First and foremost, I wish you and yours a happy 2019 filled with good health, unexpected joys, and MOST everything you wish yourself. (I have to remind myself that we can’t have EVERYTHING, but we sure as hell can try!)

As is my custom, I look back and take stock of what the past year brought and taught.

Since my 365 days of memories are not worthy of a whole brain-bin, I pop the nyaggas (bad stuff) in my handy, dandy, mental-shredder to eliminate lingering negativity and angst-inducing disappointments, chalk the tough stuff up to necessary life-lessons, and promise myself there is no room in the Must-Keep pile for regrets.  

Besides, a small brain calls for just a small file. With all this in perspective, I fill my flimsy folder ferociously, focusing on the fabulous.

So indulge me please, as I ponder my 2018 file-worthy ah-ha moments; rediscoveries; once-in-a-lifetime memories and share some rare, delicious slithers of living, that keep me looking forward.

Filed under: “I’ll Always Remember…”

-Real friendship is as rare as hens’ teeth.

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is like a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.  Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967. I heard this when I was 13. I must have held this rhyming wisdom fast indeed, because it comes back unbidden, whenever I need it most.

-Long, long ago in a movie surely scripted by a woman (the title of which I don’t remember), Sigourney Weaver said something that imbedded itself into my young brain. It was forced to consciousness when gravity took me by storm.  I paraphrase: “The only facelift that works is a smile.” P.S. I have learned to smile A LOT.

Filed Under: “Consider A Different Perspective…”

-Watching my Beloved Besties deal with their children who, like me, moved to another continent to follow their dreams. I understand the guilt, longing, and dilemma of a child who left her mother. But now I see and feel, through the eyes and hearts of my precious friends, the agony of being the mother without her child. I not only feel guilty about leaving my mom 31 years ago all over again, but it’s doubled because I now understand the pain of both sides. There is no salve yet invented that can soothe these sore hearts.

-Everyone I know is a product of a school system. It’s had a huge hand in shaping us not only socially and academically, but in life lessons of doubt, inferiority, and disappointment – the important stuff learned on a small scale so you can deal with the LARGE of real life. So, when my girlchild Lesley, a smart, enterprising mother of two said, “I am going to home-school the girls,” when her oldest was 4, I was deeply afraid how it would all turn out. So I’ve been watching carefully and listening well. And I am happy, nay ecstatic to report – 4 years later, that I have no need to worry. To say my girlchild has mastered this gig, is a behemoth understatement. Their advanced daily school curriculum strictly administered, is just one of Les’ priorities. Every single waking moment is a lesson for those girls – subtly injected or strongly but kindly enforced. And every school day = field trip. And, she does it with one hand tied behind her back on a shoestring. A phenomenal researcher, she continually finds inexpensive ways to show-don’t-tell her girls: State park walks with binoculars to study particular subjects; Geocaching (Who knew? It’s a real world outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS!); Putting to good use annual Disney passes just to ride the boat and learn how water bridges work; massage lessons from a local chiropractor; examining insects in the back yard; studying hurricanes at a science museum; picking fruit in season; horse stable experiences; feeding cows on a local farm…Les’ ideas are as endless as her energy in her quest to make their girls the best they can be. She snags/cajoles/extorts discounts on behalf of all the homeschoolers in her area and gets scores of kids en masse into acting classes, zoos, Jujitsu, violin lessons, reptile refuges, dinosaur digs, and zip lining. In so doing, she throws them with a variety of other children of varying ages and ethnicities to learn social skills in the real world.  If those kids are unavailable, she takes the girls to a new park to make new friends and perhaps learn disappointment, sharing, and caring. But she’s always there to explain and soothe. She boldly ensures their growth as learned, socially acceptable human beings while keeping them grounded, kind, and uncomplicated for as long as possible. I’m so proud of my Les. And of her Blaine for being “All aboard!”

File under: “Remember the Feeling…”

-Languishing in the uninhibited love lavished on me from my grandgirls as I lay exhausted from playing, but wide eyed with wonder, as one – a sleeping starfish – spread out next to me in the queen bed – open and fearless, and the other nestled in the crook of my folded arm like a warm walnut. I marveled that I was not even vaguely tempted by the promise of much-needed sleep offered by the pristine, comfy queen bed but a night-table-away.

-Birthing my first book. I liken writing and publishing to what I imagine it would feel like to have a baby: The moment of euphoria when a long-baron mother (literarily moi) realizes she’s conceived a cohesive story…ahem… fertile egg. Then, morning sickness hits. Man, this isn’t fun. When at last my belly swells and it feels like a baby, it gives me a good kick when I least expect it to remind me this pregnant state is not for sissies. Then massive, repeated heartburn alternates with frantic cravings for chocolate-dipped pickles. Nearly two years later, (okay, I’m an African bush elephant-kind of mother) the excruciating pain of labor and at last, she’s here! A moment of sheer ecstasy before dark worry sets in. Does she have all her fingers and toes? Whew! Sure, there’s an unsightly birthmark and a wart or two (!) but nothing we can’t cut off or cover (with the help of editor extraordinaire CK). I allow myself a wobbly sigh of relief as blissfully, I gaze at her. BUT, just for a minute, then my mind races. She looks okay, but how will she be accepted in this very judgmental world?  It’s then I pray.

Filed Under: “I’ll Try and Be More Like…”

-My boychild, Terry, is the quintessential devil-may-care boy who became a no-big-deal kind of man. Terry lives in the NOW. As long as he and beloved hound, Maddie, have food in their bellies and life to study, this dry-witted, funny-as-hell man can entertain himself. Terry’s mind works 3 quirks and 23.75 degrees off normal in the best way. A great observer and keen listener, he mines diamonds from dull. He finds leg-thumping, giggle-worthy humor in everything from politics to death. Just when mundane sets in, Terry’s quick imagination conjures up a “what if” worthy of making George R. R. Martin bellow with glee. Oh, that I could stop worrying about tomorrow and borrow – hell STEAL – a soupcon of Terry’s fantastic originality. Terry is in many ways, my hero.

-My sister, Vivienne is an unwitting inspiration. A self-confessed recluse, Viv revels in being entirely unencumbered by “wereld se goed” or worldly goods; she wallows happily in her solitude and but is happy to chat and interact – WHEN she feels like it, and, since she has the interest of a flea, not for long. If there was an AA meeting for hermits and I dragged Viv in by the hair, here’s how it would go. “Hi. I’m Vivienne with an “e.” I’m the most selfish person you’ll ever meet. Too-de-loo.” And she’d waltz out, wiggling her still-good-looking tush.  The cool thing is, Viv cares not a dot about what she wears, if her hair badly needs a dye job, or if she has more wrinkles than yesterday, and yet Vivienne has more confidence than anyone I’ve ever known. Sometimes I want to be just like my big sister.

Filed Under: “What gave me hope…”

– Who knew stubbornness would give me hope? There was no more shocking sight than The World’s Strongest Man riddled with rods and screws, sewn up and reduced to a walker. All things considered and in hindsight, it wasn’t for long…partly due to my desperate nagging – driven by the need to get my husband back. However, mostly because of his stubbornness, The Man of My Dreams defied the odds and walked unaided by sticks and opioids. He pushed through like the champion he is.  I am sublimely comforted by his inner strength as our husks continue to wear.

-Seeing Sara bravely and quietly fighting breast cancer; Hearing Carol’s cheerful voice and ear-seeing her smile two weeks after defying morbid odds from two, long-undetected brain tumors; Watching Tammi holding her baby grandson in her arms and experiencing unconditional love for the first time; Marveling as Lolly coped with distance and change; Interested to hear of Suzi “seeing” new friends and Debby S unveiling her “old” sister; Finding a humble man in a tiny lotto shop erupting with the need to share the excitement of his BIG lotto win and being able to jump into his skin for a long, precious moment; Meeting new and interesting people; Learning from my Sages at STAR; Blessed by having the best friends in the world. Who could hope for more?

Filed under: “What I’m Forever Grateful For” …

-The phenomenal support of my friends and clients who, with blind faith, endorsed my “baby” by showing up at the launch of War Serenade, graciously hosted by RE/MAX Elite. I didn’t need my peeps to buy my book to appreciate their being there. That they took precious time to simply celebrate with me, made me as happy as I will ever be.

-The show of love from my friend and successful business owner, Ivette Griffith, who opened her BeautyForever Skincare sanctuary to her clients for a book-signing event oozing with grace and kindness; and for granting my print copies a permanent home on already-busy shelves in Ivette’s welcoming space.

-The unconditional help of a special few who slaved willingly and tirelessly to make necklaces and bookmarks and grab bags and baskets for War Serenade’s public appearances. You KNOW who you are!

-New readers and old friends who showed love for my “newborn” by reading her, recommending her, voting for her and reviewing her publicly on Amazon and iTunes, BookBub, and Goodreads. WOW! I am blessed!   

-Grateful that I am addicted to writing in spite of how frighteningly vulnerable this process made me. Though still 250 shrink-visits away from recovery and the shock of finding the place reserved for “artists” is uncomfortable, unpredictable, and frightening, I’ll do it all again with stripes on in 2019. ZEBRA here I come!

So, thanks in great part to YOU, my “Fabulous” File for 2018 is full. The rest doesn’t matter a dot.


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