. We hope you’ll join us – find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Medium.


Giveaway: For a chance to win this gift package, simple enter a comment by April 5, 2017. Feeling shy? Email me. My email address is on the right.

Losing Mom: The Second Year Anniversary


March 20 is my birthday. Cliff and I are headed off on a small adventure that I hope will end in cake with buttercream icing.

March 20 is also the day, two years ago, that my mother died. You don’t grow up thinking your mother will die on your birthday, but mine did (and it’s okay!)

Each death is different. Each grief is different, but active grieving helped me so much in the weeks after Mom died. Washing her punch glasses, ironing her linens, setting the table like she would, let me honor her legacy of whimsy and taste.

It was a year though until I really told the story of what happened on my birthday in 2015: Losing Mom: Happy Birthday to Me.

I was so relieved when my mother died. So happy that she was no longer suffering. While my mind still drifts to some regrets, to words not said, questions not asked, all in all, I’ve been surprised by how gentle my grief has been. Shocked, really.I’d dreaded my mother’s death since I first learned as a little girl that people die.

In the weeks before Mom died, I felt the deepest, most excruciating sadness I’ve ever experienced. The pain the cancer caused my mother broke my heart and not knowing how long she would suffer terrified me. Yet in her death, my overwhelming emotion has been peace.

But at the birth of my first granddaughter this year a new touch of grief set in. Not a deep sadness but a longing for my mother. I want to pick up the phone: “The baby is smiling!” If only I could print out the pictures and mail them to Mom: “Who do you think she looks like?”

As I said goodbye to Emerson last month in Dallas, I saw in a flash the faces of my mother, and my father too. They would be bonkers, as I am, over this little girl. If only they could see her.

But maybe they can. Maybe they do.

I’ve wondered where my parents went. I even have days when I think, bizarre as it sounds, that I can bring them back. I wrote about this idea in Bringing Back Dad. I sometimes ask myself:  Where are my parents? Deader than dead? In the ashes we’ve yet to sprinkle? Or are they in the clouds? In the treasures they left behind? In the habits and speech patterns I inherited? In heaven? (My first choice, of course.)

For years I’d observe people I knew whose parents were dead. They seemed fine. They laughed and went to work and traveled and celebrated holidays. If those people were fine, maybe I would be too.

And I am. For those of you who haven’t lost your parents yet, know there comes a grace in the loss. A peace in knowing your parent is not suffering. A rich contentment in the good memories. A fading of the bad ones. But most of all, there come flashes of longing for your mom and dad that feel like love in its purest form.

Just like looking into the face of a tiny baby who is looking right back at you.

Top photo: Mom smiles as I hold my oldest daughter Katherine.

Bottom photo: Laura holding Emerson at five months. Gosh, can this baby smile!