Wednesday, November 25, 2015

     There are so many wonderful people for whom I am thankful, I cannot name them all or fit their photos on this page. These are the most important, however, for they are my family. I am most thankful for family and friends, as things grow old, tired, broken, cracked, but family gives love  unconditionally and joy often. My two beautiful daughters continue to bring purpose and meaning to my life and they give love and care to so many others around them. Whatever little I had to do with their compassionate hearts, I am proud. They both are “first responders” to any family or friend crisis. They are there unselfishly helping and caring. These are my daughters, Chris and Katey, who just “keep on giving.” I am so thankful they have seven children between them who will carry on their kindness. If the “giving, caring” message continually spreads, maybe the world will become as we wish it could be.

     I am thankful for Mr. Wonderful who does so many things for me. He runs the mechanics of the house inside and out, the cars as well, and he worries about all the things I don’t even want to think about. He is there by my side supporting me in my latest crazy project, and he puts up with my occasional tantrums. He truly earns his title, “Mr. Wonderful.” 

     I have so many friends who bring joy to my life every week. My longest-time friends in Michigan loyally keep in touch, and my Wilmington friends are always there when I need to laugh or vent. New friends bring a fresh outlook, and I celebrate them as well.

Thank you, God, for my many blessings. 

P.S.  Thank you, too, for Caramel Delight:)

The Golden Girls underwear set sells for $160.00. If you can’t afford the set—or only want the naughty Blanche lingerie—you can buy them separately anywhere from $38.00 - $52.00.

You must be kidding. Who really wants to wear granny underwear? I suppose perhaps those ladies who would like to CYA or those who choose comfort over style and glamour. 

I would challenge any man to wear a pair of bikini thongs for one entire day—yup—24/7, and ask him at the end of the day how he feels about granny underwear. There is no way any man could endure the string between the cheeks. They would be in the trash within ten minutes. But $160? really? The whole topic makes me blanch:)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

     At a dinner /movie outing with four of my special friends last night, I learned some interesting things. First of all, I only see these lovely women every couple of months, so what I learned is probably old news to them. It’s amazing what one can learn when one listens, nonetheless.

    On the way to the restaurant, sitting in the back seat, I learned everything I did not want to know about prepping for a colonoscopy. When one friend left her husband curled up in the fetal position in his bed after taking the gross liquid, she shared with us the ingredients of his “prep.” This prompted a discussion of each of their own experiences with the “prep” process. After several minutes of disgusting visual imagery, I cried out, “Can we please talk about something else?” This plea fell on deaf ears. A few minutes later, I yelled out, “I just bought a new blouse!”
Finally, the conversation turned to blouses, and I could exhale. (I didn’t really buy a new blouse. I don’t even like blouses, but one friend said, “When I think of blouses, I think of Sally. (not her real name). Moving from bowels to blouses seemed like the light-hearted thing to do at holiday time.)

     When we got to the restaurant, we sat at one friend’s “designated table.” This meant that
she frequents the restaurant often enough to have a table named after her. I don’t know if this is a good thing, but she was in a hurry to get her half carafe of wine whose brand name rolled off her tongue. Three of the five of us ordered wine, the other two had water. Since I was a water woman, I am sure my take on what I learned was colored by sad sobriety. My friend’s familiarity with the restaurant did earn us all a free cup of coffee, so that was cool, at least until I awakened at 3:00 am. ready to tackle my daily “to do” list.

    I digress. At dinner, I learned that one friend spent $1500 on cosmetics at Belk this week. You must understand that all cosmetics are included in the twice-a-year sale so the savings were considerable. $1500? It must take her two hours to get ready to go somewhere. I’m just jealous. I wish I had $1500 for anything. It takes me 28 months to save up that much, and that’s going without milk and carrots.

     I also learned that my other friend’s niece will  be visiting for Thanksgiving. She is bringing her very large dog. My friend said she tried to find a place for the dog and was willing to pay the cost, as she really didn’t relish the thought of this large animal trekking through her home, especially with her three little kitties there. I said, “Why did you tell her it was all right to bring the dog?” She said, “She was all alone for Thanksgiving, and she wouldn’t come without the dog.” I said, “You are an absolute saint.” And this friend truly is. She has a heart bigger than the Grand Canyon. 

     Another friend spoke about moving from her previous home. She said the had to have three garage sales because she had so much stuff. She used to buy things in bulk. For example, if she saw a vase at a store, she would buy 30 vases. So when she got ready for the garage sale, she would put a sample of the vase on her table, so people could see what the other 29 looked like. What? This friend is an incredibly creative decorator, but 30? Are you effen kidding me?

     Then the cell phones came out, and thumbs scrolled to find the latest photos of the grandchildren. This used to really annoy me, but now that I don’t have any babies or toddlers, I miss them terribly, and I gladly oohed and awwwhed over the cuties. I said, “Enjoy every second. You blink, and they’re 16.” My oldest grandson will be driving my ex-husband’s car in January. I don’t know what is more strange that I have a 16-year-old grandson who will be driving or that my ex sold his car. My Grand Canyon-heart friend whispered to me later, “Your grand-daughters are beautiful.” That’s the kind of person she is.

     My “husband’s prep” friend shared that she was having seven couples over for dinner. We all gasped. Seven couples? That’s fourteen mouths. Way too many mouths for moi. Imagine all 14 of them talking at the same time. Then imagine all 14 of them chewing at the same time. As Ed Sullivan would have said, “That’s a really big Chew.” Oh no, that was “show.” Anyway, the cost to put on a dinner party for seven couples is way beyond my budget. It would take 28 months to save that much from the grocery budget, and I’m saving for cosmetics. 

     The movie was adorable. “Love the Coopers” is my new favorite holiday film. The repartee between two of the characters was worth the whole $7.48 ticket. The message of the film is poignant and relevant. We all enjoyed it as we laughed and nodded, “Yup.” 

     What a wonderful evening with my special friends. We each bring something unique to the table, and when I raised my water glass, I thought to myself, “Lucky me. I am blessed to have such fun, kind, funny friends.” I can’t wait till the next “chick flick.”



Monday, November 23, 2015

This is the post my daughter wrote on her 42nd birthday yesterday. I thought I'd add my reaction to it. Moms and daughters don't necessarily agree on things, but I found the results interesting. 

Here is the code:  SA = Strongly Agree
                             SD=  Strongly Disagree

I keep telling her we need to write a book together. She SA, but somehow with four kids and three jobs, she can't seem to find the time. And here I thought I trained her to multi-task. 

Daughter's post:
I have a friend that says he doesn't celebrate adult birthdays. Thinks it's dumb. Maybe.
But as I head out to hike this morning I can't help but reflect on the last year.
My Uber driver in Chicago, Richard, told me to "Keep it alive, chil(d)". I committed to that. And oh boy, I kept it alive alright. Too many beautiful memories to mention but let's get down to basics.
I have these 4 daughters. Yesterday I snuck a side glance photo of them and it startled me.
I am 42. Half of that is 21. In a flash of an eye blink, they will be too. Each of their side profiles gave me pause. I saw me, me, me and me in each of them. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I felt like Benjamina Button..... Living life in reverse. How are they all mine? How on Earth did I get so lucky? How did I birth them is a better question....but, I caught myself thinking, what do I want them to know about life? What do I hope they learn from me and the world? What have I learned this year?
So, the following list is what I composed as I watched Michigan State take down our sweetest rival. I did begin this year in the stands of the Rose Bowl
Hoping to end it in the same location!                          
42 things I learned (or reaffirmed) this year:
1. Sour Patch Kids rule the world.                         SA
2. Fitted sheets should be banned.                       SA
3. Women's heart attacks are subtle.                    SA
4. Neck cream works.                                            Found this too late.
5. The truth always reveals itself.                          SA
6. Never say never.                                               SA
7. Presence is the best present.                           SA
8. Listen to your parents.                                      Helllooooooo!
9. You're the only you you've got.                         SA
10. Grief is never over, just carried.                      SA
11. Heroes can show up in any outfit.                   Sometimes in 4" stilettos
12. Silver linings come in all shapes and sizes.    SA
13. Always circle up in crisis. There is true strength in numbers.  SA
14. Cleaning the garage blows.                            Dunno. Ask Mr. Wonderful
15. There's nothing good to see in Tucson.          Dunno. Ask Roy Rogers.
16. Police officers get a bad rap.                           SA
17. People matter.                                                 SA
18. I hate laundry with all that I am.                      Dunno. Ask Mr. Wonderful
19. If something happens twice, the common denominator is you. SA
20. I still suck at parallel parking.                          SA
21. Childhood friends are true gold.                      Sorry to say I lost touch with most
22. Hurt people, hurt people.                                SA
23. Football makes everything better.                   Cosmos work better
24. The ladies that do my pedicures are definitely talking about me in Vietnamese. Can't afford pedis.
25. Racism is alive and well in 2015.                    SA
26. There is a space between stimulus and response; always take the space.   SA
27. When saying goodbye, always always always look over your shoulder.        SA
28. If you don't get the answer you want from customer service, call back at least two more times. SA
29. Kids are exhausting.                                       SA
30. Women have 40% more connective tissue between their right and left brain than men do. :)
31. Adele's new song, which I love, is overplayed. It should be called "Goodbye" now. SA
32. Vodka heals all.                                                :)
33. One of my kids put shit on a shelf for real and is still blaming Abel the painter. Not going there.
34. Get on the plane.                                             ???
34a. Fear based decisions never work out.           SA
35. Always ask your Uber driver about his life.      Can't afford Uber
35a. Let go of the outcome.                                    SA
36. Check expiration dates in the refrigerator often. Is that what those numbers are for?
37. Invest in good people. 4 quarters is better than 100 pennies. All money is good.
38. Timing is everything.                                         SA
39. Own your truth.                                                 For men only
40. Stay mobile. Stay focused. Stay vigilant.         SA
41. In conflict, it's rarely about you the person.      SA
42. See #8,#17,#26 and #32. Repeat #27.            #8 is most important.

Love you, Katey:)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

     You cannot miss Katey’s big dimples when she smiles. Her face lights up, and the spunky little pig-tailed toddler that is no more looks out at me with her big brown eyes. She is pure energy, and her mind never stops racing with new ideas, things to do, the latest cause she’s fighting or the text she hasn’t answered. She is pure fun, creative beyond belief and sometimes over-promises without delivering, but regardless, she is love. 

    Today she celebrates her birthday with her beautiful daughters: Mia, Ava, Emma and Ella. She is happy to have her Dad and her step-mom with her too to join in the celebration. 


  Through the years, she was always an outstanding student, a spitfire, a dedicated athlete, a manipulative teen-ager and my biggest cheerleader. We waded through some tough spells when I was a single mom, but we are both resilient, and now that she’s a mom of four, she gets it. She can talk your ear off, but she can listen, empathize and inspire. 

      She loves middle school kids (omg), is an active advocate for kids against bullying. She supervises students teachers, teachers courses at the community college, works as an Assistant Principal at a local middle school in Phoenix, carts her four girls to soccer matches, gymnastics classes, voice, guitar and violin lessons and works out with a trainer. 

     She doesn’t cook, although I really did try to teach her. She loves nice clothes and wears them beautifully, and she keeps the men in her life scratching their heads. 

   On this her birthday, I celebrate 42 years as her very proud Mom, and I pray that the joy she has given me will be returned from her own four daughters. 

     Happy Birthday, precious daughter. I love you.

                           Maman xoxo


Friday, November 20, 2015


                          RENEGOTIATING A MARRIGE


      Many years ago, I was married to a wonderful man who was very different from me. He was an introvert, and I was/am a raging extrovert. Some might have thought that this combination would have created a wonderful balance. About 20% of the time, it did. The rest of the time, I found myself very frustrated because he wouldn’t talk. That’s what I told people; however, that was not completely true. He talked; he just didn’t talk about what I wanted him to and to the extent that I needed. He was not wrong. I was not right. We were just different. Had I been able to renegotiate our marriage all those years ago, maybe it would have worked. Probably not. We all have our individual needs. No matter whose “fault” any argument or breakdown of communication might be, it is very difficult, perhaps impossible to change our needs. I made the mistake of many women (even savvy 21st century young women of today); I tried to change him. Didn’t work. Doesn’t work. Will never work. The only person we can change is ourselves, and the only way that will happen is if
we want to.

     After a heartbreaking divorce for both of us, I remember thinking, “Maybe if I had taken a sabbatical. . . “ Nope. Wouldn’t have worked. We take ourselves wherever we go. Moving to a new house, a new state, having babies, getting a butt lift—nothing will change the way we are wired. I didn’t get that then, and although I get it now, it still doesn’t make communicating that easy.

     A new friend and I were talking about adjusting to retirement and the issue of renegotiating in a marriage. When two people work full time for 20+ years, raise children, marry off children, bury parents, deal with domestic issues day after day,  the energy drains quickly. By the time we retire, we might think, “Whew. Now we have time for the intimacy we always dreamed about.” This is true, but now there’s time for him to play golf five days a week or watch football four nights a week or for her to play bridge three nights a week. There are two scenarios:  not enough time together or too much time together.  They both can cause issues; thus, the need to renegotiate.

     It’s all about balance. Personally, I believe that we each need our own separate lives as well as the one we share with our spouse. If each of us has a life apart, then we don’t rely on the other to fill the void. When we come together whether it be for lunch or dinner or for a day’s hike, we have things to share that the other doesn’t know. It keeps the marriage fresh, and each person has his or her own identity. When one person is super busy and fulfilled, and the other is lonely and bored, there is bound to be trouble.

     Then there’s the issue of the domestic schedule. When we both worked, we either self-assigned tasks or discussed and divided them (ideally). If that didn’t happen before retirement, watch out afterwards. 

     Because we are around each other much more often, the things we may have overlooked when we were working now seem to stand out in neon. Why does he sit in the same spot on the couch every night watching TV? Do I ever get to watch my programs? Why does she always play her music so loud? Does she realize I’m trying to read my book? Why is he always here when I need my alone time? Can’t he just go somewhere for a while? Why does she wait until the last minute to get ready to go somewhere. Doesn’t she realize the traffic problems? All of the things we took for granted in our working life now stand in line to be addressed, ignored or resented. 

     I have friends who just couldn’t renegotiate, so one or both went back to work. I have friends who just suck it up and do whatever the King says. I have friends whose wives run the show, and they just follow along. I have friends who bicker constantly, yet they say they are “very close.” No one knows what goes on behind closed doors, and that’s a good thing. What I do know is that if my needs are not being met, I am not a nice person. If I don’t ask for what I need by the time I’m retirement age, I am stupid. If we can’t renegotiate at any time in our marriage, we have a problem. I remember my aunt saying, “Honey, you just have to accept it. Relationships with men are 80/20, if you’re lucky.” Well, I don’t buy that. If it’s not close to 50/50, then people are living in the 18th century, and they deserve what they get. 

     Now I’m not saying it’s easy to tell a 65-year-old man that you can no longer deal with his snoring and farting. It’s not easy to tell a 65-year-old woman that she drinks too much and gets loud at dinner parties. It’s all in the semantics. The bottom line is that the groundwork has to be laid long before you cash the first social security check. Good luck with this.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

     One year ago, I gave my first one-woman show speech to my Toastmasters club. I played the role of George Sand, author, political activist and Frédéric Chopin's lover. It was well-received, and I went on to perform before well over 200 people. I was scared to death, but I followed my passion and am so glad I did. Lessons were learned, barriers were broken, friends were made.

    Tonight, "Arkel" will debut with me as we give a preview of my second one-woman show before the same club. "Arkel" has never performed before a group of people, and I know he is extremely nervous. I told him that these people are our friends. They want us to succeed. He's not convinced. Tonight I will play the role of Emma Bardac, second wife of Claude Debussy. "Arkel" played a role in the Debussy story, and I will help translate his part, as he only speaks French.

     Some of my friends ask, "How do you have the courage to stand up in front of people and perform like that?" They say, "I couldn't do it, nor would I ever consider putting myself up there for scrutiny."
Their questions are justified. Last night, I watched a video delivered by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love." She discussed following your passion. These one-woman shows are my passion, and that's why I write and deliver them, complete with playing the somewhat difficult classical piano compositions in front of various audiences. She calls people like herself and me "jackhammers." When we get an idea and it gels into a passion, we are willing to risk anything to realize it. Yes, I am a "jackhammer." I am driven, obsessed, thrilled and eager to share my passion with others. My performance is never perfect, but that's all right. I created it, I own it, I deliver it with courage and conviction that this experience will enlighten, educate and, hopefully, entertain my audience. Do I pay a price? Of course, but it's worth it.

     So what's the point? My point is to show that no matter how old we are, we are still active, creative, energetic and worthy of being in the mainstream. If we are no longer able to be in the working-world mainstream, we can create our own and still contribute with positive energy.

    Elizabeth made a crucial point in her presentation, however. She said that not everyone is a "jackhammer." People like her who identified her passion at age 5 and followed it throughout her life represent only part of the population. The other part is made up of what she calls, "hummingbirds."
If you are a "hummingbird," and you are intimidated, put-off by or just annoyed by "jackhammers" like me, then stay tuned for the "hummingbird" blog tomorrow.

     Yours truly,

                 Emma Bardac