Sunday, December 30, 2007

Benazir Bhutto: A Legacy of Hope For Women

I won’t pretend I understand the political implications of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. In death she is being remembered mostly for her positive attributes, but I’ve read enough to know that her reign as Prime Minister of Pakistan was flawed with accusations of corruption, which is why she fled the country and lived in exile for several years. As much as as I read for and against her, however, I find as much for and against the current president she opposed; so it’s really difficult to get a clear picture of who the good guys are in Pakistan.

An Associated Press report about the Benazir Bhutto’s family legacy offers this historical recap: Her father, Pakistan's president and then prime minister, was hanged; one brother died mysteriously, the other in a shootout. She spent five years imprisoned by her father's tormentors, mostly in solitary confinement, before rising twice to the office of prime minister. She fled before her conviction on corruption charges, living abroad for eight years. She could have lived there comfortably forever, but chose not to do so. She returned in October to oppose President Pervez Musharraf, and a suicide attacker targeted her homecoming parade in Karachi and more than 140 people died; and has been under the threat of death every day since.

For whatever flaws she may have had, I believe that Benazir Bhutto is a courageous feminist hero; because she represented hope for women in a part of the world known for its often brutal repression of women. The first woman to lead a Muslim nation in modern times, Bhutto was the leader of “The Peoples Party, “ and to many Pakistani’s, especially women, she was a voice for their needs, their hopes and their dreams for a better life. She had the good fortune to have a father who must have been a bit of a feminist himself. He sent her to America to study politics and government at Harvard and then at Oxford. I’m sure the fact that she was educated in the West, and returned to her home country a beautiful, articulate young woman didn’t endear her to the Muslim clerics who have been condemning her since.

With the Taliban re-gaining power in Afghanistan and beyond, I hope that the legacy of Benazir Bhutto will be that of a brave woman who risked her life every day for what she believed; and that in death she will continue to further the cause of women’s rights in the Middle East.

It would be the ultimate vindication that her martyrdom became the beacon of hope and change for women...which is exactly the opposite of what her assasins had planned.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday Reality Check

Every so often, God taps me on the shoulder and in His own gentle way says, "Snap out of it!" That's what has happened to me (twice) in the past few weeks.

Like many people this time of year, I've been feeling a little down this holiday season.

Since I was a little girl, I've always loved Christmas time. In my selective memory, I recall lots of laughter, good food, and outdoor fun in the snow and of course, many wonderful presents under the tree in what seemed like, in hindsight, the perfect family. I had a mom and dad who had a loving 64-year marriage, and 6 siblings who, for the most part, all got along. At 25, I met a man who had a similar healthy upbringing. When Phil told me his favorite movie was White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, I knew that Christmas would be very Merry...and so were the 19 others we shared as we formed our own family and our own holiday traditions.

I still love the holidays, but I have to work a little harder at capturing and holding the Christmas spirit since my husband's death 5 Christmases ago. And so do my 2 daughters.

In television specials, holiday movies, and even jewelry commercials, perfect relationships in the form of happy families and romantic couples abound. Like that's the norm in everyday America when in fact, so many people today are in less than what Hallmark might define as the norm. Now, families come in all shapes and sizes. And sometimes, a a family of one. Whether through death, divorce, financial distress, or illness, Christmas time can be downright difficult, and lonely for many.

Back to the reality check.

This past Thursday through Saturday, I had the privilege of being one of the co-hosts of the Children's Miracle Network radiothon to raise money for the Sparrow Regional Children's Center in Lansing, Michigan. WVIC is one of our sister stations, also owned by the Rubber City Radio Group that operates 3 stations in Akron and 4 in Lansing. Throughout the broadcast, we met, interviewed and had life-changing exchanges with families who had the benefit of experiencing the Sparrow Children's hosptial team in the past, or others who were currently under their care. There were many inspiring stories of children and their parents who had faced the most traumatic of circumstances and lived to tell about it. And many other stories of children who didn't make it, but inspiring were their stories nonetheless.

I am still processing the many amazing and moving stories I heard over these pat 2 days; but was especially moved by one told by Natalie, a mom who lost her 6-year-old son Max to a terminal illness 2 years ago. Natalie came in to tell her family's story, and how the amazing staff at this hospital helped them get through this nightmare. Max was an amazing child, who left his mark on many (including us) who never met him. Since Max's death, Natalie, her husband and their friends put together a 5-K run/walk in his honor to raise money for Sparrow. After she talked to us on the air and encouraged people to call and donate, she went over to the phone bank and volunteered several hours on the phone lines. What an amazing woman.

Two weeks before my trip to Lansing, our radio station in Akron hosted a Tree Of Lights radiothon to raise money and awareness for the Haven Of Rest mission for Akron's homeless and needy.

It's a funny thing about what we perceive to be our challenges and problems in life. We often think no one could possibly understand our pain and grief, or have it tougher than we do. We'd like to be in another's shoes.

Be careful what you wish for.

I believe that if you were to walk into a room with 10 other people, and each person were told to stand in a circle and toss their bag of burdens into the center of that circle and then walk out with whatever problems from that you could handle.... I'll bet you'd pick up your own burdens and walk home feeling like they weren't so heavy after all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Mortgage Bailout: Rewarding Irresponsibility

I normally don't get too political in my writings, but I'm really upset by our President's proposed plan to bail out strapped homeowners facing foreclosure.

I thought that the Republican Party was suppose to be the party that believed in corporate and personal decision making as a means for fostering economic growth. I thought they favored policies that limited government regulation and intrusion into our personal lives and advocated minimal interference in the economy. I guess I was wrong. The head of our country (and the Republican party) seems to think that bailing out mortgage holders who borrowed more than they could afford, and gambled with risky Adjustable Rate Mortgages is the right thing to do to keep our economy from plummeting into a full scale recession. I think it's the wrong thing to do on both a moral and economic level; and it's probably too late even if it weren't wrong.

I am far from a genius when it comes to economic matters. I squeaked through math in high school and college barely making a passing grade. But I do have some common sense. With the help of a calculator…I can figure out the basics; like how much money I have coming in, and how much goes out, and what if anything is left over. Then, I live within those means. Do I want a bigger house? Sure. A cool new car? You bet! But I'm a single mom with a mortgage, one kid in college and the second going next year. There are things I can't afford, and that's life.

But there are others who don't play by the rules of common sense. Whether it's a sense of entitlement, greed or ignorance, they took advantage of the cheap credit that was available and they bought more house than they could afford. And probably, more car, furniture, clothes and other luxury items to go along with it. They find themselves drowning in debt, and their homes are being foreclosed.

Jon Markman, a writer for MSN Money says "The Bush administration intends to fix the subprime credit mess by keeping people who weren't creditworthy in debt longer and rendering signed contracts meaningless."

That totally sums it up.

CNN reported a story about a woman who bought a home in Florida. Instead of going for an adjustable rate mortgage with low initial rates, she opted for the security of a 30-year fixed at 7.10 percent in December, 2005. But many delinquent subprime borrowers who went for low teaser rates that shot up to unaffordable levels are now paying lower rates than she is as part of a new round of foreclosure bailout packages. For example, one borrower had a riskier adjustable rate mortgage with a rate of just under 7 percent that was going to reset in December to 10.5 percent. But last month, as part of a new bailout plan from Countrywide Financial, the lender gave him a rate reduction to 5 percent on his loan, saving him hundreds of dollars a month. Hardly fair for the woman who now feels cheated because she paid more up front, and will pay more over the life of the loan than he. Hard to blame her.

Bailing out people who have gotten themselves into this kind of debt is only enabling them and putting a band-aid on a more severe problem. Extending these loan terms is like giving an alcoholic a drink to ease their symptoms, when the reasons behind the behavior and personal responsibility for solving the problem so it doesn't happen again are ignored. And, what does it teach our younger generation about personal responsibility? Buy what you want, but don't pay for it?

I know that bad things can happen to even the most responsible person. Job loss, illness, an accident or even a death or divorce, can affect a family's income quickly. For those unique and extreme circumstances, I fully support the government programs that offer assistance to protect a family from losing their home. But I don't believe most of the people involved in this mortgage crisis fall into this category.

Despite the Fed's attempts to stave off a recession with interest cuts, it looks like our nation is heading into a recession, and maybe it's just what we need to teach people to live within their means.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

50 Ways To Live Longer

From Men's Health Magazine: author By Denny Watkins

We've been told that the only sure things are death and taxes. But just as creative accountants have helped many men triumph over their 1040s, we can help you outrun the reaper. Maybe it's a game you can't ultimately win. But by following these 50 tips, you sure as hell can send it into overtime.

1. Drink at Least Five 8-ounce Glasses of Water a Day

Scientists at Loma Linda University found that men who drank this amount of H2O were 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who drank two glasses or less every day.

2. Take a Laugh Break

Watching 15 minutes of funny video can improve bloodflow to your heart by 50 percent, report researchers at the University of Maryland. "This may reduce blood-clot formation, cholesterol deposition, and inflammation," says study author Michael Miller, M.D. For your daily dose, click on the "hilarious" video link at

3. Don't Go to Work Sick

Over a 3-year period, men who clocked in despite feeling under the weather had double the heart-attack risk of guys who stayed in bed, according to a U.K. study.

4. Put Out the Fire in Your Chest

Untreated heartburn can lead to a heart attack, according to a study in the International Journal of Cardiology. Scientists discovered that as acid levels in the esophagus rise, the incidence of blocked bloodflow to the heart also rises by 20 percent. A natural remedy: Analyze your diet. Don't make a habit of drinking wine, juice, or carbonated beverages, all of which are highly acidic and may trigger heartburn, say South Carolina researchers.

5. Indulge Your Chocolate Craving

In a 15-year study, Dutch scientists determined that men who ate just 4 grams of cocoa a day had half the risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate less. That's the equivalent of two 25-calorie Hershey's Kisses — an amount that can fit into any diet.

6. Say No to Froot Loops

In a review of 53 studies, Australian researchers found that regularly eating cereal made from refined grains raises insulin and C-reactive protein, and lowers good cholesterol — all factors that boost your odds of developing heart disease. A better choice for your morning bowl: Post Shredded Wheat cereal, which is made from 100 percent whole grains and contains no sugar.

7. Take a Magnesium Supplement

Over an 18-year period, French researchers determined that men with the highest blood levels of magnesium are 40 percent less likely to die of any cause than those with the lowest levels. Magnesium can make multivitamins too bulky, so add a 250 milligram (mg) pill from or GNC to your daily regimen.

8. Burn 1,100 Calories a Week

Duke University scientists discovered that this amount of exercise prevents the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue — the dangerous belly fat that causes arterial inflammation and hypertension. Falling short? Join a league: A recent British Medical Journal study reported that people who exercised in groups boosted their average calorie burn by 500 a week.

9. Take a Daily Multivitamin

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley discovered that this helps prevent the DNA damage that causes cancer. We like Centrum Silver.

10. Hit the Weights

University of Michigan scientists found that men who completed three total-body workouts a week for 2 months lowered their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by an average of eight points. That's enough to reduce the risk of stroke by 40 percent and heart attack by 15 percent.

11. Set a Three-Drink Limit

Harvard researchers determined that downing more than three drinks in a 24-hour period increases your risk of atrial fibrillation, a condition that may boost your odds of a stroke fivefold during that time. An important note: When the average man pours himself a glass of wine, it's typically twice the size of a standard drink (4 ounces), report researchers at Duke University.


12. Plop an Alka-Seltzer...

It contains 325 milligrams of aspirin, the same as a regular aspirin, and begins fighting blood clots almost 3 minutes faster than a pill, according to a study in Thrombosis Research.

13. ...and Call a Ride

Walk-in patients wait almost twice as long in the E.R. as those who arrive by ambulance, according to a University of New Mexico study.

14. Treat a Killer Bee Sting

You may not know if you're allergic to the venom of a bee, wasp, or hornet until you've already been stung. But if you start to experience the symptoms of a life-threatening reaction — hives, wheezing, abdominal cramping — you can save yourself in 3 steps:

Step 1. Call 911.

Step 2. Take a Benadryl.

Step 3. Lie on your back and elevate your legs while you wait for help, says Steven Kernerman, D.O., an allergist at the Spokane Allergy and Asthma Clinic. An allergic reaction can constrict your blood vessels, and our three-step strategy counteracts that by improving bloodflow to your heart.

15. Eat Produce at Every Meal

If you consume more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, you have a 26 percent lower risk of stroke than people who eat fewer than three servings, according to a recent U.K. study.

16. Monitor Your Blood Sugar

Johns Hopkins University researchers recently determined that people with the highest blood-sugar levels have twice the risk of heart disease as those with the lowest. A warning sign: fasting blood sugar that's greater than 100 mg per deciliter.

17. Think Positive

Purdue scientists discovered that constant worrying shortens your life span by 16 years.

18. Keep Your Cool

Men who frequently express anger outwardly are more than twice as likely to have a stroke than guys who control their tempers, according to the journal Stroke. If you have anger-management issues, try fish oil. National Institutes of Health scientists found that hostile, aggressive men often have low blood levels of DHA — one of the main omega-3 fats found in the oil. We like Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega ($27 for 60 1,000-milligram (mg) softgels; Take 1,000 to 2,000 mg every day.


Most shark attacks occur at dawn and dusk, when sharks feed, says Alan Henningsen, a marine biologist and shark researcher at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. You can watch the sky for clues to their location: Seabirds eat the same fish as sharks. Here are three more ways to avoid a grisly death.

19. Dive with a Partner

This cuts the chance of a shark attack by 50 percent, say Australian scientists.

20. If You're Attacked, Hit the Shark in Its Eyes or Gills

These are its most sensitive areas. The snout might work as a target, but this tactic often results in a bitten arm, according to a University of Maryland study.

21. For God's Sake, Don't Pee in the Ocean

Bodily fluids attract sharks.

22. Try a Natural Remedy

According to Israeli scientists, eating one red grapefruit a day lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol by 20 percent, even in people who don't respond to statins.

23. Have Breakfast within 90 Minutes of Waking

A University of Massachusetts study found that men who waited longer than that were 50 percent more likely to become obese. And U.K. researchers determined that increases in body mass were directly proportionate to the likelihood of dying of gut cancers — specifically rectal, bladder, colon, and liver.

24. Vacuum for 30 Minutes

Doing 150 calories' worth of chores a day can lower high blood pressure by 13 points, according to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The reduction lasts only 8 hours, but make it a daily habit and you can lower your BP in the long term. (Helping out more with housework may improve your sex life, too.)

25. Eat Berries

The antioxidants in cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries have been shown to offer protection from a stroke, keep you mentally sharp as you age, and ward off cancer.

26. Drownproof Yourself

If you're dumped in the water without a life preserver, the key to survival is staying warm and conserving energy. Use the method taught to U.S. Navy pilots: Float facedown in the water with your knees tucked against your chest in the fetal position. (This slows the drop in body temperature.) Exhale bubbles slowly, turning your head to one side only to inhale deeply. Repeat until help arrives.

27. Sleep on Your Side

This can halve the number of sleep-apnea-related wakeups you experience during the night. Such interruptions make you up to six times more likely to be involved in an auto accident, due to residual fatigue, according to researchers at University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland. To keep from rolling over onto your back as you sleep, stuff a small, firm neck pillow down the back of your T-shirt before dozing off.

28. Light a Jasmine-Scented Candle

Men who did this for just 1 minute before bed fell asleep faster, tossed and turned less, and felt more refreshed in the morning than those who didn't inhale the aroma, report scientists at Wheeling Jesuit University. That's important, because insufficient sleep boosts your risk of diabetes, and restless sleep increases your odds of a stroke.

29. Live Life in a Smoke-Free Zone

Secondhand smoke, besides boosting your risk of lung cancer, raises your diabetes risk by 40 percent — nearly the same as smoking does.

30. Dodge a Deadly Lightning Bolt

Stay off the toilet during severe thunderstorms. If lightning hits within even 60 feet of your house, it can not only jump through phone and electrical lines but also run through plumbing, according to the National Weather Service.

31. Put Your iPod on a Mount

Reaching for an unsecured object as you drive makes you eight times more likely to swerve into a road barrier, according to the Mayo Clinic.

32. Check Your Smoke Alarms

The most likely reason a house fire ends in a fatality: no early warning. While just about every U.S. residence has smoke alarms, a Morehouse School of Medicine study revealed that the devices were nonfunctioning in one-third of homes due to dead or absent batteries. If you've ever let the juice in any of your detectors dwindle — or removed the battery simply to disable the low-power beep — consider installing at least one DuPont self-charging smoke alarm ($26; It screws into a ceiling light socket and feeds off your home's electricity.

33. Sip on Mint Tea

It contains the powerful antioxidant hesperidin, which reduces the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with diabetes by 52 percent, according to a study at the University of Buffalo. And despite its lack of caffeine, mint tea also increases alertness.

34. Don't Jaywalk

This is particularly good advice if you've had too much to drink, because 77 percent of pedestrians killed while crossing the road aren't at intersections. And 53 percent of those killed at night had blood-alcohol concentrations at or above .08 percent, the legal limit in all 50 states.

35. Don't Get Blown to Bits

Keep bleach, paint stripper, fabric softener, glue, and sidewalk salt away from gas appliances. The chlorine or fluorine in these products breaks down into ionized gas, which can eat holes in the pipes that deliver the fuel for your furnace, range, or dryer. Think you smell fumes? Don't call for help from inside your house; using your phone could create an electric spark and set off an explosion.


Scandinavian researchers have observed that deep depression (and its spinoff, suicide) is often caused by job stress. Here's how to lower stress, boost your mood, and simultaneously improve your overall health.

36. Find Time to Exercise...

People who exercise at any intensity for 2 hours a week — an average of about 17 minutes a day — are 61 percent less likely to feel highly stressed than their sedentary counterparts, according to researchers in Denmark.

37. ...Then Take it Outside

British researchers found that people who exercised outdoors reduced their depression by 71 percent, while indoor exercisers' depression decreased by only 45 percent after their workouts.

38. Cut Out the Sweet Stuff

Tufts University researchers found that men on low-sugar diets had lower levels of depression and anxiety than those who consumed all types of carbs. The happier people also limited their total carb intake to 40 percent of total calories.

39. Douse Your Salad with Oil and Vinegar

European scientists determined that unheated olive oil reduces cancer risk. As for vinegar, eating it prior to a high-carbohydrate meal (like pasta) slows the absorption of carbs into your bloodstream. This prevents the spikes in blood sugar and insulin that signal your body to store fat.

40. Add Curry to Vegetables

Rutgers University scientists discovered that a combination of turmeric (found in curry powder) and phenethyl isothiocyanate (a compound in broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) helps fight prostate cancer. The researchers believe that dusting your vegetables just once a week will provide protection.

41. Be a Career Coach

A man married to a woman who is upset by her work is 2.7 times more likely to develop heart disease. If your wife won't find a new job, help her practice her negotiating skills. A Harvard study found that due to anxiety, women don't initiate money talks at work as often as men do, especially when the boss is male.

42. Stash a Cinnamon Air Freshener in your car

The strong, spicy smell can help you stay alert as you drive. Researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University found that a whiff increases alertness by 25 percent. Sucking on an Altoid may work, too.

43. Test Yourself for HIV

A recent British study confirms that early detection is the key to extending your life. You can order a take-home HIV test online ($44,, mail in your blood sample, and receive your results in the mail just 7 days later.

44. Fall on Your Butt

If you feel yourself losing balance on the stairs, crouch so that your butt hits first, says Robert Nirschl, M.D., a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Don't be afraid to bounce down a few steps — it'll make a fatal blow less likely.

45. Design a Colorful Menu

Colorado State University scientists discovered that men who eat the widest variety of fruits and vegetables gain greater cancer-fighting benefits than those who eat more total servings but choose from a smaller assortment. That's because the plant chemicals that protect against disease vary between botanical families. Mix it up by choosing one serving from five different color groups: blues and purples, greens, whites, reds, and yellows and oranges.

46. Take a Noontime Nap

Breaking up your day with a 30-minute snooze can reduce coronary mortality by 37 percent, report Greek researchers. Why? It reduces stress that can damage your heart. Even a short nap once or twice a week was found to decrease the risk of early death.

47. Steep Your Tea for at Least 3 Minutes

Any less than that lowers the number of disease-fighting antioxidants.

48. Use Watercress in Your Salad

A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that eating 3 ounces of watercress every day increases levels of the cancer-fighting anti-oxidants lutein and beta-carotene by 100 and 33 percent, respectively.

49. Enjoy Your Joe

Brooklyn College researchers recently discovered that drinking 4 cups of coffee a day lowers your risk of dying of heart disease by 53 percent. If you like Starbucks, choose a Caffè Americano: A grande counts as 4 cups and contains just 15 calories.

50. Ask for the Heel

Bread crust has up to eight times more pronyl lysine — an antioxidant that fights cancer — than what's in the center. Similarly, the skin of produce is loaded with healthy nutrients, too.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Tree Of Lights

If you live, have worked or driven through the West Market Street corrider in Akron, Ohio, between West Point Market and Acme over the years, you've probably noticed the long strands of twinkling lights that adorn the Akron Radio Center every holiday season.

Those 5,000 bulbs strung diagonally 3 stories high in the shape of a tree, with the beautiful star on top is more than just a festive annual holiday display. Each and every bulb represents a $5 donation, and every penny benefits Haven Of Rest Ministries here in Akron.

This Friday November 30th through Sunday December 2nd, members of the WQMX staff are holding their annual Tree Of Lights Radiothon. It's our goal to light every bulb on the tree and the star on top to beat last year's goal of $30,000 raised for Haven Of Rest Ministries.

Haven Of Rest provides food, clothing, shelter and educational programs to needy and homeless men, women and children. The Haven gets no money from the government, and relies soley on donations from generous business owners, corporations and individuals like you and me.

The Akron Radio center is the home of 3 great Akron radio stations 94.9 FM WQMX. 97.5 FM WONE, and 1590 AM WAKR, as well as the online news source for Akron: It is very important to the owner of these radio stations, Thom Mandel, that his stations support worthy causes in the community all year long. At this time of year, especially, when the weather turns cold, and thoughts are focused on giving, Thom's country station 94.9 WQMX presents the this extra special fund-raiser in the hopes hearts will be touched to give to this worthy organization.

A side note on the Tree Of Lights: country music fans may remember the legendary Akron country radio station, WSLR. Years ago, then program director Nick Anthony started the first Tree Of Lights campaign with disc jockeys Jaybird Drennan, Rick Carderelli and my late husband Phil Cordle; broadcasting from the O'Neil's department store window in downtown Akron. Years later Nick brought the concept back to life as the Senior VP of Programming here at WQMX. For me, personally, it is wonderful to be a part of the Akron tradition that my husband was also a part of...while raising money for such a great cause.

If you'd like to help, you can donate to the Haven Of Rest by phone at 877-428-3655 or you can stop by the station from 11:00 AM until 9:00 PM both Saturday and Sunday and make your donation in person. We're at 1795 West Market Street in West Akron.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Last night, as I was laying in my bed Thanksgiving Eve, I felt a sense of comfort.

A cold rain was beating down on the roof, but I was cozy and warm in my bed under the greatest invention in the world: the electric blanket. In their rooms, my two daughters were warm and cozy in their beds. And in each of the three bedrooms were one of our 3 dogs: Ringo laying on the comforter at end of Elise's bed. Charlie with Laura. Little Tami with me. Elise has been away at college and this was her first night in her own bed in 3 months. Just then, right then...for those 10 seconds, all was right with the world.

There is no rational reason why I was born into this time and place. Born in this wonderful country, to loving parents; reared in a nurturing home. Why am I not in some third world country; hungry and cold? Or in a war-torn country where my experience in bed last night would be quite different...listening to artillery fire as I hid under the covers instead of listening to my dog's steady breathing.

It is only by God's grace I am in my skin... and living my life...certainly nothing I have done makes me deserving of my many blessings.

It bugs me when others do it...but I'm so guilty of it, too. Complaining about the things I want, and don't have...instead of appreciating what I do have. So today, appropriately on Thanksgiving Day, I'm going to spend some time being thankful for my many blessings.

I am thankful for my health. That I can put each foot on the floor and pull myself out of bed, pain free, when there are so many others who can't.

I am thankful for my senses: the weather may be dreary but I can see the grey sky with healthy (but aging) eyes. I can feel the sting of the sleet on my skin, and smell the wet leaves outside...and the food cooking inside.

I am thankful for my family: my two daughters, home safely, my extended family who I will see later today.

I am thankful for the technology of air travel, that brought so many home to their loved ones without incident or delay.

I am thankful for my many friends...who I have sent and received holiday emails and texts from over the last 24 hours.

I am thankful for relationships that have been mended; even though not fully resolved.

As I approach the one year anniversary of my current job...I am thankful that so many of my coworkers have turned into my friends, and are like an extended family. As dysfunctional as we all may be!

And I am thankful for a loving God, who has so richly blessed me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Moving On From a Broken Heart

Into every life a little rain must fall. And I’ve had my share of thunderstorms.

When I was in high school and experienced my first broken heart, I thought I could never feel such pain. But I learned quickly that hearts do heal, and soon became an expert in giving advice on how to get over a lost love and move on. Of course it’s always easier to give advice than follow your own when you are going through it yourself. That first broken heart did toughen me up a little. I was more careful the next time I fell.

When I lost my husband, my heart was broken again, but the grief and loss of a loved one through death is a different hurt entirely than through a break-up or divorce. Some of my divorced friends tell me that in a way I have an advantage. No ex to fight with over kids or money. No going back. No fixing things. No further discussion. No choice but to move on.

And move on I have tried to do.

I didn’t date for quite awhile after Phil died. I went out with some male friends; got comfortable being alone with a man who was not my husband after 20 years, but nothing serious. By year two I’d opened up to the idea of dating…and started going out more, but I knew I didn’t want anything serious. I put myself on a 4-year plan. I wanted to get my daughters through high school and into college before I got involved with anyone. I figured that relationships… especially marriage is tough enough without adding the whole blended-family thing. My daughters had been through enough pain…enough change. My focus was on the girls and on my supporting my family on my own.

And then I met him.

It was instant chemistry. He was handsome, charming, successful, intelligent. Our first date over coffee had us talking away about anything and everything. Two hours later…neither of us wanted it to end…and we made plans to meet that night for a glass of wine. He told me his company was sending on a European assignment that might keep him there a year, and he would be moving in a couple of months. I told him I was in no hurry, and that getting to know one another slowly was cool with me. It seemed so perfect.

After a few more dates he told me with a smile, “your 4 year plan sucks!” While it may not sound like it now… it was very romantic at the time. I had fallen like a ton of bricks and I was sure I had met the man I was going to marry. We saw one another almost every day after that until he left for Europe.

The details don’t matter now…but as more time passed.. the less it seemed like we could have a future together.

Distance, past life experience, failed expectations, extended family issues…who knows? I still haven’t figured it all out...but we just didn’t work. I guess we looked at the same picture but saw an entirely different view. And so, it ended. And when it did we were both broken-hearted. So much so that we’ve tried again several times. So much so that whenever we see each other again…even after months have passed, the feelings seem as strong as they ever were. Which I guess is why we kept trying again.

But alas, we both know we don’t work.

There are hundreds of songs on the radio I can relate to about love gone wrong.
Angst- filled lyrics filled with questions about why love alone just can't be enough. At least I know I’m not alone in my pain. And if love was all it took we’d be together. And that...still...makes me sad.

I saw him again recently, and for the first time in all these months I felt a healing between us. He told me that if anything happened to one or the other of us…that he wanted "all to be right and forgiven between us". And so we agreed it was. We both apologized for the pain we caused one another and really meant it. And we both said we have forgiven one another and really meant it.

Maybe now I will move on. Maybe now I really can.

But it doesn’t mean I don’t love him still.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


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.

Journaling through a blog

Although verbal communication has never been a problem for me, I've always been able to better express myself when I put my thoughts into words on paper (or on the computer screen as the case may be). Like Carrie from Sex In the City…it seems like whenever I'm struggling, philosophizing or working through something in my head about something….I start writing about it.

Journaling has been therapeutic for me in the past and I used to do a lot more of it. I still occasionally pull out my notebook while laying in bed and jot down random thoughts, but not nearly as often as I used to.

Before the days of email, I'd often write letters to people that I never intended to send. If I was upset about something, or had to talk to someone about something very important, I'd work it out on paper. Often just getting it all out of my system in writing would be enough. I'd put the paper in a drawer and 24 hours later, I'd pull it out and read it, and it's amazing how a cooler head would make me realize what I was upset about really wasn't that big a deal after all. Or, that what I wanted to say could be said better…or not at all. That process has helped me save many a relationship that would have been ruined if I'd spoken the words or sent the email when I was emotional.

There have been times in my life more recently, when I'd wished I'd have gone back to that tried and true practice. Especially with a man who was very important to me.

There was a part of our time together when we were separated by an ocean. He was in Europe on a work project for almost a year, and the long distance was tough on us. We were still in the early stages of our relationship, and we spent much of our time communicating through email. Because we were still getting to know one another we learned the hard way that the written word can leave room for misinterpretation. Tone can be misunderstood; and the "send" button can be hit too quickly. I can't count the times I'd wished I'd waited before hitting send. It's a reminder in general we should think and edit ourselves before we speak...especially in anger.

These days the journaling I use to do has been replace by careful blogging. I say careful because although what I write in the world of blogging will still contain much of what I'm thinking and feeling about life, love, family, career and relationships…but I'll be more guarded with my words knowing it has the chance of being read by others.

My mom use to tell me when I was little "don't ever write anything you wouldn't want read in front of the class". Great advice.

And I plan to work on this concept in my relationships....writing as if the world could read it... and speaking as carefully as I write.

What's all this talk about "bragging"?

Uh…no…that's "Blogging".

Remember the character of Roseanne Rosanna Dana on Saturday Night Live? She'd do a commentary bit on the "news" and opine on some issue that upset her. She'd go on and on complaining only to find out she got the word wrong…making her whole diatrab meaningless...and then she'd say…. "Never mind".

That's how I felt when I realized I was wrong about "blogging" being the same as "bragging".

I first heard about Blogging on radio talk and TV news shows. I thought it was another fad that I'd hear about for awhile and then would pass...just another chance for a egocentric Bill O'Reily/Rush Limbaugh types to brag and pontificate further on whatever they usually bragged and pontificated about. I thought blogging was another word for bragging online. Sort of a narcissistic soapbox website where you can write what you think and what you feel and put it up for the whole world to see...and that there's a good chance no one cares about.

And, I guess…in a way…it is!

But then I started getting blog links from people I know. Like my niece, for example. And some of them were interesting and fun. Just like MySpace and Facebook started for young people to connect socially, blogs seemingly started out at the other end of the computer savvy demographic spectrum; going from older people to younger. My niece's blogs are analogous to the "Holiday Letters" some people send annually, in that they update everyone on what's going on. But because they can be accessed by her…and us anytime, she updates them often and Grandma and Grandpa and all of us out-of-towners can stay connected to her. My daughter is now living in San Francisco, and I can stay connected to her through Face book and MySpace. And now, she to me through my MySpace and my blogs. It's cool.

It's also cool that now if someone wants information on any subject from cooking, to dating to medical advice to pop culture...they can do a google search and at some point, one of the results will be a blog...and maybe a helpful one.

If you told me even a year ago I'd be doing this kind of writing online, I wouldn't have believed you. It seemed like some alien technology I couldn't grasp. Then my boss at the radio station told me that our online new site had many of the personalities blogging, and suggested I should too. I noticed many radio other station personalities had links to blogs on their sites as well. Our News Director here writes a political commentary blog. Our IT guy writes a tech blog, and another staffer writes on pop culture. My boss has a great one on wine. When I admitted that I had already started a personal blog with thoughts on love, life, career, relationships and family, it was suggested I post it.

I guess I'm hoping maybe someone will find something I write relatable, interesting, entertaining or at least thought-provoking. I'm thinking maybe some of my musings will strike a chord, make people feel better, or at least think. For someone who loves to write—and always dreamed of publishing a book...writing a blog may be as close as I ever get.

Narcissistic? Maybe. But that's what blogging is all about.

And for now, that's ok.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Paradox of Our Time Essay

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers. We have wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less. We buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

It is a time when we can choose to share this insight electronically with others, or simply hit delete.

Note: Although this is floating around the Internet and is being attributed to George Carlin, it was not. According to snopes.comit was written by Dr Bob Moorhead, former pastor of Overlake Christian Church in Seattle.

Whoever wrote it…the wisdom is worth sharing.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In Memory of Ray

A friend of mine died today.

It was totally unexpected. A massive heart attack. His wife, Bonnie found him...called 911, but it was too late.

He was only 51.

His name was Ray Zdankiewicz and he was in the radio business. You can probably guess that with an ethinic name like that he (as most of us radio people do) had an "air name". His was Ray Marshall. Ray and his wife Bonnie were a cute radio couple. She was in sales and he was in programming. He was a talented programmer for sure, but my best memories of the Radio Ray were on the air. He had an amazing voice that shook the foundation when he spoke; and a way of communicating that put a picture in your mind of what he was talking about. He had a gift of creating "theatre of the mind". I recall listening to him once when he was on a music station, promoting an upcoming long stretch of music he was about to play. Most dj's say something milktoast like "more music next". But Ray began one of his "theatre of the mind" bits. He said he had a stack of CD's in front of him. They that were stretching so far across the studio that it was almost like looking at a rolling field of wheat. Going on...and on...shining, shimmering in the far as you can see...that's how much music I've got to play for you." His analogy got way off track from the songs that were coming up--but I was so lost in the desciption of music...I remember thinking--"I can't punch away now...this will be like listening to 10 CD's track one after another"!

Yeah...he was good on the air, did mornings for much of his career. And he was also good off the air, as a talented programmer. But I know he'd be most proud of his "job" as a husband, father, son and friend. He was a faithful husband who really loved his could tell they were happy by the way they were together. He was a proud father--so proud of his son John. He was a devoted son. And a good friend to many who knew him.

I had the honor of knowing Ray and Bonnie through work and beyond. When we were all a few years younger, they lived near my late husband and me, so the 4 of us hung out a lot. We went to their house and they to ours. We went camping together. Our kids were young together.

Then Ray was offered a programming job in Lansing, and they've been there for the last 15 years.

Time and life get in the way we sort of lost touch over the years, but when my husband died a few years ago, they came to show their support. I realized then, as I do today, that miles and years melt away with good friends. I'll be heading to Lansing this week to do my best to support Bonnie; as now we're both members of a club that no one wants to join. The young widows club.

And once again I am reminded how precious life is...and how we just don't know when our time is up.

Kiss your spouse. Forgive a hurt. Tell someone you love them.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Role Reversal

Mom and Elise

After years of trying to do the right thing, trying to act in a way my children may want to emulate, the mother/daughter role reversed for me a bit this past week. My daughter, Elise, did something that not only made me proud, in doing so she set an example for me to want to follow.

I've missed church a lot lately. In my mind I had good excuses. So few days much to do around the house and so few nice weather days to do them. I'm a little under the weather...want to sleep in...blah blah. All poor excuses, but I rationalized that at the time, that they made sense.

Then, last Sunday afternoon, I was on the phone with Elise. She's 3 hours behind me in San Francisco, so it was Sunday morning for her. I asked her what the noise was in the background and she explained she was on a bus on the way home from church. I was surprised because there was a church within walking distance from her apartment. She said she found one she liked better, but it was a little further, and that she had to take two different busses to get there and home. Each bus ride was 20 minutes with a transfer in-between.

As I listened to her tell me about the sermon at Mass and what she got out of it, I thought about the fact that I didn't go to church that morning. I have a car, and live less than 10 minutes from my church, and I didn't go....while she took 2 busses, on a chilly rainy morning so she could get to church.

This morning I got up and went to church, grateful for the example my daughter set for me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's All Important

My friend Chuck Collins works with me at the radio station. He's the program director for WAKR. He received a phone call from a listener who thanked him for playing the song "Vincent". It gave her some sense of peace, as the song reminded her of her son, whom she had lost recently. Chuck wrote about the call in his blog....titled "Just When You Think You Don't Matter"

I often think about my job as it compares to other professions. Firefighters laying down their lives. Doctors saving lives. Nurses and caregivers making lives a little easier. It makes me feel guilty thinking about the fact that I program songs, features and entertainment content on the radio for a living. Hardly as admirable a profession as these others.

The phone call Chuck received that day reminded me of a letter I received almost 2 years ago. I was programming another station, 95.5 The Fish, a Christian music station.

I received a letter from Mr. Hopkins 4 days after he laid his son, Andy, to rest. Andy was one of the Hiram students who lost his life from injuries sustained when his car was hit head-on by a repeat drunk driver. If I recall the story correctly, that driver had 11 previous DUI offenses.


Andy's dad told me he and his wife were touched and encouraged by the songs they heard on our station while traveling to and from the hospital to visit Andy before he died. On the morning of Andy's funeral, the alarm went off and they awoke to a song playing that Andy loved. In fact, lyrics to that song, "Homesick" by MercyMe, were posted on a tribute bulletin board in Andy's dorm. He told us Andy enjoyed our station. He thanked me and the people who worked there for being a source of joy in his son's brief life.

That this man had the strength, compassion adn thoughfulness to take the time to thank thank us, was incredible. He'll never know the gift that he and his son, gave to me that day. He was a true example of God's Grace under fire. An example that I want to emulate.

The phone call Chuck received that day reminded me of that letter from the family of Andrew Hopkins. And it was also a reminder that no matter what we do for a living, we can have a positive effect on another human being.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Code To Freedom

My sister has a way with words. She has the ability to express what all of us are feeling when she describes how she feels after a visit with our beloved mom. Members of our family often send emails to one another after our visits; sharing whether it was a good day or bad day. One day, after a particularly difficult visit, Martha emailed us about the code to freedom that we possessed.

You see, my mom has Alzheimer’s. Martha, like all of us, carries guilt out the door with her after every visit. For those who love, live with, or care for someone suffering with this cruel disease, you’ve likely experienced that same guilt, pain and frustration we have.

That pain can come in varying levels. Like the illness, some days are worse than others. It was a gradual progression those first few years. My father, saint that he was, covered for her. We had no idea how bad she was until he passed away and we realized what he must have been dealing with. After his death, the progression of the illness accelerated. It seemed as if she was simply ‘gone’ mentally within a few short months of his death. I felt that was God’s anesthesia. His way of allowing her to overcome the pain and grief that was just too much for her to bear. I mean how do you…can you cope with losing your love of 63 years?

So, we go to visit our mom in her new home. We walk through the heavy security doors that separate the “memory impaired” from the rest of the world and into her room, and more often than not, find her sitting quietly. She is surrounded by her beautiful things and beautiful photographs of people she can no longer remember. She is still our sweet, poised, ever classy, always refined mother, (even now) as she exists in this new world of what would appear to the lay person to be the mentally insane. People around her on any given day may be crying, moaning or having some sort of outburst. We close the door to her room to shut out that world and spend our time there looking into her beautiful blue eyes, which stare past us blankly, as we talk away, brush her hair, and rub lotion on her hands and feet and do what we can to make her—and us feel better. Sometimes she smiles; but mostly she just stares while we continue to talk, about kids, the grandkids, anything and nothing. Doing what we can do to aleve the guilt we feel. Because we know that after we’ve done our “due diligence” we walk toward the door and punch in the code that opens the door to our freedom, and leaves her behind in her prison.

I remember the first time she asked who I was…and I told her I was her daughter, Susie. Her baby. She looked at me suspiciously and said “you’re not my daughter! “I don’t know who you are.” A grown woman…I felt like a disappointed child. An orphan.

We realized, after a valiant effort at home care, that she needed 24 hour care. In our hearts we know she is cared for by wonderful people in this Alzheimer’s home. And although she has visits from one of her 7 children almost daily, we all struggle with the pain and guilt of leaving her there. Because we can walk away …we just go to the end of the hall and punch in the 4 digit code to freedom as Martha describes it, and leave her behind. “1234 locks her keep her safe...1234...the freedom code back to our lives. We walk down those steps and out the door often with a lump in our throats, tears in our eyes and a prayer lifted to heaven.”

I’m just waiting for my dad to come to get her. He’ll take her by the hand and lead her down that hall, punch in that 4 digit code and the angels will hold those doors open while they walk together out of there for the last time…from there through gates for which she’ll never need a code…because she’ll be free at last. Thank God almighty she’ll be free at last!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Dating in Mid-Life: Red Flags for Women

There are so many of us who just didn't think we'd be in this situation. Whether it's through divorce, death or just never finding the one, at 40-something, we just didn't think we'd be out in the dating world again.

Widowed at age 44, I know I didn't.

I didn't really date much for the first year and a half. And once I got out there, I had no idea I'd have such interesting and eye-opening experiences. I now have many more single friends, both male and female in my social circle than when I was married, and I've heard some wild and wacky stories from them too.

Recently a group of us were enjoying a beverage after work, and one of my friends starting giving her list of red flags. I added a few of my own, and then everyone began jumping in. I thought I'd share some of the combined wisdom that came out of that evening. Warning: this is from a female perspective.

The Newly Single. Most people just out of a relationship, especially a long-term one, have a void to fill. Their self-esteem is damaged and many look for an ego boost via a brand new girlfriend. They rush to fill the emptiness, and they just aren't ready. Many newly single "go back" for an evening, for a week, for a month, to their ex. No matter how bad or dysfunctional a relationship might have been there is some comfort in familiarity. It takes time to heal. Date someone who has been out for awhile, is comfortable in his own skin and can function without a woman constantly in his life.

Too much talk about the "ex". Excessive talk abut the ex, whether its positive talk or negative talk indicates a need to work through issues. If they talk about how wonderful their past relationship was and how well they still get along, may leave the impressiion they hope for reconciliation. Conversly, trashing the ex could mean the anger and frustration from the relationship is unresolved. Information about previous relationships should be revealed slowly and sparingly, as a relationship grows. Yes, it's helpful to know a person's relational history, but time and trust should determine when and how much info to reveal.

Psycho Exes. While it is possible to get involved with someone with serious issues once, people of strong character don't have multiple psycho exes in their lives. If all you are hearing is that is was "their fault" and "they were nuts", realize that the one common denominator in all these relationships is him. Run.

He has few outside relationships. It may be flattering at first for someone to want to be with you all the time. But if his only relationship is the woman he is dating, his expectations will be for you to fill every need. If a man has few or no male friends, no fishing, golfing or nights-out buddies, something is awry. Jealously, control and isolation from your family and friends could be looming.

Poor relationship with his mom and sister. These are the most formative and important female relationships in his life. Observing his handling of these relationships will help you determine his relational skills and his ability to compromise with you. If he treats these women with disrespect, it's a sign of how he may treat you and with your kids if you have them.

How he treats the wait staff. If he's cheap at a restaurant, especially in the early phases of the relationship when he's trying to impress you, he'll be cheap in every aspect of his life. Bossy, condescending talk to people in the service industry at a restaurant, bar, cab, or retail shop is the ultimate sign of low confidence. He's a bully, and he'll bully you.

The wandering eye. Most "normal" men I know can't believe when we tell them this even happens. But it does. A man can't look you in the eye. When he talk or listens, his eyes are on your chest. And when they aren't checking your cleavage, they looking at other women's cleavage.

Cell phone etiquette. If he spends more time talking to someone on the cell phone than you, it's clear how you rate. The only calls he should take or make are emergency calls from one of his kids or from work. In fact, if he doesn't take a call from his child, his priorities are off. The key is to politely excuse and explain who is calling and keep the call brief.

In the early stages of a relationship as you're getting to know someone, it is important to learn and pay attention to the little red flags. If something doesn't seem quite right, trust your gut. Like it or not, a person's relational history is a good indication of what's to come, so pay attention. While it's true we can work to change and adjust and improve on some of our faults and in areas of communication and compromise. The basics of our personality remain constant, especially the older we get. At 40-something, we are what we are, and we need to find someone who will love and accept us for that.

Ladies: Anything to add? Gentlemen? Gve me your red flags and I'll post them, too.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Light Bulbs and Gasoline

Recently we featured a special guest on our radio station’s morning show. Miss Bonnie is a clairvoyant, psychic medium, and she has guest slots on morning shows all over the country. Although I admit to being a bit of a skeptic, having heard similar features on other stations… I know that people love this stuff. If the person is good, it can be pretty entertaining and compelling radio, so we gave Miss Bonnie a spot.

The first time we had Bonnie on, I admit, it was pretty amazing. She told people things that there really wasn’t any explanation for. One woman called asking a question about her personal life—and out of the blue Bonnie said, “I need to tell you to check your vehicle. I say ‘vehicle’ because I don’t think you drive a car. But you need to have it looked at right away”. The woman on the other end of the line was quiet for a moment and then said. “I drive a truck…and the check engine light went on last night”

After we all picked up our jaws…we continued the show, and we gave Miss Bonnie a regular Friday morning slot.

A week or so later, I was at home changing light bulbs. It seemed like 4 or 5 light bulbs had burned out in my house all at once. I stood on the ladder and my daughter stood below and handed me the bulbs as I complained. “I hate changing light bulbs”. I joked that it was for stuff like this we needed a man around the house. “If your dad were still alive, he’d be changing these bulbs.” You see, my husband died a few years earlier of cancer. I often felt the sting of his absence, but never more than when I was handling something he use to do. In fact, just a day or two before that, I was asking my brother-in-law how I should dispose of old gasoline that had been sitting in a can in my garage for a few years.

The following Friday, Bonnie expressed her appreciation. She said she had received a great response from being on our station. She also told me she’d be happy to do a reading for me. I am open minded enough to believe people have gifts, but as I said, at the same time, I’m a bit of a skeptic. Plus, I am a woman of faith, and although I believe that God gives people gifts of the spirit—and prophesy is one of those gifts, I also think maybe there’s certain things He doesn't want us to know in advance. But curiosity got the best of me, and soon, I was sitting in front of Bonnie.

She told me I could ask a question or two, so I asked about my kids and about my love life. I told her nothing about myself in advance, however. After sharing some insight about my daughters—which was pretty on target by the way-she moved to my love life. She said she someone who was full of love for me... and full of light, but that he was far very away.

I was a bit uneasy. I told her my husband had died a few years ago. She said she knew right away that was him; the man one far away, full of love and light. Then she said “he wants you to know that this is him, so I am suppose to say this to you”.

She closed her eyes.

“Light bulbs”.

I was stunned. Light bulbs? Did she say light bulbs? “Does that mean anything to you?” Bonnie asked.

“Yes”, I mumbled, a little freaked out. “I know what it means”. She then said that now that we knew it is him, she was suppose to tell me something about my garage. Something about gasoline. She said he was concerned about gasoline in the garage.

Tears began to fill my eyes.

“Do you know what he’s talking about? Bonnie asked me. “Yes”, I said. “I have some old gasoline in my garage that I don't know what to do with.” "Well", Bonnie replied, “He wants you to get rid of that gasoline.”

I walked out in a blur trying to reason it all out in my head. There must be a logical explanation. She had simply guessed. Got lucky. It was a fluke. But then I thought, there’s no way that could have been a coincidence or a lucky guess. To pull those two things out of the blue? Light bulbs and gasoline?

Then, all of a sudden, I felt a sense of peace. I have always believed there is life after death. I know with confidence and faith that we’ll see the ones we love again. But now I have a that little extra assurance and comfort.

And that, I believe, was a gift from God.

Note: Miss Bonnie's link can be found on the morning show page of WQMX's website. That website link is on the right.

Friday, September 7, 2007

If a Dog Were A Teacher

If a dog was the teacher we'd learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day,
Be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently
Being always grateful for each new day and for the blessing of you.

author unknown

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

When I Win The Lottery

I'm a sensible woman. I know the odds are against winning the lottery. It's why I simply don't play. Well, I don't play very often. But I started reading the book The Secret and I'm changing my thought process. It may sound like I'm an Ohio Lottery commercial but the fact is... somebody has to win; why not me? If I practice the law of attraction, as The Secret explains, thinking the right thoughts...or the wrong thoughts...can bring those things your way. If you think poor you'll be poor. If you think rich, you'll be rich. In fact, the book suggests, don't just think it...act it. Act "as if".

So when I win the lottery, here's what I'm going to do. First, I'll take care of my immediate family. I'll pay off my house and any additional debt, put away money for my daughters' education and future, and put a significant chunk into safe investments, enough to live as I do now during my retirement. Okay well maybe a little bit nicer than now--but for the most part, I am pretty happy so my current lifestyle, plus some travel and a few extras, will certainly suffice :-).

Secondly, I will pay off each one of my siblings' most significant debt, and buy them each something they always wanted.

My mom and her lucky 7

Next, I will take care of my best friend, so she'll never, ever have to fight that deadbeat ex-husband of hers for another child support payment.

Finally I will fund the trust set up in my husband's name. The Cordle Foundation will not only award scholarships to needy students who show a love and aptitude for music (as his current modestly funded one does), but it will go beyond scholarships. The Cordle Foundation will contribute to worthy organizations, both locally and nationally, that are taking care of those less fortunate. I have a heart for animals, so various rescue organizations will be recipients of a Cordle contribution.

The question that every lottery winner always gets asked is: "will you quit working?" And my answer will be "no". I may take a hiatus, or focus time on the Cordle Foundation and my freelance voice work, but I will not stop working. Because work is definitely good for heart, the soul and it keeps me young.

There is often a dark side you hear about when someone wins a lot of money. That they are changed, they blow it all, they lose friends, they make new friends, that usually aren't friends. Money can be the root of all evil. I have a strong faith in Jesus and I believe what he told us in the Bible. I have always struggled to understand the verse where Jesus tells the rich man "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:23)But the Book of Timothy (6:17-19 )says "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."

I believe that it's not that God doesn't want us to be rich, it's that we are called to use our wealth for the good of others. There will always be the very rich and the very poor, and most of us are somewhere in-between. But I promise that when I win the lottery, I won't be the only winner!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Dog's Purpose

Our rescue: Charlie

I didn't write this. It was one of those emails a friend forwarded me because she knows how much I love dogs. I have 3, and I can't imagine life without one of these wonderful creatures around me. Read on....about what a vet learned from a six year-old.

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their 6 year-old boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's, family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Monday, August 27, 2007

In The Blink Of An Eye

I've heard it said time and again, and now, I'm telling any parent who'll listen what my mom said to me: "I know it seems like time is going slowly now, but appreciate these times , because you'll blink and your babies will be off to college."

I blinked.

My eldest left last week. My youngest got her driver's license the day before. One week, I let go of my first born, sending her across the country to school in California. The next, I let go of my baby, watching as she pulled out of the driveway for the first time without me in the car.

Nothing could have prepared me for the feelings I had...and still have right now. It's a strange mix of loss and sadness, pride and exhilaration; of worry and concern, all rolled into one.

Elise and Laura with their voice teacher, Lucy

For both of them, I am excited. I remember the sense of freedom I felt the first time I drove alone. And I remember how I felt spending those first few days "on my own" in my dorm. I am happy for both my girls and excited for all they have in front of them. Yet I feel a sense of trepidation. I worry about them. I want them to be safe. I want them to make good decisions. I want them to be happy. And for me, how I will fare through yet another transition in my life? How will I do missing one now, and knowing the next one will be gone in another year?

A little over 5 years ago we were the "perfect" family of 4: mom, dad and 2 kids. My husband fought bravely for a year after his diagnosis before succumbing to cancer. And then there were 3. At 10 and 12, my sweet, beautiful daughters had to experience a loss that forced them to grow up a little more quickly than many of their peers. But through their grief they have developed a maturity and compassion beyond their years. I am proud of the young women that have become.

The house feels a little emptier now. And Laura said to me when we came home from leaving Elise in San Francisco "and then there were two". Although I know we will all be together for the holidays and summers, somehow, I know it will never be quite the same. It wasn't for me after I left for college. But not being the same doesn't mean it's not good. Life is about changing, adapting, growing, and learning. And if we don't go through those growing pains we can't reap the benefits of what's on the other side.

Appreciate the time you have with your kids...because in the blink of an eye...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

So Small

That mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand.
What you've been out there searching for forever, is right there in your hands.
When you figure out that love is all that matters after all...It sure makes everything else seem
So small

(from Carrie Underwood's latest song)
Elise and Mom

Laura (right) and her best friend Stevana (left)


Every "hometown" has them. Those little things that make their town unique. In Akron, Ohio, we have our share.

We have the battle of the burgers: Swensons vs Skyway. We have parts of town that are known for something. Barberton, for example, has Lake Anna, and the best chicken joints anywhere. East Akron neighborhoods grew because so many workers from the rubber companies moved in and raised their familiies there. And speaking of the rubber city, the founders, CEO's and executives at those rubber companies build their stately homes in lovely West Akron; the most famous of those homes being Stan Hywett Hall, built by the Seiberlings.

We Akronites are proud of our surprisingly cosmopolitan downtown, with new restaurants and clubs emerging all the time. We love our very cool baseball stadium; home to the Akron Aeors; the Indians farm team. We have an amazing little outdoor ampitheatre, Lock 3 Park, right downtown...and a new art museum. I say our town is "surprisingly" cosmopolitan because many Clevelanders think they own Ohio's bragging rights to cool city stuff with the Flats, the Warehouse District, and the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. But when they see downtown Akron they find it to be an undiscovered 'gem' 30 miles south of the big city.

What never ceases to amaze me about Akron, is the strong history and pride of the high school football rivalries...especially the Catholic School rivalries. And of all of those, none top the St V-Hoban game. I can be in a restaurant, bar, at a fund raiser or community event and when the converstion turns to "where did you go to school?" I can often find a good humored St V-Hoban ribbing from graduates of either school. For too many years to recall, St V and Hoban have passed a Shelaleigh back and forth to the winning team. Unfortunately for this St V alum, Hoban has had it in their possession for the last 7, 8... or is it 9 seasons? Hmmm...maybe this will be our year to win it back!

But back to the real controversy--which is better--Swensons or Skyway?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life, Career and Birth Order...

My Family

I'm the youngest of 7 and have the most amazing family in the world. I start out saying that because as I go through life I realize how rare that is. To have 6 get along with all of have no major dysfunction in a family of that size. Wow. I'm blessed.

I've read some of the birth order stuff. I know the youngest in the family has the rep for being spoiled, lazy and that everything is handed to them. Well it's true I got "taken care of" and was protected by my older siblings, but in a way, that's what formed me to be the opposite of the stereotype. I believe that because I was the youngest, I felt I was never taken seriously. As "the baby" I always felt I had to prove something. It caused me to be a little more driven career-wise.

I knew by my second year in college I wanted to work in radio. I always loved radio when I was young. It was my escape at night. I had a small transistor radio that was probably the size of an old cell phone; you know, the early ones that were bigger. It got AM and FM but I mostly listened to AM radio in the late 60's because that's where the best music was; the best "top 40" music. 1590 WAKR (ironically, one of the stations I work with now) carried a show at 11:10 pm, right after the news called "The Radio Mystery Theatre". It was today's version of books on tape but better...because it was literally "theatre of the mind". Thirty minute shows were acted out with different characters and sound effects. I'd get lost under the covers...seeing the show in my mind like it was on TV. It was awesome.

When I started at Kent State, I saw a sign that the campus radio station was looking for volunteers. I joined the team...and I was hooked. That small radio station ignited those memories of my late night listening, and I knew I wanted to be on the "other" side of the radio. The inside!

I'm a rather small, petite, unassuming kind of person...barely 5 foot 2. Maybe another reason (after my birth order) I thought people never took me seriously. Early in my career, radio was, and to some degree still is, a male dominated business. There was very little "political correctness". It was a challenge to find just the right mix of being a good sport...and being "one of the boys" without losing my femininity. Sometimes, it was a real balancing act. There were conventions I went to back then where I was only one of two or three women in a room of over 200 men. I worked to keep my mouth shut over the the stupid comments, the over-the-top sexist attitudes, the dirty jokes. And yet, there were times to speak up. But how to do so and not come off like a flaming feminist...THAT was the challenge! Still is sometimes.

All in all, short of a few bumps here and there, I've been fortunate to work for some amazing people who became my teachers, mentors and to whom I am forever grateful. Because I fell in love with the programming side of radio right off the bat--and there were very few women programmers, my teachers and mentors were men. And none of these men are the ones that I referred to earlier that had me biting my lip! Some of these amazing men include: KSU Professor Bob West, Programmers Nick Anthony, Dave Popovich, and Bob Bedi. Consultants E Karl and Mike McVay (who has to be one of the brightest programming/marketing minds ever.) And also, air personality Bill Randle. One of the best people-persons and managers I know is a man named Joe Restifo. And the smartest businessmen I'll ever encounter is Tom Embrescia. Tom has to be the most generous, down-to earth multi-millionaire (which seems like an oxy-moron) in the world. I am forever grateful to these men whose influence and mentorship has guided and inspired me over my 25-year career in radio. But what amazes me still, is that the older I get, the more I realize how much there still is to learn.

Thank God. Because when we stop learning...we stop growing.
My "team" at 95.5 WFHM