What’s #1 in Choosing a Job

I think back to my early summer trip to Australia, with friends Carole and Dee. One morning the two decided to kayak. I declined, wanting a little time one-on-one with Lizard island. As I took my walk, I ran into one of the guys who worked at the resort, and he’d just helped my friends into the kayaks.

“Your friends are out there,” he smiled and pointed to the ocean. “What will you do today?”

“Whatever I want,” I answered, smiling too.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” He looked at me, and nodded.

Here was a fellow, probably my age, who dove in oceans and captained boats and taught others what he knew. He seemed to have found a magic formula, which begins with knowing what you love to do. Then doing it, which transforms those 8 or 10- hour days to moments live with fun and purpose.

Really enjoying what you do starts with good “job fit”.  In other words, doing work that’s true to how you tick. In my new book, Fully Human, I have a chapter about job fit. I kick it off with John Clark’s story, a friend who graduated college as an engineer and worked in his field for 20 years, but secretly yearned for a new start. While living in San Francisco he and his wife, Sue, fell in love with the coffee shops springing up there, and he conjured up a dream to start his own coffee line. To make the dream real, the Clarks cut up their credit cards, and moved to the southeast where housing was more affordable. John started with a used roaster he bought for a song on EBay, and eventually founded Vienna Coffee House, a hugely successful brand of coffee and teas in the southeast U.S.

Why can’t we do what we love, and love what we do? I know we all need a paycheck, but we can cut up our credit cards too; it’s just too important.  The first job, our primary one, is to do the work of knowing ourselves. What fires you up? If you asked your best friend that question about you, what would they say?  Then take some risk to follow that path, because the truth is, clinging to what you already know could be a greater risk: your work could become a life sentence.

The opposite can happen too—you can begin in work you love, and over time it morphs into a life sentence. My media distribution work changed over the years from relationship building, which I could do authentically, from the heart, to hard-core legal negotiations. I could do that work with forced effort and will, but my heart wasn’t in it. And truthfully, my DNA wasn’t well aligned for it. Fortunately I had plenty of things to do with other areas I supervised, so I staffed a distribution team who enjoyed the daily shenanigans with our irascible clients, and I assisted with strategy, resource deployment and being the final voice of the company when needed.

Work can be a vocation. The word ‘vocation’ is rooted in the Latin word for ‘voice,’ or calling.   The Irish writer David Whyte worked as a naturalist guide on the Galapagos Islands until there came a time for him to transition to a “larger language than science.”(1) Today he is an internationally acclaimed poet and wisdom teacher. He found the larger language that was true to him.

If you’re lucky enough to consider not just the paycheck, but making work choices with heart, follow what it’s telling you.

(1)”Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity”

By |August 20th, 2018|Business and Finance, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Writing with Pencils

Whenever I travel I bring along five or six pencils. Pencils are what I write with now, ever since my first book. I hate the mess of crossing thru things written in ink, some part of me urging neatness on the page. So it was completely natural for me to fill out my customs form, entering Australia, in pencil. The customs officer was very worked up about this, scolding me for this huge violation–maybe not criminal but certainly a violation of basic common sense. I finally moved through under her skeptical eye.

I just returned from a wonderful holiday in Australia with two good friends, Carole and Dee. This trip showed me that on any given day, we live in an enormous world, but unless we push outside our own neighborhoods, we only get to see a tiny part of it. I learned that Australia is a younger country than the US. It was settled in the 1830’s, so our country is looked upon as “historical” to them. While there, I befriended kangaroos, a wonky-looking animal that was quite lovable, and one night at dusk, we watched hundreds of penguins spill out from the ocean, a nightly ritual of coming back home.

At the Great Barrier Reef, we swam with sea turtles, and I learned that the little island where we were staying, right in the heart of the GBR, has granite foundations over 300 million years old. Ancient rocks, new country. We snorkeled and saw an ocean teaming with aquatic life, brilliant colors bouncing off the coral and giant clams opening and closing to one’s touch. Sadly, I observed how horribly we’re treating the ocean, how our disposable habits are sending toxic carbons into the water, and killing off the coral which preserves marine life. The GRB, the size of fifty million football fields, feeds a half a billion people annually. But not for long, not the way we’re polluting it.

Our oceans and seas comprise most of our earth, and they give and they take, as we tragically witnessed first-hand one afternoon. Not far from where we snorkeled there was a fatal accident: A young resort worker drowned while snorkeling on his day off. The calamity stopped us all in our tracks—those working at this place, and the guests who were there (the three of us, and a small handful of others) as the first responders brought him to shore and tried to revive him. The staff labored for over an hour, while his larger work community bound a tight circle around him, as if the sheer force of their collective kinship could bring him back. Later, we all grieved. It rained nonstop that night.

This enormous, world, a Grand Teacher, reminds me that in a split second, everything can change. Just when we’re having the time of our lives, something can pull us back with the force of whiplash, a teacher of how fragile all of life is.

So I write in pencil, a way for me to stay humble when moments like that afternoon occur, to often erase and re-learn what I’m taking in, and how I respond to it. I have newfound respect for things not made with hands—the ancient granite, our oceans, the marine life that sustains and nourishes. When I pay attention, I can see how our whole chain of life is linked together.

By |May 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Two Leaders, Called By Other Names

Recently some friends and I traveled to Nashville, to hear from Thistle Farms founder Becca Stevens.  Becca began a program 20 years ago to help women victims of sex trafficking, and it’s been remarkably successful.  80% of Thistle Farms survivors have jobs and have stayed clean and sober after a five-year snapshot. My friends and I are thinking of starting a sister organization where we live since two of the largest national interstates cross in our community, and sex trafficking has become a growing issue.

A key to their success is jobs. Becca shows us a chart of their many partner organizations (“let the experts help you”), and we tour the manufacturing facility she created from scratch, staffed by the survivors, (“The workforce is our mission”), where they make body lotions, soap and healing oils for sale (“let your products tell your story”). She reflects on these women, who are poster children—many not much older than children– for overcoming adversity.

“We teach them new life skills. Many of the women were sexually abused as children, and one goal is for them to learn how to sleep in a bed, instead of in a chair. They were raped in beds, so thinking of beds as comfort is a process.” Stories like these take my breath away.

For the book I’m writing, a leader I’m highlighting reminds me of Becca. He is Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries. Greg, who most call ‘G,’ works with gangs in LA and transforms these lost kids into loving, contributing members of the LA community. Again, the key to it all is jobs. He created Homeboy Industries, where they do silkscreen work, merchandising, maintenance, and own and staff a café too. By allowing them to feel useful, he helps these kids gain self-accountability and self-respect. The workforce is his mission too.

Oh a detail—both Becca and G are priests.  I call them priest-entrepreneurs, because they both started new businesses for their organizations which bring in millions, and provide jobs for those they serve. I’m convinced either could run a billion dollar business better than some who run them today.

We don’t hear much about leaders like Becca and G; instead, the media likes leaders who act like children, or narcissists who are motivated by arrogance and greed. The more sensational the person the better, because that means readers and ratings. I get it. I was in that business.

But how about shining a light on leaders like Becca and G? These two grown-ups know who they are, and what they can offer back to the world. They lead from a centered, stable place, and inspire their people every day by offering them jobs, compassion, and solidarity. They stand with their people, not above them. Because they do, each young man and woman recalibrates what is possible for them, what it means to find purpose. Like oxygen, people breathe in hope at Thistle Farms and Homeboy. We could all use a shot of hope every day.

These leadership stories are worth covering.

By |April 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

One Outrageous Woman

I’m so lucky to talk to inspiring people in the writing I do. Here’s the story of a woman I spoke with this week.

On 9/11, Maureen Casey was running toward the Towers when everyone else was running away.

Her job at that time was New York Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner, a job equivalent to a 3-star uniform member of the service. Not too long before that time, the Department uncovered 16,000 unanalyzed rape kits. “The Medical Examiner’s Office didn’t have the capacity to handle the volume. The scope and scale of something like this had never been done, and I kept being told ‘It can’t be done,’ and I kept pushing back, ‘Wrong answer.’ She found three private forensic labs, got the kits analyzed and as a result of her leadership, they linked hundreds of cases and identified thousands of perpetrators.

Then 9/11 happened.

“I felt the first plane hit. (Her offices were six blocks from the World Trade Center). I saw the second plane hit from my window. I responded to the Towers, and helped to set up a command post for responding police officers.”

Maureen’s work with DNA evidence came back full force, as she was asked to head up the work to collect samples from the families of those missing in order to identify the remains of victims. This was another enormous undertaking. “One month later we had the anthrax outbreak, and on Veterans Day we had a plane crash in Queens. Some of this gets lost because of 9/11, but the work we did with DNA changed how the country handles mass disasters and fatalities.”

You’d probably stop here and think, what a career. What an impact she’s had! But Maureen didn’t stop there.

“I was so moved by the level of commitment I saw from those who were first responders and then later from those who volunteered to enlist in our military and put themselves in harm’s way after 9/11. When I was offered a job at JPMorgan Chase & Co. to develop and oversee a program for transitioning military, veterans and their families, I said yes.

“We started with 11 companies to include JPMorgan Chase, and committed to hire 100,000 veterans in 10 years. We reached our initial goal in 3. The Coalition of companies has grown to more than 200 and when I left more than 200,000 veterans had been hired and we also helped them with housing, education and training.”

She is now Chief Operating Officer for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University.

“One of the biggest worries for veterans when they return home is the community they return to. They’ve gone from ready-made neighbors and military life, to this new world of civilians. Will they fit in? In some ways, we serve as a translator for them. We help them with everything from how to present themselves in an interview or translate what a platoon commander or an infantry role means in a hierarchy of responsibility, budget responsibility and people to manage. Through the IVMF at Syracuse University we offer a number of programs, including one on entrepreneurship, which is a very strong career option for all veterans but in particular disabled veterans. They are very successful small business owners.”

When I asked her the lessons she learned, she said what matters is leaving things a little better than how you found them.

Stories like this woman’s get lost in the media noise around Kim Kardashian’s outrageous new make-up formula, or nine foods that can calm your overactive bladder. Maureen’s story is the outrageous one, a luminary, accomplished woman, who embarks on life with humility and grace.

Rabindranath’s poem came to mind after we talked—”I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted, and behold, service was joy.” In this time of Hope and Promise, my wish for all of us is to hear about more people like Maureen.

By |December 18th, 2017|Advocacy for women|0 Comments

Running the Distance

It’s autumn, which means it’s time for the New York Marathon again. I always smile when the promotion hits for this race because I ran it a few years back, and it taught me a lot about life and work.

I trained with a book my HGTV colleague Jim Clayton let me borrow, and its philosophy for training was to only run 15 miles, not the full 26.2 miles you run when you’re competing. The logic was that you want to save some of the experience for the real race. If you go the distance before you run in the actual race, you might as well give yourself a medal and be done with it. OK, I could buy into that. I gradually trained over six months, adding miles to my run as the book prescribed, stopping at the 15-mile mark.

My husband Bill joined me in NY for the big weekend, not to run but to the cheerleader I needed. I was really nervous, but it was gorgeous fall weather to be out in, crisp and sunny. Before I knew it all of us were all off and running.

The miles flew by, just like in practice. NY locals flanked the streets yelling out encouragement. “Hey 41 (my number) you’re looking great! Keep it going 41! We’re with you!” They’ll never know how inspiring those words were, especially as I rounded the bend to press on beyond mile marker 15. Would my body hold out for the last 11 miles? It’s really no different than when you face any new skill or challenge you haven’t mastered yet. I felt anxious, but exhilarated too.

Bill and I’d made a plan that he’d been standing on mile marker 19. From the map it looked like a place where I could see him in the crowd, and it also was a point in the race where I’d need the reinforcement of having him there. I turned the corner to mile 19 and there he was, a tall guy with long arms waving madly at me. I started crying. And stopped running.

I was spent. My pace had gotten so slow that I was in a cluster of elderly runners. He saw my face and barged right into the race. (NY is a pretty loosely-regulated marathon). “What are you doing?” he asked me. “I’m done,” I explained. “I’ve run 19 miles, it’s further than I’ve ever run in my life. I’m done.”

Bill was quiet as we slowed to walk and finally he said, “OK, but I know you. I think tomorrow you’ll be sad you didn’t try to finish.” “Please help me finish!” I then cried in anguish. So he did. As he accelerated his stride, he told me stories and jokes to take my mind off the pain, and I began a slow jog. For the last mile he was just by my side, breathing with me, a trusted companion in those challenging final moments, and yep, I finished.

When we built HGTV we kept telling ourselves this was a marathon, not a sprint. The six guys and I were inseparable those first few years, celebrating as we passed the business mile markers we’d set, and sharing the failures too. In one nasty setback, we sat in a room together, quiet, before we dissected the mistake. We had a mourning moment before starting the race again. Like Bill, these trusted companions were at my side both in the most exciting, and most challenging of times. None of us could have done it alone. We ran the distance together to build a lasting business.

By |October 25th, 2017|Career development, Uncategorized|0 Comments

One Single Person

Every morning, at 6am, a waterski boat comes into view. I’ve got coffee, the afghan over me, and I’m watching the morning unfold from my front window on Williams Lake. Moments later, a skier emerges from beneath the water, gliding and dancing across the wake. One single ski enables all that grace. It seems effortless.

I recently commenced writing a second book. I had thought one single book would be it. The first book certainly wasn’t effortless. Why go through it all again? But then I think, it’s because others before me made my life easier, and maybe this new effort is a thank you to them. There’s the one, single congressman I read about last week, who was around in the 1920’s. He became the swing vote for ushering in the 19th Amendment, that key law which gave women our constitutional rights. The story goes that when his mother found out about the hung vote, she told him to vote yes. “Do it for the ladies,” she told him. And being a good son, he cast the deciding vote.

Then there’s a man I’m coming to know, Paul Polman, who is CEO of Unilever. Unilever is the mega-company which makes products like Dove Soap, Hellman’s, Lipton Tea, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Paul has graciously accepted my invitation to appear in this second book. What a remarkable man, I’m learning! He’s one of the few CEO’s who’ve figured out how to balance social action with business results. Paul’s work is devoted to reducing the carbon footprint Unilever products are leaving. He also gets the power of women in business. He recognizes our assets as a real competitive advantage; our empathy, our sense of purpose, our gift of partnership. He goes so far as to predict that future leadership will require women and the gifts we bring.

One of my favorite lines of his is: “You can’t be a bystander in a system that gives you life in the first place.” Bingo. I know some C-suite people who live to collect a fat paycheck, and that’s it. Paul looks at his work as a mission, with purpose–to serve the business good, and the common good too. I’m glad my book can shine a light on his work.

I’m watching now…and I see the boat slow. Our skier is finished for the morning. She drops, and then extends her hand so the driver can pull her up, into the boat. Maybe that’s my mission, to lend a hand. Maybe that’s everyone’s mission. We can be single people who try to make a difference for a few, or for many.

By |August 11th, 2017|Role-playing|0 Comments

Some Things Never Change

I’ve been thinking a lot about robots lately.

I’ve never been into science, it wasn’t exactly a subject I excelled in at school. But as I begin my next book, I want to understand what organizations will look like in the next few years, and how teams will stay emotionally healthy and thriving, even with automation knocking on the door. So here’s what I’ve learned, that you might like to know too. There are two big factors to look at, economic, and social.

The economic factors-

  • Robots save on labor costs in the manufacturing sector. I’ve been to a lot of Cirque Du Soleil shows, but even there you can’t find triple-jointed people. Robots have amazing dexterity. However, those concerned about losing their jobs to robots, do not fear. Well, sort of, do not fear. The economists say automation will keep making things cheaper, creating more demand for goods, and thus creating more jobs. The issue is whether that person who lost her job can be trained to do the new one that emerges.
  • Jobs in the service sector have grown from 40% in 1950, to 56% in 2005. Because goods are cheaper, there’s more money for us to spend on services, like physical therapy or manicures. These service jobs are how the economy will really keep growing, and it’s hard to mechanize service jobs. See bullet 3 below.

Here’s the social side-

  • In manufacturing, robots can take over the dangerous work. And, they’re being made now to be “collaborative,” meaning they’re safe to work with side-by-side. If you bump Mettalica, she shuts down, instead of taking you out with a left hook.
  • In manufacturing, they help with “democratizing” jobs—everyone now can, with the help of a metal partner, excel at physically demanding work. A woman who’s 60+ years old and a bit frail can work in a heavy labor job, working side-by-side with a robot.
  • In service work, where most of us are, this is the hidden story: robots can’t do our jobs. Anything that benefits from human interaction, like the trust you have in your financial planner, or the empathy a nurse provides–these can’t be mechanized. We want the real thing. A person. We want someone we can build trust with. Interesting too, they’ve also found that things caregivers do, like preparing a meal, can’t be easily replicated in some logarithm. Intricate maneuvers like folding towels or changing diapers are very complicated to program into a robot.

If that’s true, imagine all the data points that would be needed to ‘program’ intuition, or trust-building, or just plain, human connection. And maybe it goes without saying, but how about missing the flesh and bones of another you work with? Things like– the understanding you can see dawn on someone when their eyes light up, or the megawatt smile your best girlfriend at work flashes when she sees you. I just can’t get excited about giving Metallica a bearhug after a brainstorm session, like I’ve done with teammates.

So teams with people in them are here to stay. We can’t mechanize our way to emotional well-being, which is the core of successful, prosperous teams. And for that I’m grateful. I might just cry.

*thanks to NYT Sunday magazine for inspiring this blog

By |March 19th, 2017|Business and Finance|0 Comments

3 Predictions from Women Leaders for 2017

Over last year’s holiday season, I visited Mary Ellen Brewington, a friend of mine, who along with her brother, runs a large beverage distribution company called Cherokee Distributing. As I was leaving, she walked me out, and I noticed some pretty gifts wrapped under the Christmas tree in their lobby. Asking her about it, she said, “Oh, I bought something for each of the women who work here.”

Mary Ellen’s care for the women in her organization got me wondering what other women leaders might do to help others of us in 2017, so I polled 100 of you, and here’s what you told me.

1. It all starts with you.

Diana Reid, EVP at PNC, says she’ll push to be seen for the value she adds, not as some diversity statistic. And, in turn, she’ll be working hard to treat “every employee of mine as individuals, not stereotypes.” I know firsthand the work Diana does to support and uplift women; it sounds like in 2017, she’ll be doubling down on her efforts. Anisa Telwar, founder of cosmetic accessories company Anisa International, and Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer co-founder, are both looking to dig deeper for meaning and insights that can come from regular practices, like morning meditation, or doing a self -review of where their innate skills meet their passions. Anisa’s hope is to “blend real strength with genuine softness” so she can better support her teams in meaningful, teachable ways.

2. Use Your Influence

Beth Bronfman, CEO of NYC’s View Agency, says 2017 is the year she will help women stand up for themselves by “taking charge of their personal brand,” focusing on their messages and spreading their thought leadership. Angie Chang, co-founder of Women 2.0 and VP of Hackbright Academy, agrees that this is the year we should expand our influence by writing for publishers like Forbes and Huffington Post.

Julie Fasone Holder, board director of Eastman Chemical, observes that the Women’s March on Washington will empower all of us and that we should join organizations like C200 and Paradigm for Parity, whose missions are to support women every day. She asks each of us to have strong voices and not fall victim to “manterrupting.”(Great word). Media executive Angie Epps agrees, urging women in 2017 to express ideas as openly and proudly as possible. “Be declarative,” she counsels us.

3. Choose Hope, Not Despair

Great leaders embrace hope, so it’s no surprise that your feedback reflected that, even in the face of the election overhang. CEO Tena Clark, DMI Music, will be taking more risk –not less – in 2017 to push us all forward. Sandy Carter, CEO/founder of Silicon Blitz and Chair of Girls In Tech, says women’s solidarity in 2017 will “leapfrog a drive for both intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs, accelerating products for women, funded by women. Diana Reid feels strategic opportunities are sure to surface in this time of uncertainty and disruption. We just need to keep our eyes open for them. Silicon Valley CEO of Metric Stream, Shellye Archambeau, says what we all hope will be true: In 2017, we “will be seeing more women getting a seat at the table.”

All of your feedback tells us to act. To take charge of our personal brand. To march. To join. To write. Go for it ladies! You inspire me every day.

By |January 31st, 2017|Leadership|0 Comments

A Holiday of Hope

A Holiday of Hope

I find myself still staying away from election news, since I can’t understand any of it.  But I was forced to take my head out of the sand.  I run Communications for a non-profit senior women’s organization, and I was asked if we’re going to address this strange election-what it means for women, how to address the fear many of the members’ company employees are expressing, how to communicate what some women are doing to mobilize their communities.

The thing is, our women span the globe, and span political ideologies too. Anytime you volunteer for a membership-based organization, your mission is to serve all members. So what to do?  I penned a letter for the Chair of our organization in trying to keep that in mind. And in doing that, it occurred to me that regardless of what side of the argument you’re on, there are things we can all do, but they may require a little attitude shift.

  1. Choose Hope.  Think about the greats who gave us hope-Lincoln, JFK, Madela, Ghandi.  In the toughest times they chose hope and marshaled countless people toward a common purpose.  Make that common purpose unity, and healing.
  2. Begin with Respect.  This is going to test your mettle, but just try–one person at a time.  The thing is, we don’t know the backstory to most people. There’s a tale Covey tells in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People about a dad with two little kids riding a subway, and he’s letting them run riot in all the cars.  Finally a guy is watching all this and he’s had enough, and he asks the dad to get control over his kids!  The father looks up, lost, and apologizes, explains they’d all just come from the hospital where his wife had passed away. You don’t know the backstory to why most others behave or believe the way      they do.  Begin with respect.
  3. Help others, especially women.  I’d like to believe things are getting better (See #1) but our progress is so very slow.  If you’re in a position to do it, give women who are coming behind you your time, and your guidance.  I love women!  We’re lifelong learners, we’re passionate. We’re unifiers.  Stretch out your hand to a woman today.
  4. Follow in Gwen’s footsteps. Gwen Ifill, legendary broadcaster and hero to so many, died a couple of weeks ago, and this was her credo: “I try to bring light, not heat, to issues.”  We could all use this advice, especially as the holidays are upon us.  Family will come together, and political discussions may get inflamed.  Try to be the one who sheds light on the debate, not heat. Be the teacher, not the preacher.  

I wish you all a beautiful holiday season, and a 2017 filled with hope.


By |December 9th, 2016|Career development|0 Comments

Four Words To Live By

“You can do it!” Those four words have a lot of power. We all need cheerleaders in our life to spur us on, to keep us in the game. But the best cheerleader you can have? You. I learned this from my Aunt Ray, the role model who taught me more about being a woman in business than anyone.

Aunt Ray was the first female vice president for Revlon. She was on the frontier of women not just working, but seeing their work as a career–as a vocation. She lived a glamorous, single life in Manhattan, shopping at Barneys and Bloomies and taking in first -run Broadway plays before anyone else. She’d come back to her second home in Detroit on weekends, and when she’d swing by with her Revlon samples I’d force my way through my sisters to sit next to her. She claimed I was always glued to her side, asking about marketing and sales and customers. I don’t remember any of that, but her mind was like a steel trap, so I have to believe it’s true.

I was the favorite of all her nieces, she told me. It turns out, she told plenty of her nieces that too. It didn’t detract from our love, and it didn’t make her urging me on—“You can do it Su-Su!” (her nickname for me) any less real. She set a bar for me to achieve, and when I reached it, she just reset it. I wanted to make her proud.

She was a walking contradiction in some ways, loving to watch and order from QVC but then calling to cuss out management for their skimpy hostess dresses. She urged me to save every penny but spent weekends at Detroit’s Greektown in the casinos. As she aged, she could be cranky on the phone, so when I called to wish her a happy 90th birthday, I was taken aback by how happy she sounded. “Su-Su!” she gushed, “I found a life insurance policy that says if I make it to 90, I collect $100,000!” Always playing the odds, that was Aunt Ray. And onto the casinos she went.

She showed me all the ways I could be my own cheerleader, especially in the really hard times. When I lost my mom and sister within a month of one another, she was there, whispering in my ear, “Tell yourself right now to never, ever give up!” And so I pressed on. One of the mom’s best friends, she kept the pilot light on for my mother’s memory after she passed, always entertaining me with funny stories. “Did I tell you about the time we were both working together, and a guy named Jim complimented your mom on her burgundy dress? She said ‘Jim, it’s not burgundy. It’s corduroy!” Mom had a little Edith Bunker in her, which we all adored.

Lukewarm relationships were impossible for her; she was fierce expressing love. At 90, Aunt Ray’s heart was failing. Of all the parts that could quit on her, I thought that oversized heart of hers would live on forever. I was many states away by this time, and my cousin Lisa dropped in a lot to help her. Lisa told me that with her failing heart, with every stubborn, painful step from TV room to kitchen, Lisa could hear her whisper “You can do this Ray! You can do it!” Cheering herself on, as always. She made it to 98 years and passed away this summer. Two weeks before she passed, wheelchair-bound, she was at the casinos.

And so, these memories of this incredible woman still urge me on today. The most lasting is a reminder that when times are good, or the chips are down, your best cheerleader in life is the dealer herself. It’s you.

By |September 23rd, 2016|Friendship|0 Comments