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February 27, 2009

Feeling "Lucky"

After many many years of questioning my ability to write, I've finally built up the confidence to share my written voice with the world. What follows is an excerpt of a children's bedtime story book that I've written. If you like it, please share it with your networks.

I am positively amazed by the power of the Internet -- and am praying that with your help, maybe this story can end up in the right hands to bring it completely to life. My promise to the world is that if this full book is ever published, I will donate half of the proceeds to Dreams Come True. I welcome your thoughts and comments. Thanks for your time. Lauren

An Excerpt from "Lucky"

The bright winter sun reflected off the blanket of snow that lay upon the field.

Reaching up to the crystal blue sky was an old, lonely and towering, yet Mighty Oak tree. Its dark brown branches were bare, with twigs like fingers reaching up to tickle the sun.

The Mighty Oak tree bristled in the cold winter breeze. Its branches whispering to the heavens, “Come spring! Come!”

Soon the cold winter air gave way to spring. And the Oak tree’s branches became speckled with tiny yellow buds.

At the tip of one branch was a bud with a spirit so mighty it burst forth…

…the first leaf on the tree.

Standing beneath the Mighty Oak was a little boy.

“Mama! Mama! Come see!” he shouted. “The first leaf on the tree!”

“Make a wish,” Mama said. “That leaf is Lucky.”

And so he was.

Thanks for reading...there's lots more where this came from, so if you like what you read, please leave comments and please share.

February 24, 2009

Farewell Country Home

When the mailman came yesterday, he delivered the usual stack of junk mail and bills, and two monthly magazines. I promptly handed the bills over to Jeff, pitched the junk mail, and tore open the plastic wrap. (By the way, since when do magazines need to be mailed in plastic??)

The first magazine will remain anonymous, because the name doesn’t really matter. It’s a fashion magazine that I’ve been receiving for months now – though I never ordered it, and I most definitely didn’t pay for it. Needless to say, the only guilt I feel when I throw it away (often unopened) is the regret over the trees that came down to make it. I’m sure it’s a good magazine, but the truth is, fashion magazines have just never been my thing (no surprise to the people who know me) – that is, unless they’re about home fashion. Those I read cover to cover, and keep for years.

Needless to say, you can imagine how heartbroken I was when I opened the plastic on magazine #2 – Country Home – and read that this was to be their last issue. I re-read the letter ten times, hoping that the message would somehow change. No luck.

I wouldn’t say that my home is necessarily “country” – so in theory it shouldn’t matter all that much to me. But the thing is, this magazine has provided simple inspiration to me for as long as I can remember. The common theme over the years has been about surrounding yourself with whatever it is you love, and celebrating life. That’s not a theme that’s about style – that’s about values. Knowing what you value and love, and taking time to celebrate it – that is the core of “The Good Life.”

So even in these difficult economic times, stay focused on the positives. Remember to celebrate those things that you value. Love your spouse. Hug your children. Call a friend. Show your support to an organization you believe in. Say a prayer.

Every day is a choice… choose The Good Life.

February 20, 2009

Watch Out Bo Peep

For as long as I can remember, from the day we had the first frost in the fall, until sometime around Memorial Day, I always had cold hands and feet. It didn't matter if I wore gloves, or layer upon layer of socks -- if it wasn't 80 degrees outside, I had ice cube-like extremities.

The old adage, "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" made me smile when I was younger -- but after 40 years it got a little old. And to be honest, cold hands and feet made me crabby.

Well, at long last, I've solved the answer to the cold feet dilemma. Uggs.

I guess I should have figured that sheepskin boots would be naturally warming - but for years, when I looked at them, all I could think about were those God-awful wallabees that I had as a kid. The thought of buying them ranked right up there with buying a skirt in the same plaid as my grade school uniform.

Well, it looks like my next fashion purchase will be a plaid skirt, because after nearly 2 months of wearing my boots every, single day -- I am officially hooked on sheepskin. It's pathetic, but I'm dreaming about things like sheepskin slippers, blankets, and coats. The heck with heated seats in the car -- just get some sheepskin covers.

Watch out Bo Peep, the possibilities are endless.

February 19, 2009

The Philosophy of Nicholas & Sarah

Did you ever notice that there are some people who have these incredible memories? They remember names, faces, dates, and things like how much they paid for their first car. Those people amaze me, and in truth I'm kind of envious of them for having that treasure trove of memories in their brains.

Over the years I've learned to accept the fact that my memory is pretty bad -- with the exception of those things that I remember like they were yesterday. Like family vacations to Cape May every summer -- and the amazing smell when you walked off the boardwalk into Morrow's Nut House. Or the night I met my husband at The Cask in Boston. Or the time I tripped going up onto the stage to be the magician's assistance at the Knights of Columbus Family Party.

Incredibly vivid memories -- every one of them. But there is one memory I have that I truly believe was a defining moment in my life.

It was spring of my senior year of college, and I was struggling with the "big question" about what I was supposed to do with my life. One of my roommates (and best friend), Michelle and I, decided to go to my parents' house one Sunday afternoon -- probably to do laundry. It was one of the first nice days of spring, and we were sitting in the driveway at my parents' house talking about life and trying to find the answer to the "big question."

The little neighbor girl (whose name I don't remember, so we'll just call her Sarah) was out playing in her yard with her younger brother, Nicholas. Sarah may have been 4 or 5 years old -- and when she saw us in the driveway, she came skipping over to us all giggly and grinning. Nicholas toddled along behind with sticky fingers, a runny little nose (you know the kind that makes bubbles when you breathe) and an enormous one-year old grin. You could tell he just adored his sister as he teetered behind her trying to keep his balance.

"Hello! What's you're name?" Sarah asked when she got to our driveway. Nicholas just grinned and came over and climbed into my lap.

Michelle and I introduced ourselves, then proceeded to talk to Sarah about all the things that a 5-year old wants to talk about -- dolls, butterflies, clouds, pigtails, pierced ears and the like. Nicholas just kept grinning and occasionally would reach up and touch my nose with his filthy little fingers.

All of the sudden, Sarah just stopped talking, and she stood up and looked at her brother, then she looked at us and said, "Nicholas is a cutie pie, and I just wanna hug him." And she did, right there and then she hugged her brother, and the two of them giggled like crazy.

It wasn't a minute later that she said goodbye and took off back to her yard, and Nicholas tried to keep up behind her.

Michelle and I sat in the driveway laughing about how adorable the two of them were. They didn't have a care in the world, and the most important thing was just being together, making friends and being happy.

"You know, Lol*, " Michelle said to me, "That's what it's all about. Right there -- that's the secret to life -- just be happy."

We sat silently in the driveway for a few minutes and digested the words -- both of us realizing that plain and simple truth.

The ride back to Muhlenberg that night was an easy one. All the stress of trying to answer "the big question" was gone, and we just laughed each time one of us would mimic little Sarah's words, "Nicholas is a cutie pie, and I just wanna hug him."

I may still be trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, but fortunately Nicholas and Sarah taught us the best philosophy of life -- just be happy.

*Note: Lol is a nickname I've had since I was a child. My nieces & nephews call me Lolly...and someday I hope my grandkids will call me Lolly and my husband Pop. The nickname came long before LOL meant Laugh Out Loud...but I'm pretty pleased with that acronym. :)