Monday, February 28, 2011

Generous with herself

Statement of fact; My sister, Diane has the biggest heart of anyone I know. It’s true.

She has a keenly sensitive empathy to those who are fortunate enough to be in her close circle.

Example; This past weekend, she and her charming husband Louis showed up at our door with armfuls of splendid food and wine. The makings for a gourmet dinner of pasta alfredo and treats on the side.

Diane proceeded to assemble and cook this fabulous meal for us, insisting on taking care of everything herself. Well, a wonderful meal it was. And… after the clean-up, she reveals the spa treatments she brought along.

We spent the next hour or so scrubbing, cleansing, and moisturizing…

Diane and Louis spent the night with us, and we shared a wonderful hearty breakfast.

Diane, thank you for taking your weekend to pamper me. You have a way of knowing when I need it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


My apologies to all for not posting my once-a-week musings on Saturdays these last few weeks... but given my recent health issues, it was not an oversight as much as a necessity to disconnect from the matrix, so to speak. Over the years of my life I've had questionable health, getting whatever bug that went around, and watching it manifest into something far worse than anyone else had with the same virus. My doctors' thoughts on the matter over the years have always been that being a sickly child, and watching it continue into adulthood was not necessarily a fault of my own, just a poor immune system, and far too many antibiotics prescribed over the years. My course of action has now begun to "rest and wait it out" through what can sometimes be weeks of recuperating. This time was no different. I'm finally on the mend, and with it I have come up with my honest to goodness, best subject ever for me to be grateful for. My health. I am grateful for all the people over the years that have helped me through each passing flu or bout with bronchitis. My husband, Jim, who checks on my regularly, my sisters and parents, the doctors that prescribed peace and solitude as much as cough medicine, and holistic healers that have suggested I boost my immune system through numerous regimens. I don't feel like I'm a sickly person, rather quite healthy, to be honest. And in that belief, I am grateful for what I consider to be a rather healthy state for the most part. There is no life threatening disease or chronic pain I live with. I eat well, sleep fairly well and get plenty of walks in now that I'm in a wonderfully warm climate again. I'm so lucky to count one of the many blessings in my life to be that I'm healthy. And for that I'm grateful in so many ways as I know others that are not as lucky as I. I hope everyone reading this can say the same!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dear Laura ...

Dear Laura,

Several weeks ago, you gave me a book. A lovely book, for which I would like to thank you, yes. But this note is for something more. It is for the way you bring kindness and energy to everyone around you, including me.

I thank you for the way, when you talk with someone, you are completely present. I remember the first time we had lunch together two years ago; a bit of a manic hour of topics ranging from tolerance, to cultural differences, to quiet, private moments of epiphany. We often try to schedule time together -- I remember the time we had a lunch date which I forgot, and though you made your way to our appointed spot, you immediately forgave me and let go of the whole mishap. I learned that your capacity for forgiveness was as great as your capacity to embrace people's virtues, even celebrate their quirks.

I applaud the way you go through life hungry and thirsty for ways you can shape conversations and inspire others. I applaud you for the spirit and tenacity you bring to every situation.

To quote the book you gave me; May God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done. You have great days still ahead of you. May there be many of them.

Thank you, Laura, for being such an amazing friend.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dear Sandy,

I met my dear friend Sandy not long after I – a victim of trailing spouse syndrome – moved (kicking and screaming) from Chicago to Rochester, New York. An acquaintance told me that Sandy – who was a PR person I had spoken with on the phone in my job as a magazine editor, but never met – lived in the same town as I did. I don’t remember who called whom, but we met for lunch and the deal was sealed. Almost 20 years later, and we are still fast friends – and we are two of the funniest people we know . . .

What in God’s name would I have done had I not met you when I moved to Fairport? Let’s see. I would not have applied to Hooter’s for a waitressing job as a joke. I would not have consulted as many psychics, if any. I would not have gone to an “adult” store to buy party favors for Aphrodite (aka me) to take to a theme party. I would not have had as many impromptu salad bar lunches at Wendy’s – certainly not one in which I (and you) used a bit of inappropriate language and were asked to cool it by a young mother. I would never have known someone who could do a cartwheel on a curb and a perfect dismount ("10" from the Russian judge). I would not have joined (even though I am married) to help evaluate your dating prospects. I would not have gone on your roots tour in and around Rome New York, nor would you have gone on mine in Lake Forest. I would not have watched Jessie and Alex grow up. I would not have worked for five+ years on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project with you. I would not have had anyone to tell my weird family stories to – or anyone’s weird stories to listen to. I would not know how to email or text. I would not believe in myself as much as I do now. I would not have laughed until I couldn’t breathe.

Thank you for being such a loyal and caring friend, even when I fall into my black holes. I never wanted to move to Rochester, but you made it worth every minute -- and when it was time to leave my heart broke a little. Love, Jane

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Hello there! Once again, Tuesday flew past with a whooshing sound. My days are now officially straight :)

This week I wish to thank a woman who I met only once over twelve years ago. I wish to thank her for being in my life because I truly feel she is supposed to be there.

Before we met, I was told that she was a force to be reckoned with(not in a mean or a bad way) and that I would probably feel a bit overwhelmed by her presence and to expect that. For many reasons (which won't be all revealed here) I was very nervous when that day came. I was expecting this being of perfectness that I would never measure up to.

Her name is Max, short for Maxine, and the day we met, what I expected never came to pass. Instead, we shook hands and instantly clicked. Before the short visit was through, we ended up on the deck in rocking chairs talking for over an hour and sipping on wine discussing everything under the sun like we had known each other for years. She gave me her address and phone number the day she left and wanted to keep in touch. To this day, we email at least once a week and write at least twice a year. As each year goes by, the attachment made on that sunny day in Virginia all those years ago never faded. She feels like a sister to me even though I think she thinks of it more as mother daughterish due to her age but to me she is definitely sisterish. Max is kind, has a sense of humor, her moral compass is straight and true and she is a good friend. I love her and am thankful to have her in my life.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thanks O' Plenty....

I do believe 365 Days of Gratitude is working small miracles in my life. It's Day 52 in case anyone was wondering. '-) One daily handwritten note a day sprinkled with appreciation to those along the way; truly does put a skip in ones step. Focusing on the things that are working and being more present to the gifts life brings creates an equilibrium. So, when things happen that I'm not so grateful for it's easier to accept it, deal with it and move on. It's turning into a good habit. Thanks to ALL you ladies involved in this project. You are an inspiration!! Committing to you has helped me be true to myself. Being accountable each week to blog and sending out a note each day has kept me on track. Left to my own devices who knows what would ensue?!? Thank You...Thank You...Thank You...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Natalie Merchant - Kind and Generous

Hi Friends,
I haven't written a single thank you note this week, because that's the kind of week it's been. In and out of Chicago, running around, putting out small fires. You know the drill. But the spirit is still with me, and I want to send a special thank you to my sisters and my 365Gratitude friends. As my sister Loranne said, generosity is the sister of gratitude, and these gals have it in spades. The way we keep up with each other in little ways throughout our days, and those little gestures that mean so much.

To quote Natalie:
You've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I'm in debt to you
and I never could have come this far without you
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound,
I'm bound to thank you for it ...


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deep gratitude about a "little thing".

I am in AZ with my daughter and family. Jess, my daughter, just delivered her third baby, a girl on Sunday the 13th. She now has three girls.

I am swept away as I look at this delightful four day old. I am equally delighted by her older sisters and the fun time we are having. Most of all I am filled with gratitude for my daughter. We have an exceptionally wonderful relationship. It is a joy to be here.

Well, I gotta get back to the fun!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Let me begin by apologising profusely for my very late "Tuesday" blog. I have seriously gotten my days mixed up lately :)

The person I wish to thank this week is my wonderful and sweet husband Louis. After having grown up with my sisters and I am still doing so, it wasn't long before I realized that very few people "get you" like your sisters. Louis started out as just my friend who lived across the street from the apartment that my sister Ren and I were living in. We slowly became acquainted and started spending more and more time together. We had dinner all together allot which would lead to watching movies and him falling asleep with my bird Sunshine on his shoulder asleep with him. Any time he made dinner for us, he would make sure that there were mushrooms in the mix because he knew that I loved them and unbeknownst to me he hated them and never told me. To this day, he will make sure I get my mushroom fix even though he no longer will suffer through eating them. Needless to say, we became husband and wife and he "gets me".

He will cross a street without a word with me to be on the same side as a person walking their cute dog just so that I could pet it and is always watching out for animals to point out to me while we are driving. He freely uses my made up words for him and Sunshine without shyness around others and will even explain what I mean to our friends. He will hold my hand every time we walk somewhere because he knows how much I love doing so. Has watched every kind of movie there is with me even though he would not have chosen it. Has bought me copious socks in every color just so I have a choice (socks are my thing). He knows when I am feeling ultra sensitive without me telling him and will hug me to make it better, has taught me to stand up for myself and speak my mind, let me paint our house yellow even though he had misgivings about the color and generally has made sure that I was truly happy and if not, tried to fix it for me. He is my hero, my friend, my partner in crime and my love. Not to be morbid, but we have a recurring argument about who will be "going" first and I pray that we go together a very very long time from now.

I love you My Uis!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day

There are days, like today, when I want and plan to be cheerful, upbeat and romantic, but just don’t feel it. I’m still recovering from a physical run down crash of sorts from last week, (long story).

Anyway, after spending the morning with me in this gray mood, Paul went off on errands. Three hours later, he walks in the door with an armful of my favorite flowers, stocks and delphiniums, and makings for homemade pizza for dinner. He then cleaned up the kitchen and proceeded to make the pizzas.

So, I am now sharing this story full of yummy pizza, with a heady bouquet of flowers near me.

Paul, you know how to do Valentine ’s Day for me, you always have. Thank you.

Up close and personal....

While working on this crazy corporate gig this week (which they usually are) had a couple of challenging personalities to deal with. Getting caught up at times in the drama that ensued. I soon realized I had a choice. My attention and focus went to the people that were not swirling in the mayhem. Expressing my gratitude every chance I would get to the angels surrounding me. Which were many. We managed to be productive, have a good time and really appreciate our time together. A blessing indeed. Even random smiles and hello's shared with the hotel staff were a pick me up. Kindness is contagious. It's a good place to be...even if it takes a little attitude adjustment on occasion. Cheers to all my Angels this week. Much appreciation!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear Denny & Carmen, Curt & Jan,

Many years ago, I took a job working for a company called The Success Group. Little did I know at the time that my seven-year stint with them would have such a profound impact on me for the rest of my life.

Dear Denny & Carmen, Curt & Jan,

I was something of a stray puppy when you took me in so many years ago (I dare not articulate the actual number of years). Working for you has perhaps been the only time that being an artist was looked upon as a bonus, rather than a detriment, in the business world. I still cherish memories of being asked to design and paint a mural in Curt's office when we moved to Marconi Boulevard. (I quickly learned that no matter how big and colorful I made the mural, his personality would inevitably be bigger and more colorful.) It is with humility that I also remember the support and encouragement I received from you all to pursue my art, which I did and continue to do. And I count myself fortunate to have worked in what I still consider one of the most beautiful and art-filled offices ever.

Not only did you provide me numerous professional growth opportunities, but taught me some truly meaningful life lessons as well. You taught me that relationships are not merely something; relationships are everything. Both personally and professionally. You showed me the meaning of integrity daily. You gave me many reasons to be proud that I worked with such a caring and energetic group of people, and your gestures of love and generosity are simply too numerous to recount here.

You were my second family for those seven years, and for that I am deeply grateful.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dear Aunt Kate,

My father’s older sister, Kathryn, was, in the parlance of the day, a spinster. She was a nurse by profession and was for a time the head nurse at a large Catholic hospital in Milwaukee.

We knew how to have a good time, didn’t we? I remember our yearly trips to Clark’s Camp in Vermillion Bay, Ontario. We always stayed in that little cabin right on the lake, lounged around all day reading drugstore novels and playing canasta, and walked up to the main lodge for our meals. Your friends who lived across the lake had a yellow seaplane that used to land right on the shore outside our front door.

When it was time to back to Chicago, we used to take the long way, driving on blue highways and stopping in little towns along the way. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was receiving some excellent training on canvassing “junque” shops for treasures and bargaining. By the time we got back to Chicago, there was barely room in the Rambler for the two of us!

And I will never forget that it was you who came to stay with me for a week after I had my son, Richard. His father and I were college students at the time, and you taught us how to care for a new baby. Later, when Richard decided to wail like a siren through his christening, it was Great Aunt Kate who soothed him to sleep.

I could go on and on with so many more memories. I feel I never thanked you properly for everything you did for me and encouraged me to do. I hope you recognized the sheer delight and love in my face at the time.

I recently reconnected with my cousin Bobby. We talked about you a lot. You’d be happy to know that both of us remember the little poem you used to recite to us when needed:

A gum-chewing girl/boy

And a cud-chewing cow

There is a difference

I will allow:

The intelligent look

On the face of the cow.

Love, Jane

Belated Sunday Post...

Completely crazed on a job in Chicago at the moment. My apologies for the very late post. Still remaining on track with sending gratitude across the country. Trying to find time to send them this week is another story.

I hand delivered to one of my friends at our 6:00am call yesterday morning. It put a smile to her face and got myself a hug as a result. Great way to start the day. Must get back to work. More to follow this Sunday.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My thank you this week goes to someone I have known my entire life, and I mean that literally. It goes to my sister Carol who is my first sister. Yesterday was her birthday and I am eternally grateful for each year that passes with her in it :)
As kids, being the pesky little sister that I was, I followed her everywhere. She held my hand crossing busy roads many times, took many walks through our woods together, finding a secret cabin once, climbed many trees and even went apple picking together where one time we ended up being chased by a ground hog (she yelled run when I wanted to pet it). We enjoyed many adventures together which I remember very fondly and with a little bit of a sigh for I would love to do it over. I would have and still would walk over glowing coals with her if she asked me to.

Throughout the many years since our childhood she has been my fierce protector, my cheerleader, my friend, my playmate, my guide and my sister. She has picked me up more times than I can count whenever I fell, both literally, which was quite often, and figuratively when my sensitive side took over.
I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it and look forward to making even more memories as we get older and better :) She is the best big sister anyone could have ever wanted and I am grateful! Thank you Carol!
My big sister: Always there to whisper “I’m here” when I was little and even now.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sometimes in giving, we receive more than we give.

Monday afternoons are my regular volunteer time in my daughter’s 4th grade class. I started this practice of spending some time each week in my children’s elementary classrooms 16 years ago when my oldest was in kindergarten. So, I’ve been a fixture of sorts in this same school for quite some time.

Each time I enter those doors I am met with a sense of welcome. As I walk down the halls, I’m greeted from inside a room, or someone comes out for a conversation. Many of the teachers and staff there now were there 16 years ago, so questions are often asked of my older 2. As time goes by, I am impressed by how their enthusiasm and commitment to each child has persisted and even grown. In those hours spent in the classroom, I have witnessed consistent patience, encouragement, and clever direction over and over again.

In the time spent within these walls, I know that I have learned so much, about children, education, and community. For this I am so very grateful, for in giving a little time, I have received so much more.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Common Theme

This week's theme is obviously our girlfriends... and I am a happy, grateful contributor to that theme. Today, I thank Colleen Stanton, a dear friend, and follower of this blog.

I met Colleen a long time ago, sitting next to me at a film company I worked at for a brief time. But in that first day, all those years ago, I found a friend of like mind, and similar sense of humor about the trials and tribulations of working in a dysfunctional office. It didn't take long before we found much in common with our interests outside of work. We quickly found ourselves spending time outside of the office with the few hours we had off exploring those. It was with Colleen that I began my obsession with beads. It was with Colleen that I explored finer crafts and allowed myself to be creative outside of the film business. And it is still Colleen still inspiring me to take up anything creative today - millinery is now her passion - as is textiles. Of like mind, again, I find!

And when I returned to Los Angeles, it was Colleen that was the first to invite me to a party to get reintroduced to mutual friends. Today I spent a few hours with her, and like old times, we talked about issues that we're facing today in our lives. Although the issues are much different from our 20 something selves of yesterday, and somehow more complicated, we still found a way to support each other, and give one another encouragement and hope for the future, free of these troubles. She's a life-long friend that I am so grateful I have found again - not that I ever lost her! To you, Colleen, as I stated earlier, I love you. You enrich my life in so many ways! And from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dear Jane and Michelle ...

Today, I sent two thank you notes. The notes are similar, and therefore, I am paraphrasing ...

Dear Jane and Michelle,

Thank you for encouraging and supporting me in stepping out of my comfort zone in seeking professional growth oportunities. Your kind and generous letters gave me courage to consider possibilities that I hadn't considered before. I am fortunate to even know two such sophisticated, intellegent and lively women, let alone to have worked with them. In an uncertain world, it's great to know that you both have my back.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Posse

It's the eve of my 56th birthday and there is so much to be grateful for. Mine is a rich and abundant life, filled with family and friends and endless opportunities. And in my life there is Annemarie and Joanne, my friends for over forty years.
My husband calls them my posse. They drove over 350 miles last week to see me. And they only were able to stay 24 hours. Yes, they are there for me,they have my back. We are there for each other. These women have circled up and ridden miles for me. They have been there for me in times of tragedy and times of joy. They have traveled great distances, prepared feasts for my wedding, sat by my side, and they know all sorts of sorted details about me --- and still like me.
Annemarie and Joanne are each in they own way, strong, compassionate, funny, incredible women. They are true gifts in my life.
We'll be friends forever -- pinky swear!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hello there!

Hope all is well with everyone :) If you are in the blizzard zone this week (Not you Ren or Marie) please be careful driving. Although, you two be careful driving anyway.

The person I wish to thank this week I haven't known for a very long time but have enjoyed every moment that I have spent with her. You see, I have been spoiled all my life with the four sisters that God gifted me with and they have always been my best friends so being friends with me has always been very difficult to be since I have a bad tendency to measure everyone against my sisters. Unfare to say the least. So, along came Gina. We met in a round about way through our spouses and every encounter with her since, I feel closer and closer to her. She accepts me just as I am and likes me anyway. She even gently chides me to be nicer to myself which is so sweet of her. I love her spunk, her funny way of being such a Red Sox fan, her love of her kids, her thoughts on nature, her passion for reading and how she also loves to watch movies. We can go a few weeks without communicating and easily slip into our friendship when we do so next. I asked myself what my sisters would think of her and I picture her fitting right in which is a rarity. I figured out that besides being her own very unique self that she also has a little bit of each of my sisters in her also. I have found a gem of a friend and I am sooo very thankful for her. She is my sister at heart :)