A True Story About Motherhood from the Past


Picture14Bronwyn at three and a half was already a Montessori scholar. Daily she trudged to an enlightened classroom where a teacher who genuinely liked children taught her how to scrub her desk with soapsuds, mess it up with fingerpaint and repeat the process. She was understandably enthralled. So much so, that Cee Cee at 2½ wanted to study soapsuds, too.

We arrived at the registrar’s office promptly at eight, on the theory that if I caught her early she might be groggy enough not to notice Cee Cee’s callow youth, for three years was the requisite age for admission to Montessori. My determined and very articulate 2½ year old marched in briskly and headed for the lady in charge, not waiting for me to explain our visit. Continue reading “A True Story About Motherhood from the Past” »

Posted on May 9th 2014 in Family, Women

A Few Thoughts on Mother’s Day


Picture4I had a very hard time with my Mother, her words mostly wounding, her anger terrifying. It was my father’s kind and loving heart that saved my childhood and my spirit. So when Mother’s Day comes round a tug of war ensues. I feel my heart segue-ing not to  memories of my own childhood but rather to my experience as a mother – and that, too, is complicated and bittersweet because of the loss of  two daughters.

That and the fact that we never know the truth of parenting until we do it ourselves – the sacrifices, the hard work, the unselfishness, the solving of unsolvable riddles – all that our parents gave and did stands out in bold relief as we struggle to do as well as they did, never mind better. So for me, the emotions  of this celebratory day are exponential and complex. Continue reading “A Few Thoughts on Mother’s Day” »

Posted on May 9th 2014 in Family, Life, Love, Sorrow, Women

Chinese Sexual Secrets So Secret, Nobody Knows They’re There


bigstock-Secret-Document-9430277Western women never reach higher than the 5th level of orgasm,” my Chinese Medicine teacher told me.  As he was both a Master Martial Artist and an MD as well as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, I thought I’d better pay attention.  “In China, the ninth level would be considered minimal expectation.  One thousand strokes would easily produce such an orgasm.”

“A thousand strokes?” I repeated, trying to wrap my head around the visual that provoked. Continue reading “Chinese Sexual Secrets So Secret, Nobody Knows They’re There” »

Posted on March 28th 2014 in Health, Life, Love, Martial Arts, Women

The Insecurity List


bigstock-Woman-Looking-At-Herself-In-Th-27551078It all started with a cocktail party conversation about the surprises Middle Age throws at you (hot flashes?  Seriously?) and what to do about them – but it ended in everybody glumly deciding a facelift might be the only hope for a happy future after middle age sets in.  Nobody admitted to having had any “work done” yet, not even the ones who had already nipped and tucked.

Ok, I admit it might never have happened without all the wine, laughter, calorie-un-conscious foods and the fact that there were only women in the room.  I mean who makes lists at a party, other than a bunch of women slightly in their cups?  Continue reading “The Insecurity List” »

Posted on March 21st 2014 in Beauty, Women

Now My Hair Needs a Plastic Surgeon, Too? You’ve Got to Be Kidding


bigstock-Summer-portrait-beautiful-fre-37407175I admit it.  I loved my hair.  All those wild red Irish tresses were as much my signature as the freckles that went with them.  By age 30 I knew I’d never let my hair go grey, red was too much part of me.

What I didn’t know then was that color would be the least of my hair issues.  Mine began to thin after the terrible shock of my daughter’s illness and death… like the small white patches that suddenly appeared on my cheek and arm as if some of my own lifeforce had gone with her.  Continue reading “Now My Hair Needs a Plastic Surgeon, Too? You’ve Got to Be Kidding” »

Posted on February 14th 2014 in Beauty, Health, Life, Women

When Your Inside Doesn’t Match Your Outside Anymore


bigstock-eye-texture-18462380A snapshot can do it… a store window reflection…  a chance remark by a friend.  It’s the moment you realize you’re not young anymore.  You’re not old either, thank the Lord, just – you know, not young.  You don’t feel any different on the inside.  But your inside doesn’t match your outside the way it used to and suddenly you know it. 

Your friends are getting face lifts, so you stand in front of the newly unfriendly mirror, pulling up your cheeks and pushing your neck around.  Tautness makes you look so much better you don’t ever want to let go because now it’s clear to you that your libido may be friskier than your face. Continue reading “When Your Inside Doesn’t Match Your Outside Anymore” »

Posted on February 2nd 2013 in Life, Loving Life, Women

A Christmas Story


BirdhouseLove manifests in the strangest ways.  Just like courage. And understanding.

Sometimes it sneaks up on you and you don’t realize how great a gift it is or how much self-sacrifice was required of the giver. Until later, much later in the game of life, when you’ve grown old enough to know that nothing is like our perfectly sensible expectations and most of it is so much harder than we’d ever dreamed.

Christmas joy was just such a gift, given to me long ago by my Mother, for whom joy was not a frequent visitor.  Let me explain. Continue reading “A Christmas Story” »

Posted on December 16th 2012 in Family, Life, Women

My Sister


Cathy and ConnyI have a beloved sister, Conny, nearly 13 years younger than I.  We’re quite different in appearance, profession, proclivities, talents and even in sexual orientation, but in our hearts, we’re pretty much cut from the same cloth.  We’ve worked together in one way or another, for a lifetime, certain this is not the first lifetime we’ve spent together – we knew each other too well from the start, for this to be the first time.  Listening, helping, shoring each other up in the dark times, laughing together when given half a chance to… sharing history, joy, memories, anguish… we’ve pretty much been there for each other for a half century or so. Continue reading “My Sister” »

Posted on December 7th 2012 in Family, Women

The Case for Healthy Denial


Corner of Retirement and GolfMy friends are reaching birthday numbers they thought they’d never have to cope with, taking up Causes or Yoga, planning retirement, talking about their portfolios, their golf game and their cholesterol.  They’re also burying their parents, becoming rich and Republican, having grandchildren and heart attacks – and oddest of all, they’re calling themselves Seniors.

How weird is that? Why would you label yourself something that nobody wants to be? Continue reading “The Case for Healthy Denial” »

Posted on November 30th 2012 in Life, Women


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HairdresserI recently spent a hilarious afternoon at the hairdresser, as all the women there and the witty, astute owner of the place, shared our strategies for never really seeing ourselves in the mirror again… except, of course, when we’re at the hairdresser and look our absolute best.  We each had our own mid-life mirror-avoidance technique – a skill that apparently surfaces on auto-pilot between age 50 and 60, and either sends you to “have work done” or makes you laugh at yourself, and set about appreciating the self-protective merits of healthy denial.

Why didn’t anybody tell us we’d still feel 35, even after we pass 60?  How come our insides and our outsides don’t match any more, so when we pass a shop window and catch an inadvertent glimpse of ourselves, our first thought is OMG who is that stranger wearing my clothes?  Continue reading “Reflections” »

Posted on November 30th 2012 in Life, Women

The Rip Van Winkle Effect


“Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty. They merely move it from their faces into their hearts.”   

                                                                      -Martin Buxbaum

Rip Van WinkleSomebody sent me this quote and my first thought was ‘But it would really be nice to  keep it in both places, wouldn’t it?’  Our generation is famous for wanting it all.

The question had become relevant when I awakened Middle Aged one morning, having gone to bed the night before as young as ever, but having made the fatal mistake of popping in my new contact lenses before making coffee.  Lines had sprouted above my lip, eyelids had gone crepey, crow’s feet had overtaken the corners of my astonished eyes, and mysterious marionette lines, the final ignominy, were making the lower half of my face resemble Howdy Doody. Continue reading “The Rip Van Winkle Effect” »

Posted on October 13th 2012 in Women

Facing Your Mother in the Mirror

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Manu and Cathy-Mirrored

This blog appeared in the New York Times on January 15, 2013. If you’d like to read it, please follow this link for the full text: New York Times, Face to Face With Mom in the Mirror


Posted on October 6th 2012 in Family, Women

Heart Murmurs


Wild HeartI’ve been having an imaginary conversation with my heart lately.  Not the physical heart exactly, although I admire its pluck and constancy enormously.  But the metaphoric heart of me that loves, not necessarily wisely, but pretty well, and that has taken a lot of hits over the years. 

It occurred to me one day, while reading a Chinese medical Text that explained how the heart is the seat of the intellect, the emotions and the spirit, as well as the fountainhead of love – that this is a really big lot of stuff to be in charge of.  No wonder one in three women now dies of heart failure.  So I decided to acknowledge my Herculean heart as best I could. Continue reading “Heart Murmurs” »

Posted on September 29th 2012 in Happiness, Love, Loving Life, Sorrow, Women

You Jump… I Jump…


Titanic movie posterI confess to feeling slightly foolish blogging about Titanic, but the phenomenon of Dakota and her pals going to see it in Imax 3-D – for their 34th lifetime viewing – set me to pondering what on earth could have precipitated that kind of devotion to a movie. OK. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit I’ve read all three volumes of Kristin Lavransdatter eight times, sobbing through every one of the readings, so maybe this is just this generation’s great love story, but still…

It made me remember the first time round when she and her friends – then 8 years old – fell under the enchantment of what turned out to be a life event. Let me explain: 

No longer did they play Barbie or American Girl Doll, they sat instead listening rapt to the Titanic CD, or they put on Rose and Jack costumes and went down with the ship in tearful splendor.  Dakota and her friend Sydney went Trick or Treating dressed as the Titanic and the Iceberg, and made the local papers!    Continue reading “You Jump… I Jump…” »

Posted on September 22nd 2012 in Family, Love, Women

What’s in a Name?


Two SistersWhen I was a child, I thought of my mother’s sister Mary as the Dowager Empress of the World.  She was tall and stately and would sit on her chair like a queen on a throne, her adoring daughters dancing attendance on her as if she thoroughly deserved it.  In truth, she probably did, as I remember her best for her marvelous  laughter.  Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, says the poem, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.*

She had an outsized, robust approach to life  that somehow managed to combine outrageous wit and grace with merriment, and she, unlike my mother, knew about sex and heartily approved of it.  My mother disapproved of Mary altogether, which amused her sister no end and prompted her to say outrageous things she knew would get my mother’s goat.  But there was history between them and an oddball twist of fate that neither of them could alter. Continue reading “What’s in a Name?” »

Posted on July 7th 2012 in Family, Women
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