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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year!

Did everyone have a great Christmas, or Hanukkah, or other holiday? Ours has been splendid. We did have a wicked Christmas Eve storm. About 2:00 AM, a huge oak came crashing down within 20 feet of the house. I was wide awake after that! A wonderful neighbor helped my husband, Rob, cut up the 105 foot tree. He took four trips of logs home on his trailer!
We lost a couple of other trees, but there was no damage to the road or anything else. What a blessing! I'll attach photos when I get back to the warmer south.
Speaking of blessings, we should all count ours as we enter into the new year. May 2010 be a better year financially for everyone. May we all have shelter, food, and love. May we all have peace and goodwill towards man and womankind.

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Joyful Holidays To All! I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas!

These holidays do sneak up on us--only a few days until Christmas, another week until New Years, etc.! I am about ready, except for packing, again! Oh, and I have to pick up the house, again!

We're heading out to the Carolina's. There may be snow--there is right now! I'll be drinking peppermint tea and hot cocoa, and watching old movies.

May all of you enjoy special moments with your friends and families, even if they are on the telephone, or online. It is the people that we love that mean the most at these special times.

Have an extraordinary Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, or whatever!

Peace on earth,


Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Merry Stressmus to You!

These past two weeks have been a whirlwind. I have been getting ready for Christmas, for the most part, early, due to two trips out of town this month.
Last weekend we traveled to Pensacola for my mom-in-law's 90th birthday party. A good time was had by all. I am still recovering from that trip.
This weekend we have a day trip to south Florida for an early Christmas with my family. That will be lunch and we will bake Christmas cookies.
Next week we leave for the Carolina's. Whew! I will be glad when we arrive. I am planning to relax--I need this!
I had an interesting moment Monday, when in the shower I noticed something under my left breast that looked like a small brown slug. Laughing, I discovered that it was a tiny chocolate chip from a snack bar that I had eaten on my way home from work (yes, I know I should not eat in the car!).
Question, would you a) wash it off, or b) eat it? Please let me know! Of course, I ate the chip! It's chocolate, after all!
Have a wonderful Christmas, or Hanukkah, or whatever! We plan to have a little of that "white stuff" you see above.
Peace on Earth!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Radio Interview On Aging Outside the Box

If you get a chance, I am doing a radio interview with the fabulous Shirley W. Mitchell on Aging Outside the Box Radio Show. This is the "short show" post:

Dec. 17, 2009... 6PM-CST... "MidLife Motivation" with our "Guest" Joan Ellen Gage, Author of "Water Running Downhill! - Words of Empowerment for Women in Midlife" on "Aging Outside the Box®" Syndicated Radio Show with National Author/Writer/Syndicated Columnist/Speaker and Celebrity Radio Talk Show Host, Shirley W. Mitchell, as they discuss "MidLife Motivation" with... Poetry and Humor for Inspiration, Water Running Downhill and Words of Empowerment. Join us "LIVE on AIR" every Thursday Night at 2PM-HIST, 3PM-AKST, 4PM-PST, 5PM-MST, 6PM-CST, 7PM-EST and 8PM-AST on the LA Talk Radio Network. Listen in LIVE! Listen to the Archive!



Sunday, December 6, 2009

Life's Little Surprises

Ever have one of those days where not much seems to go the way you want it to? I think we all experience this.

I did laundry earlier this week, and once again, I did not clear out all of the pockets. There were bits of wet tissue stuck all over the laundry.

After I shook the clothes off the floor looked like there had been a pillow fight; so there must have been two tissues! I shook my head and went to get the vacuum. Moments later it looked like nothing unusual had happened.

You never know what little surprises life will hand you. You break a dish, cut your finger, almost shut the dog's tail in the car window. In my defense she moved that tail when I was raising it--it pulled her hair very slightly--that was close!

Mainly, these things happen because I am not paying as close attention to something as I should be. I tend to move pretty quickly most of the time, and I can be impatient. I guess I need to slow down a little and be more patient.

I admit to being imperfect! We are all human and prone to some degree of error. So we need to practice forgiveness when we sometimes don't live up to our Mary Poppin's expectations!

Give yourself a break today. After all it is the season of giving--just make yourself the recipient of forgiveness, and some self-love. You deserve it!



Since many of you are having snow, or dreaming of a white Christmas, I thought that you would like a snow poem. Here is is!

by Robert Frost (1923)

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Taming Your Holiday Stressors

Welcome Friends!

Did you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving? Mine was nice; it was spent with family and friends. Yes, of course we ate too much! Hubby made a sweet potato casserole with praline topping--it was decadent!

So now we dive willy nilly into the big marathon of the year--Christmas! It is time to decorate, send Christmas cards, buy or make gifts, entertain, etc. etc. Is your blood pressure up, yet?

I do tend to be organized. I was raised on making lists and writing notes. But, I do find them helpful. I also tend to shop early, that is, I pick up little things here and there. The trick is remembering that you have done this! I have forgotten a couple of times. And, I buy Christmas cards on sale after Christmas. Yes, I have forgotten that I have bought these, too! I now write in my organizer in the month of November that I have purchased cards, etc.

I am planning on decorating today. This I have simplified, also. I got a smaller artificial tree that I put up on a box to get it off the floor, and to look bigger! I have artificial greenery that I put into most room, mainly wreaths. These are so easy to hang up and give up a lot of holiday color. I add scented candles around the house, mainly pine scented ones. I do like to get a fresh wreath for the front door; there is nothing like the real thing!

For gifts, I use gift bags. My family and I save them and trade them back before the holidays. I will have to buy a couple, but, not many. Dollar stores have great prices on these bags. Gift bags save a lot of time on decorating, and you can add ribbons or bows for extra glitz.

Yes, every year I try to make our Christmas a little easier. It cuts the stress down considerably. We exchange minimal gifts with the extended family. Real gifts are for grandchildren!

Please enjoy a poem that will be featured in my next book. I thought it may be appropriate, due to the looming task ahead!

On The Threshold Of A Scream

Women work so hard
And do so much
Are we doing for everyone
And forgetting our own needs?
It’s like that oxygen mask thing
On an airplane—give yourself
The air first, or you won’t be able
To take care of those little
Responsibilities following you around

The idea is the quality of life
Try to remember that
When you’re on your last nerve
Take a “sip” of whatever
That oxygen is for you
And revive your spirit

We take too much for granted
In this time on earth
It is finite, ladies
So, please remember
To breathe

I've enclosed some links for reducing holiday stress. I hope they help!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giving Thanks

Hello Friends!

We're at that time of year when the sand in the hourglass runs out very fast, and it all starts with Thanksgiving Day. We are off to the races, i.e. the grocery store, department store, wherever there are ingredients we need, or gifts to buy! I can feel the excitement building!

I do love the season; but, even though we are doing things with shrinking wallets, it doesn't mean it will mean any less to us. We must remember that families and friends are what we are most thankful for, and thank them accordingly.

Let's give thanks this week for everyone in our lives who has blessed us. Don't forget to take in all of the wonderful fragrances of the holiday feast--I can smell that turkey, and that pumpkin pie--yum!

Bless us all!

P.S. I've added a little poem that I whipped up for the occasion. Don't worry, it's calorie free!


It is time to gather family and friends
Around the laden table
To forgive and make amends

Tis time to count our many blessings
Reflect on nature’s bounty
Amid pie, turkey and dressing

It’s time again to follow custom
Handed down through generations
Let’s eat until we bust em!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Bonds of Female Friendships

My friends are my estate.--Emily Dickinson

A friend is a present you give to yourself.-- Robert Louis Stevenson

What would we do without our friends--particularly our women friends? They are there to give us support, cheer us on, have a little "girl" fun, and sometimes just to set us straight.

It turns out that there are some health benefits to friendship. Several studies connect female friendship with lower blood pressure, lowered risk of diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Additionally, women use each other for a sounding board to talk about problems at work and in their personal lives. Spending time with girl friends in a variety of situations, and particularly in this exchange of information and feelings make up a support system for us.

Let us give thanks today for our wonderful friends who stand by us through thick or thin. We are blessed to have them.

I leave you with a poem from my book, Water Running Downhill!


Have you felt
With passing years
A more pressing
Need to connect
With other women
To share observations
And laughter
To offer advice
Or garner wisdom?
Do you feel drawn
As if by a magnetic force
To be with your own kind?

For these women
Are a tribe, your tribe.
No one else will ever
Understand your struggle
As they will.
Women are our people.
When we come together
We feel a oneness
A sisterhood united.
When we come together
We are at home.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Emperess's New Clothes

I'm having a bit of fun today. I am writing about one of my favorite past times--shopping! I usually do a lot of research, i.e. looking, before I buy. I am often surprised at what I find at local thrift shops! Some of the loot is shown above.

Here is a little poem I wrote as a tribute to thrift stores. By the way, a schmata is the Yiddish word for rag.


The Emperess’s New Schmatas

I am therefore, I shop!
But, being monetarily challenged
I turn to consignment shops
And thrift stores, often
Did you know that they specialize
In pre-shrunk clothes?
You never have to worry about whether
They will shrink
The only concern is that
Your body will expand into another size
As it has done for me
Drat that middle age thing!

Menopot, menopot
Curse the girth that adds a lot
Onto a waist line, with our dismay
Go away and stay away!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Autumn's Last Stand

The leaves were slow to turn this season. They looked pretty and promising when we arrived mid-October. But, they were teasing us; nah, nah , nah , nah, na! They tried to hold out; the temperature dropped--so did they, and the rain stripped them of their false coats.
Behold! The peak was upon us. We left a day later than planned; we did come here to enjoy them!
Grasp that last branch of autumn that reaches out to you. Breathe in that crisp air--deeply! Enjoy!

Today I witnessed from

Car window and porch chair

Leaves turning slowing on branched spits

Not quite ready, starting to crisp

Greens warming to yellow and gold embers

Orange popping out like glowing coals

The scarlet of Sourwood bursting into full flame--

Trying to show them all up

Together they compliment one another

A gourmet blend

A visionary feast for the soul

Joan Ellen Gage


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I cannot believe we are at the end of October. It has long been my favorite month, with its chill breezes and gorgeous leaves in all their finery. Not to mention the pumpkins and apples abounding, and the pies, oh my! There is that sweet tooth, again!

I am expecting about 100 trick or treaters. That is what we had last year; although, I think with the economy the way it is, there will be more than usual!

I laid in the candy, and honestly, I only have eaten one tiny Snickers bar. Alas, I must confess that I have birthday chocolate stashed away. My friends were too generous!

A little trick or treating can be such fun! I enjoy all of the little ghosts, goblins, wrestlers, etc. My dog started hating the door bell after our first Halloween in central Florida. Now she barks at door bells on the TV, also.

I wanted to share my lovely corpse with you. "What!", you say? I know; it is a little complicated. It started as an idea for my next book, which I call Waiting for the Rest of Your Life. I wanted a photo to show how long I had been waiting for it--the rest of my life that is. So there it is! The only problem is it is a little macabre, O.K. a lot macabre, perhaps. I still like the idea; I'm not sure I can put it into the book. People may not think this is funny.

What do you think? Let me know!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Women Warriors Part Two
Greetings to all! A splendid Sunday to everyone!
It is only 87.8 degrees here in East Central Florida, at 10:11 AM. Whew! It has been a hot spell! Where is the cool air?
Fortunately, we live in AC here; what a blessing! I think Florida would be pretty deserted much of the year accept for that!
Now, getting down to serious stuff, we all are aware that it is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. I don't think that we should overlook the people who are battling other types of cancers, though. Why don't we have other months, or dates, to pay tribute to our other warriors?
I have the pleasure of knowing a woman warrior who battled lymph cancer last year, and into early this year. Sheryl is a member of eWomen Network, and a talented musician.
Friends of Sheryl's, including friends from church, and eWomen network created a schedule of volunteers to help her. These friends took Sheryl to chemo, stayed with her during chemo, helped with pet care, and stayed with Sheryl when her husband, Leon, had to be out of the home/office.
I had the privilege of taking Sheryl to chemo and staying with her for one session. I was glad for the opportunity, as I had no real experience with cancer treatment. I have heard many stories from friends, co-workers, and patients, so this gave me more insight into their journeys.
I have a new poem that I wrote last week, and I would like to dedicate it to Sheryl, and many others who have battled cancers. Here it is:

The Invader Within

Was the cause environmental,
Or was it family genetics?
How did this happen?
Perhaps, it was just karma
Bringing me this dark, unwanted gift
This cancer

The alien DNA
Hidden in the structure
Of the genome
Its time bomb releasing
Microscopic invaders burrowing
Into tissue, my tissue

Facing myself in the mirror,
Today, chopping long dark hair
Shorter and shorter still
Wondering who is this stranger
Who stares back
Stone-faced and resolute?

I begin this deeply personal
Uphill battle, or is it downhill?
Warrior stance—I am ready
“Let’s do this!” to my husband
We travel silently to chemo
Unspoken words blowing through
Our minds like autumn leaves

He holds my hand as we begin
IV dripping, we watch morning TV
Oblivious to the screen, thoughts
Still flowing, overflowing, synchronized
With the IV releasing the drug/poison
I will it to find the interloper
“Seek out the alien intruder, now!”

Many weeks have passed, now
Time has slowed to a turtle’s pace
I have sat in that recliner
Many hours, with IV piercing my flesh,
Chemo flowing, a soft cap covering the baby fuzz
Where my hair used to be
I turn my mind inward, pray and give thanks

Liquid ninja’s course through my veins

“Finish it”, I pray, “amen”.

You can access Sheryl's music and story at:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Women Warriors

It is the month of October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Today's blog is dedicated to the women warriors who have battled breast cancer.

I have met many of these women over the years, so I know how prevalent breast cancer is, particularly with older women. Statistically, about 182,000 women get breast cancer each year, about 46,000 of whom die from the disease--about 1/4th of women.
The photo is of Theresa, a survivor going on her second year. She is a very special lady; and I salute her!

Only about 5 percent of breast cancers occur in women under age 40.
About 25 percent occur in women under age 50. About 1 in 40 women die from breast cancer before age 75.

Here are some links for information, or to make a donation. Make sure you check out the Army of Women. org. This is a site where you can sign up to be a study participant (depending on the area the study is in).

I enclose a poem from my book Water Running Downhill, which is a tribute to women with breast cancer.


What is a breast?
It is, by design, in its simplest form
A source of nourishment
A literal ‘fountain of youth’

A breast is an ornament
Of the flesh, ascetically varied
Rounded, pillowed, or arched-
An achingly, beautiful sculpture of nature

A breast is a haven
For comforting small humans
Or sheltering family or friends
With arms and bodies enfolded tightly, as in prayer

A breast can also give or receive
Pleasure, with our partners
As active participants
In the mating dance of life

A breast is the epitome, of the heart
Of womankind- with our breasts
We nurture, comfort, and love
That is why we hold them so dear

Through breast cancer, women may
Lose these deeply personal pieces
Of their flesh, that share so much
And give succor to life

But, we must remember that
Women are the origin of strength
In this world, and with or
Without breasts, we are the same!

We will still nurture,
We will still comfort,
And we will still love!
We will do this, by design

By Joan Ellen Gage

(Dedicated to Tina and to all of her sisters)

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I was waiting for my flu shot Friday afternoon, and whiled away a couple of minutes looking at a local rag in the reception room. An article caught my eye about color.

Actually, color fascinates me. I have seen my closet go through many decades. There were pastels in my youth. Paisley prints in the late 60's, early 70's, with cotton Indian tops and jeans. I was amazed in my early 30's how many rose prints I owned (I still love that stuff!). It wasn't until my 40's that I entered my "purple period". I still am there, although I wear a lot of green and love yellows, even some shades of orange are infiltrating the wardrobe!

Gazing at purple makes me feel fabulous. It quickens my heart and stimulates me, really!

So, what is this leading too? Look around your home and see what colors draw you. What colors in nature call your name?

It seems that color affects us in many ways--physically, mentally, and emotionally. My favorite color combinations are yellow and Hydrangea blue (really a purple blue), and yellow and purple. It turns out that both yellow and purple encourage creativity, and creative thoughts!

I need a room with a Hydrangea blue wall, and the rest of the walls yellow! I think I could write there!

Here are some links to color quizzes for you:

Since I'm on the subject of wardrobe, again! (I told you I was obsessive!). Here is a poem about recreating yourself through your closet!


How did I get to be “normal”
I spent my life being a square peg
Shy, then outrageous, or funny

I never wanted to go along for the ride
Always the individual
The rebel, resisting the status quo

I was a little late for Vietnam
Or I told myself, I would have protested
I was the flower child, moccasins and all

The 9 to 5 grind, and the pressures of
The working world have molded me
Rounding my prickly edges, somewhat

I have sensible clothes, tailored and proper
For work and the occasional event
Mainly, I have sturdy jeans and tees

I’m starting a renaissance of myself
Beginning with my closet
I am exorcising dull and boring
(Goodbye brown, hello purple!)

I’ve got my “cool” back
It was just misplaced, not forgotten
I may be a funky aging (?) hippie, but I have style
I love being this quietly outrageous person
One must be true to one’s own self
This I accept, and applaud, loudly

Don’t be a cookie cutter image of anyone
Find your true colors
And step into the unique garment of yourself!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Magnolia

More photos from my "Doggie Diva"!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pets As Family

As I write today, I am not alone, I am kept company with our wonderful Belgian Shepherd, Magnolia. She is always following and watching, a true shepherd.

I never understood why people treated animals as their children, or as family, until I had my first dog. I had enjoyed the company of cats for years, and I always thought they were good companions. Dogs are just more connected to you, they demand that you interact with them, and your lives become entwined.

A pet is a friend who will never desert you. They are faithful to the end, always giving you unconditional love. Seldom do we find as true a friend.

Here is a poem for my Magnolia, my Maggie.


I feel her watchful eye upon me
Always keeping track, following
Wherever I go

Fleet of foot
Playful and spirited
Her dog smile lingers

Sometimes we play chase
Other times we cuddle
Trusting eyes gaze into mine
Filled with love
What bliss!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Traveling at the Speed of Now

I am settling in after my latest out-of-town adventure. Fortunately, I have a three-day weekend, this week.

Friday was a catch-up day for my correspondence (at least most of it!), yesterday was house cleaning-yuck. Over the years, this has never become more endearing to my heart--go figure!

I showered and changed clothes after I was finished cleaning. Having nothing pressing to do, I decided to sit on the white wicker settee in the bay window of my living room. Sunshine was pouring in the window after a gloomy morning, and I leafed through a plant catalog where I had, some time ago, earmarked a few pages.

Low and behold, I caught myself dozing, then gave into the sensation. I cannot tell you when I have felt this calm and quiet--it has been a while. May be that second (tiny) cup of coffee has been the culprit in the last couple of months; my sleep schedule has been very disrupted. I have been careful not to have caffeine in the afternoon; I have been deluding myself about that quarter cup of coffee (really, that is all it is!).

Today's photo is of my friend, Renee from South Florida. She is a yoga instructor, and is the most enlightened person I have ever known. I always felt calmer in her presence.
I was planning to use Renee's photo in my book Water Running Downhill!, for the following poem. Unfortunately, every time I convert her photos to black and white I have issues. It is her lovely white hair. I have trouble with black and white photos when I am using a subject with black or white. Admittedly, this needs work.

Here is the poem!


While sequestered as a willing tenant in
Your self-made prison of busyness
Dream of ways you can be free

To give yourself the gift of
A precious few moments, no distractions
Lock out your outer “life” and meditate

Find that it is almost a new experience, as
You may have forgotten the sensation
Of pure awareness, and nothing else

So used to being the “amazing balancing act”
You have found it hard to stop doing and planning
And just become still

Discover that one can see so much clearer
When traveling at
The speed of now

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I guess I was born a worrywart. At any rate I tend to ruminate, which means dwelling on a situation and obsessing on it. Supposedly one can turn off the worrying by distracting himself. Humor tends to help, so I will try reading a joke when worrying gets me.
I was flying back from a family reunion today and I was cloud-gazing, watching lovely air-puffed sculptures floating in the stratosphere. It was a fantasy landscape, and as I drank in the beauty, I was struck by the irony of this cloud-cover. On the flip side of ethereal ice crystals would be gray skies; probably rain, also.
Here I was on the sunny side, lucky me! Underneath this layer were earth bound ant size (or smaller) humans, scurrying hither and yon, braving the precipitation and wishing for clear skies.
The realization was that life is like this. Storm clouds and economic woes threaten, all nature of unexpected things may befall us, but this is the human experience.
But, like the clouds and rain, blue skies would eventually show themselves again. Likewise, we will get through the tough times and we will survive!
Remember that we are responsible for our responses and attitudes within our situations. Please share a smile today and everyday, and spread the sunshine around! Here are some lyrics from the classic song Blue Skies. Enjoy!

Blue skies smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
Bluebirds singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds all day long
Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly
Blue days all of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wedded Bliss

I wanted to honor my father and mother, today. They just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary! This is quite a watermark, especially by today's standards, as divorcing has become so easy and commonplace.

Mom and Dad went to the Adirondack Mountains, where they had honeymooned 60 years ago. They climbed part of the trail to Bald Mountain, which they have climbed for many years on many anniversaries.

Life passes so quickly. Often we are left with regrets that there was some unfinished business or a path not taken.

We need to respect our achievements, however tiny we think they are. They are stepping stones to the future. Whether you are struggling in your work life, or your home life. We must recognize our efforts and take a positive approach. Remember that a marriage of 60 years was just a series of small steps in a life's journey.

I have a friend's daughter who was married yesterday afternoon. I enclose a poem that I wrote for their wedding. Congratulations Callie and Rodney! I wish you a long and happy marriage!

Take my hand
And I will take yours
Encircle me with arms
Strong and sheltering, then
Feel our hearts swell and
Burst open with wild vines
Of Jasmine and rose—that climb
And entwine us closer together
Blooming sweet perfume intoxicates
Onlookers with the scent of our love
Your lips velvet soft--breathe
Into mine tasting of honey
And blackberry wine
Suspended in this golden moment
We take one another as bride
And groom—this day, and ever after
We become one

Callie’s wedding
By Joan Ellen Gage

Sunday, August 23, 2009


There are internal forces battling within me, always! I seem to have a split personality (maybe split more than two ways?). In one corner is the chicken, fearful of new experiences, afraid of driving in new places, heavy traffic, etc. The other "half" is bolder, forcing the "chicken" to get out and do the thing it fears--kicking it's chicken butt out there. It has taken the bold part of me many years to accomplish this feat.

I also have a very thrifty side (from the Scottish and German side of the family), and a "twin" that absolutely loves to shop. This has gotten more prevalent over the years as my shopping "gene" has developed, which is part of my OCD gene that has turned on.

I am in love with color, love buying clothes , shoes, bath products and jewelry. I have a drop-earring collection that I have put into plastic organizers so I can see what I have.

I have organized my clothes my color. This after a hospital visit some time ago. As a dental hygienist, I had been taught from day one how not to contaminate my hands with bacteria in a public restroom. After using the facilities in the hospital, I stepped out and saw the elevator ahead of me. I just couldn't press the button with clean hands, so I used my elbow. A doctor saw me do this, and laughing, stepped into the elevator. "You're OCD", he chuckled, "I bet you have your closet organized by colors". "No", I countered, "but, that's not a bad idea". So thus it became so.

But 90% of this purchasing is on sale or from Target, Walmart, T J Max, thrift store, yard-sale, or consignment shops. Very little of what I own have I paid full price for. Therefore, I ease my guilty conscience with the knowledge that I got it on sale!

I usually sneak the bags into the house, so my spouse does not see my ill-gotten gains. My mom tells me that my paternal Grandmother would buy dresses and hide them in the back of her closet. Eventually she would wear one of them, and Grandpa would ask "is that a new dress?". Grandma would say "Oh no, I've had this for a while", which was true.

I was discussing this kind of purchasing with one of my patients, some time ago. She told me that she kept a red marker in her car and would mark every tag with a slash mark. She wrote 50% off on each tag and her husband was always impressed with her shopping. He never had a clue! What brilliance!

I saw the movie Confessions of a Shop-aholic this week with my friend Dani. This women had run up $16,000.00 buying clothing--not just any clothing either. She was addicted to Gucci, Prada, etc. I felt redeemed. Nothing I buy is in that ballpark. I decided that I am a shop-aholic on a bag lady budget!

Enjoy the day; and if you must shop, don't be too good for the economy!



Thursday, August 20, 2009


As a follow-up to the Chocolate Cheesecake Affair, I thought this would amuse you. Although, it does not refer to chocolate!

I was shopping last week at the new Target, as I had a $5.00 coupon off $25.00 of groceries. Since I never pass up "free" money, I was determined to get that amount!

My friend Dani met me at Target for a latte and a walk around the store. After I had purchased some fruit, veggies, etc., Dani suggested the cookie aisle-oh, oh! Well, Target does have some good cookies, I especially like the chai tea ones. They are spicy with cardamon, cloves, and cinnamon--yum!

I took the dry goods and left them in a shopping bag in my guest room closet. I often do this when I am having a party, which I was having this coming Saturday. My husband left for N.C. this morning, and I am having girl friends over for a cook-out.

While I was puttering around the house last weekend, I happened to be in the guest room and remembered the cookies. I decided to open them (no self-control!), and did! They were as wonderful as I remembered, and only 5 grams of fat for 3 cookies! So I had a couple. Then I had a couple more the next day.

Monday came, I went to work, looked at the schedule, and discovered that I needed my digital camera to take after photos on a patient. I called my husband, Rob, and asked him if he could drop off the camera. When I finally reached him, he had gotten my message and was looking for the camera.

"What are these chai tea cookies?" he asked. "What are you doing in the guest closet?" I countered. "My camera is always in the main closet, as is yours!"

Well, I was busted, again! I had to explain that I was not hiding cookies. I don't think he believed me! I have not had a cookie, since!

Enjoy the day, everyone! Have a cookie or a piece of chocolate, and celebrate the wonder of it all
Oh, and here is that chocolate cheesecake recipe from my friend Dani!

Prep: 30 minutes Cook: 1 1/4 TO 1 ½ hours Chill: 6 hours
Serves: 12 to 16

This cake is rich, loaded with chocolate and raspberry jam. Serve small slices - a little goes a long way.

1 (9 0z) package chocolate wafer cookies *
3 Tbs butter (melted)
12 oz Semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups - C)
1 ½ C heavy cream
3/4 C seedless red raspberry jam
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
3/4 C Sugar
4 Eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325*F. In a food processor, grind cookies into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and process until thoroughly mixed. Press into bottom and about 1 inch up sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Refrigerate crust while preparing filling.

2. In a 2 quart glass bowl, combine chocolate chips and 1 cup cream. Heat in a microwave oven on high 3 to 4 minutes, or until mixture is smooth, stirring twice. Mix in jam and stir until dissolved. Let cool 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar with a electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and chocolate-raspberry mixture and beat 5 minutes. Pour mixture into chilled crust.

4. Bake for 1 1/4 to 1/ ½ hours, or until cheesecake is set around edges, but still jiggles slightly in center. Let cake cool, then refrigerate until well chilled, 6 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to serve, run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake and remove spring form side of pan. Whip remaining ½ cup cream an, using a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch star tip, pipe a border around edges of cheesecake.

* You also can use chocolate graham crackers crushed or 2 pre-made Oreo pie crusts removed from their tins

Take care!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Chocolate Cheesecake Affair

We were in Pensacola, Florida last week visiting family. While we were there, we dined on wonderful southern fried shrimp (Oh My!), hush puppies and cheese grits. All in all we had fried shrimp three times last week, so I had planned to go back to my regular diet. Thus said, my friend Dani decided to tempt me with her wonderful chocolate raspberry cheesecake.
Monday arrived; I had consumed my usual work week lunch of flat bread with hummus and baby greens, a banana, and one Dove chocolate. Dani had wanted me to stop by on the way home from work, to visit (and get cheesecake, of course!). Unfortunately, one of Dani's dogs ate a toy and had thrown up all over the living room. This was not an atmosphere to eat cheesecake, so I drove home.
Later that evening, Dani's son Travis arrived at the door with a plate with two slices of cheesecake. Since we had burgers that evening (although I had no bun and low-fat mayo), we declined to eat the dessert that evening. We really were full!
On Tuesday, I found that I had time to come home for lunch. After the delicious hummus sandwich--yum! I decided to forgo the banana and devoured the cheesecake.
This was no ordinary cheesecake! It was loaded with dark chocolate, had an Oreo cookie crust, and a raspberry finish! Hubby came in and I remarked on the wonderful dish. "Have it for dessert", I said, as I left to go back to work.
I came home Tuesday evening and the cheesecake was still there! I had entertained a secret thought all afternoon, if the dessert was there that night, I would have the second piece.
In my defense, cheesecake is not my husband's favourite dish; nor is it usually mine. Also, he does not love chocolate like I do, he only likes it. I have a much more intimate relationship with chocolate, especially the dark kind.
We had dinner, my husband went out for the evening, and I ate the cheesecake. This time I savoured it slowly. It was exquisite, really!
Wednesday arrived. I was at my office, when my husband came up to the front desk where I was working on the computer. He had just had a dental appointment with my dentist boss. "There has been someone in the house", he announced to all. "What do you mean?" I questioned. "Who was in the house?", I asked anxiously. "Well!", he said, "someone came in the house and ate my cheesecake. I know that my wife would never do that, so it had to be an intruder!".
The whole staff had a good laugh at this. "But, you don't even like cheesecake, or chocolate that much", I countered. "You should have eaten it for lunch, as I had suggested." Of course this did not convince him, and he continued to tease me unmercifully.
Dani, if you read this, add your recipe to the comment area. I know everyone will want it now!
Everyone, please post your chocolate comments!
Here is a poem that I wrote in honor of the special relationship I have with dark chocolate.

Have a delicious day!


The Chocolate Rebellion

It had started innocently enough
And certainly there had always been
A life-long love affair with chocolate
Beginning with those childhood
Tollhouse semi-sweet morsels

But, somehow the stresses of midlife
The added tension, the impatience
All became sharpened, intensified
And work began to interfere with living
Or with the desire to live freely
And to direct one’s lifestyle
No longer wanting to exist
Under the supervision of others
Either at work, or anywhere else

Chocolate became one mode of therapy
Along with the occasional glass of wine
And the wonderful ear of a girlfriend
Who really understood and encouraged
Piloting those flights of fancy
Or feelings of self-actualization

The chocolate punctuated the stolen moment
Of pleasure, hidden from disapproval
Or the look that delivered the guilt arrow
Into the heart, to curb the habit and to stop
The creeping weight gains of menopause

Nothing seemed to help that, really
Not the exercise or the fiber in the healthy diet
Still the menopot stayed on, languished there
Silently mouthing “feed me” and the thing was fed
The dark chocolate
And the feeding became a rebellion
Validating and fortifying the power of dreams

Chocolate savored in secret trysts
Chocolate, the friend, the confidant, the co-conspirator
Chocolate, the inspiration and the reward
And the rebellion continued . . .
Won’t you join the movement?

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Touch of Kindness

These days, as I am chatting with my patients and friends, the conversation always turns to the economy. But, we always agree that we have nothing to complain about, as we view other's situations in this wide world--we are really blessed!

Today, as I picked teeth and talked my patient's ear off a little, the conversation again turned to counting our blessings. When we compare our experiences to other's lives, we always seem to be amazed at how lucky we have been with our own.

Over twenty years ago, a friend of mine who had recently married became an instant parent of her younger brothers. Her parents were traveling to Gulf Shores, engaging in an exercise they called "switching drivers while driving". My friend's 18 year old brother had been in training for this practice, and lost control of the car, killing himself, his parents, and the family cat. The two brothers and a friend had been in the back of the van survived.

Sometime after that, I was visiting this friend in her home in Ocala. On her refrigerator was a quote that said: "Be kind. Remember that everyone is fighting a battle".

This quote said so much. Here my friend had her life turned upside down, but, took it in stride. At least it appeared that she had--she put up a brave front.

I would like to remind all of us that we need to be kind to others. One never knows what is really happening behind the scenes of another's life. Indeed, we may need that kindness repaid one day!

Pass it on!

Ciao y'all


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Growing Up and Moving Forward

It occurs to me that growing up is an ongoing process. Just physically becoming an adult does not achieve this. Growth happens in stages, often precipitated by a stressful event, such as a divorce, or even the death of a loved one.

These passages bring us to different levels of growth. They teach us to deal with life's stressors, both major and minor, and to move forward.

Throughout much of our lives, friends, or mother and father figures (who need not necessarily be our true parents), help us to get through these trying times. For myself, this has been mainly my peer group of staunch supporters--yes, you guessed it--women!

We are blessed with the caring hearts of womankind, who are hard-wired for this sort of thing. Compassion is a wonderful thing. May we all nurture kindness, and share an abundance of this. Pass it on!

Let us honor Glenda Beall's husband Barry. May he dance in heaven, and tell Glenda about it!

This is a poem from an unpublished anthology of mine. I think it is appropriate for Barry.


Give me you hand
Let us traverse this land

Give me your head
Upon a pillow, in our bed

Give me your love
Custom fitted, like a glove

Give me your body
For pleasure, almost godly

Give me your heart
‘Til death, when we must part

Then give me your tears
For memories held dear

And let furl your soul
From mine- no longer whole

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Sisterhood of Womenkind

Here in the middle of my life, I am taking inroads discover who I am, where I am going, and who I want to be when I grow up. I had spent so much of my adult life working for a living, and making a home for family, that I had neglected my spirit. I just kept going and doing like a mad women, until I approached the age of 50. "I'll take time to be creative when I'm not as busy", I told myself.

Suddenly I became aware that this promised time was drifting out of my reach. It was up to me to just stand still and take stock. I began to realize that I needed to make the time, now. The house might not get cleaned as often, and short cuts would rule for dinner (most of the time); it was time for me to meet some other needs.

I thank my friends, and the many kind ears of my dental hygiene patients over the years. All of them listened and encouraged me. I came to a realization that women truly are a sisterhood. We relate to common experiences, and share our wisdom.

Women are built tough. We have to be, we are the steel hand in the velvet glove. We ensure the survival of the species, or at least we have until now.

Here is a poem that speaks to all women.


One Tribe

Have you felt

With passing years

A more pressing need

To connect with other women

To share observations

And Laughter

To offer advice

Or garner wisdom?

Do you feel drawn

As if by a magnetic force

To be with your own kind?

For these women are a tribe

Your tribe

No one else will ever

Understand your struggle

As they will

Women are our people

When we come together

We feel a oneness

A sisterhood united

When we come together

We are at home

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Macaroni and Cheese Debate

My husband, Rob, and I have a running debate about a variety of topics. These typically involve food, how to do something, or grammar. One of my favorite debates is the Macaroni and Cheese one.
Let me ask you, is macaroni and cheese a main dish or a side dish? I asked several dental patients this question some time ago. They were split on the subject; although, the majority said: "main dish".
Apparently the use of the dish would vary due to your family's eating habits and possibly where you grew up. As Rob is from "the south", he was raised on fried fish, okra, and a whole lot of beans and rice. My Yankee roots had the dish as a main one. It could always be improved on with chunks of ham--umm!
To me, mac and cheese is pure comfort food. Thick, rich cheese sauce covering pasta, filling the void in my stomach, that is luxury on a budget! You can trim off the fatty with skim milk and 2% cheese and top with Parmesan. You can hardly tell the difference. Well, not much.
Stay tuned for the venetian blind debate to be aired in the future. I welcome your comments!

By y'all!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Has anyone seen my brain?

It has been a fuzzy couple of weeks. I haven't been sleeping my best due to excitement from having company, etc., and menopause. I'm sure you know what I am talking about, dear readers!
Anyway, I have gone back to sleeping with an ice pack to get the head cooled off. It really does help! I have gone the herbal route in the past, and it may help. I guess I have to get off the soy supplement and the black cohosh and see.
Last night I slept better, so I think I am settling down, finally! It helps not to have the caffeine in the PM--I really do know better! I'm sure that I would be diagnosed with AADD (adult attention deficit disorder). But, I have been this way since I was a tadpole. If I cut out the sugar and the caffeine, and don't eat processed food (I usually do not), I am good.
I am enjoying the summer by hiding out in the air conditioning as much as possible. This works pretty well, and I brave the outdoors by running back and forth in my air conditioned car.
Everybody have a delightful week and remember to pass on a smile. There is always someone in need of a bit of cheer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Hello Friends!

I have returned to my computer, hooray! It is tough just having dial-up on "vacation". With the 4th of July library closings, and the budget cuts I did not get to the write, or check email. Today I was back at my day job, and things should start to return to "normal". Between working, taking two trips to NC within two months, and having company--whew; I had lost the "go"! button.
So, we left the more temperate climate of Western NC for the lovely barbecue pit of Florida; and, here is a hint--we are the barbecue! I will miss the hummingbirds and songbirds at the feeders. I can't complain; I did get some "R and R", amid the chigger bites! I am a magnet for mosquitoes and chiggers, I swear!
Here is a poem that gives you the aura of Florida in the summer. Enjoy and have a blessed day!


Plastic pink flamingos

Protect the yards

Lizards lounge

Contemplating Nietzsche

Florida sun

Frying pan on medium

Sizzling soon

Leaves dressed

In liquid garments

Of slick humidity

Humans dart

In and out

Savoring indoor

Ice cream air

Slight breeze

Stirs the dankness

Locals linger

On the Avenue


Snowbird summer secession

From Delray's shores

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Song of Summer

How lovely it is here after arriving from steaming Central Florida. It is a blessing to enjoy the gentle breezes and listen to the birdsong. Amen.
I neglected to write for a week due to out-of-town company; but, ahh!, the joy of grandchildren. It was worth the precarious balancing of work and housekeeping and pleasure.
Here is a little poem that I wrote yesterday AM from my front porch.

Song of Summer
Sing to me that sweet song of summer
The gentle rhythm of branches conducting soft breezes
Stirring cool air with fragrant Sour wood blossoms
Punctuated with bursts of birdsong
Rising above the steady hubbub of bumble and honeybees
Trees offer up a standing ovation
Have a peaceful day!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In Praise of Fathers Everywhere

It is Father's Day, and even though it is a holiday created by Hallmark to sell cards, I do keep it and respect it. Father's Day is a time to reflect on your parent or other manly role model and to give thanks for that person in your life.
When I was a child, I did not get to spend much time with my Dad. He was a full time plumber/electrician, and a part-time farmer. That part-time farmer thing meant that he farmed before he went to work, and when he came home from his day job.
As a result of this my Dad was pretty tired in the evening. As children, we really did not appreciate this; we were pretty wrapped up in being kids.
I have a memory of one summer night long ago; it was the 4th of July. The weather was pleasantly cool. I must have been 12 or 13, and we had just returned from watching the fireworks burst over the lake, and shower the hillsides. We got out of the sapphire blue Galaxy 500; and I went to take my Dad's hand. He grasped it and I felt a thrill run through me; I knew then that my Father loved me.
Here is a poem that I wrote yesterday, for my Dad.

My father is a rock of dependability
He is a man of few words, i.e.--
The strong, silent type
My Dad was a good provider
We had everything that we needed
Not to excess, but enough
My father has humility
He does not try to be boastful
Or appear better than others
My Dad is a man of simple needs
He takes pride in what he does
But, he is quietly proud
Fathers do not always get
The thanks they deserve
The thanks for the food on the table
And for the electricity and hot water
The thank yous for the shelter above us
For the clothes on our backs
And above all, for their love
Thank you Dad!
Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer's Eve

It is thundering, again--not a surprise since the humidity is ninety-something percent, a typical summer's eve in Florida. Orlando sends her storms eastward this time of year.

My trusty Belgian Shepherd is starting to pant and worry. I leave the room and she follows me everywhere. I wish that I could calm her anxiety.

Just a few weeks ago it was bone dry. Lawns were browning up, plants were withering from the merciless southern sun. We all prayed for rain, and here it comes, again!

Still we must be grateful for the bounty of rain, whenever we can get it. We must save it up for the dry times that will surely come again.

Liken these showers to prayers that are answered in your life. Embrace them for what they promise--growth and abundance. Feel the promise of the rain. Hold this thought for a moment and know that you are blessed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Pink Coat

I grew up in a family that had three girls. I was the middle girl, so I got the hand-me-downs from my older sister. As you can imagine, I was not thrilled with this. Like everyone else, I like to pick out my own wardrobe; but, this was not the time when many children were able to do this. We simply did not have marketing to children on television, or other media. Most of our clothes came from the local J.C. Penneys store, or from the Sears Catalog.
Anyway, one winter when I was probably 13 or 14, I inherited "the" coat. It was garish, I thought, hot pink plush with big round buttons. As I had outgrown my other coat, I had no choice but to wear it to school. I was mortified!
I vividly remember arriving at school in said coat. I walked head down to my locker with rubber boots sloshing the air. Were there snide looks and comments? Probably, that I do not remember; I just remember my cheeks flushing with embarrassment.
But, you see I survived that. The funny thing is that today if I found that coat in a vintage shop, or as new vintage style, I would think that it was kicky and cool. And, as it turned out, pink has become a favorite color of mine (especially hot pink!)--too funny.
I guess the moral is you never know how things will end up. Therefore, let's make the best of what we have and count our blessings!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

As I write, sunlight leaks through the oak canopy. Branches stir the air lazily, like spoons in lattes. It is damp, as it poured last evening. We were cooking out and managing the process with a golf umbrella. We still got soaked; but, the meat survived! Of course the tank had to be changed in the downpour--duh!

It is a prelude to the dense humidity that will follow, later, with 90 degree heat. Oh, Florida is delightful in the summer! But, it gets worse; July, August, and September will attest to that. I need to remember, as my skin seems to melt out in this weather, that humidity is good for your skin. That's the lemonade to make out of the lemon of tropical weather!

Enjoy the rain for what it is--life-giving to all of nature. May the rain slow you down a little, so that you may daydream, or take a breath.

Here is a rain poem from a yet to be published book that I call Naturescapes. (Glenda, I share your rain!)


Rain slakes down

Smacking onto leaves

Rhythmically pat-pat

Pattering, smattering

Sounding out as Nature's

Percussion section

Listen as trees applaud

June showers

(Actually the poem says April showers; since it is mine, I can amend it!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Good Morning Campers!
It is Thursday, and sooo close to the weekend! I thought that a couple of good quotes would get us through the day.
Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can't build on it, it's only good for wallowing in.
--Katherine Mansfield
Financial Tip: If you have been in therapy for the last fifteen years over your failure to live up to this image of Womanhood, not to mention your inexplicable lack of desire to do so, you can save the cost of the therapist and whatever drugs you've been put on by just buying your own copy of Betty Crocker and burning it. You may stomp on it as well, before, during, and/or after the burning, but be sure to wear properly fitted footgear for this activity--your own personal do-it-yourself therapeutic exorcism.
--Jill Conner Browne; The Sweet Potato Queens' Big Ass Cookbook (and Financial Planner)
Have a wonderful day!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Howdy Neighbors!

I was thinking today about how pig-headed I am, and how I come by it naturally! Everyone in my family is getting more and more set in their ways--including yours truly!

Although this trait can be tough for others to deal with, it is something that keeps us going and going--like the Energizer bunny. We are stronger for this stubbornness. Here is a poem from my future book called Waiting for the Rest of Your Life. Enjoy!

Willow You?

I began my life passively

Or, so I thought

Not that one could discount

The hard-headed stubbornness

That runs like a deep vein of gold

In the granite rock of the genetic

Makeup of my family tree

But, as the years have rolled by

It has become apparent that

Control issues are key in relationships

As they have been in mine

Many of us are stronger willed

And try to impose this on others

These are the righteous ones

Trying to bend the weaker to them

Like a young flexible sapling

Some will snap like twigs and are finished

Others bounce back unbent

Defiant in the face of such control

Resilience bouncing the back upright

Not giving in, not giving up-- No, Never!

Be true, be the tree

That will not bend

To you and me

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I was perched on my front porch this morning, when I happened to think that I was "enthroned" on that white wicker chair. All of a sudden, my spine got straighter, my attitude changed, and I felt like I was a queen surveying her subjects. It was a wonderful feeling. I think you should try it!
As you imagine your queenliness, you will notice your mood change. I definitely felt more grateful and lady-like.
Why don't we treat ourselves like the regal beings we were meant to be? Self-love and self-respect start right here, with number one (and that is a capital One!).
Think about how you can do something for yourself today. It doesn't need to cost anything; just give yourself a few minutes to have that cup of tea and relax. Or give yourself a manicure (or treat yourself to one), pedicure, bubble bathe, whatever! Just do it.
Love yourself and you will have more love to spread around!



Thursday, May 21, 2009


We are off to the mountains of western North Carolina, today! I will be breathing some fresh, cool air, and listening to the birds sing. A little quiet is a rare thing for me. If I can find it! This is the only way to refresh and realign my spirit. Writing usually follows this.
Take a moment for yourself to breathe deep and to clear your mind of the congestion of modern life. May you have a wonderful day! May your spirits soar!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Women We Are!

Did you have a good week? Are you ready for the weekend?
I know I am! Women work so hard and are sometimes so unappreciated. I wanted to make your day, today. So enjoy the poem and remember to take some time to pat your self on the back!

Women carry a heavy
Most of us balance
Outside employment and
Home (more work!)
Maybe child-rearing completes
The load, all done at the expense of
We juggle our universe while
Multi-talking, cooking
Car-pooling, shopping
Laundering, errand running
Homework instructing
House cleaning, gardening
Etcetera, etcetera
And get this:
Society dictates that
We maintain our savvy and our good looks
During these amazing feats
(We usually pull this off!)
And, amazingly enough
We are still expected to have
Sex, be sexy, and stay awake
Even though we function
On a daily basis
As CEO's and their staff
We still can't have
A woman President yet
Go Figure!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

This is a wonderful time to acknowledge our mothers, our surrogate mothers, mentors, and the mother within us all! Today we should celebrate women and their role in keeping mankind alive. I really believe that is something that we are hard-wired to do--protect the species! So far we have done it, although it gets harder all of the time.

I want to pay my respects to my wonderful mother. She loved us and tried to do the right thing by us. We did not have much; but, we always had clothing, food, shelter, and love.

My mother is and always has been beautiful to me. She has a generous nature and a fun-loving side that sometimes gets a little silly--(I definitely fall into that category also!).

On this day and every day, I wish for happiness for my mom. May she continue to see beauty in nature, and love in others.

Here is a poem for women to honor all of us today. It will be featured in my next book, which is called Waiting for the Rest of your Life.


In decades past and present

It has been made known to women

That it is a man's world

Men still rule in some dark areas

Of the world, often by force

The victims of violence

Are most often women and children

Statistics document this truth

Fear can be a powerful weapon

But it is a weapon of cowardice

Women are amazing beings

Inch by inch we have made progress

We have been fighting battles with

Our bodies and with our intellect

Women will not give up, or give in

We have come too far for that

Together, all women weave the

Fabric that supports all of mankind

Come share the power

Of sisterhood, of womenhood

Reach out to others and

Hold them up, so they will not fall

There is strength in our numbers

And we will carry on cum forte

Bless us every one!