Menopause

Be Yourself-Everyone Else Is Taken

Do you like your name?

I’m not wild about mine. Didn’t like it at all when I was a kid. I’ve grown into it a bit. I do like that Barbara has lots of nicknames, and I’ve always admired Beaver’s mother, Barbara Billingsly. I think June Cleaver has lots more chutzpa then the world gives her credit for.

Barbara Billingsley

Sometimes, when I sign my name during a credit card transaction, I say to myself. “Slow down. Write your name with happiness and confidence. Be pleased and grateful for who you are.” So I write slowly:

Except that it doesn’t look as nice as that font because my handwriting isn’t great. In fact, I’m not happy with my handwriting.

Or my singing voice.

Or my dinner entrees (I’m better on side dishes).

Or my fingernails.

This takes us to the topic of self-esteem. They say menopause brings confidence once you get through the thick of it. I do find as I get older, my self-esteem is improving. And I’ve learned it’s okay to have lots of shortfalls.

Someone once asked my dad what his talents were. He answered, “I’m really good at edging flower gardens.”

I like that!

I can make a teddy bear talk like he’s the most fascinating bear in the world, and I know the names of all the state capitols.

Maybe that’s enough.

I snapped this photo in a funky coffee shop in Kentucky:

 

Yep!

And check out this article on the Positivity Blog:  Tips on self-esteem.  

What about you? Are you happier with yourself than you were twenty years ago?

And do you like your name?

Top Photo:  I saw this sign in a Cinque Terre village on our trip to Italy. No clue what type of business it is.

Bottom Photo: I found this name bracelet among the treasures I saved when my daughter Laura was born. I wonder if hospitals nowadays give mothers such pretty bracelets.

Menopause

Building Your Resilient Self: A Writing Workshop

20160305_151927 (1)

 

For those of you who live locally, my friend Judy Brown and I are repeating our writing workshop at RambleRill Farm here in Hillsborough. We’re talking about resiliency for women! We were delighted by the response to our first workshop, so we’re offering it again. The workshop is for both writers and non-writers. Come join us!

During the workshop, we ask participants to write about a troubling experience. This is what one woman reported in her workshop evaluation:

“Just such a memory had haunted me the week before attending your workshop, so I wrote about it. I also wrote about the advice that I would give someone undergoing a similar experience. That night I slept better than I had for some time. So thank you very much for the healing quality of this workshop.”

Here’s the workshop description:

Building Your Resilient Self:
An Afternoon of Wellness and Words

“The oak fought the wind and was broken,
the willow bent when it must and survived.”
Robert Jordan

Come join an intimate group of women for an afternoon at RambleRill Farm in
Hillsborough as we explore writing techniques and how they can be a tool for
resiliency. Whether we are the oak or the willow, life hands us many challenges.
Writing is a strong tool for guiding us to bend when we need to, and to help us
bounce back to physical and emotional wellness.

Judy Brown, a certified holistic health coach, will explain how our emotional,
spiritual, and relational lives can impact our resiliency and our health.

Barbara Younger, an author and writing teacher, will lead us in writing from the
heart to reach the strength within us.

The afternoon will include guided meditations, relaxation exercises, and an
afternoon tea.

Date: Friday, April 1, 2016
1-4 pm

Where: RambleRill Farm, 913 Arthur Minnis Rd., Hillsborough

Cost: $40

Please contact Judy Brown for more information and to sign up for the workshop.
Jfrances40@earthlink.

RambleRill Farm: I snapped the photo of the RambleRill Barn right before our first workshop on a cold winter day. Come meet the farm in the Spring! You can read more about RambleRill here.

20160130_123753

Menopause

Building Your Resilient Self: A Writing Workshop at RambleRill Farm

20151110_110706

For those of you who live locally, my friend Judy Brown and I are leading a workshop at RambleRill Farm here in Hillsborough. We’re talking about resilience for women!

Here’s the workshop description, and if you come, you’ll get a fun notebook like the ones above:

Building Your Resilient Self:
An Afternoon of Wellness and Words

“The oak fought the wind and was broken,
the willow bent when it must and survived.”
Robert Jordan

Come join an intimate group of women for an afternoon at RambleRill Farm in
Hillsborough as we explore writing techniques and how they can be a tool for
resiliency. Whether we are the oak or the willow, life hands us many challenges.
Writing is a strong tool for guiding us to bend when we need to, and to help us
bounce back to physical and emotional wellness.

Judy Brown, a certified holistic health coach, will explain how our emotional,
spiritual, and relational lives can impact our resiliency and our health.

Barbara Younger, an author and writing teacher, will lead us in writing from the
heart to reach the strength within us.

The afternoon will include guided meditations, relaxation exercises, and an
afternoon tea.

Date: Saturday, January 23, 2016
1-4 pm

Where: RambleRill Farm, 913 Arthur Minnis Rd., Hillsborough

Cost: $45 (Early bird discount $40- through January 15)

Please contact Judy Brown for more information and to sign up for the workshop.
Jfrances40@earthlink.

Do join us! Learn more about beautiful RambleRill Farm here at their website.

RambleRill Farm

Check out Judy’s website here and her blog here.

cropped-header2

My writer’s website is here.

cropped-header1

Menopause

Three Years! Happy Anniversary Friend for the Ride!

Friend for the Ride in the Sand

Happy Three Year Anniversary to Friend for the Ride!

I like to write her name in the sand.

I write yours in the stars because you’re the world’s most wonderful readers.

Since the blog began, with the help of guest posters, I’ve published over four hundred posts. 

 

Capture

 

Thanks to those of you who leave sparkling and insightful comments. One reader recently wrote me: “Never thought I’d get so hooked on connecting with others this way!”

And thanks to everyone for reading!

Happy fall and on to Year Four…

 

Four

 

Menopause

Tangerine Tango! (And a Bright Orange Book Giveaway)

Color! Color!  Color! Color! Color! Color! Color!

The older I get, the more I’m drawn to vibrant colors.

And so is Lisa Winkler, because she titled her  new anthology Tangerine Tango: Women Writers Share Slices of Life.

I  am delighted that Lisa selected three of my poems and three of my essays for the book.  Thanks, Lisa!

Here’s what the press release says about Tangerine Tango’s contents:

  • There’s Donna Barry who writes about her mother, her father, football, the ocean, and one of her first jobs.
  • There’s Stacey Caron who is a food blogger and antique dealer. She shares her grandmother’s chopped liver recipe, a tart from Spain, and her love of food.
  • You’ll swoon in green with Judy Ackley Brown and smile as you read about Barbara Chapman’s Fifth grade memories, her fight with breast cancer, and her work with hospice.
  • You’ll lick your lips with Gabi Coatsworth’s description of ice cream, empathize with her trip to the dump, envision her shrimping with her father and her grand-daughter, and be moved by her poem dedicated to her sister.
  • Dawn Landau’s ode to her daughter teems with raw emotion and her vision of seeing her late mother is almost scary.
  • Chris Rosen’s mother will amaze you, you’ll share her pride in her rock musician son, and want to climb in the hot air balloon with her.
  • Like Leah Singer, you’ll be annoyed at the salesman, disturbed by her parents chiding her about her weight, and proud that she has made her interfaith marriage last.
  • Those with siblings will hear themselves in Madeline Taylor’s telephone essay.
  • With Patti Winker, you’ll wonder about life with 11 siblings, learn about running a candy store, and reminisces about life with clotheslines and before helmets.
  • From Lisa Winkler, you can reread some past posts – about fashion advice from our mothers, medical advice from her father, hopes for college graduates and tolerance for varying religious beliefs in her own family, and ice cream flavors.
  • Barbara Younger shares three lovely poems – about buttons, socks and fudge, and essays about her father’s music, her allegiance to her ancient stove, and a Valentine’s Day when she was 11.

Me again:

Start your holiday shopping!  A great present, the book’s tiny size makes it perfect to tuck into a gift basket or bag.

Don’t forget birthdays!  With its focus on living an exuberant life, Tangerine Tango makes a great girlfriend birthday present.

You!  And of course you’ll want a copy for yourself!

Purchase the book here. 

Proceeds from the sale of Tangerine Tango go to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

Giveaway: In celebration of the publication of this colorful collection of essays and poems, I’m giving away two copies.  Post a comment by October 24 saying you’d like to win. Two winners will be chosen at random.

Photo Above:  Marina Bang designed Tangerine Tango’s delicious cover!

Photo Below:  Giveaway books stand proud on our old stove, the topic of one of my essays in Tangerine Tango.

Celebrations, Menopause

Cake in Fridge!

At Piedmont Community College, where I work as a writing tutor, we get a lot of emails. Most of them have to do with grading rosters that need to be turned in or  an upcoming college event.  I scan the email headings to see which emails I need to read.

My eyes almost popped out of my English tutor head when I read this one:

CAKE IN FRIDGE

Yum!

I love cake. I love it for the flavor, but I love cake too for the the celebrations it represents: birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, promotions, book signings, holidays, store openings, and lots of other happy times.

Today, Friend for the Ride is one year old.

And so, to each of you, for reading my blog, I’m sending:

A cake in the fridge 

Albeit it’s an imaginary one, but it comes with my love and thanks!

Photo is courtesy Laura Younger. I’m not sure if this was her birthday cake or Matt’s, but I could take a big old dollop of that butter cream right now.

Aging

Lillian, Queen of the Shelter

We called her Queen of the Shelter because when we went to adopt her, she sat on a high shelf in the cat room. We walked in the door. She stood up to greet us, two strange people.

Then with great dignity, she stepped down from the shelf, went over to the bowl of cat chow, took a nibble, turned, and gave a self-assured hiss to the cats in her returning path. No doubt, she ruled the cat room.

“We think she’s ten to twelve,” the woman told us as we signed the adoption papers. “In fact, since she’s an old girl, we’ll take $25 off the adoption costs.”

Lillian talked, with our help. She reminded Cliff many times that he owed her the $25. After all, she was the old girl. The money was really hers.

When we decided, with the vet’s confirmation, that it was time to let her go in early July, she’d been Queen of the Household and Queen of Our Hearts for eight years.

You’ve done it too, I suspect. Put a beloved pet to his or her end.

Our vet gave her a tranquilizer. I buried my head in her fur, which still smelled kitty clean and crisp.

“We love you, Lils. You’ve been a wonderful cat.”

At her funeral later that day, I read one of my poems, “At the Grave of a Fine Cat.”

May your whiskers be ruffled by only pleasant breezes,

May your bowls be filled with tuna and sweet cream,

May your dreams be filled with legions of mice,

May you forever purr in peace.

Amen.

Cliff shoveled on the dirt as I tossed in garden zinnias.

Lillian taught me just what an old girl can do.

How to run on spindly legs.

How to greet each morning with short, upbeat  meows.

How to make your opinions known with more dramatic ones.

How to appreciate family and welcome strangers.

How to cozy up and relax on a pile of quilts.

And how to grow old with Queen of the World spunk.

Photo: Lillian looks out from the kitchen of her new home.  Photo courtesy Katherine Younger.

My Poem “At the Grave of Fine Cat” was published in June Cotner’s Animal Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Our Pets (Harper San Francisco, 2000).