Monday, December 14, 2009

Eyelash, Moms, and Memories

Another few weeks have passed since my last blog post. They say that as we age, the time seems to zip by more quickly, and I must agree!

I had the privilege of participating recently in an independent author's book fair at The Litchfield Exchange in Pawleys Island. It was an amazing experience to visit with all of the other writers, view the variety of subject matter represented, and feel the excitement and energy in a room full of creative people. Each of them knows exactly how it feels to be in the middle of a writing project and have to temporarily put it aside to deal with more pressing life issues. They have experienced waking up during the night with a thought that must be captured before it vanishes. They know what it's like to spend time in solitude while transferring their ideas from the brain to the written word. It was a wonderful time because in addition to chatting with potential customers about my novel, Eyelash, I had the opportunity to bond with other writers who understand the struggle of producing a book that people indicate is an enjoyable read, yet not having the capability of readily exposing it to the world, the nation, or even their own state. That doesn't stop us, however. We continue to write because we love the process, and there is always hope that eventually the "big break" will miraculously knock at the door!

Kate Jensen & her Mother,
Dorothy McGuirk Lewis
in February, 2009
On my last post, I talked about Mom visiting us and how much we enjoyed spending time with her at Thanksgiving. She is such a treasure, and we are so thankful that she is in good health! I'd like to tell you about the Mother of my friend, Kate Jensen. I met Kate through Pawleys Island Women in Business and Coastal Power Women, and she's a fabulous cruise agent. She's incredibly personable and upbeat, and I immediately liked her from the moment we chatted. I had recently worked on a project for a local senior center. Ordinarily, I would go to the center and give a speech about writing our life stories to pass along to future generations. After visiting this center, however, I knew that my usual speech was just not going to work there. Desperate to devise a way for these folks to be able to share a snapshot of their lives with loved ones as well as with each other, I developed a list of questions that they could simply fill in the blanks to capture some of their history. I call it the Mini-Memoir. As I gently instructed the seniors at this center about the project and what we would be doing, I distributed the sheets for their use. Some immediately went straight to the task at hand, obviously taking a moment to reflect and then write. Others appeared confused and uncertain about what they should be doing with this piece of paper. For those folks, I sat down and worked with them to capture their thoughts--even asking the questions orally and writing down their answers for them. During this process, I met the most adorable lady whose hair was adorned with the most beautiful flower! She was so sweet, and was one of the seniors who decided that they'd like to take the paper home with them to give their answers some further thought. When I returned to the center a couple of weeks later to pick up the sheets, there she was again--this sweet lady with yet another brightly colored flower in her hair. I learned that her name was Dorothy, and she was 88 years old. I collected all of the sheets, turned them into a booklet for the seniors, and returned to the center to distribute the publications. I felt that if they all had the opportunity to see the entire collection, they might have more to talk about and be able to relate to one another. Most of the seniors seemed delighted that someone actually cared about knowing some of their favorite things from the past. I was impressed with Dorothy's answers. For an 88 year old, she came up with some snappy comments!
A couple of months later, Kate and I were talking at one of our meetings, and knowing that her Mom had been staying with her, I inquired about how she was doing. She told me that her Mom had been having a wonderful time going to the local senior center. I told her that I had just recently done the Mini-Memoir project there, and she said, "My Mom is Dorothy, and she always wears a brightly colored flower in her hair." I told her that I knew exactly which lady was her
Mom. I'll never forget her because of that distinctive flower and her clever answers to some of the questions.
Kate told me the origin of Dorothy's floral hair accessory, and this story is precious. It seems that many years previously when Dorothy was trying to reference one of the ladies at church to her husband, she had said that the woman had gray hair and glasses. Her husband said, "That describes all of the ladies in the church!" Dorothy determined at that moment that she needed to distinguish herself from all of the other gray haired ladies with glasses, and began wearing a flower in her hair. She was absolutely correct. Everyone would remember her because there was something pleasantly unique in her appearance, and besides that--she was adorable. Dorothy passed away on November 3, 2009 at the age of 89, but I will never forget her or her collection of flowers.

The aforementioned Mini-Memoir sheet is located on the bottom of the page entitled "Write About Your Life" on my web site, Feel free to print it and share it with parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts--anyone whose life is important to you. This is my gift to everyone in 2010, and I urge you to use it to capture just a glimpse of the lives of your loved ones while it is still possible!

I wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a wonderful new year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving and Moms

A FABULOUS spite of a cold!

We had the most wonderful Thanksgiving, although on Thanksgiving eve, I was stricken with a horrible cold. The timing could not have been worse. Mom was here from North Carolina, and John & Amy & family were in town as well. I'm not sure if the meal that I prepared was good or not because I really couldn't taste anything. I felt like I was having an out of body experience that day--I think I was semi-delirious. Everyone said that dinner was good, and I hope that they weren't just being kind.
Mom's birthday was the day she arrived here, and I was telling her that my dear friend, Dee Dee, says that when it's her birthday, she celebrates her "birthday week"--not just the day of her birth. So I told Mom that we were going to do the same--celebrate her birthday week, and we had a great time. She went to church (Beach Church) with us on Sunday, and I wasn't absolutely certain how a long term traditional Southern Baptist would enjoy our contemporary service. She said that she thought it was great, and also very much enjoyed the sermon. Whew! I was glad to hear that. Then we went to breakfast at the Prince Creek Diner, and we all liked our choices there.
On Monday, we went to Mom's favorite store, Hamrick's, and did some shopping. Then we were off to lunch at Damon's on Ocean Blvd. It was so pleasant sitting there with my Mom, just chatting and visiting and eating a leisurely lunch while we looked out at the beautiful ocean view, observing the various groups of birds soaring along the water in single file--headed to southern destinations for the winter.
Tuesday evening, we headed to the Alabama Theatre to see the Christmas show, and Mom thoroughly enjoyed that outing, as did we. She loved Ricky, the comedian, and thought that the show was really well performed. She especially loved the traditional Christmas hymns, which were saved for the last segment of the show. She could see that we have many talented musicians and performers in the Myrtle Beach area!
Wednesday was spent preparing for Thursday, but I was already feeling horrible. We were supposed to go out to dinner with John and family Wednesday night, but I just couldn't do it. All I seemed to be able to do was sleep after the preparations made on Wednesday. Thursday was a blur, but I surely did enjoy seeing everyone. Fred was a huge help on the cleanup, wanting to give the rest of us a chance to visit while we could. I'm sure that they didn't find me to be very lively, however!!
I drove Mom back to NC on Black Friday, and traffic was very light--surprisingly, even around Charlotte. That was a treat. I returned to SC on Saturday, and again, traffic was extremely light, for which I was very grateful. I know for sure that our Heavenly Father was with me on that trip because I felt so horrible and the entire trip both ways is a blur. From the time I returned on Saturday and straight through Sunday, all I did was rest and sleep. Sometimes that's all you CAN do. But I'm so glad that Mom had a good birthday week because we certainly enjoyed having her here. These are special memories to treasure always!
Hoping your Thanksgiving was fabulous! We are very blessed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Not Enough Hours in the Day!

Mr. Myers with lovely
wife, Alma, and former
students (l to r) Ross,
me, Val, Karen


I can't believe that it's been almost a month since I wrote this blog. So much has happened since that time. It has truly been a whirlwind! I'll cover a few bits and pieces in this post.


The 40th Class Reunion of Apple Valley High School and Victor Valley High School, held in Las Vegas in mid-October, was a huge success in many ways. Ross Kallenberger and Karen Pinkerton spent countless hours planning and coordinating our weekend events, and I hope that they know how deeply their efforts were appreciated.

A couple of days prior to the reunion, I was able to spend some quality time with my childhood friend, Janie a.k.a. Hollywood (see older post). One great find on our shopping excursion was the Miche Handbag (see I've never seen anything like this handbag. You purchase the basic bag and then choose from an enormous variety of shells that magnetically attach to the basic bag. You don't have to constantly change handbags to match shoes or outfits. You just change shells. It's incredible, and I truly wish I had been the one to invent this! I'm really not a big handbag girl--I usually use the same one for the season (except for dressy evening wear) because I despise loading and unloading the essentials from one bag to another. I will invariably forget to transfer some very important item or two. This certainly solves that issue, and I absolutely LOVE it!

The reunion events were wonderful, and we were able to spend some visiting time with a remarkable individual, Mr. Don Myers, who was an amazing teacher. I had the privilege of being in his class during fifth and sixth grades, and what I remember most about him was his enthusiasm, his willingness to encourage our creativity, and his innovative style. He took a personal interest in each student, and I can speak for many who were fortunate enough to be his students. Today, we are better and brighter in many ways due to our time with him. God bless Mr. Myers and his lovely wife, Alma. Spending some "catching up" time with them was a huge highlight of my trip. These two are energetic world travelers and rank very close to the top of the list of most interesting people you would ever meet. We wish them every blessing!

During this reunion, we all met at the host hotel for a time of reconnecting. Adorable name tags, bearing our "big hair" senior photos, were provided. The only difficulty was that someone forgot that we have all reached the age where larger print has become a necessity if we are going to actually decipher something. So we spent a great deal of time staring at the name tag photos and then squinting to read the names of people we still couldn't recognize. It was a hoot because we were all pretty much in the same boat with this vision handicap. There were some people I would have recognized in a heartbeat, and others that I'm still not sure if I ever knew them!

We all headed to the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign for a group photo and then on to the lounge at the top of The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. The view was spectacular, and the visiting time was enjoyable. There were quite a few really young folks in that lounge who probably wondered, "Who let all of these old people in?"

Saturday morning, we attended a brunch that lasted from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00, and I believe we were there for most of the time. That was my opportunity to spend time with Mr. Myers and present him with his own copy of Eyelash. That's his punishment for having promoted creativity! Alma read it on the way home to Arizona, and said she really enjoyed it. Thank you for the kind words, Alma. The next book will be better. That was my first stab at fiction, and I have learned a great deal since that endeavor.

Saturday evening was a lovely outdoor dinner in the hotel courtyard by the pool, where we were delighted to see Mr. Dennis Bender, one of our former history teachers and football coach. Always quite the character, it was a pleasure to chat with him. The entire weekend was very special, and will remain in my memory as a fabulous time. It was amazing to spend time with people I hadn't seen for between fifteen (our last reunion) and forty years. Thanks again-Ross and Karen!

I would like to mention that my husband, Fred, was a peach throughout the reunion activities. The only person he had previously met was Hollywood, and not once did he act as though he was being tortured by attending these events. He was quite sociable, although he did disappear frequently from the Saturday night dinner to dash into the casino to catch the latest Yankee game score. Not a problem, honey. You're the best!


I'm still working at it. As I write this post, my jogging trampoline is in the living room awaiting my imminent arrival. Even in Las Vegas, I managed to walk frequently. If the truth be told, I actually walked further than I had intended. It's that visual impairment that makes objects appear closer than they really are. One 90 degree day, I walked from Convention Center Drive to New York-New York, but made several interim stops--The Fashion Mall, lunch somewhere (it's a blur), a restroom stop or two. I any time I could have hailed a cab or taken the monorail system, but I was up for the challenge. It's just like visiting New York City. You only absorb the true "feel" of being there if you participate in some extensive walking excursions. Hopefully, it's not 90 degrees if you make that choice!


I think that people tend to underestimate the power of prayer. I've seen the most miraculous results of people gathering to pray for someone. Don't hesitate to pray for your loved ones-your parents, your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your siblings, your nieces and nephews, and your dear friends. Start a list of people that you will pray for and then really stick to it. I want my grandchildren to know that I pray for them every single day. Their great-grandmother prays for them as well. What better way to show your love than to pray for someone? It's that SOUL connection. Have a fabulous day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Everything Breaks!!!

Just as I was preparing to write a new post on my blog, my laptop died. What an excruciating experience. Fortunately, I do keep all important documents backed up to flash drives and my new novel is always on a flash drive so the data wasn't at risk; however, it's the issue of whether or not it's the hard drive crashing or did the operating system decide to blow up??? And where are all of those program disks that came with the system??? (Very important!)

So I was over a week without the use of my laptop as I know it, and did manage to check e-mail remotely through web mail just to put out fires, but try being without immediate access to the computers to which we have become enslaved and see how it feels. You may find that you accomplish some household projects that would have otherwise been once again delayed, but I have to tell you that I felt as though I had been cut off from civilization. Additionally, I don't like having to reschedule clients, which is exactly what I had to do since I was unable to function efficiently.

Thank God there is a local guy that I call Jim, The Computer Guru, who has me up and running and able to attempt to catch up with everything that has been put on hold. Thank you, Jim!!

As I thought about how instantaneously a computer can cease to operate, it occurred to me that eventually almost everything breaks. Think about it. Computers, cars, our bodies, pets, appliances, houses, HVAC systems--everything has a life expectancy. If we're fortunate, these things may operate beyond that time frame but eventually everything needs repair or replacement. Sometimes we feel as though products were designed to fail twenty-four hours following the last day of the warranty.

The interesting thing is that everything else can break, but not our souls. The body will decline, die, and decay, but our souls continue throughout eternity. They have no shelf life, and what a blessing to consider that in the BIG picture, all of this stuff that seems so important to us that breaks, was only temporary anyway. But the soul.....the eternal overwhelming concept. So the words of inspiration today are from Psalm 62:5--"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."

I wanted to start with something inspirational this time before moving on to the subject of exercise because in my last blog post, I was so caught up in describing the unusual restrooms at the Broadmoor Spa, I realized that I didn't write ANY words of inspiration, and I don't like to neglect to do that, because God truly is my rock and I always want to give Him glory for everything that is accomplished in my life.

With regard to exercise, my 40th High School Reunion is RAPIDLY approaching, and have I met my exercise goals? I really believe so. I have been using my jogging trampoline almost every day and feel very comfortable that I am not bursting out of my clothing. I, personally, love a jogging trampoline because I can park it right in front of "Dancing With the Stars" and just keep jogging along without even realizing the time. I don't recommend this for everyone, however, because some folks report a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness when using this form of exercise equipment, so if you have this tendency, a jogging trampoline is probably not your best choice. I think that regardless of how we choose to do it, the object is to keep moving, and to try to approach it as part of a daily routine...just like brushing our teeth and flossing. We can't wait until we're in the mood to exercise, because it probably isn't going to happen! I'm looking forward to writing a blog post about the reunion! It should be mighty entertaining.......

On the subject of memoir writing, there has been an interest in giving gift certificates for family members who want to write their own stories, but just don't know how to get started on a memoir project. This can be arranged! I will work with individuals (even long distance by telephone) to give them all of the information that I provide in my local workshops. Don't hesitate to contact me for the details if this interests you as a gift for a loved one!

Now that my laptop is once again under my fingertips, I have a great deal of catching up to do so I will sign off now, but I am HAPPY TO BE BLOGGING AGAIN!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Roughing it at the Broadmoor

Pike's Peak-14,100 foot
elevation-Mary not
smiling-turning green

Outdoor pool at the

The Broadmoor:

Last week, we had the privilege of spending a few days at the fabulous Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. I can't begin to describe the beauty, relaxation, and accommodation that this location provides. From the yummy dining, the fabulous spa, the picturesque outdoor lakeside pool, charming paddleboats, hidden flower and sculpture gardens, the blue Colorado sky with the cottony white puffy clouds, and charming boutiques to the meticulously manicured 54 holes of golf, this place is amazing. The staff members were incredibly helpful and friendly. Rumor has it that one of the three golf courses is far more challenging than the others, but I won't reveal which one is the toughest. A visit to the spa is a MUST, where one will find all tension eliminated by the experts in facials and massage. It features a special relaxation room, where one can lean back in a comfortable, cushiony lounge, sip lemon flavored water and nibble on fruit, and read a book or magazine while occasionally gazing out a gigantic picture window that exposes a background of spectacular blue sky and mountain scenery. A visit to this spa isn't complete without a brief stop in one of the restrooms--even if you don't really have the urge to go. The restrooms were the talk of the dinner table, as the ladies were astounded at the unique experience of sitting on a heated toilet seat at the spa. That wasn't all, however. The bidet has nothing on these toilets. They were fitted with some type of contraption with a control panel on the righthand wall where one could choose a front light spray, front heavy spray, rear light spray, rear heavy spray, and the best----a dryer. I must say that I have never seen anything like this in my entire life--the toilet seat of all toilet seats. I could have stayed in there for half an hour just to experiment with the various sprays and dryer. I pushed every button just to see what it would happen next!
Then we took the cog railway to the top of Pike's Peak. The Broadmoor is at an elevation just above 6,000 feet and Pike's Peak boasts an elevation of approximately 14,100 feet. Let me assure you that at that height, it definitely impacts your body. I felt light headed, queasy, woozy, and almost disoriented; however, it is something that everyone in good health should experience once. I've been there twice, so I've exceeded the requisite one visit. Next time, I think I'll try out the golf course or the heated toilet seat instead. You will notice in the photo that I am not smiling, and yes, that is snow on which I'm reluctantly standing. I was turning green at the time, and stayed outside just long enough for the photos.
I highly recommend the Broadmoor, however, for a well deserved getaway!
I can honestly say that I have continued with my goal to exercise every day, if possible, even during our travels. I have been able to take long walks or find some form of exercise almost every day. Last night, realizing that I hadn't managed to walk outdoors all day, I retrieved my mini-trampoline out of the closet and jogged while I watched the season premier of Dancing with the Stars. I'll be doing the same thing in just a few minutes. When all else fails, the mini-trampoline is a life saver. My goal is to make exercise as vital to my schedule as is eating!
Memoir Writing:
I feel sorry for anyone who is unfortunate enough to be seated next to me on a long flight. Not only will they find out that I advocate passing along our stories to future generations, but before I'm finished with them, they'll be embarrassed if they don't agree that they need to capture the stories of living relatives before it's too late. I met some wonderful folks during this recent trip to Colorado Springs, and I hope that they will forgive my enthusiasm for memoir writing. I can't restrain myself from discussing this passion. Pretty soon, my photo will be posted in airports with a caption "Sit by this lady at your own risk!"
See you soon....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Cogitations

When you are determined to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, it is challenging as well as interesting to find ways to vary your fitness routine. I find that if I don't deviate from just working out with an exercise DVD or just walking the neighborhood, I'll definitely get bored and begin to find excuses not to exerise at all.
Thus far, I've managed to remain "on track" in my determination to add some form of exercise to my daily schedule; however, this becomes difficult during times of travel. On a recent trip to Albany, New York, I took one look at the treadmill in the hotel's small workout room, and knew that I just couldn't stand there, trudging along, looking at a blank, white wall. I remembered a beautiful park, The Crossings, that is located in close proximity to this particular hotel. I grabbed my sneakers and a bottle of water, drove to this lovely park, which offers a variety of paved, peaceful walking trails, and thoroughly enjoyed several long walks during my stay in the Albany area. There is something to be said for the benefit of fresh air during exercise, as opposed to being couped up in a small room that is dense with the odor of sweaty, well worn sneakers. Bad enough if they are your own, but sometimes in the gym setting, your nostrils are filled with the combinatorial malodorous atmosphere of multiple pairs of sneakers that should have been replaced long ago.

The point is that wherever you are, you can locate a pleasant place to work out. If the weather isn't cooperative, you can even choose a free TV exercise channel that is available at many hotels. This channel allows you to pick a workout that fits into even the tightest of schedules, choose one that enables you to concentrate on a particular problem area, and all in the privacy of your own hotel room. I definitely took advantage of this during my recent trip.

I'm considering going out for a neighborhood walk right now, but I keep hearing the sound of rifles firing in the distance. I understand that today is opening day of alligator season in South Carolina, and Fred and I are assuming that what we are hearing would be those permit-carrying alligator hunters out there shooting like people practicing at a firing range. Hopefully, none of those shells will find a spot in the local neighborhoods, but perhaps a beach walk might be in order today! I think it's safer there.

I've been joyously entrenched in working on writing the life story of a fine octogenarian gentleman, who would like to share his memoir with family and friends. It's a fascinating process, and his memory is remarkable. I'm having such a great time with this project, and every time I work with individuals or groups in life writing, I am so blessed to hear and learn about their unique experiences and aspects of living to which I might never have been exposed. I LOVE what I do!!

In working on my current novel-in-progress, I'm looking for a resource who is a plastic surgeon. A character in the book is in medical need of the services of one, and I need to ask him/her a few pertinent questions in order to insure the authenticity of this particular situation. I put the word out to a friend, who will work on this for me during this upcoming week. Hopefully, her friend, the plastic surgeon, will be cooperative. I feel it's so important to fully research areas with which I'm unfamiliar because although it is fiction and I can make up anything I want, it has to be realistic!

I think that's about all I have to say today, this alligator hunting Labor Day, 2009, except for one thing! If you've never heard of the Four Spiritual Laws, visit It could change your life.

See y'all very soon!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Capture the Life Story of your Beloved Pet

Pet Stories:
If you check out my Home Page at, you'll notice that I am launching a new arm of my writing business. This is something that I had never imagined I'd be doing, but the idea was suggested to me, and I decided to see if it is actually a service that people desire. What is this new offering? Writing the life story of your treasured pet!
The average life span of Fido, Fidette, or Kitty is comparatively short. This is a fact. There are a multitude of heartwarming pet stories out there, but people rarely take the time and effort necessary to capture them. How does this service work? I will ask you a series of questions to formulate the story of your pet or former pet, you can e-mail me a favorite photo (or small prized photo collection), and I will create an attractive booklet that preserves his or her life story to share and treasure forever. You can order one single copy or several copies to distribute to people who love your pooch or kitty.

To create the prototype for this booklet, I interviewed Amy Maselli, who told the gripping story of acquiring her little Maltese, Sammy. My sincere thanks to Amy and Sammy for participating in this project, which resulted in the adorable booklet, Sammy's Tale.

The beauty of this service is that it makes a fabulously unique gift for the loving pet owner, and gift certificates are available! (Think Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's Day, Father's Day...) The cost is only $50.00 to have the story written and approximately $10.00-$15.00 per booklet. Booklet costs vary based on the number of color photos included in production. This service can be easily provided from a long distance, so you don't need to be a Myrtle Beach area resident to take advantage of this opportunity. Don't hesitate to call me any time if you have questions!! (843) 215-4676 or (518) 441-8107

Class reunion:
I'm counting down to October 17, my 40th (YIPES!) high school class reunion. Our Southern California high school class has decided to hold this event in Las Vegas, and that brings an entirely different level to "getting in shape for your reunion". Las Vegas in October, weather permitting, could mean wearing a bathing suit at the pool, definitely cocktail party attire, and the possibilities for feeling weight-scrutinized are endless. From dearest old best friends to the women who didn't like you then and couldn't care less about you now, an impending reunion gives you a sense of being under the microscope. From the guys who have gone from six pack abs to sixty extra pounds and thinning or mysteriously vanished hairlines to those who have managed to retain a certain charm and tremendous appeal, a reunion makes you feel as though you want to make some attempt at looking your best--at least for that one weekend of visiting Memory Lane.

Therefore, in honor of and preparation for my October 17 reunion, I am committing to at least 1/2 hour or more of exercise five days a week. And for the purpose of accountability, I am going to include in my blog entries whether or not I have managed to achieve this goal and what types of exercise I managed to squeeze into my schedule during the prior week. My ultimate goal is not to be a skeleton by October 17, but simply reasonably toned. I'll keep you updated on how this works, and perhaps you'll want to start your own exercise accountability blog in the future!!

Update on FLOATERS:
Since my last blog post, I've been amazed at the number of e-mails I have received from friends and family who said ,"Welcome to the World of Floaters!!" or that they had experienced this within the last few years or even just recently. I also appreciated those who e-mailed and said, "Thanks for the warning!" I'm happy to report that the pesky black spots that I've been viewing through my left eye have become less obvious, but seem to be more prevalent when I first walk outdoors into the bright sunlight or when I step into my shower, which is surrounded by a very light background. It would seem that posterior vitreous detachment (cause of floaters) is sort of a boomer right of passage, similar to receiving your first AARP card in the mail.

I'm gearing up for the fall lifewriting classes that I'll be teaching through Coastal Carolina University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. I absolutely love teaching these workshops and giving people the tools to make them realize, "Yes, I really can create a memoir project!" Some folks would love to write their stories to pass along to future generations, but they find the very idea overwhelming. After they have attended my workshops, they know that it is not only possible, but they are enthusiastic about making this potential project a reality. Please see my web site at and choose the page "Write About Your Life". Scroll down to locate the dates, locations and descriptions of the workshops that I'll be teaching this fall, and don't hesitate to call me at (843) 215-4676 or (518) 441-8107 if you have any questions! I'd love to see you in my workshops. You can also visit to view the entire catalog of classes.

I'll leave you with this quote, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Psalm 37:5-6

Have a wonderful week, and find something that makes you laugh!!!

Mary Anne Benedetto

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm BACK..........

Okay, I'm totally mortified that I haven't blogged in almost a month, but it's been an incredibly wild and busy time--consumed with travel and entertaining friends and family here in beautiful South Carolina. I'm back on schedule now (I hope) and feeling like a blog delinquent--overcome with guilt.

In the past two weeks, I've seen more Grand Strand attractions than the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce. While my friend, Lori, was visiting, we saw the Magic of Ireland show at the Palace Theatre at Broadway at the Beach, a tour of Brookgreen Gardens, time at Huntington Beach State Park, shopping, and an evening at Legends in Concert. Love those Blues Brothers!

When our son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren arrived, we went to Alligator Adventure, the Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach, enjoyed time at our Blackmoor pool, dinner at Medieval Times, played miniature golf at Jungle Lagoon, and thoroughly kicked up our heels in the warm ocean waves at Huntington Beach. Had a fabulous, memorable time!

On a different subject, I keep wondering why someone doesn't provide us with a list of events to anticipate as we age--just so we'll know what to expect. For instance, after Lori arrived a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday, we were sitting there calmly enjoying a delicious lunch at the TPC of Myrtle Beach, where we were overlooking the infamous 18th hole. I saw this sudden flash before my eyes, as though someone had just taken a photo with a flash or lightning had just struck directly in front of my eye. Then the best part occurred. I began seeing black spots through my left eye. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to panic and seek medical attention at the drop of a hat, so I calmly sat there and didn't tell Lori or my husband, Fred, who was then chatting with us at our table. I recalled a few years ago when Fred had a similar experience, he was told by the doctor that this was a common occurrence and the "floaters" he was seeing would likely be permanent, although in time, less intrusive.

On Monday morning, I visited a recommended ophthalmologist, who essentially told me, after examining both eyes thoroughly, that in our 50's and 60's, the vitreous gel (the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye) can pull away from the back wall of the eye, causing a posterior vitreous detachment, creating "floaters" (which are tiny clumps of the gel or cells inside the vitreous). He did say that they tend to fade over time and become less bothersome, but never really go away completely. GREAT!
I've also been told by other people who have had this experience that your brain begins to adjust to seeing these spots, and it does become less annoying. GREAT!! I can't wait.

The point is this.....if and when this happens to you, the important thing is to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible to be certain that the retina isn't damaged. That is the danger in this occurrence. I am fine and am adjusting to the aggravating spots..I am less aware of them each day. But why doesn't someone warn us about these weirdo things that happen to people as they approach senior citizenship? If my husband hadn't already had this experience a few years ago, I would have thought I was having a stroke. So I just thought I'd write about this experience in the hope that if and when it happens to you, you'll know what it is all about and remember to seek the attention of an ophthalmologist at first opportunity!

That's it for tonight, but I'll be writing within a few days about my upcoming lifewriting workshops. I promise......

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Memorable Moments

In my last post, I wrote about long term friends from whom I had recently heard. I also connected with another friend from my California school days, and her name is Cathi. We were essentially inseparable during our school years, and she was truly like one of our family members. My brother, John, was born when I was 15 years old and my friends considered him quite the novelty at the time. Cathi was right there to give him a bottle when needed, but I don't recall whether or not she was into diaper changing. As 15 year olds, I'd say we thought that was pretty gross and should be left to the parents whenever possible.

I'll never forget the evening my parents broke the news to me that they were expecting. It was quite a shock to me (as well as to them, I believe). They sat me down and told me that Mom was pregnant, but they promised that it wouldn't interfere with my social life. Dad specifically said that I would not be expected to be a built in baby sitter. "Whew!" I thought. "I'm glad to hear that!!" But something magical happened when that little guy was born. I really didn't mind helping with him. I spent many an hour with him cuddled against my neck, as I sat with him in the rocking chair in his nursery, singing sweet little songs to him to help him go to sleep. It turned out to be good training for me because when my own dear son was born when I was twenty, I felt reasonably confident about infant care. I have to laugh because Fred and I sat in Magiquest at Broadway at the Beach last night, chatting with my brother, John, as his three children raced around with their wands--doing whatever it is that kids are doing in there with those wands, and John's patient wife, Amy, was dashing around attempting to keep track of their three children and a nephew! It's rather mind boggling to realize how much time has elapsed since John was that little toddler who was always so curious about what his sister and her friends were doing. He's turned out to be a fine family man and someone that I am proud to call a good friend. And I always love to hear from Cathi.

Cape May was a fabulous time once again this year. The photo at the top of this post is from that location. I was able to produce a great deal of writing for my second novel during the trip. Once I get on a roll with the thoughts and ideas, it just flows so automatically, and hours can fly by. The Cape May Girls are making their bucket lists, naming all of the things that they would like to do before their demise. We're going to produce a booklet with a group photo on the front and individual pages with a photo of the particular person and their bucket list following. I have two participants who haven't yet turned in their bucket lists....I won't mention any names....but I hope they are almost complete. They know that I'll be hounding them before very long. As soon as I finish the three main projects I'm working on right now, I want to tackle the Bucket List booklet! It will be lots of fun to look at these booklets in the future. We had a wonderful week in Cape May, and the time seems to fly. I guess when you are spending so much time doubled over in laughter, the hours tick by quickly.

Okay, I probably shouldn't be blogging this late at night after working most of the day on a client's family history and then working on my book. I'm beginning to get drowsy and there is no telling what I'll write, so I had better sign off for today! God bless you all.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Connecting with Dear Friends

This has been a banner week for connecting with "old" friends. Don't you just love those friends who are a part of your history and although you don't see or hear from them for months or even years, when you finally have the opportunity to chat or visit, the time since your last connection is non-existent? It seems as though you just talked yesterday because you seem to pick up exactly where you left off.

If you have friendships that I just described, you are so blessed. Take a moment to call one of those special connections, and you will be uplifted by a sense of closeness that is punctuated by the unique space of your heart that is occupied by that individual.

This week, I heard from my friend, Janie. We've been friends since childhood, and although she lives in California, we touch base periodically. We'll always feel linked regardless of the miles of separation and the peaks and valleys of life that we have shared via letters, telephone calls, and e-mails. She probably doesn't know that she had a nickname in high school. She was referred to as "Hollywood" because her father was a cameraman for a movie studio and worked with many celebrities including Barbara Streisand. He was such a kind, down-to-earth guy--even though he was well acquainted with many famous people. Anyway, I'll see Janie at our 40th (you must be kidding!) class reunion in October. Our California high school class will be holding this milestone remembrance in Las Vegas, which is always interesting in itself. I hope that lots of the folks from our class will be able to attend, as it's wonderful to be able to catch up.

The other person that I heard from this week from the past was Tony, the funniest guy you'd ever want to know. We've been friends for many years, having become acquainted when Fred and I were big Siena College Basketball fans back in the days when Mike Deane was the incredible coach. Attending the games was something that we thoroughly enjoyed as a winter activity because those winters are cold and long in the Albany, NY area! It turned out, however, that becoming involved in cheering for the Siena team evolved into a cherished social activity that forged some wonderful friendships. Tony was a vital part of that scene in an era that we will never forget! The very best to you, Tony, in your retirement!!

And speaking of friend connections, I'm on my way to Cape May, NJ to meet a fabulous group of girlfriends for a few days of hilarity that we've been sharing for a week in July for almost twenty years. I'm not kidding. The eight of us never stop laughing the whole time we are there, and it's one of the most therapeutic events in my life every year. It's like a week long pajama party with bathing suits. I highly recommend this for other ladies--get a group of friends who are comical, considerate, caring and conversational and plan even a long weekend together. You'll never regret it!! Looking forward to seeing you Cape May Girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For those who are working on their lifewriting projects, think back to your most favorite vacation and write about the details of that trip. Include a good, solid description of the location, surroundings, accommodations, activities, travel involved, and what made it so special. Make your readers feel as though they were right there--seeing everything you saw, participating in everything you did (okay, maybe not EVERYTHING!), eating the types of foods that you ate, describing the local culture, and bringing us along the paths that you walked. If you can locate photos from the visit, use those to refresh your memory of the details. Capture the moments!

Happy 4th of July holiday to everyone!!!!!!!!!! God bless and keep you safe this holiday weekend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SC Writers Workshop and Shadetree-ers

South Carolina Writers Workshop:

I recently joined the SC Writers Workshop. It's a great concept with an interesting group of people, but so far I've only been able to attend one meeting. The writers submit their pages (example-a chapter from their current novel or other writing project) in advance, and the group members critique the work and then meet to discuss each submission at length. While in attendance at my first and only meeting, I sat there thinking that if I submit my work, I'll break out into a heavy sweat while they are tearing it apart--line by line! The truth is, however, that it will be beneficial to obtain feedback on the book that I'm currently writing, and when I reach the point where I am ready to allow eyes to see it, those will be the first people to have a glimpse of this little gem that I'm creating.


Driving along Business Highway 17 last week, I spotted a scene that brought back a vivid memory of my dad. I saw a pseudo-garage--more like a canopy where someone had erected an open air automobile repair business. It reminded me that my dad would have called this person a shadetree mechanic, or a shadetree-er as he would often say.

What is a shadetree mechanic? It is someone who works on their own vehicle in their driveway or home garage, someone who is fearless about tackling the maintenance of their own vehicle (whether or not they are truly proficient at this), and someone about whom dealerships and professional mechanics cringe because sometimes they do more damage than repair.

My recollection is that dad was sort of an automobile mechanic snob in a manner of speaking. He felt that people shouldn't be tinkering under the hood of a vehicle unless they were properly trained. Eventually, the auto makers began to design vehicles in such a way (computerized diagnostics) that many shadetree mechanics and do-it-yourselfers threw up their hands in frustration because the mechanical design made it more and more difficult for the average person to manage their own maintenance.

Dad stretched the use of the term to include anyone in any situation who was claiming to be an "expert" in any field in which they were not officially educated. For instance, if an individual was not a licensed barber or hairdresser and he or she cut the hair of relatives in his or her home, dad would refer to them as a shadetree barber or hairdresser. The example that stands out most in my mind was when he heard someone giving their interpretation of Bible passages and they were either 1) not an ordained minister or 2) he didn't happen to agree with them, then they were a shadetree theologian.

I think Dad would have been a good minister in some respects. He knew the Bible inside out and loved studying and teaching it. I don't, however, think that he would have had the patience to schmooze the occasional congregation members who tend to be chronic complainers, gossips, and instigators. He wouldn't have been able to resist the urge to tell them exactly what he was thinking! One time my husband, Fred, asked Dad why he wasn't a minister, as it was apparent that he loved talking about the Lord. He replied, "I never got the calling."

We all need to think about using the gifts and talents that we've been given in ways that glorify God. He may never call us to travel the world or be a nationally known anything, but we can touch lives every day in our own little spheres of influence and allow His light and goodness to shine through us.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

Hoping that you're having a blessed week!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Capturing Your Unique Story

Writing workshop:

I just finished a private workshop series with five delightful ladies, each of whom arrived at last night's session with their first story relative to a memory or series of memories. As I sat there listening to each story being read aloud, I marveled at the diverse subject matter being presented by this group. They had spent time deeply searching their memory banks for a topic or theme that they felt personally compelled to write about for their very first selection, and each was beyond impressive. Hearing the stories of others is one way to generate more and more of your own memories. This was such an endearing group, and it simply reinforces why I have chosen to teach memoir writing workshops. I enjoy seeing the looks on their faces that tells me that they now know that, in time and with effort, they can really complete this project. I love this calling!

Update on the bicycle seat situation:

If you have been following this blog, you are aware that my husband, Fred, refuses to ride his new bicycle because he believes that the seat was designed for something other than the male anatomy. At one point, he threatened to place a pillow on the seat in order to ride the bike. (If he does that, he's riding in this neighborhood ALONE!)

When I was at Huntington Beach last week, the sight of a bicycle whose owner must be related to Fred, was almost more than I could fathom. I was so wishing I had brought my camera. The owner of this bike had placed a large, thick chunk of yellow foam rubber on the seat and secured it with miles of duct tape. Okay, let's give him credit for being innovative, but I must say that I've never seen anything quite like this.

Signing off for now. Think about writing your stories to share with loved ones--your unique experiences--capturing a composition of you...for them!

Monday, June 8, 2009

One Life to Live and Hip Hop Abs

One Life to Live:

I heard a comment on the radio today that referred to "One Life to Live". It instantly reminded me of several things:

  • The soap opera that premiered on July 15, 1968. I had just completed my junior year of high school in Southern CA.

  • The Clairol commercial "If I've one life...let me live it as a blonde!"

  • The Dolly Parton quote "I'm not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde."

I'm wondering if I was subconsciously influenced by the Clairol commercial because I've been living life as a blonde for just about two decades. Occasionally, Fred inquires whether or not I will ever return to being a brunette, and I always justify my blondeness by saying, "I don't think so, honey. When the grays start to take over, it's best to go lighter." I don't believe that he's convinced.

The real point is this. I stopped to consider how short this life really is in view of eternity, which is definitely a concept that is tough to grasp sometimes. What we do here and now--every day--does matter. My goal is to hopefully be able to look back and feel that my life made a positive difference for others. I don't want to live my one life feeling angry and frustrated with people whom God has placed in my path, even if their personalities and mine will never gel. (I'm not talking about Fred--this is just an example!) Regardless of how you slice it, life is short--too short not to try to make every day count. Too short not to do things for God's glory rather than our own, tricky as that can be sometimes!

Words of wisdom:

Every day, we're faced with choices. We can make wise decisions....or we can make foolish ones. For instance, as I realized yesterday, choosing to eat a taco while driving and wearing a white top is not a stellar choice. You know that you really want to do it, but you know that if you do, you'll definitely have a mess on your hands. I should have waited. Lesson learned. Hey, maybe I can use that in my new book!

Hip Hop Abs:

For all of you doubters out there, Fred has participated in Hip Hop Abs with me twice. I was very impressed at how he stayed right with the program--with one exception. On the second day, during the middle of the DVD, the telephone rang. Fred made a mad dash for the telephone, announcing, "I'm sure it's for me!" He looked a tad disappointed when the telephone became silent after the one initial ring, and he dejectedly returned to his position in the exercise routine. He's back on the road now, and probably grateful to be far away from Hip Hop Abs!! Beth, thanks for introducing me to DVD exercise. You were my inspiration.

See y'all soon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back in Murrells Inlet

I realize that the object of a blog is to try to write an update at least a couple of times each week, but we've been away for ten days and I was unable to place my blog writer's hat on top of my head during that time. I did spend several hours working diligently on my second novel, and a great deal of our flight time was utilized for this purpose. There seems to be something about being confined in a plane with very few distractions that enables me to experience a flow of the creative juices. Perhaps it's the altitude or maybe the inability to use a cell phone during flight. We had an extensive layover in Charlotte, and my little fingers were flying like crazy on the keyboard of my laptop during that time as well. Fortunately, I'm equally creative sitting on the beach, so I don't have to book worldwide travel in order to enjoy progress on this project!

We loved visiting with everyone in New York, where we truly have an amazing group of family and lifelong friends. We enjoyed visiting Grace Fellowship Church in Latham--always a blessing. Special prayers go out for Shawn and Karen regarding their health issues.

I'm speaking at a luncheon tomorrow for a group of ladies on Pawleys Island about writing our stories to pass along to future generations--something I really love to do. I want everyone to understand that you don't have to be a celebrity to write stories about your life that are interesting to someone. Perhaps the general public might not be particularly interested in your story, but most everyone has nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren, or cousins who would enjoy knowing more about you, your life experiences, and some special words of wisdom that you would like to share. You don't have to tell EVERYTHING. You pick and choose what would be beneficial for others to learn about you. Perhaps you have traveled to some fascinating places--destinations that many of your relatives will never see. Write about those unique events. Even if you had a miserable childhood and don't care to re-visit it, you could write about the positive experiences of your lifetime. I try to influence every individual that they have something worthy to impart to others. What would you like for future generations to know about you?

I promise to be far more blog faithful in the months ahead!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Many people tell me that I should write a blog so they will be readily updated on the current status of a variety of subjects such as:
  • The progress toward completion of my new novel
  • The latest on workshops that I'm teaching
  • Inspirational tidbits
  • Mental meanderings about any subject that pops into my brain

Therefore, with the magic of the internet and the amazing power that it represents, this is my blog debut.

New novel-It is progressing slightly more slowly than I had hoped, but every day is filled with such a variety of time thieves, I don't seem to have the large blocks of uninterrupted time to finalize it. It is totally outlined so I won't lose sight of the direction in which I intend to travel with this story, but I know that when I go to Cape May, NJ to meet my dear friends for our annual Girls' Getaway week in July, I'll be relaxed as I sit in my anti-gravity beach chair and the words will leap rapidly from the section of my brain where they are currently stored directly onto the writing pad in my hand. I'll keep you all posted. The story in the new book will keep you perched right on the edge of your seat--lots of mystery, relationships, romance and a touch of inspiration.

Mental meanderings-Why does it become so difficult to avoid gaining weight as we age? I attempt to harness the extra pounds by eating reasonably nutritiously, exercising, and remaining as generally active as someone who is glued to a computer can possibly be. But it is a continuous battle. Fred and I recently purchased bicycles because we have a lovely area in which to pedal ourselves around the neighborhood after dinner instead of vegetating in front of the television. Fred, however, is not being particularly cooperative about this endeavor because 1-he bought the sports package for cable that enables him to watch his beloved Yankees 2-he insists that he needs a different bicycle seat because he thinks that the one which came with his bike was designed for male torture. If you take a look at his bicycle in about ten years, it will probably appear to be brand new. In view of his reluctance to ride bikes with me, I decided that it would be fun if we tried some other form of exercise together. I succumbed to the temptation of a recent infomercial for Hip Hop Abs, which is a fabulous workout. To date, Fred has not been tempted to participate in this activity with me, but I'm going to keep trying. I'll let you know if I am successful in obtaining his cooperation. Do you think there is any remote ray of hope?

Workshops-I'm still speaking to community groups and holding a June workshop series. Will teach again for Coastal's program in the fall. But I'm also enjoying some editing, as well as some private client family history projects. No wonder my golf game stinks. I'm really busy!

Inspiration-Community Bible Study has ended this month for our summer break. Studying Revelation was a completely amazing experience, and we are looking forward to Genesis in the fall. I've met some wonderful ladies through CBS, and hope to enjoy some lifelong friendships with them. I can only say that I'm blessed to be doing everything in which I am involved, and I don't ever want to hesitate to give God the glory for everything that is accomplished. He is my strength.

So until next time, keep smiling, keep looking at the sky, and try to do something special for someone today!