From Sanka to Starbucks


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Sitting in a Starbucks this weekend, I couldn’t help but think about how coffee and it’s role in our society has changed in my lifetime. I have vivid childhood memories of my grandparents sipping Sanka. Sanka seemed to be the big deal when it came to coffee. Do you remember Sanka? What are your early memories of coffee?

Black coffee was so popular. Perhaps people added cream and sugar. Most children did not drink coffee. I wasn’t permitted to have coffee as a child. Or I remember it as a rare moment, as I got older, mixed with milk and sugar. It tasted almost like melted coffee ice cream. For children, the caffeine may have been undesirable, but the taste was awful to me, too. My generation did not ride along with our moms on a “drive thru” coffee run when we were growing up.

I don’t even think I realized decaf was a thing as a child. But I do now! A caffeinated beverage past 2:00pm and I’ll be wide awake at some point during my typical sleep cycle. As I’ve gotten older, I sometime feel jittery with more than a cup of regular coffee. Perhaps you can relate. Do you prefer regular or decaf?

And then there was Folgers. I looked up a commercial from back in the day with “Mrs. Olsen.” The commercial really reflects how societal roles and behaviors have shifted, as well as the coffee. On a side note, this reminded me of the gender roles and expectations within which our mothers managed to act.

I started drinking coffee in college. In fact, I discovered that coffee was helpful when studying all night and going to classes in the morning. Did you have one of those aluminum plug-in desktop devices that heated a small amount of water in your dorm room? Perfect for making coffee, tea, or oatmeal servings for one.

Now, I’ve observed in my area that children know what “Starbucks” is by name and have a favorite drink. Nice brand marketing, Starbucks! They have built the next generation of clients. Perhaps they’ll associate Starbucks with happy memories of times with a parent.

Even coffee options have changed. Basically, during my youth, our options were:

  • Regular
  • Decaf
  • Instant
  • Brewed

No wonder there is often a line at Starbucks, with endless drink options including:

  • Cold brew
  • Latte
  • Cappuccino
  • Frappuccino
  • Americano
  • Macchiato
  • Espresso
  • Mocha
  • Flat White

Sizes now bring more choices: Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti for Starbucks. Other coffee shops have different names. Customization options  for a coffee drink include half and half cream, heavy cream, nonfat, 1%, 2%, whole milk, soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk. Plus Equal, honey, Sugar in the Raw, Splenda, Stevia, sugar, Sweet ‘n Low, and a variety of sweet flavored syrups. Let’s not forget whip or no-whip.

Brewing methods are varied. Pour over, drip, cold brew, French press, percolator, Keurig K-cups, and more. But before you brew, pick a roast and a method of grinding beans. Endless choices.

Coffee shops are popping up and very popular places for meeting friends, working or reading alone, and working for many, including me. When I was a visiting teacher for homeschooling families, I would use Starbucks as my office when out traveling for the day. The bathrooms are decent, and grabbing a little table for workspace made it ideal to get some work done between appointments.

But Starbucks and other coffee shops are more than just coffee, breakfast items, and sandwiches. Starbucks has created an experience, including our names perhaps even spelled accurately on our cup. We walk in to a warm and inviting atmosphere, visually appealing. We smell coffee. We hear conversations, brewing devices, and music. We hold a cup of something and feel it’s warmth or chill. And we taste a beverage we have selected and customized with our desired flavors. Starbucks has created an experience that touches all our senses, making it personal and engaging.

Coffee remains central to American life, but it seems to play an even bigger role in 2017. For example, how far is it between Starbucks in your area? Do you feel happy when someone says to you, “Hey, I’m stopping at Starbucks. Do you want anything?” Coffee still symbolizes community in many respects, yet now in many public spaces, instead of the office, at church, at a restaurant, and in private homes as in the past with Mrs. Olsen.

Stay charming, friends!

Closing thought: I feel it is only right to close this week by taking a moment to remember and acknowledge the suffering in our world due to evil acts of violence and horrible natural disasters, and to pray for healing, peace, and recovery for those affected. It has been a difficult time. Please give to a worthy organization that can aid, if you have the ability. Thanks.


Panic & Perspective


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Do you ever have those moments when you notice something different happening in your body, and suddenly push the health panic button, ready to assume the worst? Maybe it’s just me.

On a recent weekday morning, I was driving to work in a bit of a hurry. Not unusual. I’m usually in a hurry to leave work. I’m rarely in a hurry to get there. Anyway, something caught my eye. Pun intended.

I noticed an unusual level of glare and clarity of focus in one eye. It startled me. The vision in my left eye was oddly sharper and clearer than my right. And the glare made me squint.

This was not normal, and I began to panic. Just a bit. But still, I went down the rabbit hole of concern. I confess that quickness to fear potential health problems has become more natural as I age.

What could this mean, besides a visit to the eye doctor? We all know it is always better to see the expert before diagnosing ourselves, but we worry in the meantime. So helpful. Not helpful.

I continued to worry and wonder what was happening. But I renewed my vow NOT to check online. That always fuels the panic fire in health concerns, since online information can often misdirect in a negative way.

Take a breath. Breathe.

I continued on the route to work, consumed by “what if” thoughts, of course, and the downhill spiral of wondering if it could be something serious. I knew there was nothing I could do in the moment. I tried to relax. Or at least distract myself.

Take a breath. Breathe.

Soon I arrived at work, parked the car, gathered my things, and opened the car door to exit. Worry still rented space in my head, as my husband would say.

Take a breath. Breathe deep. I can call the eye doctor when I get to my desk.

I removed my sunglasses and turned to walk in the building.

Suddenly, a sense of calm moved through my little soul, and I burst into laughter. All worry fled the scene. One of the lenses had popped out of my sunglasses, and I had not noticed. No wonder I had more glare and clarity in one eye without explanation at the time! That immediate sense of relief was awesome, but the little lesson that came with it was even better.

I smiled all the way in to my desk, shaking my head at the simplicity of the explanation, after all my wasted worry and the dread brewing about the “oh, no!” of the unknown.

My eyes were fine. But I was too close to the problem to see it clearly. A good reminder to take a deep breath, and press pause on the panic. This little lesson was a good reminder to wait, move away from the situation, and get some perspective.

Isn’t it true that sometimes we are too close to the problem to see (again, pun intended – forgive me!) what’s really happening, to view the situation with perspective? And a little distance can often help. That truth was glaring to me in the moment. And I continued to laugh for a while. I will remember to keep perspective in problems that come. And to fix my sunglasses.

Have a good week! And stay charming, friends!

P.S. I want to acknowledge some health panics do lead to a serious diagnosis. I want to honor that difficult journey for folks, too. This one just turned out lighthearted, for which I am grateful.

Seasons & Sisterhood


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Seasons. They come and go on the calendar and in stages of our lives. Friday, September 22, 2017, was the first day of the season of fall for this year. Here in the Los Angeles area, we had cooler weather and a day filled with big, puffy, white clouds, not typically our sky. The weather made for a delightful first day of fall, even though the palm trees are misleading.

1st Day of Fall Clouds

Puffy clouds like this are rare in the Southern California sky.

1st Day of Fall Palms

First day of fall in Southern California 2017

Many of us love fall. I know I do. Perhaps you do as well. There is so much to love about fall. What are you favorite parts of the season?

  • Shorter days
  • Cooler weather
  • Cozy evenings at home
  • Spectacular sunsets
  • Pumpkin everything
  • The outdoor smell of fireplaces in use
  • Changing color of leaves, depending where you live
  • A cup of steamy, hot tea in your favorite flavor
  • Baking with apples and cinnamon
  • Favorite TV shows starting a new season
  • The burst of bright mums in gardens
  • Soups on the stove
  • Football season
  • Frosty mornings
  • Oktoberfests
  • Homecomings
  • Trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns
  • Drinking cider, hot, cold, spiced, or spiked
  • Kids coming home from college
  • Thanksgiving
  • Curling up with a comfy blanket or quilt
  • Getting out your sweaters, jackets, and scarves
  • Elections (Ha! Does anyone really look forward to this part of fall?)
  • Decorating for fall
  • Walking in crunchy leaves
  • And maybe even Hallmark movies

What did I forget? Are your favorite things on the list?

I went to my local Michael’s craft store to check out the fall displays. I wandered around and took a few photos of fall decorations to contribute to my first day of fall good mood. I didn’t buy anything. I’ve actually grown weary of owning and storing more stuff. Yet, it was still fun to see it all.

Pumpkin Pile - Michael's


Mums - Michael's


Fall Flowers Michael's


Fall Garland at Michael's


Some seasons in life are so beautiful. Some seasons are difficult and challenging. And that’s where seasons demand sisterhood.

Here is the definition of sisterhood, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

“the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, or concerns.”

When we go through a tough season of life, it is wonderful to have sisters, our friends in the frenzy, who are there to sort through reality, share a cup of coffee, and talk about life together with us. My husband is a great partner in life, and a good listener and confident. Yet I also need trusted friends for support and understanding. I could not get through some situations without my good friends, sisters in experiences and concerns. I don’t have any sisters here on earth, so I really appreciate good friends.

This year, on the first day of fall, a wise friend joined me for mid-morning coffee.

Heart Latte at Auntie's

We talked and laughed and solved problems. These times with friends are important and highly valued. The sweet conversation lasted until the demands of the day called us elsewhere, just as my latte emptied to the bottom of the mug.

Heart Foam & End of a Latte - Auntie's

The conversations like this with good friends keep the heart centered and that feeling of connection strong. I am so thankful for sisters in the seasons of life.

Happy fall, friends! And stay charming!

Watch It!


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On Sunday night this week, my husband and I watched the awards show for TV programs, The Emmys. We live near Los Angeles, so TV show production is one of the big industries around here. For us, The Emmys can be entertaining, but it also gives us the summary of what was popular on TV in the past season. We don’t watch many shows, but we like to learn what is going on in our times and culture. According to a study done by FX Research, 455 original scripted shows ran on American television in 2016. Many of the nominees were programs I had not even heard about. Things have really changed since I was young! Yet our favorite TV shows continue to form memories of good times.

In my youth, during the late 1950’s and 1960’s, my family had one black and white TV. On Fridays, my dad would pick up a pizza after work, and bring it home for family dinner. Then we would gather in the family room to watch Get Smart together. On Sunday nights, we would get to watch the magical Wonderful World of Color, with opening scenes from Disneyland. I loved that show. I’d dream of visiting Disneyland one day, and now I live about 40-minutes away.

Saturday mornings were full of classic Warner Brothers cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny and friends.

My younger brother and I would watch other great cartoons, including the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show (Jay Ward Productions), and Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and so many others. Such great memories!

Cartoons sure have changed. I’m not sure what’s popular now, but we’ve gone from these old classics to Pinkie and the Brain (which I did like) to The Simpsons to South Park.

I wonder if our parents felt guiding our TV viewing habits to be less complicated back then, compared to today. I remember that I could not watch a program called Peyton Place, nor could I watch Laugh In until I was older.

And about the time I hit junior high, The Monkees became a favorite show. If you grew up in the late 1960’s, who was your favorite Monkee?

I remember Happy Days and All My Children being very popular when I was in college.

I was a fan of a variety of shows through the years including Cheers, Moonlighting, Dallas, Friends, Mad About You, Frasier, Will and Grace, and many others. Now we watch late night comedy shows, Madame Secretary, Modern Family, and The Crown. And I still miss Downton Abbey. Perhaps you do, too.

Besides programming, technology changed. I still remember when my family got our first color TV and we watched the annual special, The Wizard of Oz in color. The epic story begins in black and white, but for me growing up, it was all black and white until we finally got a color television.

And the changes continued. Screens got bigger. Remotes were soon common. Eventually flat screens replaced tube technology. Changes continue at a greater speed. VHS to DVR. DVDs and downloads. Broadcast and cable. Streaming and subscriptions. HBO, Hulu, Netflix and more. iTunes and Amazon downloads. Non-stop options for viewing. And “binge watching” is a thing.

TVs also became more common. From one TV in the house, TVs soon took their place throughout the house, including bedrooms and kitchens. And eventually in vans for kids to watch movies in the car.

The only change the bothers me is that we have to pay now for most TV viewing options. But that’s going to change, too. With Apple TV and other technology on the market, and using your computer to watch programs, there are ways around that. I don’t have the ability to elaborate, but you probably know someone younger who does.

What TV memories do you have? Do you remember when your family got their first color TV? What are your favorite shows now?

Stay tuned, as they say! And stay charming, friends. Have a good week!


20 Tips for Thriving in a Foot Boot


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The doctor just informed you that someone would be right in to show you how to wear the boot you’ll be married to for weeks, depending on your situation. For me it was a three-week relationship, and then two more weeks. For a broken pinky toe. Seemed like a lot, when all I heard from others was “they don’t do anything for sprained or broken toes.” Oh, but they do. And these words hung in the air at the podiatrist’s office that day, “Let’s see if we can avoid surgery. We might need to put a pin in your small toe.” I suddenly found motivation to manage the inconvenience. Clunk around in a boot in the heat of the summer to avoid surgery? I can do this!

Anyway, during our newly formed relationship, my boot and I have realized there are some ways to make this whole commitment more pleasant. Here are our twenty tips to make the most of an undesired situation.

1. Ask for a boot that matches your dog. But really, don’t bother. They only come in black from what I can tell. Our dog, Samson, is a yellow lab. You’d be able to tell the color of his fur just by looking at my boot. So I have some choices, since my dog does not match my boot. I can try to keep the fur off of it or at least to a minimum. I gave up on that. So, my next best choice has two parts: 1) think of the fur as tiny little love letters from the pup; and 2) act as if I am unaware of the light dog fur all over my black boot. Another possibility is to do a brief dog exchange with a friend who owns a chocolate or black dog.

2. Cherish the convenience of getting dropped off closer to the door of the day’s destinations, when you are riding with someone else.

3. Make up a glamorous story of what happened. Jamming my pinky toe on a bedroom chair leg just does not get the attention I deserve. Someone suggested I say, “Shark bite.”

4. Pretend you are a stellar athlete, a legend in your own mind, with a long successful career, and lament that you could have made the Olympic team of your choice, even still at your vintage age.

5. Accept that the boot is actually awkwardly comfortable, though not your first choice, and choose to adjust to it without whining. Too much.

6. Remember anytime we are forced to slow down it is actually a good thing.

7. Celebrate each and every week you complete on your journey! Treat yourself to something sweet, dinner out, flowers, or whatever brings you a sense of reward and joy in the moment. Notice the progress in the small steps.

8. Do not cheat the boot. Do not leave the boot at home and don your sassy little sandals for that special social event. Be true to the boot, and truly wear it every day all day according to the doctor’s instructions. My shoe choice was quite limited. Respect the boot.

9. Enjoy the icebreaker, the conversation starter role it plays.

10. Be grateful. It could be worse. See the positive. Time will pass. This will be a memory some day. Healing is happening. It is usually not related to 3D’s of true despair: death, disease, or divorce. It is inconvenient, but not tragic in most cases. However, if you are in a lot of pain, we recognize this is more of a challenge.

11. Your pride may take a hit. Don’t hit back. Smile daily and realize the boot is a healing tool, and on your team. Clunk along through your day. Do your part with pride on the healing journey.

12. Ask a good friend with a steady hand to paint greetings on your toenails. Remember the word needs to be readable from the observer’s angle, not yours. Paint something with five letters, or four and a space. People who stare down at your boot might get a chuckle. And you, too. The letters will be upside down and backwards from your view. Examples:

• I’ M (space toe) O K
• H E L L O

13. Avoid deep puddles. With minor puddles, you will be high and dry in the boot. With one foot, anyway.

14. Make your boot your BBFF, your Boot Best Friend Fornow. Go everywhere together. Find ways to be comfortable. Elevate it at home. Stretch your leg out at the table.

15. Try essential oils. I read online, the ultimate source for truth and accurate information, that a blend of oils would help bones heal. I don’t know if it really helped or not, but it was worth a try. I contacted my local essential oil friend, and she made me a certain blend in a roll-on bottle. The fragrance is calming to me at least, and rubbing it gently in the toe area stimulated circulation and relaxed stressed tissue. Remember, I am not giving promises or medical advice, so check with your physician, alternative medicine person, or essential oils friends.

16. Recognize this opportunity to craft your character: build patience, trust in the process, find contentment, persevere, find joy in more than your circumstances, and build empathy for others with physical challenges. Stronger character and being secure in your joys that exist outside your circumstances is lovely.

17. Ask for and accept help as needed. You may or may not be able to do everything you did before the boot. Don’t be a martyr. You’ve helped many. It’s your turn to accept generosity of spirit from helpful others.

18. Be kind to yourself. A warm soak in Epsom salts and fresh lavender is a simple homemade pampering moment for me. We do work harder to live a normal life when we are in a splint or boot. Take care of yourself. Stop for a cup of coffee you’d enjoy, or whatever little thing perks you up.

19. Cheer at bed time. You’ve made it through another day!

20. Keep chocolate handy. That can sweeten any rough day. For me, it’s dark chocolate. A few squares, if you can maintain self-control, takes your mind off the challenges of the day, if only for a moment or two of bliss.

I need to acknowledge a few things that made my boot time more tolerable: I’ve experienced minimal to no pain. I don’t have to sleep in the boot. I live on the first floor. I injured my left foot, not my driving foot. I am married to a considerate and helpful man. I know we all have different things that contribute to our contentment and recovery, and I want to give credit to those who deal with healing with additional bumps in the road. Your experience may be harder than mine, and my heart goes out to you.

Even though we are older, probably more cautious, and generally not the risk takers we once were, accidents still happen. It is so helpful to keep a great attitude and follow the doctor’s orders. Do you have any good ideas to share to help us endure recovery when something health related has sent us a curve ball pitch? Share in the comments.

Even when limping, stay charming, friends!

Balance Is Beautiful


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When I hear the word “balance,” I often think of work/life balance. Am I spending too much time working and not enough time living? Are the activities that matter most to me getting my attention? Am I finding time to relax, eat right, and sleep well? Balance is a matter of time management, priority focus, and self-discipline, right?

Not always. In fact, this post is about physical balance, another vital part of well-being.

A few months ago, I woke up with vertigo. I’ve been told this is often how it happens – we just wake up one day with a sense of spin in our heads, making it feel like the room is moving. We cannot hold our eyes still until the perceived spin stops. Never a fun feeling. Although it seems to be more of a problem as people age, it affects all ages and is common.

Oh, that upside down feeling! Ugh!

It turns out, as you may know, we each have small crystals that form in our ears and usually get absorbed in a gel. But when that doesn’t happen for some reason, they float. They rock back and forth before settling down. As we change our head position, we feel a spin, called vertigo. It can be discouraging and slow us down. If you’ve suffered with vertigo, you know what I mean.

For help, I made an appointment with a local physical therapy group at PPT – Professional Physical Therapists. Renee helped me with the non-invasive Epley Maneuver. My vertigo has been relieved and I am so grateful!

PPT Professional Physical Therapy Associates

Here’s an explanation on this condition, called BPPV, from Dr. Scott Sanders, a fellow Purdue University alum:

While at the physical therapists’ office, I am also learning balance exercises. Many of us realize our balance changes as we age. What I didn’t know is I can take steps to improve balance and to prevent falls. That is good news.

I am learning exercises and making some lifestyle changes, like walking with my toes up at the beginning of each step, to prevent trips. I do like traveling, but trips are no fun when they send you crashing to the ground.

Here is a good article related to balance. I want to share it with you, if you’d like additional information: Age-related Imbalance Can Be Treated

In case you cannot access the article, I’ll share the text at the end of this post. The article was on Linkedin and is written by Dr. Scott K. Sanders, Neuro-ophthalmologist, and Stephanie Ford, PT, at BalanceMD in Indianapolis and Lafayette, Indiana. They share some good information on maintaining our balance in our later years. If you have aging parents or friends, and/or if you’ve noticed you feel a bit wobbly at times, this is for you. The good news is we can strengthen our balance.

Also, I’ve included a link to an interesting video that gives even more perspective on balance, again for those interested in further information. It is amazing how the body works!

Click here to watch the brief Balance Overview video: Balance: Overview

Join me in becoming pro-active with maintaining balance ourselves or encouraging loved ones a generation ahead of us to do the same. It is valuable to build understanding of our bodies and the changes as we age. We can find hope and strength in seeking to understand our issues and options for improvement. Understanding helps me push through the fear of unfamiliar territory. I hope this encourages you, too.

Stay balanced and charming, friends! And thanks for subscribing using the buttons below.

This post is to offer information only and should not be viewed as medical advice. Please consult your health professionals.

Age-related Imbalance Can Be Treated
By Dr. Scott K. Sanders, Neuro-ophthalmologist and Stephanie Ford, PT

While balance is not going to be the same for someone in their 70s as it was in their 30s, that doesn’t mean dizziness or imbalance have to be accepted as a normal part of aging. Just as muscle strength and flexibility diminish with age, the three main sensory systems associated with balance (proprioception, vision and vestibular) diminish as well. Changes in any or all of these sensory systems can add up to a significant problem with balance. However, similar to muscle strength, the function of these systems and the brain’s ability to use these systems in cooperation, can improve with practice and exercise. This is where a specialized form of physical therapy (PT) known as vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) comes into play. We often tell our patients we are “strengthening” their balance system with vestibular system exercises just like we strengthen muscles through exercise. However, the exercises necessary to accomplish improved balance just happen to be quite different, focusing on the sensory part of balance.

Dizziness and imbalance can result from a variety of or combinations of factors. Any condition that leads to damage of the vestibular system, such as vestibular neuritis, Meniere’s disease, or vestibular schwannoma, can result in dizziness and/or imbalance. Those with peripheral neuropathy and/or vision loss can suffer with imbalance as well. But many with imbalance have normal vestibular function, intact proprioception and vision, yet are still off balance. These patients may be suffering from presbyastasis or “dysequilibrium of aging”. Presbyastasis is a complex condition in which age-related physiologic changes occur, none of which would necessarily be symptomatic on their own, but the combination of changes results in imbalance and an increased risk of falling. When those with presbyastasis begin to feel off balance or fall, they may limit their activities due to a fear of falling and then begin a vicious cycle, eventually becoming debilitated due to inactivity.

Today, we are seeing more and more older adults trying to stay active and have a good quality of life as they age. Expecting dizziness or imbalance as inevitable or untreatable may limit confidence in balance and overall quality of life. Community exercise classes that focus on balance, such as Tai Chi, can be quite helpful. But the most targeted and effective approach is VRT with a qualified and experienced PT, in which the therapist performs a comprehensive balance assessment to determine which of many potential factors are contributing to an individual’s imbalance. Then, an individualized plan of care is developed and implemented to reduce the risk and fear of falling. The exercises are easy to do at home and make a large impact on balance, confidence and quality of life.

BalanceMD is a specialty medical clinic designed to help all patients suffering from dizziness, vertigo and imbalance. For further information or to schedule an appointment, click here to go to our website,, or call toll free 888-888-DIZZY (3499).

Stay Charming – A Tribute


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Once I arrived in a certain stage of life, I became more aware of good-byes, loss, and endings.

Friends and family.

Favorite TV shows and pets.

Expectations and jobs.

Seasons and health.

Friendships and empty nesting.

Circumstances and dreams.

Is there such a thing? Maybe.

Although most of us don’t like change, it keeps coming our way, and intentionally doing change well is important. Loss is one of the most disruptive changes we experience and has its own set of rules. This will be a topic that we will return to again in the future. We can create space to continue to process loss and grow through it, when possible.

These seasons and events need different things at different times, including respect, honor, letting go, grief, forgiveness, and loving well, all continuous opportunities for growth in hard times. I will write about other situations, the challenges, and responses. We will connect over shared experiences. We will find hope and encouragement along the way, for this is a real dynamic of growing older. It gets complicated to move through the pain and get centered once again.

When I was in high school, I met Susan. We attended the same high school in a town of about seven high schools. I was a year older. She was a kindred spirit in faith and fun. We studied the Bible together with a handful of other young women, a meaningful time of connection and encouragement.

After we both graduated and I moved out-of-town, we drifted apart, but communicated now and then through notes, visits, calls, and then Facebook in more recent years. Did I mention she was an avid Cleveland Indians baseball fan?

Beloved, beautiful Susan

In 2015, she passed away. She headed to Heaven after a second bout with cancer. Her smile, wit, and intelligent caring conversation style stay with me. During her last days here and shortly afterwards, I experienced feeling that I wish I could have done more, along with sadness and grief. Yet I continue to be profoundly grateful for our friendship.

I read that she’d always sign cards and notes to her nieces and nephews with the phrase, “Your charming Aunt Susan.” In honor of our dear friendship, I close most blog posts with a nod to her, signing out with “stay charming, my friends.” That always makes me smile as I carry her loving friendship in my heart.

You have also probably lost dear friends or family too soon through disease, tragic accident, or perhaps a severe disagreement or need for emotional and/or physical safety. Those are dark times riddled with so many thoughts and emotions. With the missing, comes the remembering of good in our lives gifted to us in time spent with them or hope for what might have been. If you’d like to share something you do to cherish the relationship in your own way, please do so in the comments.

"Life is made up of meetings and partings; that is the way of it. I am sure we shall never forget Tiny Tim, or this first parting that there was among us." – Bob Crachit, The Muppets' Christmas Carol

Stay charming, my friends! Just like Aunt Susan.

Fashion Boot Camp


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I had a random idea the other day. What if we combine two trendy, popular things? Local gyms offer “boot camps” for getting in shape. These opportunities are so popular with some of my friends in our area, so why not ramp it up for fun and fashion with fashion boot camp?

Shake your bootie?? Does that count as exercise? (Pardon the pun.)

With fall coming, those strappy, little sandals go back in the closet. Out come the fashion boots! Just pull on your favorite fashion boots, and head to Fashion Boot Camp to get a rigorous, fat-burning, body challenging work out in style! Who wouldn’t think that was a great idea? Probably me, actually. And perhaps orthopedic surgeons, if things take a turn with a tall-heeled boot.

Nordstrom, Steve Madden, $119

We all know the many benefits of staying active and fit. We all know the variety of ways to do that. We’d all like to be active and fit, and understand it is essential for staying as healthy as possible. Why is it so hard to fit in our day and stay consistent?

Pam taps. Jane rides her bike. Charmaine works out in water aerobics. Amy hikes. Brynne does Barre. Annette walks. Physical activity comes in all varieties. Have you found what works for you? What’s your preference? Maybe boot camp is your thing.

I struggle to make time for a good fitness routine. Building consistency, creating the habit is a challenge. I love to go on walks. It calms me, gets me outdoors, and works a variety of muscles. I can throw on a pair of good walking shoes and head out my front door for a variety of walks. I even own a small Fit Bit or can use my smart phone to count steps. I want to work up to walking thirty-minutes a day, five days a week. It is just hard for me to get going and stay consistent.

Have you solved the motivation mystery? Please share your secret in the comments. How do you shake off the lazy and get moving? And please pass the chips and guacamole before we get off the couch.

I do use the Stand Up app on my phone at work (more info below). It has an alarm that reminds me to get up from my desk and move a bit throughout the day. That is a helpful reminder, or I’d sit at my computer for hours, and that’s not good.

Maybe there’s an app for rewards for exercising. Perhaps something like after you walk a mile in less time than you did last time, it sends a coupon for a massage, foot massage, or pedicure to your email inbox by the time you cool down. Or maybe if you go to the gym twice a week for a month, the app would send a nice guy in a full tuxedo to your front door to deliver a fresh tray of homemade, still warm from the oven (not the car) chocolate chip cookies. I need to design my own system of reward to help me focus. What’s yours?

Some of you are in the zone already when it comes to a solid fitness routine, commitment, and results. You inspire. May we each find activity that is sustainable, blendable with our lives (is blendable a word?), and enjoyable. May we then make it routine and find it rewarding.

I encourage each of us to keep our good routine or do more than we did last week, if there is room for growth. Check out the many online resources for starting to exercise and doing it in a healthy way. I’ve included a few below. And wear the right shoes.

Stay charming, my friends!

P.S. My boot looks a little different these days. My longer walks are on hold until a broken toe heals.

More Information…
To read more about my first Zumba experience: My First Zumba (2009)

For more information on the Stand Up phone app:Stand Up

A helpful article from The Heart Association: Get Up/Get Active


Pause to Lament – Charlottesville Violence


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My heart was saddened by the complicated events in Charlottesville, Virginia that took place on Saturday, August 12, 2017. My thoughts and prayers are with the residents, governing officials, law enforcement, and all the families affected. I pray for the families of the three who perished, as well as the many injured. I also must pray for the family of the young man who used his car as a weapon. I pray for the participants on both sides of the event, though that is packed with challenges. I am reminded in the biblical text I read to guide my life that I am to pray for enemies. Never easy.

This is a tragic reminder of an evil reality rooted deep in some of the broken, systemic problems of our dear nation. Hate is a poison that kills good, justice, and peace. It cannot be tolerated. I lament and ask God for wisdom, mercy, and guidance, both for recovery, restoration and reconciliation. And I ask myself how can I be part of the solution?

Lament: To mourn.

The Weekend – A Youth Opera Camp and Dinner Out


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My husband and I were invited to an event this weekend that was new for us – a youth opera. The LA Opera sponsors a summer youth opera camp. The kids performed on Saturday, August 5, at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. This summer’s opera was the work of a Jewish Czech composer, Hans Krása, called Brundibár. Children in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia first performed the opera during the Holocaust. The LA Opera summer camp group also performed Friedl, an opera about a real woman who secretly taught the children art in a concentration camp.

LA Opera Summer Camp

During the Holocaust, Brundibár and Friedl helped children keep hope alive. If they could keep their spirits from being crushed by their circumstances, they would frustrate the enemy. This was a powerful reminder of ways to keep the spirit strong, and how art, at times a nonviolent subversive activity, can keep one strong.

More About Friedl

I appreciate how the L.A. Opera not only gives children an introduction to opera, a chance to grow and perform, but helps them understand the history behind the opera as well. Knowing the responsibility an artist has to change the world for the better is essential to using gifts and skills well.

I am friends with the family of one of the lead performers, a 10-year old with as much talent as passion for music and theater. He is also a former student, from my days as a visiting teacher with homeschooled children. It was truly a privilege to see him in action, and this was our first chance to do so. Besides being so proud of him, we had a culturally engaging afternoon, witnessing and learning about the two operas performed.

After the 4:00pm performance, we were ready for dinner. Being in a neighborhood less familiar to us, we decided to try a new place to eat. But where do we start? These days, we go to the phone app Yelp. I entered “gastropub” and our location. Morrison’s, about ten minutes away, came up with good reviews, so we gave it a try.


The Morrison

We had a delightful dinner, seated outside near the sidewalk. Having read the Yelp reviews, we selected some food that was recommended by others, sharing the slider burgers, the BLVD salad, and the macaroni and cheese. Did I mention the homemade pickles?

The Morrison Happy Hour Menu

We finished with the famous bread pudding. The evening weather was comfortable, the conversation enjoyable, and the food was delicious and different from eating at home. A great experience!

And we found growth in unexpected places – an interesting opera that originated for children during the Holocaust, contributing to their strength of spirit, and a new restaurant experience in another community. A great summer afternoon and evening! And anytime you can invest in the life of a child, we all are better for it. Stay open to new experiences. We grow through adventure. What did you do this weekend?

Stay charming, my friends!