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“We read to know we are not alone.”–C.S. Lewis

If you ask me to describe my mom, one of the first things I would tell you is that she’s a reader. A voracious reader. She always has been. We were a family of readers with books everywhere, trips to the library and trips to the bookstore being especially magical because we could keep that book forever.

She’s always been a writer too. A fact she would dispute by the way, but she is a writer, and a wonderful one at that. I’ve said FOR YEARS that she should submit something or try to get published or even just write for her own enjoyment but she never did. But recently she submitted an essay to a magazine asking “What does reading mean to you?”

This is what she had to say:

I can see the library shelf in my mind even now. Biographies were on the bottom rack of the children’s section in the library in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on North Avenue near Lisbon. It was 1951 and I was nine almost ten. My mother had finally allowed me to walk the mile to the library by myself. She didn’t drive. I will never forget the thrill of that walk and discovering the joy of my life, reading.

The books in the biography series were all in orange covers and arranged alphabetically. Jane Adams was the first. She was an aware and influential woman who started the Chicago Community Center, Hull House. I LOVED the book, and years later became a social worker partly because of that book and her beliefs. At home my mother put all the books she thought were too “adult” for me on the top of our bookshelf. I got a stepstool and stretched carefully to get GONE WITH THE WIND down to read. She found out when I was about halfway through and reluctantly allowed me to finish it. Thanks, Mom. It was great. I saw “damn” in print even though I never heard it at home.

I loved reading from the moment I first learned about Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot. I was reprimanded for not coming to the dinner table on time, and would walk slowly while holding a book to my face. I was told I couldn’t read at the table so I would carefully place a bookmark to mark my page and eat quickly. I used to read late at night and my mother would invariably discover me under the covers with a flashlight so the light wouldn’t be seen from under my door. She was a kindred spirit as she would say, “Stop at the end of this chapter, Ellen”.

Through my wonderful book club which I have enjoyed for 25 years I have read all types and varieties of the written word I might not have chosen for myself, but am so glad that I have read. We call ourselves “Ladies of the Club” like the famous book by Helen Santmyer that took her 50 years to write. When we started in the late 1980’s we all had teenagers, and through the years we have shared our joys such as our children’s marriages and grandchildren, our hardships of personal illnesses and those of our spouses, and sorrow over the deaths of a spouse and one of our own dear members.

What I really know about reading is that it has sustained me, entertained me, lifted my soul, broadened me, and it has become my best friend. I plan books to take on vacation before buying a new outfit. I don’t even have to go on vacation…I can read about it and transport myself, quite the benefit in these economic times!

I commented on Meg’s blog (because she posted mom’s essay too) that my mom’s writing is so rich and warm, filled with fantastic details and a unique voice. If this essay isn’t enough to convince you, I’ve saved the majority of the emails she has sent me over the years as well as a TON of the letters sent to me in college. You’re welcome to come over and read them.

My mom rules and I’m grateful every day that she’s mine.

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Living a Little

Bonjour Peanuts,

In my constant quest to seek out the extraordinary and do things that challenge me, it occurred to me that I haven’t been doing much seeking or anything challenging lately. So, I decided to change that.

I struggle with exercising my creativity (I guess this blog is one way to express myself creatively, but you get my meaning) so I took a baby step and got this book by the awesome Keri Smith.


I’m actually having a harder time with it than I thought. My “perfectionistic tendencies” are surfacing for sure. The first page says to stand on the page and mark it up. With your shoes on. That could possibly be dirty!

I did it. And it felt oddly liberating. I daintily stepped on the page and left a little dust mark. (note to self: do over)

Hadley read through the copy when I first got it (I told her not to tell me any of the pages) and was absolutely delighted by it. She was laughing and saying she wants a copy too! It comes so naturally to kids, to dive right in, to delight, destroy and create. I need more of that in my life.

The second page (I’m going in order, like a nerd) says to splash coffee or tea on the page. Again, I hesitated, and then I just did it. And it felt good! I look forward to creatively destroying this book. Wish me luck. (I’m going to channel my most favorite artistic old same, ELK, during this project. She’ll be my muse.)


I also signed up to become certified to teach yoga to kids. It’s called Mindful Life Yoga for Kids. It looks really really interesting.

From the website: “The method is theoretically derived and informed by the latest research in the fields of cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology, social and emotional learning, and mindfulness.”

Mindful Life Yoga for Kids is a unique and innovative program specifically designed to help children develop:

  • An understanding of how their brain works
  • Attention skills
  • Sensory awareness
  • Emotional management skills
  • Compassion & Empathy
  • Ecological awareness

I honestly don’t know if I’ll even use the certification beyond my own house. I do know that the techniques are tools I would like to have in my arsenal for Hadley and Finn. 

The training is this weekend. All weekend. Friday from 5-7pm and then Sat and Sun from 9-4. I’m excited and nervous. Excited because I’ll be learning… YEAH! Nervous because lupus is probably going to be Debbie Downer as this is a lot for my body to take and I’m already feel kind of shitty. We’ll see how it goes.

And the other thing I’m doing to get out of my comfort zone is taking English riding lessons with Hadley! I’m so looking forward to it. She’s been begging for years to do it. I thought she would get over it. Who was I kidding though, this is Hadley we’re talking about. So, while signing her up, I thought “I’d like to do that too.” So, I am. We were supposed to have our first lesson on Sunday but Hadley was sick. I’ll have to get PGP to take some pics of me and my girl. I’m thrilled to be around horses. I loooooove them. And let’s be honest, the riding outfit is really cute too.

It’s an overcast day and I’m feeling fluish and achy, courtesy of Hadley and her cold. My bed beckons me.

Happy Wednesday to you. Get out of your comfort zone. It feels good. Weird. But good.


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The Hustle

I think most people don’t get that you have to work at being happy. You have to DECIDE to be happy and then work at it. You do have a choice.

One of the Old Sames (E) sent me many cards during the whole breast cancer business. One of them said “Keep Hustling to Keep Happy”. I loved it and had it taped up on my bathroom mirror for the better part of a year.

The minute I saw this temporary tattoo from Tattly, I loved it.


Can’t wait to put that sucker on. I’m also going to order some for the kids. They’re so cute!

Extra special shout-out to the animal loving girl who makes killer fudge. XO

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How incredible are these? Discovering Cecilia Parades’ work is filling my Sunday morning with wonder and delight. Love it. You can see more of her work here and here.


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