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phenomenal…that’s you!

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
-Maya Angelou

This poem…which I simply could not bear to abbreviate, has always been one of my favorites. For one, Maya Angelou mentions her heels…which you all know I love! But the passion that comes forth in the stanzas allows every woman reading it to connect to it and celebrate the fullness of who they are. We are all phenomenal women.

One of my passions in life is to show up fully as a woman. Showing up means every day I am proud to be a woman in every aspect of my life. I dress the way I feel fully as a woman (and this different for everyone). When I feel the need, I speak out, and at other times, I know I have more power in my mysterious silence. A good friend told me to be the master of my words, and I always think of this as I put ideas out into the world. I treasure what I love–some of which are exploring, reading and writing, working in my business, caring for those closest to me, and also advocating for things that are important to me.

One idea that is important to me is supporting women in their efforts…whether it be another woman in her business ventures, complimenting someone whom I meet along the way, standing up with a woman who sticks her neck out to run as a candidate, or holding the space for a woman who is trying to get her life back on track. It means so much to have the support of our sisters, which is why I get frustrated by women who, when they make it, cut off the ladders for others to rise. It makes no sense, but it happens. In significant ways such as women who are in leadership roles saying women don’t really need equality, and in little, but perhaps more harmful ways, like gossip, spreading rumors, and backstabbing.

We need each other. If you look back to native societies and ancient times, women understood this partnership and helped each other out. If you haven’t read the book The Red Tent, get yourself a copy and enjoy! As the parable goes, “we hold up half the sky,” but we cannot do this alone. It may work for a short time for one to advance by stepping on another’s head, but it all catches up and the paybacks…well, you know.

We all have moments we wish we could erase. Friendships ended over something that might not even matter today, things we wish we didn’t do, misunderstandings, words spoken that could have been avoided, and just plain old being hurt. As much as we have been wounded, we have certainly wounded each other, and the magic happens when we forgive in order to move forward in our lives.

One magic moment I had when traveling last year was to have a beautiful woman at a café ask me if I was a model…I laughed out loud because I certainly didn’t see myself as a model in that sense. We got to talking and had such a wonderful moment that lit my heart. See what we can do for one another (for free!) just by being open to recognizing all the phenomenal women around us!

We are not alone, we are as diverse as anything, but as we heard when we were younger, there is safety in numbers. Let us use those strengths, and when we achieve what we dream, let us reach back and pull all our sisters forward. The future of world is depending upon us! When one shines, we all radiate that energy!! Women are the Present!

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glass ceiling?

“We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”– Marie Curie

I was having lunch with a friend recently, and she said something shocking, but in my heart, I knew it was true. She said the glass ceiling is a myth that we have all decided to believe in, and if we wanted something deeply enough, we would push with all our might right past it without ever knowing it was there. It was a difficult pill to swallow because I had used that excuse many times in my life when things were hard. There had to be a reason why I couldn’t get to where I wanted, and it was much easier to blame it on external circumstances than to realize that maybe I didn’t want it badly enough. There is an age-old adage that what you think about, you bring about.  Is it possible that we have accepted the notion of a “glass ceiling” instead of deciding that wasn’t going to stop us no matter what? Imagine what we could do if we just let go of that idea altogether. How differently would we show up to life?

It reminds me of a time when I was sitting in a conference for women in nonprofit leadership. My campaign for Congress had just ended, and the organizer invited me to participate and share my experience. That was the last thing I wanted to do. To stand up among these incredible women and tell my story of how I got kicked to the curb by the political process was not something I was excited to admit. I was feeling awful about myself and happened to look down at the floor to blink away a few tears. It was an unusual floor…transparent, to be exact. When I blinked again, I realized that the floor below me was glass…which meant the ceiling on the level below was also glass. I was on top of the glass ceiling and didn’t even know it! Suddenly my humor kicked in, and I heard the phrase from one of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” It was up to me to decide to keep going and not let anything set me back.

The events in our lives, especially if you want to change the world, will have an impact on shaping us in the process. The trials and tribulations are part of what makes it worth the fight because that is what polishes us to shine and pushes us forward. We can also decide to let those things push us back. It is our choice. It is so easy to shift the blame on something outside of ourselves and to let that hold us back from ever reaching our dreams. It is also is so disempowering to hold that thought. There is always a way if we are willing to persevere until we get to where we want…or maybe one door closed so that we would find the route to lead us to where we will have a more significant impact. Again, we have that most-powerful choice!

There are things we don’t get to control. Horrible things happen to many of us in life that can rock us to the core. Being assaulted, abused, injured, diagnosed with a challenging illness, or taken advantage of can quench your spirit. It seldom makes sense why these things happen. However, it can also fuel the flame of why you feel passionate about making things different. It can be the rock that you stand upon to reach the next level on your journey. One of my favorite movie lines is from Dirty Dancing, “No one puts Baby in the corner!” We have to find the courage within ourselves to step out on the stage of our life once again. Most importantly, we can also stand with each other in encouragement and love…reminding each other of our power despite the circumstances. That can make an incredible difference!  

Growing up in a male-dominated household in a family with very traditional views, I let so much of that ideology hold me back over the years as if I wasn’t enough. But that was my choice to believe that, and it was my choice to stand up for what I believe. Has it been easy? Heck no! It is not a comfortable feeling to go against the grain when you are judged and criticized. You will hear that every time you fall is because you didn’t stick to the norms. But the last thing that I want to be remembered as is normal or someone who holds with the status quo. I know things need to change in our world, and every day I ask how I may be of service to making a better world. That cannot and will not happen if I let imaginary ideologies like a “glass ceiling” hold me back. And just like my earlier experience, perhaps if we take a second look, we might discover we have been on top of it all along. We can do what we need to do! We have to keep moving and believing we will accomplish what we came here to do…and as we take one step every day, we bring all of humanity toward a brighter future.

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living fabulously

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” -Coco Chanel

Sometimes when I pay too much attention to world events, I get exhausted because my mind starts working on a solution to every situation. I allow myself to become a mental “Joan of Arc”…pursuing liberty, revolution, and justice! My spiritual teachers would say that when one is in that space, you are really of no use to the world. You can’t solve a problem in the same energy that created it. You have to think about something else for a while until you find a better feeling thought. Then and only then can you align with a solution.

One thing that helps shift my mind is organizing my space…which is what I was doing this weekend. As a kid, I used to rearrange my room for the same reason. I would tell my mom, “I’m moving out” when I had enough of my eleven siblings’ antics. Sometimes it is fun to see all the little crazy things I have picked up along the way…all my vintage bargains, things someone else was discarding, and realize how fabulous it all is. I will find something incredible to see, and before you know it, I get an insight into how to create positive change in one of my other projects. Try it. It is much better than spending hours reposting things on Facebook, hoping someone will see it, and the world will change. Honestly, it doesn’t work anyway.

Another benefit of my mental and physical organizing is that I find things to share with someone else…something that will brighten a friend’s day, and so it lifts my spirit as well. To give always lightens my load in more ways than one. I invite you to consider starting the new year with a bit of a challenge…look at what you have in your space and make it your unique boutique. Count your blessings. Treasure what you put in your world, and if there is something that no longer fits, share it with someone who will adore it.

I know it may sound shallow to totally get fixated on yourself, but if we don’t have inner peace, it is hard to make it in the world. While we don’t always have control over current events, we have to do what we can, and then make sure our inner world is aligned with who we are and how we want the outer world to be. The Dalai Lama said the world will be changed by the western woman. I think that is because we have access to so many excellent resources, and we have to reconnect to inspiration in big and small ways so we can tap that energy. We can realign ourselves in our space so that we can step out into the world and begin to create a fabulous world for all.

P.S. If you are inspired by what you create, share a picture! It is always fun to see!! Have a great week!

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the perfect present

There’s a lot of talk out there about “women are the future,” and I get the sentiment…we want our voices heard and our rights respected. But why wait for the future? We are here now and always have been doing amazing things. Women are the Present! (which subtly reminds everyone that the women in your life are a gift…so treat them that way). This limited design is available in a t-shirt, oval magnet, mug, and postcards. It is a Queens Junction item that you can only get here.

Currently available in Navy V-Neck, Red V-Neck, and Light Purple Heather Crew Neck–please let us know your pick. Make sure to choose the right size: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large below. These are fitted t-shirts, so if you like yours loose, order a larger size.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of our items will go toward efforts to end human trafficking forever.

Do something nice for yourself or someone who is a gift in your life! Get one before they are gone! Please email queensjunction@gmail.com for any specific questions. Products can only be returned for an exchange and only if unworn. Price includes shipping and handling. Please allow 5-7 days for delivery.

Women Are The Present. Small Red V-Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Medium Red V-Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Large Red V-Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Extra-Large Red V-Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Small Navy V-Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Medium Navy V-Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Large Navy V-Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Extra-Large Navy V-Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Small Purple Heather Crew Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Medium Purple Heather Crew Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Large Purple Heather Crew Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Extra-Large Purple Heather Crew Neck

$25.00

Women Are The Present. Magnet

Great for car or anywhere!

$5.00

Women Are The Present. Postcards

Set of 10. Designed on deluxe paper and perfect for sending a note to the women who make your world brilliant.

$10.00

Women Are The Present. Magnet

Great for car or anywhere!

$5.00

Women Are The Present. Mug

Ceramic White Mug with Purple logo on both sides. Microwave and Dishwasher safe.

$20.00

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deeper connections

“I must be a mermaid… I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.― Anaïs Nin

I grew up on the Great Lakes in Michigan, and my favorite place in the world was the shore. We spent summers in a cottage on Lake Huron, where cousins were everywhere, and we had so much freedom and fun. I have always marveled at the deep blue of my freshwater oceans. They were a comfort to me even in the stormy parts of life, and if possible, I would sit and stare at the waves until I found peace within myself. It was truly magical how they could reach my soul and settle my spirit. Nature has the ability to transform us, and I think sometimes we get so busy in our day to day activities that we miss this connection.

We see the effects across the globe that are calling us to reflect on our planet home to make the changes necessary to help restore balance. The Earth is an abundant place for many, and yet we all know there are parts of our world that are suffering from lack of rain, flooding, fire, storms, and famine. We cannot be silent. Each of us has a noble connection to all of existence…that is what truly makes life magical. As we enter a new year, a new decade, it is an excellent time to renew our commitment to making things better for all the beings on the planet. At Chadds Peak Farm, we are planting more trees, creating a pollinator habitat in the meadows, and are excited to incorporate as many native species to bring back the bees and butterflies.

On a different level, a simple thing I committed to was reducing my consumption levels (a.k.a. shopping) and tried to stay strictly to consignment stores for what I wanted or needed. It became an adventure to skip the big box stores and head to the local resale boutiques. I found one-of-a-kind treasures, and since most of the places I went to donate the proceeds to charities, it was a double bonus. Our home is an eclectic collection of things we are repurposing and creating our nest while helping others in need. My outfits are a combination of vintage fashion and always get compliments because they are so different. Why not? I grew up on hand-me-downs!

This year I am going to take on a new challenge…to reduce my consumption of food, mainly that which is processed or consumes masses of energy to produce. I know I will feel better healthwise, and some of my habits are things I am ready to let go. Like carrying my groceries without using plastic bags, I can find new ways to accomplish tasks. And so can we all! It feels good to live consciously.

What challenges will you pursue this year to contribute to a better world? It can be simple things like being creative with what you have, driving less, walking in nature, and smiling more. Get out and breathe. Meditate. It helps lessen stress, and a little more positive energy in the world is always needed. Reconnect with the natural world and plant a tree. If we all do something, it will create ripples of change.

I wish you many blessings as we begin this special year…2020. May you take time to ponder your depths and find a magical connection to life that makes your spirit soar!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Moro, Lexington, Michigan with my three kids several years ago.

Merry Christmas

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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living what is real

Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love. -Rumi     

Vince and I were planning our wedding at the same time I was running for the U.S. Congress…talk about multi-tasking! We had a beautiful day celebrating with our family and friends, but we only had time and resources to take a one day to escape together before it was off to the race again.

Two years later on our anniversary, he surprised me with tickets to France for our honeymoon at last. I had been to France a few years before with my best friend, Bettina, who grew up there, and we had a wonderful time. I went to all the “must-see” museums and attractions, but my trip with my husband was going to be something just for us. “What do you want to see?” I asked. His response was to see the real people of France and how they live. Vince had a few destinations in mind, and he wanted to rent a car to drive around the country.

After a few days savoring and shopping in Paris, we drove through the country…2,700 kilometers of France to be exact! We went to as many regions as we could fit in, meeting lovely people wherever we went…even the top-ranked chef in all of France, just by chance! We toured Champagne caves with a 4th generation maker, saw how Mauviel copper pots are made, and walked the ancient labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral. Most spectacularly for us, we visited a small factory in the south of France that makes vintage stockings on Reading 100 Machines imported by the United States to Europe after World War II as part of the Marshall Plan. We had heard of the Reading Machines because Reading, Pennsylvania, was part of my district when I was running. Stockings are a lost art, yet I love the ones with the seams up the back. Vince researched to find where the Reading machines went, and some of the lone survivors are in a tiny village tucked between the mountains in southern France. The owner of the factory was so excited that we came to see the shop. It was started by his grandfather long ago, and he graciously spent time sharing the incredible process of how these machines make fully fashioned vintage stockings. Bonus…I got some souvenirs!

It was a magical trip, but what made it special was we didn’t do what everyone else does. We made it exactly what we loved to see and caught all sorts of beautiful vignettes of people, pets, and places that exude character. Like Vince was hoping, we kept it real and in the meantime, discovered new things we loved and how vibrant life is. People around the world are loving, magical, and kind. We came home inspired with ideas and ready to create new things at our home. I hope you enjoy these photos of our special trip. When you go to explore, keep it real and do it in a way that fits your desires and your budget. The world is your oyster…go find your bliss!

Here are some of our tips:

  • Where to stay: Find less expensive but very chic boutique hotels around Paris. We stayed at the Hôtel le Petit Paris near the Sorbonne and excellent shopping & restaurants. We loved the area around Saint-Germain-des-Pres. The DaVinci Hotel is spectacular. When we were outside of Paris, we used Booking.com to find wonderful bed & breakfasts. In the Champagne region, we chose the Chambre D’hôtes Les Epicuriens, and Laure, the hostess, serves the best breakfast ever! She was also very helpful in navigating the area to find smaller domains for tours. When we headed into the Languedoc region, we stayed at Château Rieutort which is an incredible old château still operating its own winery. Peter and Karina were magnificent hosts who make you feel right at home! The foods prepared were lovely as were the spacious rooms. This location has a full spa and pools and is central to extraordinary wineries. We adored the town of Pézenas and if you are looking for an idyllic French town with open markets, this is a must stop. We happened to be staying at the Château during a celebration, and we were invited into the party!
  • Eating out: Every corner in Paris has a bistro which serves café and all the typical French staples. We usually had a late breakfast…which if we had some wine would linger into lunch. Lunch in most towns in France is served between 12-2 p.m. and if you are outside of Paris, you might have a hard time trying to find somewhere that will serve later. Aperitifs usually precede the dinner hour which tends to be later in the day. One thing we discovered is going into a local butcher and getting a small chicken with roasted potatoes for dinner. We would have a picnic with a great bottle of wine (which are everywhere in France!) and even grab a few treats like some olive paté in southern France or a luscious dessert. We had one that was a pistachio raspberry dream…still trying to figure that recipe out! Of course, France is known for its spectacular breads, croissants, and hundreds of cheeses. Have fun exploring the local stores…there are so many options beyond the typical restaurants. We also were fortunate to have friends in Paris who welcomed us to their home for an evening together.
  • Language: Try to speak French as much as possible…the French appreciate if you at least try, and once you get away from the major metropolitan areas, you will need to know some basics.
  • Getting Around: We used the metros in Paris and rented a car to see the rest of the country as we wanted to go to places where the trains didn’t reach. The trains are also a very good way to get back and forth. Be aware of public transportation in the event of a strike, which we didn’t know at the time happens regularly in Paris. We got a little stranded at one point, but eventually everything goes back to normal.
  • Places to see: Research things you love and attractions that are on your wish list. Often you will do better if you get to major attractions early in the day to avoid lines, and you can always save the shopping for later in the day! Churches surround the country and are worthwhile to tour. Our favorite was Chartres Cathedral–built in the 13th century, it is over 117,000 square feet! It is also home to one of the world’s remaining labyrinths. Keep an eye out for cool architecture and hidden courtyards that open to a whole new world of shops and restaurants!
  • Fashion: Paris is the most extraordinary place to shop. There are name brand locations, off the beaten path consignment shops and of course Le Bon Marché which is incredible. We stopped at the Paris Flea Market, but it is so overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. We liked the smaller antique shops we found in various towns.
  • Tours: Whether you want to go to a winery or a famous factory, many give tours, but you have to check schedules to make sure they are available on your desired date.
  • Shoes: Some will stress the importance of wearing sensible shoes…well, I would never suggest that! Stilettos are always welcomed in one of the most fabulous fashion capitals in the world!

All photos credit: Vince Moro. Copyright Queen Junction. Please do not use without permission.

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Save the last dance for me…

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh. -Friedrich Nietzsche

For as long as I can remember, I loved to dance. And my favorite dancing partner was always someone who I knew loved to dance as well. He had my mom twirling around the dance floor when I was a twinkle in her eye, and theirs was a love like Fred and Ginger. They gracefully glided around the space in perfect step with each other. Unison. We had a big Midwestern family, and so weddings and celebrations were a regular occasion. I would be out there with my cousins cutting up the rug, but I always saved a dance with my dad. He just knew how to lead, and even with my impetuousness, I would gracefully fall into step. I would step on his toes, and he would laugh and say, “That’s okay, sis. Do you want to lead?” Laughing, I would acquiesce because I knew better than to try to outshine a pro.

Just before Christmas 2015, I lost my dancing partner. His heart gave way, and as an angel, he got his wings. My life would never be the same. He sent me another angel to keep watch over me, and I still miss those blue eyes that would let me know everything is going to be alright. He and I had a common bond. We loved to watch political conventions, and I told him someday I would be the first woman President. After my race for Congress, I wanted so badly to talk to him. To apologize that I didn’t make it. I promised him that I would someday run like Kennedy and go make a better world. It crushed me, and the world felt like it was falling in on top of my heart.

In the years that have passed, in subtle ways, my dad has summoned me back on the dance floor…to bring the world into harmony, and in a whole new dance I hadn’t even seen before. It was an invitation to open my heart to welcome people who were afraid of showing up, to speak their truth, and to carry on a message of love that the world so desperately needs.

Today we went to a party, and guess who was getting people on the dance floor? It is so much fun to dance! It is where memories are created. So fathers and mothers, dance with your children. Hold them close and let them know they are loved. Get them to put their devices down and enter the song that has been going generations before. Sing to them the rhythm of humanity that they are valued and have meaning. Give them hope. Let them know they can lead a world that is waiting.

My own children are growing, and I still hold their sweet voices in my heart. It is brilliant to see them bloom into their own voice and being. I dance with them in a way that says…It is alright. You are loved. You are cherished. I’m so glad you are here.

When my last days come, whenever that is, I know my dancing partner will be waiting to escort me to a place beyond all imagining. He will laugh when I step on his toes and say, “It’s okay, sis. Do you want to lead?” I will laugh and let him show me the way.

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Lobster Thanksgiving

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” -Melody Beattie

All my life, the holidays have had such a magical presence. The season of gratitude or Thanksgiving was no exception. When I was a kid, it meant going to my uncle’s house for a fantastic feast, running around with cousins, and of course, everyone sitting around in a food coma watching the football game. I can never eat a dried apricot without being transported back to that incredible table and the assorted treats.

When I had my own family, I became “Martha Stewart Jr.” creating my own spectacular day of feast and fun for the kids. Everything had to be homemade. I would spend days and hours reveling in the kitchen to pass on the traditions I loved. We would make turkey placemats out of the kids’ handprints, polish the silver and get out the china. It was exhausting, but I loved every minute of it.

Several years later, life took a twist, and I became a single mom. My world has always revolved around caring for those I love, especially my three kids. Unfortunately, divorce often results in having to split holidays, and that first year was beyond painful. At first, it was Easter, which is doable because it spills over several days so you can make it work. Then Halloween didn’t fall on my day either. As the Kool-Aid mom of the neighborhood, this was a bit more challenging to not be making costumes and being the place where everyone gathered. But more than anything, I dreaded Thanksgiving with its load of what I should be doing, and yet, why make all that food if no one is here to eat it?

Several sympathetic friends invited me to join them, but I was feeling blue and didn’t want to ruin their fun. It just wasn’t the same. I love waking early in the morning on Thanksgiving and making something fresh for breakfast while watching the Macy’s Parade with the kids–we were even in the Parade a few years ago. That first Thanksgiving alone, I told myself I might as well stay in bed.

I’m not sure how it hit me, but a few days before the dreaded day, I considered although life has changed, how could I still make this fun? With a different door opening in my life, what exactly did I love, and how could I choose to make the day a special day of gratitude? The first thing was easy–watch the Parade with some breakfast and bubbles. But what about that fantastic feast? Everyone already had plans, and that is a lot of work for a party of one. Strolling around the grocery aisles, I spied my solution! A Thanksgiving Lobster! I absolutely love lobster, but it is a delicacy that not only was out of my budget, but something the kids didn’t like. But one lobster…well this was my chance to do something special just for me.

The day started with a slow morning of reading and writing, which I obviously love to do, watching the Parade, and remembering all those magical moments of years past. A few tears came, but I realized as long as I could recall them, those special memories were still mine, and I hadn’t lost them at all. The day became one of reflection and self-care. It actually was a brilliant way to unfold the day of gratitude after the many years of rolling out the red carpet for others. I lit some candles and quietly savored the lobster. It was perfect! Later in the day, I met up with friends who were just having their dessert. I took a day I was dreading and made it magical by considering what my heart and spirit needed to make it special–love of the people in my world, laughter, good food, and being grateful for the many blessings in my life.

While life continues with its twists and turns, I try to keep my rhythm when it comes to Thanksgiving. Year-on, I whip up a feast for all my loved ones and have fun creating surprises for them. Year-off, I try to take a quieter day of contemplation for my own soul with a few cherished treats.

We always have a choice when it comes to what we emphasize in life. A party of many may be beautiful. An intimate party for one is likewise spectacular when you can reflect on the gift of being alive and take time to be still to the spirit and meaning of your life. What I have discovered is that as long as there is love in my heart, including love for myself, I am never alone. Taking time to nourish my spirit heals me so I can be all that I am for those I love.

If you are at a point where life’s taking you for a bit of a ride down a new path, consider what is available to you. First off, you are not alone, and you don’t have to choose to be. However, if for some reason you are alone for the holidays, go into your heart and ponder what surprises and delights you. Spend time celebrating who you are and dream of the life that you wish. Lavish upon yourself the most incredible gift–time. Take a day of self-care and gratitude for all it means to have this one simple life. And finally, know you have a friend out here who is raising a glass to toast you and your presence in the world! Happy Thanksgiving, all! And for those of us who are on an off-year, enjoy your lobster!

photo credit: Vince Moro

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a walk in my shoes

I’m not afraid of heights, have you seen my shoes? –Carrie Bradshaw

For as long as I can remember, I have loved walking in heels…the higher, the better. I have a theory that if I were meant to wear flats, I would have been born four inches taller.

Maybe it is because my mom always made sure she put on her best outfit when she went out the door and a smashing pair of shoes…the style of a bygone era that I adore…when people dressed up and made every trip to town an occasion.

It amazes me how many people remark, “I don’t know how you walk around in those things.” Well, how often do we really know what it is to walk in another’s shoes?

It used to bug me when people would share their horror stories about what will happen if I keep wearing shoes “like that.” Almost every time they end with a sigh, “I used to wear those,” and I realize that it more about wishful thinking than admonishing me.

Wouldn’t the world be more fun if we just danced to our own tune without having to spring our opinions on the steps of another? Isn’t showing up fully what life is all about? Smile and strut to your own drum.

I tell my daughters that they don’t need to prove who is better, smarter, or prettier…”I like that you are unique. If I wanted twins, I would have given birth to them.” Be who you are and wear what expresses your style.

Sing your song. Write your book…even if it is just for yourself. Take the risk to show up and watch what happens. There will be only one YOU, and so you need to feel good about where you step! And bonus points go to those who support each other as they shine.

I am lucky to have a husband who loves to catch fun pictures of all my fancy shoes…these are all fantastic images of our trip to France for the honeymoon we finally got to take. Everywhere we went, we met amazing people who do beautiful things from making champagne, silk stockings, copper pots, or a beautiful meal. We saw incredible spaces from centuries beyond our imagination full of art and sacred icons. Châteaus in the country, City of Lights, and tiny towns in the mountains. All sorts of ways to live a life, and each part of the journey had a story.

At one place, we had a room with a top floor balcony. I had to get over my fear of heights in order to appreciate the view, and if I stayed inside, I would have missed it all. The thrill of the air and the sounds around. Deep breath. Just believe and take courage. Make the first step to living a life that expresses all that you are!

Noble act: Take a moment to yourself and write out what your ideal life would be. Pour your heart out, and add pictures if you wish. Read slowly over your list, then close your eyes so you can see it in your mind. Take one step each day toward your dreams.

Each time I have done this, no matter if it was small matters or great, by writing things down and visualizing them, I created an open space where opportunities could come in. It was like magic. Things happen when we commit ourselves to them, are willing to step past our doubt, and move into the direction of our dreams. I can’t wait to hear your story!

photo credits: Vince Moro

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creating a celebration

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practising gratitude.” -Brene Brown

Every summer we host a white dinner charity event called Brandywine in White in the countryside near our home. It is a beautiful evening similar to other white pop-up dinner parties where guests get decked out in their finest white attire and bring a picnic dinner to enjoy good food, wine, friends and a night of dancing. This year was truly a magical celebration and everyone was floating on air.

My main job (aside from co-chairing the event with my husband) is always the community table–the place where anyone can buy a ticket who doesn’t want to sit alone or not do a whole table by themselves. Each year, I set the LONG table not sure who is going to be joining us. I set it using mostly stuff that we have, but making it elegant with all real china, stemware, linen and silver. The morning of the event, Vince and I ceremoniously take a walk around our farm to see what kind of seasonal blooms we can use. This year the thistle were so plentiful and beautiful, we had to use them. These normally declared “weeds” had a cherished place at our table. Some pheasant feathers I have from my collection as well as a couple of white lilies from my favorite flower mart completed the look inside an antique urn we purchased years ago. Simple things and when the energy of the people filled the space, it became breathtaking.

Sometimes magic is created by using ordinary things in a new way. Seeing the friendships made that night and hearing the excitement of the crowd made my heart happy. There is always room for you at our table! I hope you will join us for one of our events when you are in the area!

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launching from the nest

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
-Kahlil Gibran

“Times they are a-changing!” This past week my family went through major transitions. My oldest daughter left for an internship in a different part of the country, my middle daughter to her first year of college, and my son will start high school next week. My nest, which used to be a hub of activity, is slowly getting emptied. To put it simply, I am on the edge of tears each day knowing this part of my journey, something so all-encompassing, is reaching the final act. I’m not kidding. I saw a jar of peanut butter when I was making dinner tonight, and I burst into tears because I remember that being my daughter’s favorite. Who will finish it now? I’m a mess!

While I always knew this day would come, I had no idea how hard it would be, and I have been caught off guard that I am not handling this better. My daughter said, “just think of all the times I drove you crazy.” My response was, “I am a mom…I forget the pain, which is why there are two more after you.”

Life is a book filled with chapters, and motherhood was one I truly relished. From the early preschool years to watching them drive away the first time, there has always been an inner reserve that I found within me. As Shakespeare wrote, we are all merely actors in a more significant play, and our job was to give our kids the tools for the performance of their lives. The time would come to let them go. The warnings were always there. Little grandmas would tell me, “The days are long, but the years are short.” “Enjoy it because it goes to fast.” Added to that, 2019 sounded like it belonged in a galaxy far, far away. Of course, I would be ready!

While I am incredibly grateful for the years of being a mom, even the challenges of being a single mom, there is no guide on how to transition to this new role that can convince my heart to get a grip. Any time you open your spirit to another and invite them to make a home in it, you expand yourself in ways that you can never be the same. I know I could get really excited about this unique opportunity of time and space. I have been working on a book for a few years, and maybe it is time to commit to getting it done. There is the yoga mat that has been ignored, and books to be read.

And yet…there is still this ache that busy-ness can’t solve. Theoretically I should look at this as a promotion. You never stop being a parent. Just when you thought you had it all figured out, you are pushed to grow yet again! That is the richness of being alive. As your nest empties, you have to pump your wings and chart your next course! So here’s to those who are launching their kids this week…you are not alone in your search for a Kleenex! May you find joy in knowing you made a contribution by your love and may you find something to inspire you to aim for a brave new adventure!

And if you think it is just us…watch this ❤️: https://www.mother.ly/news/viral-michael-buble-video-makes-parents-cry?utm_source=rebeccaeaines&utm_medium=partnership&utm_campaign=fbpost