Thursday, September 29, 2016

Still my BFF


Our houses were just 3 blocks apart in West Akron. Almost daily I would walk to the bottom of Mentor Road and she to the bottom of Upper Merriman Drive to the railroad tracks that were a path to both our houses. We'd walk along the tracks, over tressels and back into the woods and streams of the surrounding undeveloped areas that seemed then like the wilderness, but is now an expensive housing development. We'd lay pennies on the tracks and watch them get smashed as we talked for hours and hours about life, boys, dreams, fears....just everything. I smoked pot for the first time with Anne. Drank my first drink; shitty Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine, with Anne.

I think about how formative her friendship was to my development as a person. I learned everything about being a friend from her. We loved each other, got annoyed with each other, and sure we got mad at each other as we went through our awkward stages of development....but like a sister, we may get mad at each other, but if anyone talked trash about the other we were the first to defend the other. It seemed I couldn't think a thought or form and opinion that I didn't discuss with her to see if she agreed. That sense of belonging and having someone's opinion matter so much that is the staple part of childhood that as adults we need to remember.

We went through musical formative years discovering some stuff on our own, like the west coast sounds of Jackson Browne, Dan Fogelberg, Poco, Pousette-Dart Band, Joni Mitchell, Sanford-Townsend to the Progressive rock sounds from Yes, ELP and Led Zeppelin. We were more mellow rockers than hard rockers but I remember buying the album "Physical Graffiti" and that plus Led Zeppelin 2 turned me into a fan. Her older sister Lisa schooled us in Beatles, Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones.

After graduation, I stayed in Ohio and she moved to Boulder to join her sister and attend the University of Colorado. Years later her other sister moved to Boulder from San Francisco, and finally her parents retired there. I thought it was so cool that their whole family moved to the same place to be together. Colorado had their hearts and souls and although she missed her friends in Ohio, and came back to visit here and there, she never looked back.

I missed her like hell. So much so that I spent the summer between my first and second year at Kent State in Boulder with Anne. She tried to talk me into moving out there, but I came home and finished school in Ohio. And I have stayed in Ohio and lived only here my whole life.

I spent some time on the phone with Anne recently after the death of her mom. We talked about our parents fondly, as now, both of us are orphans. I marveled at how, even when I don't talk to her for a year, we pick right up. And I get sad when I realize that although I will forever consider her one of my best friends, time, distance and just "life" have just kept us from staying as close as I would have wanted. Every day, when there is news of an illness, an accident, an untimely death of someone taken much too soon, and I stop and realize how precious life is, and I think I need to tell the people I care about how important they are to me.

So today, it's Anne.

She has always been an inspiration to me for so many reasons, and I don't know if I ever told her. As a toddler, she had a tumor behind her eye, and because if this, she had her eye surgically removed. Her whole life she lived with this disability but never, ever did she have any kind of chip on her shoulder. In fact, to even use the word "disability" when speaking of Anne doesn't feel appropriate. It was never anything I noticed about her. When I looked at her at 7, 12, 15 or 20, I only saw her beautiful personality, contagious smile, her lovely brown hair, and admired the cool, hip way she wore her clothes. She had and still has a down-to-earth, natural style that always made her just a touch more "cool" than everyone. Her laugh was infectious and I can hear it when I close my eyes, as I recall us hanging in her basement, bent over with laughter on the carpet as we shared stories of our day. Then we'd go home and call each other on the phone, yes the kind that had a long cord, for literally hours. What on earth did we have to talk about for so long? We'd always find something.

It wasn't until I was much older did I ever realize what going through childhood with that challenge must have been like for her, and how cruel kids can be. If she struggled with insecurity or confidence issues, you'd never know. She had courage I never did, to leave the security of Akron, Ohio and move to a place far away to go to school, and make her new life. Now, Anne is a successful teacher, author and most recently, finished another degree--this one in Bilingualism and Language Acquisition, and she has spent months at a time in Spain. She is smart, fun and funny, and I know my way of looking at life, friends, loyalty and relationships were formed because of her, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I've never been big on "what ifs"...because I know If I'd have done anything differently, I wouldn't have married the man I did, had the two daughters I did, or had the same career. But, now that I'm in my 50's reflecting on my life, my family, friends, and career, I can't help but look at the many possibilities that lie ahead of me. And as I do, I am inspired to approach this next phase of my life like Anne has always approached hers: with an attitude of acceptance, encouragement, an embracing of life, and never afraid to learn something new.

Thanks for the life lessons you are still teaching me, my friend. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

3 Reasons I Became a Vegetarian

People often ask me why I chose, after 50 years, to stop eating meat. It's a question I get mostly at work dinners, and it is usually asked when someone is apologetic about their ordering meat when I ask for meat-free options. Other than a select few, almost everyone in my life eats meat. So believe me when I say there is no judgement or disapproval of those who have not made the same choice I have.

But I've really had to work on the correct reply when asked, as to not sound preachy or opinionated, or worse, offend someone who has not made my choice. I don't expect to change anyone's mind about whether they want to give up eating meat, entirely, although I admit, I do hope that by reading this, people will chose to make choices in their meat-buying and eating that will eventually change laws that improve the lives of animals, and in doing so be better for humans and our environment. Here are the 3 main reasons I became a vegetarian:  

1) Animal Welfare. My decision to give up meat was 90% moral and 10% health. I lived in ignorance of what goes on in the factory farm world during the life of the average, cow, pig or chicken before their slaughterhouse death. Even if animal welfare is not on the top of your list, it is good to care about whether or not the animals you eat are being treated humanely during their lives, because when an animal is scared and in pain, they release naturally occurring stress hormones which decrease the quality, taste and nutritional value of their meat. The pain, suffering and cruelty is beyond measure, and after seeing a couple of documentaries, I decided, unconscionable. But, it doesn't have to be this way. We can choose to get our meat, poultry or dairy from farms that raise their animals in a free range world, eating well, without drugs or hormones and not suffering in confinement and torture. 

2) It's Good for our Environment. Meat-eating is the largest source of global warming. Raising cattle & pigs for food requires more agriculture than vegetarianism as most of the crops raised go to feed livestock. Waste from livestock is one of the major sources of pollution in the world; second to pesticides and uses more pesticides,used on crops for food for people. These pesticides kill insects and birds, and leak into local drinking water supplies. The loss of bees in our ecosystem is a true environmental hazard due to the overuse of pesticides.

 3) Good for your health. Heart disease, cancer, strokes, impotence, obesity, Alzheimer's, diabetes, mad cow disease, e. coli can all be reduced with a vegetarian diet. However, these illnesses can also be reduced by eating a clean-meat diet. A recent study by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum) included 1,904 vegetarians over 21 years. The shocking results: vegetarian men reduced their risk of early death by 50%! Women vegetarians benefit from a 30% reduction in mortality. Read the article here

"We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs as our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear."  Robert Louis Stevenson
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi 

"Every time we sit down to eat, we make a choice: Please choose vegetarianism.  Do it for animals. Do it for the environment and do it for your health." Alec Baldwin

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I've have the pleasure of knowing many people who have many successful, happy relationships in their lives. Whether it's a long and happy marriage, friendships that have endured time and tribulation, or family bonds that go beyond blood, there's one common theme in these relationships: Acceptance.

It sounds so simple, but a person's willingness to accept another is the key to an enduring relationship.

My brother-in- law often jokes about how he is surprised my sister puts up with him after 30 some years of marriage. A wonderful and self-deprecating kind of guy, he'll easily list his faults, and follows with word of gratitude that she accepts him with all those faults. And my sister is quick to point out the things she does that drive him crazy.

Acceptance doesn't mean you can't be frustrated by things that bother you. It doesn't mean you like every personality trait your partner has; it simply means you weigh the good verses the bad, and if the good rules, and you accept the irksome traits for what they are. You realize that while they aren't perfect, neither are you. There is an agreement, spoken or unspoken, that you love more than you don't love about them, and the things you don't love you will live with. And, in turn, they will do the same.

When one is unwilling to offer total acceptance, the relationship is in trouble, and often fails.

To search for "the one" who will fill every single need you have is an unrealistic expectation. How unfair it is for us to expect one person to fill our every need when we ourselves cannot fulfill our own needs or 100 percent of another's, no matter how much we long too, or how hard we try.

No one fits like a glove. The people I know with lasting relationships have a variety of people in their lives that fulfill a variety of needs. A woman may love to shop, and her husband doesn't, so she shops with a friend. A man may love to golf, but his wife doesn't so he plays golf with buddies. A couple certainly needs to have common interests that bond them, and shared activities are crucial…but it is also healthy to have friends and interests apart from one another.

We can't change another person's personality attributes or their behavior. We can only change our attitude and our response toward them. In a long term friendship or life partner relationship, we can choose to accept those things about that person that bother us…and hope they can do the same when it comes to our faults. Or we can decide those things are beyond our ability to tolerate and walk away.

I don't think we can choose who we fall in love with. We just fall in love. But staying in love is a decision. It takes work. And acceptance is also a decision, and it too, takes work.

Note: this article was originally written in November of 2007

Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's Not Fair! The Age of Entitlement

Working at a radio station, I've been a part of many on air contests and promotions that give away desirable prizes, but none gain quite the attention--good and bad, as a contest the gives away a prize that kids or teens want to win, or worse, that a parent wants their kids to have.

I'm a mom. So I totally get wanting to get that gift that your kid is totally into. I went through the phases of beanie babies, the more expensive American Girl dolls, the less expensive giga pets and pogs (anyone remember those?) Like most parents, we did our best to get our girls the things they wanted, within reason. And they were blessed to have aunts and uncles and grandparents who could help get some gifts we couldn't or wouldn't spend money on.

But I've always been amazed and frustrated by the stories like the cabbage patch craze that went on before I had kids, where parents fought in the aisles over the last remaining doll in the pack. They HAD to get their child what he or she wanted.

I've continued to watch as the years go by stories of parents screaming from the stands in little league, soccer or football games. Making demands on coaches, cussing out umpires, claiming over and over again "it's not fair!".

And then comes Taylor Swift. Radio stations like ours attempt to find every way possible to give away tickets on the air, on location, online in ways that everyone can participate. One recent contest involved an online vote for Taylor's Biggest Fan. While the majority of participants had fun with the contest, there were a select and vocal few that showcase what I feel is a terrible sense of entitlement we are guilty of having for ourselves and perhaps by example, passing on to our children.

It's not fair...that Johnny got called called for a penalty.
It's not fair...that Britanny got more votes that Lauren
It's not fair my daughter can't go to see Taylor.
It's not fair that one team loses over another, so everyone gets a trophy

These days, there can be no such thing as a most valuable player because little Ashley's self esteem may get damaged. Ask any teacher of especially middle-school age kids and you'll hear more horror stories about parents than the kids complaining "it's not fair".

Life isn't fair. And the sooner we learn it, and the sooner we teach our kids that lessen the better off we'll all be.

It isn't fair that a 40-something year old woman who never smoked or drank and who took good care of herself dies of breast cancer.

It isn't fair that a 23 year old kid gets loses a limb from a war he knows nothing about but now can't afford the lifetime of mental and physical health care he'll need.

It isn't fair that someone spent time in prison for a crime he didn't commit and can never get those years back.

But missing a Taylor Swift concert? Losing a game? Get a grip.

Life isn't fair, to be sure. But I thank God for those lessons learned from injustices faced. We learn far more from our failures than our successes. Disappointment make us stronger and teach us so much. And the victory is so much sweeter after working, falling a few times, struggling through something and then finally achieving it.

"Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride" ~ singer Gary Allan

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Advice For Graduates... or Anyone at Any Age

I've read the speech I've included below before and have always loved it. Although it was suppose to be advice for graduates, I believe it is wonderful advice that any of us can use, at any age. There is much speculation on where it came from. It has been attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. According to, that is incorrect. This, like many mis-attributed graduation speeches that roll across the internet is probably a collection of quotes from many different authors. Wherever it came from however, I think it is worth sharing.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until it has faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters.

Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of this advice has no basis more reliable than meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth. But trust me on the sunscreen."