If I’ve learned one lesson in the last 15 years since I graduated from college and set out on my own, was married and then divorced, and am now on the path to middle age, I have learned that being alone and being lonely are two VERY different concepts.

I struck out for Maryland soon after I graduated from college in upstate New York. I was alone and didn’t know a soul in Maryland but my sense of youthful adventure told me I wouldn’t need anyone, that I had to go live my own story. Of course, a month after moving into my first apartment and starting a job in which I worked almost exclusively with strangers in their 60s, I discovered what it meant to be lonely. I sat on the floor of said apartment and cried for the friends and family that I had left behind – and then I went to the shelter and adopted a rescue cat (who, by the way, lived and loved with me for the next 14 years so I highly recommend those adopted furry friends as a means of combating the blues). I wasn’t mature enough to realize that those times of standing on my own two feet was teaching me how to be independent and strong.

Then I got married – and made the mistake of marrying a man who didn’t share many interests with me. We didn’t spend much time doing things together – except the fire department. We led very separate lives – and I naively congratulated myself that we were one of those amazing modern couples that didn’t need to live in each others’ back pockets. I didn’t know that while I was rounding out my skills in home improvement and gardening, visiting museums and attending cultural events, he was screwing every woman he could find. Eh, life lesson learned on that one. I was often alone and doing things I wanted to be doing and yes, often regretted that he didn’t share any time with me which left me lonely and wanting more.  But I did learn that I don’t need a man to do the things I want to do in this life and I don’t need a man to complete me.

So now, after the divorce and the dating, the readjustment of my whole world view, I spend a lot of time 23131990_10212609777497457_8541975570164519984_nalone. I travel alone, I go to those museums alone, I read and study alone. I can pitch a tent and build a campfire alone – I can fix a toilet or hang a new light fixture alone – I can cook chicken nuggets or a fancy French pastry alone – I can drive 8 hours to see my family alone and I can run a 5K alone. I spend that time alone and quite content with my own company. It’s a vast difference from that lonely girl that moved down here and was so sad and so lost. I now choose to push my own boundaries and discover what I can do by myself. 


As I sit here on only the 4th day of the New Year, sick as a dog* and watching the snow bluster outside, I am pondering how lovely it would be if you could flip a switch and have something instantly repaired. Somewhat in the vein of that old Staples advertising gimmick with the Easy Button but better – not only because I’m avoiding discussions on buttons at all now that Donald and Kim Jong are using their buttons, but also better because instead of making something “easy,” my switch fixes the situation altogether. So Light Switch Onhere are some situations in which I’d use that switch:

Sick with the Winter Crud? Instant Fix Switch flipped…no more snot dripping, hacking cough, upset tummy, or raging headache!

Running late for work and every little old slow driver decides to drive in front of you and you’ve hit every red light in a 50-mile radius? Instant Fix Switch flipped….you’re teleported directly to your destination and no more commuter stress!

Have a house full of Christmas decorations, indoors and out, and you just can’t find the New Years’ gumption to clean it all up and pack it away? Instant Fix Switch flipped…all of the sparkle and glitter is packed and stowed away for next year’s festivities!

Don’t know what to make for dinner? Running short on groceries in the house? Instant Fix Switch flipped…dinner of any culinary style prepped, ready, and on the table – and for free!

Grumpy coworker or grouchy spouse who just can’t seem to find the right side of the bed to wake up on? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and only the good qualities and happy elements of their personalities are present and accounted for!

Coffee pot running slow or the line at the local Dunkin’ too long to provide the morning brew? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and an automatically-refilling mug will always have that life-saving caffeinated goodness on hand!

Ran out of your stash of New York State and Pennsylvania wines (which, incidentally, are the best in the world, none of those expensive, overrated California and French wines for me)? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and a Star Trek Enterprise-style portal installed in your wall can magically produce red or white nectar upon demand at any time!

Dust bunnies under the bed or a disorganized desk in need of serious filing? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and the house automatically cleans and organizes to a sparkling Better Homes & Gardens standard!

Have picked up a few extra pounds from too much Thanksgiving pies or Christmas cookies? Instant Fix Switch flipped…and you’re a svelte size 6 at all times, able to put on any outfit you wish without worrying about which bulge is showing!

Oh, the possibilities are endless for what that handy Instant Fix Switch could do to relieve the stress of everyday life. Not to mention what amazing things it could do for the political, economic, environmental, and social crises that occur in our world! Could one of those wonderful California tech geeks please work on developing the technology for the Instant Fix Switch?! I promise I won’t insult your wine anymore if you can invent this for me and help fix the world….?



*[note to self: remember to research where that phrase comes from because, really, I can guarantee you dogs don’t get any sicker than humans, so why are they the species of choice for this phrase?]

Auld Lang Syne

In the final scene of It’s A Wonderful Life, as George Bailey’s friends and family surround no-man-is-a-failure.jpghim, the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” are sung while George receives his final blessing from Clarence in the form of an inscription in the front of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This scene manages to make me cry every time despite the fact that I’ve seen the movie more times than I should admit – but it also reminds me every year to take a moment to be thankful for those friends that have walked my journey with me.

As the final hours of 2017 wind down, I can’t help but feel a wave of nostalgia for all of the amazing memories that I have made this year with the people that I love. I’m sad to see the old year go because it was a wonderful life:

  • I got to work side by side with both brother firemen and a veterinary medical staff that I admire tremendously. Our days can be challenging and stressful and difficult but how much easier they are with friends.
  • I spent countless hours in the saddle with my Gettysburg stable family and shared laughs over wheelbarrows of manure. That wonderful group of people and horses, along with my beloved camping weekends, kept me sane in a world of madness.
  • I shared wine dinners with one of my ‘sisters’ and finally got to catch up over Christmas cookies with my other ‘sister’. I have known these ladies for almost 20 years and what blessings they are to me!
  • I basked in the Mexican sunshine and toasted with tequila and zoomed in golf carts over foreign lands with our traveling buddies – Straight Outta Ingleside.
  • I shared laughs over simple lunches and shopping trips and pool time with some of my other “framily” and I enjoyed more moments with my mom and dad and brother this year than I have in many years – and it was wonderful.
  • We added a new 4-legged member to our family – ‘Pete Longstreet’ came into our lives as a rescue and we needed him as much as he needed us. And I made the choice to share the everyday ups and downs with a man who is also my best friend.

I treasured thousands of new moments with old friends and made new friends and newer memories while traveling this crazy path called my life. Old acquaintances and auld lang syne (“old times”), new moments and exciting adventures. 2017 was a wonderful year, may 2018 be even better…

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Christmas Eve is by far my favorite moment in the year, a time when my family has always gathered together to celebrate our faith and our traditions. Tonight is the blessed moment in my calendar year when I can reconnect to my beliefs, to celebrate that humble baby in the manger, to look forward to a wonderful New Year while looking back on the blessings of the past year.

It’s the moment when, at the end of our worship service, the candles are lit and the strains of “Silent Night” ring out through the church. Christian voices, young and old, candlelightaround the world are joining in song to invite the magic of Christmas into their lives. I sit in my pew in the silent night to quiet my mind, to allow God back in, to give myself peace, to allow His voice to be heard. That moment in time is so beautiful that I am usually brought to tears – sometimes in sadness for the things that have been lost, sometimes in hope that better things are coming, sometimes with a profound joy for the blessings in my life. I pray in that moment for quiet, for peace, for forgiveness, for happiness.

Merry Christmas to all of my Christian friends on this most sacred of nights. To all of my friends of other beliefs, I wish you a warm winter’s night with your families. And to ALL of my friends, near and far, may your night be filled with magic and peace and love.

“Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm, all is bright.”

I don’t think that anyone would argue with me that this has been a dark year in the world. 2017 has been defined by hurricanes and wild fires, political unrest and the depressing news of sexual harassment, corruption, extreme bad manners and general misbehavior on all levels of our society, threats of nuclear war and unchecked violence against humanity. This is not a shining time in our history and its so easy to point fingers and lay blame for why we seem to have gone to hell in a handbasket.

But this magical season, the time of Christmas and advent and new beginnings, is not the star-of-bethlehemtime to dwell in the darkness. This is the time to celebrate the new light and the new Light. There is a reason that we celebrate with candles in windows, twinkling lights on the trees (inside and out), sparkling garlands festooning our walls and mantels, and roaring fires in our hearths. This is a time of light and wonder — and HOPE. This is the season to make things better for ourselves, for our world, for humanity. Please, let your light shine forth in the darkness, let your hopes and dreams make for a better 2018.

“Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting Light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” 

Joy to the World

The most underrated and overlooked part of the Christmas season is the JOY, the pure enjoyment of the blessings around us. Friends, family, food on our tables, religious moments (regardless of what faith you practice), and glowing decorations are all aroundd105244 us – if we remember to look at them! We are so busy buying gifts, making cookies, decorating, rushing, hosting parties, wrapping, moving that silly elf, and meeting endless social requirements – we drown in stress and forget to enjoy the season. This is a magical time of year, whether its a white Christmas or a palm tree decorated with fairy lights, and we just have to make time to enjoy!

This is the time to rejoice in the arrival of the Christ Child and the blessings that He would bring to us. This is the time to make room in our busy schedules for special time with our family and friends, to make room for kindness and good will to all people of earth even if they don’t look or think like us, to make room in our homes for humans and animals in need, to make room in our hearts for forgiveness and to move forward into the New Year and new beginnings. It is a time for JOY, it truly is a Wonderful Life!

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing!”


One of my favorite elements of the nativity story is the angels and the shepherds. The dictionary defines “angel” as a noun that is 1) a spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God, conventionally represented in human form with wings and a long robe OR 2) a person of exemplary conduct or virtue. A shepherd is defined as noun that is a person whose job it is to tend sheep OR a verb that is to guide someone or something.

So, in other words, some of God’s highest beings (heavenly messengers) appeared to some of society’s lowest beings (livestock herders). Under modern thinking and language, we think now of angels as anyone in this world who does good things and we think of shepherds as the guides who direct someone to or from something. But in Biblical times, shepherds were low on the social pecking order and angels were direct messengers from the Lord bearing messages both good and bad – think of the Angel Gabriel, the angel who led the Israelites out of Egypt, the Archangel Michael, and the angels who are predicted to stand with us humans on Judgement Day. And while care for the goats and sheep of a nomadic society was a vital occupation (to protect the source of meat, milk, hides, and wool), they were usually young, unmarried men who would sit for days and weeks isolated from society.

So it fascinates me to think that God would send the first heavenly announcement of the birth of our Lord not to kings or rich men sitting in tents surrounded by gold but to theseAngel-visits-shepherds-on-first-Christmas lowly, lonely men. How amazing is the idea of these glowing heavenly beings appearing out of the night sky like shining stars to sing out the good news and to issue the invitation for visits to the newborn! And that invitation was issued to flocks of sheep and their working class tenders! I am inspired to think that the heavenly message is for all people, not just the rich and powerful, beautiful and important.

“Come to Bethlehem and see, Him whose birth the angels sing. Come adore on bended knee, Christ the Lord, the newborn King.”