Recently, I had the good fortune of going back to the state where I grew up in New England, having been recently “fully vaccinated.” It was the first time that I had been on a plane in well over a year, and it felt great to “freely move about the cabin” again. I needed to feel and smell that New England spring air on my face, visit with beloved family and friends, and eat the wonderful foods that I grew up with. Mostly, though, I longed to visit two friends who had become seriously ill during the pandemic. One has cancer, and one is going back on the lung re-transplant list shortly. I was only able to travel the journey with them through telephone calls and emails this year due to the pandemic but longed to hug them and make a new memory with them as well.

I grew up in the land where lilacs bloom in spring and where I wove crowns of forsythia in my hair while playing outside for hours as a young child.

Photo by u041cu0430u0440u0438u044f u0412u043eu0441u043au0440u0435u0441u0435u043du0441u043au0430u044f on

It is the land where you can travel among fields of daffodils in the spring that take your breath away and remind me of my mother watching and waiting through the window with me for the very first daffodil to pop up through the spring ground to unfold its leaves and flowers with all its glory and infinite possibilities. It is the land where tulips grow in time for Easter, too, and crocuses pop up through patches of snow. It is the land where pansies laugh at the spring snow while stretching their faces toward the warmth of the sun. It is the land where the rocky shore meets the cool ocean water. It is the land where the colonists came for religious freedom.

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It has been said that you can’t go home again, that time changes things so much that all is far too different since you’ve left to still be home. However, my home state is the place where my parents are buried, where I met my husband, and where I shared my first kiss. It is the place where I was married and where my daughter was born. It is the place that smells like all the bread we broke with our beloved relatives on the holidays, as there is a bakery on many a corner. It is the place of party pizza and spinach pies. It is the place of wieners and saugys. It is the place where I learned to walk and went to school. It is where I picked mulberries with my cousin and climbed trees on the way home from school. It is where I skinned my knees (a lot). It is where I learned to ride a bike and get back up when I fell. It is the place where most of my relatives live still. It is the place where I learned to be me. It is the place of old friendships and good times. It is the place where leaves crunched beneath my feet on a cool October afternoon, and where I jumped into the pile of leaves that my father raked in the yard. It is the place where the cycle of life is so clearly evident; the summer brings the autumn, and the autumn brings the winter’s dormancy. It is where the coldest winter day gives rise to the promise of new life again in the spring season. Time marches on, yet somehow it stands still.

As my plane was landing at the airport, it struck me so very clearly. They say you can’t go home again, but I disagree. The places may be different, and the businesses have different names, but I can ALWAYS go home again, for “home” lives in my soul. I can ALWAYS go home again, if only in my heart. “HOME” is where the heart is, after all.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends…


Today, I wanted to share something that I read which inspired me, especially during this difficult time for our country and world during the pandemic.

“Rather than focusing on the obstacle in your path, focus on the bridge over the obstacle.”
-Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gymnastic Gold medalist, who also won two silver medals and two bronze medals in 1984

Life is good; find that bridge somehow somewhere today. Carpe Diem, friends.


Photo by Johannes Plenio on

One of my best friends and I have a little saying that helps us to deal with life’s ups and downs from time to time. The saying is that one needs a “little slice of normal” when the chips are down, much like one “needs” a slice of cake from time to time. When one of is is having difficulty with something, such as someone we love in the hospital, an accident, or some other sad and unforeseen event, we go to lunch and have “a little slice of normal.” That “little slice of normal” means something different to each of us, but for my dear friend a “little slice of normal” is a manicure, pedicure or a trip to the beach, no matter what season. For me a “little slice of normal” might be some ice cream and a movie, a cup of herbal tea, or a hike in the woods. That “little slice of normal” represents something that give us peace and is something we often do normally. That “little slice of normal” gives us a sense of perspective that life will go on somehow, as the routine of the “little slice of normal” somehow gives us comfort that some things stay the same. A “little slice of normal” is something that speaks to our soul somehow. It is not an indulgence, but it is rather something ordinary that we frequently do. For some people it might be a run on the beach, and for others it might be a few laps of swimming. For others it might be breaking bread with your family, and for others it might be curling up with a good book in a comfy chair.

Today I am thinking about this same best friend from my youth, who just finished her chemotherapy for breast cancer recently and then had her last radiation treatment yesterday. I can’t celebrate with her in person because of the quarantine associated with flying to where she is, but I just spoke with her on the phone this afternoon. As I suspected, she is out having lunch with her daughter, along with a “little slice of normal” today.

Life somehow goes on……despite the little AND big bumps along the way.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends………….


It’s no secret to those that know me that I never wanted to move to Florida. In fact, it was the LAST place I wanted to live, as I once told my parents in the arrogance of my youth that I would “NEVER” move to Florida. Florida simply is too hot for my liking, as I grew up in the cold New England weather and love the snow. I love the way the freshly fallen snow insulates the world somehow so that ever break of a branch or every crunch of our footsteps in the snow echos and gives me pause. It is as though one lives in a snow globe when the snow is falling ever so gently upon the ground.

The pandemic has created many changes in our day to day lives to be certain. However, not ALL of the changes are bad. During the pandemic I learned to embrace Florida for all its beauty, despite the hot weather. It was this year that I made an effort to get outside to begin to learn the Florida native trees and native flowers. It was during this year that I took day trips to areas that were right before me in years past, but I never knew about them. It was during this year that I developed a love for the Florida springs and all the beauty they provide. It was this year that I tried to shake things up by going the beach to watch a sunrise, when I normally prefer the sunset. Instead of planting my favorite flowers from my New England gardening days, I planted flowers that work here in Florida, like orchids on my trees.

I have never been much of an orchid lover, although they always remind me of happy times during my youth when we wore orchid corsages on Easter morning. I seem to remember some meaning associated with either the color ribbon or the color of the orchid one wore back in the day. It seems as though it was some sort of signal about whether or not your beloved Mother were still alive, such a quaint and touching tribute and custom. Maybe I am remembering a Mother’s Day custom instead.

And speaking of changes, yesterday while going for my daily bike ride (okay, it has been daily ONLY for a few weeks now to be entirely honest), I looked around and noticed the subtle changes that have happened since even the day before. One lawn was freshly mowed, one palm tree shed a frond on the grass, one house was being painted, the breeze was a little warmer, and so on. Then I began to notice that there ARE subtle changes in the seasons even here in Florida is one is quiet enough to notice.

Just last month when walking along the same path that I biked today, some of the trees had fewer leaves, and today many of the trees have buds. There is pollen everywhere, and the angle of the sun is just a little higher in the sky somehow.

It has been said that it is important to “bloom where one is planted”, and that’s exactly how I feel today when riding my bike. I am finally “blooming” in Florida, and it sure feels good. Maybe the hot weather is just a LITTLE bit of what Florida is all about.

Life is good; bloom wherever YOU are planted and enjoy all the subtle changes from day to day. Carpe diem, friends……


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“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.”

-Paul Coelho

Something to keep in mind today if you encounter adversity, especially during this pandemic.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends…


photo courtesy of Angela Madsen’s FB page

“Once I decided to take control of my destiny, I harnessed the energy that I had buried deep inside me and pushed it out. Once I told the universe who was the boss, the universe took a back seat, and I created a new reality for me to live in.”

-from “Rowing Against The Wind” by Angela Madsen

“Rowing Against The Wind” is the amazing story of a former US Marine who was injured while on duty. After several difficult (“botched”) surgeries and a broken neck she sustained from another injury, she became permanently disabled as a paraplegic. She sustained many significant losses as a result, including losing her house and was homeless for a period of time. However, through cultivating a different mindset, she persevered and ultimately found success as an athlete who won a bronze medal in the ParaOlympics in London. She found her love of rowing and was one of the first woman to row across the Indian Ocean. She was the first woman with a disability to row across the Atlantic Ocean and held six Guiness World Records. She was a real mover and a shaker.

After experiencing so much anger at her situation early on in her disability, it was later after falling from a train track in her wheel chair that broke her neck that really caused her to re-think her situation. She decided to use her gifts of leadership, athleticism, organization, and dedication to continue to live her life in a new way, finding ways to enjoy her life despite her setbacks.

She died doing what she loved in 2020, halfway through her solo row from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

As the French say, “vouloir c’est pouvoir” or what the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve. To want something is to be able to do something in loose translation.

Find something that drives your life. Love living. Find your passion.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends…………

Live Like You Were LIVING, Part 2 (Inspirational People/Joie de Vivre)

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I met Diane about thirty years ago when she was middle aged and I was a young adult. She and I worked together, and she was one of the most inspirational people I had ever met at the time. My first impression of her was a well-kept, slim attractive woman who had a certain “joie de vivre” right off the bat. She wore professional clothing, and her suits were well-tailored. Her skirts were always hemmed well above the knee, as she had legs to show off and somehow knew it. She was always smiling and always looked on the bright side of things, despite her background and the events which occurred along the way. She was divorced and a single mother of an only child at the time of her divorce several years before I met her. She was married to a prominent member of the community but decided her happiness was more important than staying in a stale and loveless marriage. While I wasn’t sure of the details and circumstances of her divorce and had always believed that marriage was a forever commitment, I admired her courage and honesty to herself and others. She left the marriage and the financial stability that came along with it, living by herself at the time I met her in a house she had purchased with her salary. I got the impression that she didn’t work outside the house until her marriage ended. I admired her ability to make something out of nothing. You see, she clipped coupons and searched high and low for shopping deals each week. She told me she treated herself to a vacation each and every year out of the country since her son grew up and moved out of the house. She knew she didn’t have extra money in the budget to pay for these vacations, and that’s why she started clipping coupons. Her goal was to clip enough coupons to finance this vacation each year. I remember her lively laughter when she announced to me that the local market was actually paying for her to try a new product with the double store coupon and manufacturer’s coupon that she used in tandem to bring the price down. She actually did save enough money through sales and coupons to finance her vacation each and every year.

Diane tended to her yard and garden all by herself, as she was strong and very independent. She had a “strong faith” and knew that life was to be lived fully and completely. When she returned from her most recent vacation at the time, I asked her if she had any pictures to share. She handed me a roll of “prints”, which were from the old days of film, to sift through. I admired her photographic technique and how she captured the joyful faces of her traveling companions, too. Almost every single picture she showed me made me smile. One time I bumped into a picture of Diane that had inadvertently ended up in the pile of photos she was showing me. It was a picture of Diane with a sly, coy smile wearing nothing at all while standing behind an over-sized sombrero hat. I looked surprised by the photo, and she laughed saying she forgot to take that picture out of the set of prints that she handed me. She didn’t apologize, however, knowing there was nothing wrong with her photo that captured the moment beautifully.

I lost track of Diane through the years but think of her often. I recently looked her up on social media, and she looks great with the same effortless curly-locked hairdo she always sported. Evidently she is over eighty and now has a seasonal home in Florida with her male companion, who owns a Tesla. They drive to Florida each year in the Autumn, and she still takes care of her own yard there as well. I smile when I think of one of her social media posts that says:

“I have a watch that I bought about 20+ years ago for $1.75..yes…on sale at CVS 90% off!!!…and it tells the same time as a friend’s Rolex that cost many $$$ more…once again……….TRUE HAPPINESS IS NOT FOUND IN MATERIAL THINGS!”

She enjoys the finer things in life but doesn’t need them. She knows how to find true joy and happiness in feeding the ducks, having a good meal with a companion, and spending time with those she loves. She is at peace with herself and her world.

At last account, Diane wasn’t able to take a cruise with her companion in May during the pandemic when the rest of the United States waited indoors with caution. Instead she posted pictures in May of her previous cruise, finding pleasure in re-living the moment, as she knows how to savor her memories. Diane’s introduction on her social media pages says that she “works at living each day to the fullest” under her occupation, as she has since retired. There is a picture of herself and her companion dining with a wine glass toast that I love that captures her essence so well. Along with the photo there is a caption that says they are “brave souls”, as they were the only diners present at the restaurant that evening in Florida in May during the pandemic.

Diane routinely posts pictures of the ducks and lizards that visit her yard, as she notices and finds enjoyment in so many little things. One post on her social media says that “Every day is a new beginning. Take a deep breath, smile, and begin again.”

One thing that struck my interest in Diane’s social media page is her feelings about the pandemic:


Diane is a class act. A person that takes precautions but keeps on living a full life with intention, despite the world around her. She has learned to live like she is LIVING, not DYING.

Life is good; find your own “joie de vivre”. Carpe diem friends…….

Note: the name in this blog was changed to protect the identity of the subject, and the picture simply reminds me of Diane with her dark curly hair. The picture here is NOT Diane.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, as it is usually spent breaking bread with those we love. No pressure to buy gifts and no wrapping. Football, parades, good food. Despite the lavish meals many people prepare, Thanksgiving is simplicity. It is time spent with friends and family. It is a whole day set aside for visiting and making connections. This year is a little different for many people because of the pandemic. Many will be spending the day in a different way, with fewer people. No matter how you spend the day, may a spirit of gratitude fill your hearts and may you find something today for which to be thankful. Brighter skies, along with a Covid vaccine, are ahead. So, Happy Thanksgiving, friends. “Happy Turkey Day” somehow doesn’t seem to embody all that is good in today.

Life is good; carpe diem friends……………

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“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie

Photo by cottonbro on

“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.” — Catherine Pulsifer


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The same can be said for family!


photo: dreamtime

Today began like any other. I had errands to do and stopped by a local pack and ship store to drop off an Amazon return. I simply had to drop off the box, a task that normally takes two minutes. Instead, I found myself in line at an appropriate social distance from an elderly woman for a time a little longer than those two minutes I expected. She looked uncomfortable and started making subtle noises to confirm my suspicion. I walked a little closer toward her and asked if she was okay. She waved her hand, a gesture indicating that she likely wanted me to stay away because of covid, and said she was okay. She told me she had some difficulty standing, so I pointed to a few counters against which she could stand and assured her I would hold her place next in line. I watched her shrink into the counter, as though it was holding her up right before she was called as next in line by the clerk.

I overheard her tell the clerk that she wasn’t well and asked softly for some help. Evidently she was mailing a medical CD to a surgeon in Tampa via overnight mail. She looked like she was shrinking into the counter again when I heard her say that she had cancer, and the cancer was pressing against her nerves. She had tears in her eyes when she said to the clerk it was difficult to have cancer during the pandemic, as her family could not come to see her right now accordingly. I looked at another woman standing in line next to me, and she looked so sad while the story unfolded. She motioned to me that she wondered if the woman was able to drive. I said “Excuse me” to the sick woman and asked if she needed me to call her an UBER to get home or if she needed me to get her some water next door at Walgreens. She said she could easily drive after she sat down, and it was just standing that was difficult before she thanked me. At that moment, the woman at the very end of the line, which was growing by the minute, offered to pay for the sick woman’s postage. The sick woman graciously declined, thanked her and said “God is in this room right now; you have all been so kind.” I looked at each of the people in line who likely were in a rush but found deep within themselves a sense of compassion and empathy that I had not seen in the world in a while. Most folks go about their day, doing the best they can during the pandemic, trying to manage. Yet this woman was facing the greatest fight of her life most likely and facing it alone.

Now I am not sure what you believe, whether you believe in a higher power or not, but the woman next to me offered to pray for the sick woman and so did the people next to her and so on. Some may debate whether or not God was in that room at that moment, but there WAS something very powerful and humbling unfolding before my very eyes this afternoon. There was a sense of community and connectedness that I experienced all within ten minutes or so unfolding before my very eyes. Most of us struggle to find our keys from time to time or to find time in which to accomplish the tasks we set out to do on any given day, and this woman’s plight pales many of our inconveniences or troubles by comparison.

“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” – Nelson Mandela

Yes, there WAS something in that room, regardless of your religious beliefs, and that was HOPE and compassion.

Life is good; find the hope in your lives today. Carpe diem, friends…..

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu


A few weeks back, I ventured to Enterprise, Alabama and saw for myself a profound celebration of the human spirit. It seems that Enterprise, near Fort Rucker Military Base, has a love relationship with the boll weevil, a beetle that feeds on cotton buds and cotton flowers. As the story goes, it also seems that many years ago Enterprise depended on cotton crops for their economy. Cotton was grown successfully until somewhere around 1915 when the boll weevil first appeared in the town. This boll weevil devastated the cotton crops and put a damper on the economy for quite a while.

boll weevil painted on a wall in downtown Enterprise

But, because sometimes adversity is a catalyst for change, the people of Enterprise decided to try their hand at peanut farming in response to this crop devastation. Diversification of crops from cotton to peanuts lead to greater economic prosperity to the area, and in 1919 the people of the town erected a thirteen foot statue of a woman holding up a trophy with a boll weevil on top of it over her head in deference and in celebration to the creature that almost ruined the town’s economy.

The trophy confirms that the town had won the battle against this pest, and the pest was something for which to be thankful. The statue is a celebration of the human spirit and its triumph in times of adversity.

sign near the boll weevil statue monument

Throughout the town today, there are constant reminders of the boll weevil’s importance to the town. In fact, there are many whimsical statues of the boll weevil in front of various businesses.

boll weevil statue near the police station, courtesy of

a boll weevil in the local art supply store window

mural in downtown Enterprise with peanuts and a boll weevil

As the story goes, peanuts became very important to the town from thereafter, and there are reminders of the importance of peanuts throughout the town and adjacent areas.

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Dothan Botanical Gardens

The can-do spirit of this tiny little town, this work-the-problem-to-find-a-solution mentality is inspiring today, one hundred years later.

Life is good; find a “work around” to whatever problem you encounter today and any other day; find a way. You CAN do it with the same mentality of those spirited and courageous folks in Enterprise, Alabama a century ago.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends……..