Is Your Seasonal Soap Addictive? Say Goodbye to Sound Judgement.


Tis almost the season, so I thought I’d do a little early shopping.

My favorite hand soap –  Method Vanilla Chai foaming – only comes out once a year, which I learned last year much to my dismay. This is the absolute best-smelling hand soap ever invented. A little vanilla, a little cinnamon, a little warm tea, and it lingers on your hands just long enough to offer a momentary waft of aromatherapy.

the method handsoapI picked one up last year from a grocery store clearance bin, only to find out it was 99 cents of pure liquid gold. Of course when I went back to get more, it was gone, and wasn’t even available online.

Completely bummed, I ensured that every member of my family who used it, only did a half-pump (totally plenty) so it would last twice as long. When the bottle was almost empty I added water, just to get the spit sip (it works.)

So this year, determined to buy enough to last all year – at full price now – I went online to a famous big-box store, and sure enough, I could order three (the maximum allowed, who knew it would be rationed,) and get free shipping.

Boom. Done. In two days I had three bottles of my favorite foaming hand soap in my hand, one for each bathroom and a spare.

And then… The next day, three more bottles arrived from the same big-box store, left at my front door.

Wait. What? I checked my credit card and was only charged once. Lottery win! Or…ethical dilemma? Do I return the three “freebies,” or do I keep them as some kind of gift from the Cosmos? Maybe there is a Santa Claus, disguised as the UPS guy?

IMG_3581I haven’t really ever won anything, well, I did win a book after commenting on a Facebook Live feed last summer. I was “randomly chosen,” and got a signed, first-release hardcover. So it’s possible three more soaps were a total win. Maybe I was “randomly chosen” in the warehouse to get a bonus box.

I wrestled with it all day. I asked Sir Husband what to do. It haunted me a bit (which is good perhaps? I’d be a fail as a thief.) I could donate the three free ones… or, I could put the bottles away in the closet because hey, there’s still time to decide, the holidays are just getting started. When in doubt, wait it out.

So I did. And then, as if it was the movie Groundhog Day – when every day repeats itself over and over – ANOTHER box of three arrived 24 hours later. Not kidding. Now what?


Luckily Thanksgiving is here, so when we go around the table before we eat and say what we’re grateful for — an uncomfortable tradition because for some reason it elicits guilt — I’ll know just what to say.

But wait! Before you sit down to eat – everybody wash your hands.

wash your hands

When the Fearless Pursuit of Peace and Sleep Leads To Trying Vape

We’re not smokers, so when I found out a while back that my 20-something son had been smoking for years to soothe his anxiety, I wasn’t happy. Smoking seems both stupid and gross. That’s not to say I didn’t try a few puffs as a teenager. I’m referring to cigarettes, which now are fairly un-hip.

vape juiceI didn’t realize my boy was so cutting edge when he went from tobacco to vape. When electronic cigarettes came on the scene a few years ago he switched over, touting the benefits of using a tobacco-less product, ignoring the fact that inhaling flavored nicotine chemicals called “juice” may not be such a good idea. In fact, I’m really worried.

vaporizersVaping connoisseurs believe that the clear, sweet-smelling vapor that they pour into their e-cig, aka vaporizer, is not only safe, but effective when needing a fix. Not to mention the devices come in different shapes, styles, sizes, colors and wattage.

I think I’m a little slow on the uptake of cutting edge anything, because I only recently learned that not only can you fill your customized e-cig with juice, you can also use it to smoke pot. I don’t smoke that either, but apparently a lot of folks do.

potThat’s a whole other story – the miracles and magic of marijuana to help with everything from mind-blowing to chilling out to chronic pain to insomnia. In the old days you rolled a few pinches in some rolling paper, licked it, sealed it – sheesh, what a time-consuming mess. Now, you just put it in your vaporizer and apparently you’re good to go.

can't sleepThe pot phase came and went for my kid. But imagine my surprise when a good friend shared a little secret she has. Upscale citizen, polished professional, magnificent mommy, exceptional human – the poor woman has a case of insomnia so bad she makes vampires look like wimps. Not only is she up most of the night, she still functions most of the day. She’s a survivalist.

And a hip one to boot. Because when she revealed her new plan to take a few puffs to aid her sleep, my ears actually perked up. I don’t sleep well either. Although I’m pretty sure I’m too uptight to try it.

Her story cracked me up – middle-age insomniac mom learns from other middle-age insomniac mom that vaping dope helps you sleep like a baby. While her husband is away, she secretly purchases a vaporizer, makes contact with a local and reputable dealer who delivers said product right to her door – arranged to ensure no one was home. She hides her paraphernalia and her substance knowing it’s there but invisible, a tempting little treat that may actually soothe her sleep.

I’m betting this is more common than we think. Melatonin to sleep? Nah, that’s old-school. When that doesn’t work, try pot. I’m not judging her, in fact I wish I was that cool. To not be afraid to try something “new” that is medically-approved for health issues? Longterm insomnia counts.

This isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses, it’s about keeping up with the times, and doing so without fear. I can’t condone my son vaping vape, but my friend vaping weed? Right on.


if it scares you

What Do you Say To Long Lost Friends When Life Hasn’t Been A Fairy Tale

moonlight walkIn the midst of a crazy high school registration protocol that made me feel like I was getting security clearance just so my kid could attend, there was a ray of light.

I had just spent three hours filling out paperwork, proving my identity and tending to the details for my son to start his junior year. Although I had tried to look my semi-best, I was now a bit frazzled. As I stood in the hallway with the registrar discussing the need for a mid-day cocktail after jumping through all the hoops, someone walked by who looked familiar.

It took a few seconds before I knew who she was, or she me, then the hugging commenced. We were friends more than 16 years ago but hadn’t seen each other since I left town. Lots of life happens as time moves on, and you never know who will cross your path at any point, or how they now may be.

life storyWhat do you do when you run into people after many years of no contact? What do you tell them? Do you just hit the highlights and leave the low points out for now, or forever? Do you spit-shine your story, polish up your past or just smile and say nothing at all?

When people we lose touch with periodically cross our minds, we usually just assume that their life is what it was when we knew them. Especially if our life is not at all how it was – it’s so easy to think that they are living their own happily ever after. It’s that perception that other people are happier than we are – the grass is always greener mentality.

glass slipperIn the few minutes my former friend and I quickly chatted, I learned her Cinderella story had its own twists and turns, and I completely understood. But she was still filled with so much beauty and grace in spite of it. She may have aged the teeniest of bits, but it wasn’t noticeable. Come on, most women secretly compare, and I know the toll from my own stressors.

So what was I thinking while we were chatting? Wow she looks great, she must think I look horrible. Will she even want to reconnect after losing touch all these years? Will she think I’m a fail? She seems as awesome as she always did. Did she even really like me back then so right now is she just being nice?

The inner dialogue we have when dialoging with others can be interesting. I really did not have reason to worry about anything because in all honesty life is what it is and we are who we are. The real question I had was, is it possible to pick up my old life where I left off but have it be new and better now? She brought in that ray of light.

That’s what we all want – to have our life be better now, every day better, especially when we have endured hard times. But more than that, first we have to be ok with where we have been, who we are, and where we hope we are going. We meet and even re-meet people along the way and want to be accepted, connected and fulfilled. But we shouldn’t worry. Time always tells what will happen.

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It’s Ok To Be Happy Even When We’re Not

A heck of a lot of people seem miserable right now, and until recently, I used to be one of them. It’s so easy to get caught up in our stressors and not realize how impacted we are or even who we are because of them.  And because birds of a feather flock together, we gravitate toward others who are equally miserable and support us in our unhappiness. Then we call them our tribe, our community, and we feel better about ourselves and our life. After all, misery loves company.

unhappy hour

A long time ago I became part of a special needs advocacy group that had thousands of parents all fighting the same process to help their child diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It felt good to belong to a group of like-minded parents on the same journey. I made quite a few close friends and we banded together in determination and support.

mazeRaising a child on the autism spectrum can feel like living in a dark maze that takes an incredible amount of effort, diligence and hope to survive. There are so many pitfalls along the way, but we have that community of supporters who hold our hand, sometimes even carry us, without asking for anything in return.

Through the years it was interesting to watch how other people coped. As time went on our children grew up, but some of us stayed friends maintaining a special timeless bond.

The trouble is, that the misery that we felt going through the toughest times with our children became so habitual that for some of us, it stuck. We lived in daily turmoil, so much so that our mindsets settled into that pattern of darkness and despair, pessimism, fear, sadness and pain. We never came out of the dark hole long enough for the light to make a difference.

This can happen with anything in life, whatever our issues and circumstances – health, family, work, relationships – doesn’t matter. We can get stuck without realizing it, looking at our life and the world around us wondering when it will all change for the better.

happy againBut it’s not the world that has to change, it’s us. And it took me a lot of years to really see that. Our actions and responses are rote. The way we think, feel, see, hear – we perceive our entire life through our misery filter. Eventually, when it goes on long enough, we forget that it’s ok to be happy. Question is, are we willing.

After losing most of my friends and life as I knew it, it finally occurred to me that my misery was inside of me. That was huge. But ironically the road to happiness was actually harder to navigate than the road to raising a child on the spectrum. I had to examine and shift every, single aspect of my thinking in each moment, every, single day. I had to re-route my habitual way of existing mentally, emotionally, even physically. It was literally “starting over” all the time – catching myself and what I said, thought, felt, and reaching for a better option.

I did the work and feel much better. But I’m not sure the work is ever “over.” It’s all about how we look at things and whether we can find the goodness, even when it’s minute. When the goal is happiness, the path is deciding it’s possible right now. No matter what.


Written yesterday on my son’s 23rd birthday. We both made it to the other side. 

Fresh Start In A Familiar Place and Hopefully Familiar Faces

bdayA long time ago I ran away from my life when I could not take one more second of Mr. Ex’s absurd gambling addiction. His personal turmoil left our whole family in a shredded heap on the floor. It was ugly. I needed safety, sanity and peace for myself and my children.

When I left to set up in another state with my high school best friend and soul partner, I also left people who mattered to me back home. All the people I was close to – friends who were like family, neighbors who were friends, everyone in my personal orbit from my handyman and car repair guy to hair stylist, even milkman.

IMG_2019It was hard. And despite my situational amnesia brought on by the trauma and drama, I never forgot one of them. But they seemed to quickly forget me.

It’s not uncommon when people are going through personal difficulties for those around them to distance themselves. Humans can only take so much before they turn away from strife and turmoil.

IMG_1464But let’s back up – when we are going through crazy times, we can also change, sometimes drastically. Our temperament, vibe, even personality can morph into an unrecognizable state. So I don’t blame those who disconnected – they were essentially saving themselves from the mess both my life and I had become.

That’s not to say it didn’t hurt. We count on people to be there for us in our time of need. But it’s not always in sickness and health ’til death do us part like the saying goes. So seven years ago, I lost most of my tribe, except for the ones I could count on one hand, and for whom I am eternally grateful.

IMG_1522-1One of the best things about being human is that we have these opportunities for fresh starts. Sometimes we take them over and over until we feel like we got it right. Other times life gives us the chance for a do-over, or a magical portal opens.

I recently walked through that door with Sir Husband, and am back home. This time the view is quite different. The past is revealing itself – so much has not changed since I lived here years ago…but so much has.

10417018_10201470902129241_3006093295010639328_n copyAnd I want to reconnect with people who mattered to me. So I got brave and cautiously took the leap with a few I left behind. It took some guts, some faith and the tricky skill of not having any expectations.

By the way how do we not have expectations? I mean come on. I missed these people, I would love a big, happy reunion. How could I not? I’m different. Life is different. All is right with the world now and then some.

IMG_1434The point is, I did it. Cautiously. I started with a benign text to the numbers that were still in my phone, I sent emails to the old email addresses I had, I even called and left a couple of messages.

And it happened. Not right away, but I heard back. With open, welcoming arms. There are many others, but I will baby-step my way down memory lane and see how it goes.

People are people so you just never know. But that’s the allure of friendships and the enchantment of human fresh starts.



When Destiny and Fate Meet For Lunch

lunch tableI think that’s Dr. Northrup over there, my friend said when we were waiting to be seated for lunch.

Oh let me see…yes it’s her. That’s great I wanted to chat with her and tell her we are moving back home.

Three years ago I never would have thought I would see Dr. Christiane Northrup in a local eatery, let alone walk up to her table to say hello. I followed her work for years as my health declined, hoping one day to meet the renowned physician who is changing the way the world thinks about women’s health.

I finally did meet her, and yes, she is an enlightened and brilliant soul.

IMG_1201We live in quite a small town and she’s a local here, and not even a local celebrity, although some would call her that. I met her through another friend, the two are quite chummy, I found the whole thing special. Eventually I landed on Dr. Northrup’s local team that distributes nutritional supplements, although for me that didn’t work out.

Several social gatherings later, we got to know each other a bit. I hoped she might consider my writing for her, health and wisdom writing is sort of what I do. In fact, it was a starlit dream of mine, one that never flickered.

Now we are moving away, so we won’t be attending any more team events, and I wanted to thank her for her kindness and support. You know, closure.

I had been thinking about how I might contact her for several days and then ~ voila ~ there she was, waiting for her friend. I introduced her to mine, and I told her about Sir Husband’s new job and our plans. She was thrilled of course, she lived right where we’re moving for several years herself.

newspapertypewriterAs the conversation progressed she learned my friend standing with me is also a writer. An amazing one I might add – a sought-after author and journalist who is as humble as they get. She is truly gifted and softly downplays her talent and intellect. She spoke with my friend for a few minutes then asked her for her business card for her writing needs.

In that very moment – as my friend was on the receiving end of the words I had longed to hear – I felt a wave of peace and joy come over me that was incredibly pure. It was if the angels began to sing, and the heavens began to clap. I knew right then that my job here was done, although I can’t really put into words why.

It was a wonderful feeling to think perhaps I was a vehicle for them to meet. All the time I had spent hoping for the opportunity to work with Dr. Northrup came to a roaring halt right then, and instead it felt complete. Kismet at its finest.

I don’t know what will happen with Dr. Northrup and my friend, but it doesn’t really matter. Because deep down I knew that connection was completely meant to be. It’s very rare to feel joy as you hand your dream away, but that’s how we know it’s right, when it’s perfectly okay.

I don’t think it’s a dream for my friend, but I know that what may come of it is part of her personal path. Mine is shifting yet again and in such a joyful direction. The takeaway from that afternoon was as simple as can be.

Don’t chase joy ~ follow it, and see where it might lead.

fairy tale path


Early Birds Paid With Cash, Late Birds Paid With Heart

Thank G the moving sale is over. I seriously thought I was going to collapse trying to get ready for the thing.

IMG_6203First, it’s exhausting to unload almost everything you own – except the teenager and cats. It’s amazing how much energy it takes to go through every shelf, drawer, basket, file, closet, room and then decide if it’s going in the garage for the sale, in a box for the move, to the dump or to the donation bin. Not to mention it’s emotional.

Second, shame on me for posting on the online community bulletin board two days ahead of the day, because my doorbell rang randomly from that moment on, people standing there with wads of bills asking to see my stuff. Good thing I had most of it set up in the garage, although it wasn’t priced.

They all had an excuse when they showed up days early. “We won’t be here this weekend…my daughter is at college and needs stuff…we figured you might want to get rid of it early…” And my personal favorite, “We live down the street, is there a discount for neighbors?” That might have worked if they had occasionally waved when we were passing by.

I realized later that neighbor allegedly took a brand new Yankee Candle that must have been hidden in her pile. She had already ratcheted me down in price until I was practically on the ground. But between her and the other early birds, we sold almost everything before the actual day, which isn’t a bad deal.

So on the actual day I found myself apologizing for the sale’s puny offerings while pushing the lemonade and donuts we had as a shopping bonus. We did have some interesting patrons though. Mr. Ex and his Mrs. came early to lend a hand and to collect what they had pre-purchased, with the family discount of course. Some things we were happy to keep “in the family,” they actually loaded a truck.

Good friends stopped by with breakfast treats. One of them played the ukulele we had for sale while people looked around. We let him have the tiny guitar as a reward for the entertainment.

IMG_2734But it was those we didn’t know who made a special imprint. One man who recently lost his wife stayed more than an hour to talk. It was clear he was lonely and struggling, so we pulled up a stool and listened as he shared the details of his life. It’s amazing what you find out about people when you take the time to care.

Another codger pulled a harmonica out of his pocket. He hummed a tune and sang a song to us that he made up on the spot. He glanced at the items we had for sale but wasn’t there to shop.

Just as we started to call it a day, another couple arrived. This woman had recently helped my son get a new high-tech calculator when his was stolen at school. We didn’t even know her, she was like a guardian angel – those calculators are not cheap.

I offered to give her some things, in return for her kindness. “No thank you,” she said. “There are people who need it, just give it to the church.”

My energy renewed in that moment and we loaded up the car.

Our stuff is all gone now, it’s time to get on with life.



When It Comes To Our Stuff It’s The Treasures That Count

It was like a scene from a movie. Wife sends husband out for a basket of flowers for the front porch minutes before the team of house-selling people arrive. It was listing day. Wife gives explicit instructions for color, sun-exposure and price. But she forgets to say be sure they are alive. Husband followed the instructions so explicitly that he didn’t notice the FullSizeRenderflowers he brought home were half-dead.

I adore my husband. He is the love and light of my life. To me he’s the most amazing and sexiest man alive. And when he walked in with a basket of brownish, wilted flowers, I whimpered and welled up with tears. We were out of time.

In his defense, he stuck to the price guidelines but it turned out to be a case of you get what you pay for. “They just need some water,” he said as he peered into the pot.

I’ve been crying a lot lately. They aren’t bad tears, they are change tears, as we embark on homeanother major life transition involving moving for the seventh or eighth time in less than 10 years. A military wife I am not.

I thought I was over the crying last week when we headed to Cape Cod for a few days of rest before Sir Husband starts his new job. But no amount of Om’ing helped. We stopped in Boston and signed a lease on our new condo, and that’s when it all started. We are moving “home,” and I’m thrilled. But as we tripped down memory lane where I spent most of my adult years, buried emotions surfaced. Not memories exactly, but feelings. I had no idea they were in there.

Instead of dwelling on what was causing the flow of emotion and tears, I tried to just go with the flow…the tears, the feelings, the experience. Sir Husband’s parade was not dampened by my unplanned avalanche – he held my hand as we drove through my past and soon-again future and smiled. His joy embarking on this Divinely-guided venture was irrepressible.

Before we got to the Cape, we stopped for a night at a dear family friend’s house who I have not seen in years. As if no time had passed, we simply picked up where we left off, although I have a different husband and her daughter is all grown up. Seeing her was medicinal. Time has a funny way of reminding us of those things that truly matter – like friendship and memories and the blank canvas of our future.

After a lot of laughs and wine around her big dining room table, we got to the nitty gritty of moving boxeswhat Sir Husband and I have to do to get ourselves moved. We are downsizing yet again to a very small space near the big city – more than half our belongings must go. That’s part of the emotional shift – truly letting go of our stuff.

“Keep only the treasures, only those things that tell an important story,” my friend said. She recently did this herself. It’s harder to let go of memories and experience than it is to let go of things, she explained. It took some digesting, but I began to embrace the reality of what “stuff” really means.

It means essence ~ lifeblood ~ nucleus ~ spirit ~ essentialness ~ substance ~ and soul.

So everything’s negotiable, but the basket of flowers stays.



What’s The Story With One-Sided Conversations?

Did you ever try to talk with people who ask your advice, only to have them talk over you and negate every thought or tidbit you shared, or worse argue that what you are saying won’t work – even if you are just chatting? Because hey you were sharing your thoughts per their request.

I hate it when that happens. And listen, it’s not that I care if you take my advice or not – although I do care about you – it’s your need to shoot it down instead of just conversing. Graciousness is a good trait.

Same goes for people who take over a conversation and make it about themselves when you were just trying to enjoy idle chit-chat. Or even when you’re trying to talk with a friend about something that’s on your mind and she starts relating to what you’re saying so much that she interjects her own experience and thoughts without even listening to yours. It’s a conversation usurp. FullSizeRender

It can even be as simple as asking someone how it’s going, and their me-train leaves the station so fast you’re out of breath before they even come up for air.

I end up feeling defeated and think to myself, “give it up, she’s not going to let you get a word in edgewise.” Or I just give in to the present moment with an internal heavy sigh and that important graciousness that allows me to sit there making eye contact like I care. Most of the time I do, but that doesn’t mean it’s not draining.

coffee with friendsOf course then I feel guilty for feeling that way. It happens with one friend I have in particular. I adore her, but sometimes it’s hard because it’s like this every, single time without fail – phone, in person, even on email. But it can happen anywhere, even with people we don’t know.

A good friend of mine travels weekly for her job and stays in the same hotels, interacting with the same faces on each trip. She eats at the bar and is chummy with the bartenders, she’s a “regular” in these establishments. On her last trip she engaged with another gal at the bar who she sees frequently on her stays, and asked her how things were going. And that’s when it started.

The nameless familiar face proceeded to tell a long story about meeting someone special at that very bar six months earlier, in all its glorious detail. While my friend noted that she was a fun and interesting raconteur, other than asking my friend where she lived, the entire conversation was about her.

My friend enjoyed the woman’s story, but it got her thinking about what drives people in conversations. Do they want to share their story, or learn about ours? A bit of both? Or neither? Is it simply about connection, or is it about compassion or understanding? coffee

Even more curiously, how much do we want or need to share our stories with other people, especially people we don’t know? That’s a huge question for bloggers, or diarists, authors, writers, videographers and storytellers in general. Are we all storytellers? Social media is a giant vortex full of everyone’s stories, or any part of them we want to share.

Humans just want to be heard. So whether we are dealing with a naysayer when trying to be supportive, or we meet our match when being curious, or we simply just want to have an equal-footed dialogue with another person, the motto is be open. Because you just never know where the story will take you.


fairy stories

How Many Spoons Does It Take To Have Lunch With A Friend?

rrgMost people enjoy meeting a friend for lunch, especially when the view is extraordinary and we enjoy our friend’s company. I thought that sitting at the elegantly-set table facing the sun-splashed ocean would take me down a few notches but it didn’t. I actually had to work at allowing myself to take the time to do something I didn’t have the energy to do, which when you think about it is ridiculous. It’s just lunch with a friend.

But my morning had gotten away from me, like most mornings do. I don’t know why this happens. I put my feet on the floor every morning with the best intentions that today is the day I will accomplish with ease, something meaningful or valuable. I’d even settle for manageable. It’s not like I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment.

The morning routine isn’t tough – brush teeth, make bed, fold laundry, feed cats, unload dishwasher, make coffee, send husband on his way, check email, social media, and then with bowl of cereal in one hand and coffee in the other – start writing my blog or whatever freelance assignment I have.

I don’t know what happens after that – morning blurs by and all of a sudden it’s midday and I’m not even showered. Not that there’s a rule that says I have to be presentable by any specific time. But I felt pushed to meet my friend, whose schedule is wide open. Her children are both away at school, her husband at work, she can enjoy most days with ease.

My life is a bit more complicated, and has been for forever. So I thought about that this morning when I pushed back my lunch date to squeeze in a few minutes of yoga. That’s when I do my best breathing, moving, and mental detoxing, and I tried to sort out why I run out of all my spoons before noon.

spoon fairyThe spoon theory is a genius concept created by a gal whose website is called “But you don’t look sick . com.”  It’s about what it feels like to only have a certain amount of energy each day, which for people with autoimmune disorders is often is used up before lunch. Her spoons represent daily tasks from getting up to getting dressed to basically anything and everything we do each day to exist. Each task or chore costs us a spoon, and if we only start with eight spoons a day, we may be out of energy long before lunch.

I have a love-hate relationship with this concept. I love it because that’s my whole life, and I hate it because that’s my whole life. I’m tired of having and identifying with the heavy fatiguing layers of fibromyalgia. I try and try to rid myself of this dis-ease once and for all, but I’m not sure my body will ever let it go. So I often just simply ignore it, until it catches up.

The clock was ticking away after my morning of unexpected meteorites – children who needed immediate help with important things for their life, blips with banking issues, computer crashes, and a flurry of other activities that although I accomplished in a hurry, left me teary from fatigue.

Why can’t I just relax and enjoy the moment? Because my invisible spoons were gone, and I still had the rest of the day to go. So I pulled myself up like I always do, and sat down with my friend. I took a deep breath and looked around, but noticed something odd. There weren’t any spoons on that lovely lunch table overlooking the sea. How ironic I thought when I noticed that, this must be the table for me.


making the best of life