On covering former First Lady Laura Bush

In light of yesterday's patriotic mood in honor of Memorial Day, I thought today would be an ideal time to share my experience covering the conversation between Laura Bush, Barbara Pierce Bush and Soledad O'Brien at the AARP Life@50+ event in Boston a few weeks ago.

Life@50+ Laura Bush presentation

As a guest...

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What made me smile, er, cry this week

Happy Friday!things that make me smile

Other than seeing via FaceTime Bubby's pride and joy at losing his first tooth and learning from the editor (in another phone call with her!) that my picture book manuscript is still under serious consideration for publication at a fabulous publishing house, the video below is what most made me smile this week. After those first two things, of course.

More accurately, the following video made me...

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Precisely perfect: Grandma's 5 awesome moments from the past week

In the midst of the aggravating there's always some awesome. Following are the exact awesome moments that negated any of my aggravations during the past week:

loving brothers 

Saturday, March 29
10 a.m.-11:18 a.m.

I was invited to screen Disney's THE PIRATE FAIRY last Saturday in the theater before...

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Mosh-pit Mom, or, How Grandma's career got its start

My writing career and where it's headed have been on my mind a lot lately.

So, too, has been where my writing career began.

mosh-pit mom

I've written and fantasized about being a writer for as long as I can remember. It wasn't until nearly 20 years ago, though, that I became...

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2014... In color and in word

The company Pantone is the authority on color, and every year Pantone chooses a Color of the Year.

For many years now, I've been intrigued by the winning hues. Because I'm not hip or up on color or fashion in any sense of the word, I think it's possibly the words themselves — some of the names given the color of the year — that most make me smile.

Pantone Color of the Year 2014

In years past there's been...

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You get what you need when you need it most

Anne Lamott water wings quote

What I learned this week
Maybe it was the fact I was home alone this week after spending several busy days with my grandsons last week. Or maybe it's hormones. Or perhaps it's the weather changing. Whatever the reason, I've been off my game for the past several days.

My primary off-game symptom has been feeling kind of down on myself about where I'm headed — or more accurately, not headed — with my writing. Having been a writer of one degree or another for the past few decades, I get that most writers get that way now and again. That's little consolation.

Wednesday, just as I was hitting bottom and frustrating even the dogs with my negative attitude all because I felt like I was writing <cuss> — if I was writing at all — I got an email notification of a new tweet on Twitter that mentioned me. As I was open to doing anything other than staring at a screen of my words that weren't stringing together satisfactorily, I clicked on over to Twitter and found this:

tweet pic

Tears came to my eyes. Seriously. That's how much that tweet meant to me, how much I needed to hear that my words matter, that my words make a difference somewhere, somehow, to someone.

The someone perplexed me. I have no idea who Rosie Kuhn is. I have never interacted with her on Twitter or elsewhere before. She doesn't follow me, I don't follow her. Well, we didn't before Wednesday.

But for some reason my words on being heartbroken when I learned I'd be a grandma resonated with Ms. Kuhn, possibly gave her something she needed. In return, she gave me — a total stranger — what I needed. When I needed it most.

That small tweet from her that meant big things to me was yet another in a long line of moments of late when I've gotten exactly what I needed when I needed it most. Not earthshaking victories of any sort, but confirmation what I need will come.

Because, yes, you get what you need when you need it most.

And you're reminded of that when you most need to remember it.

That is what I learned this week.

PS: I also learned this week that I want to go back to posting on Saturdays, after having taken the weekends off during the summer. Stay tuned for tomorrow's Saturday post, a feature you'll find here every Saturday going forward. I hope you enjoy it!

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?

Prayers and a post somewhere else

As a blogger, knowing how much private story to share with readers and how much to keep shuttered away for only those one knows in person can be a challenge. I sincerely want to share myself and be transparent with those who take the time to read Grandma's Briefs. If I shared here each and every personal struggle I face, though, I'm pretty darn sure you'd get sick and tired of reading about them. I know for a fact I would get sick and tired of sharing them.

So I've not yet shared the hell of the past 10 days with you. But today I will. I'm sharing today because I need to request healing thoughts and prayers from you and I need to explain why I'm sending you elsewhere — when bloggers are supposed to do all they can to keep visitors on their blog — to read a post written by me but published on another site. (Chalk it up to that whole "freelancer" thing I so want to be when I grow up.)

One of my favorite photos of my sister Debbie as a young girl. She still has that smile, that light in her eyes.See, my younger sister Debbie — the second youngest of my four sisters — has been in and out of ICU since a week ago Monday... August 26. To make a long story a teensy bit shorter, Debbie was rushed by ambulance to the hospital when her lungs and heart went into distress early Monday morning. Things haven't been good ever since, at least not for very long. She'd get stable, then have a coughing fit that would stop her heart. Lifesaving measures have been instituted a time or two.

Yesterday Debbie was transported by ambulance to the ICU at a hospital in Denver. Today she faces a heart procedure to try and figure out what's happening and how to stop it.

My sister just turned 45 August 22. This is crazy. And scary.

So today I'm asking you to please send healing prayers for my sister and for all of us who love and adore the wacky woman. Thank you so very, very much.

Because of the situation with my sister, I'm unable to gather my wits enough to write a decent post of any sort for you today. That said, though, I did recently publish a decent post on another site. On Grandparents.com, to be precise. So I'm sharing that with you here today in hopes you'll read it there. It's about sharing family stories with the grandchildren, and it begins like this:

My daughter, mother of my two grandsons, is an early childhood educator. Each school year, my daughter hosts a Grandparents Day celebration and encourages her students to invite a grandparent (or two) to attend school with them. One highlight of Grandparents Day is when the students "interview" their grandparents on what school was like for them at their grandchild’s age. The anecdotes shared by the grandparents, my daughter says, never fail to dazzle and often downright befuddle the rapt grandchildren.

There’s no need to wait until Grandparents Day to amaze and entertain – as well as enlighten and educate – grandchildren with stories of not only your past, but of their past, too. Children of all ages...Click here to continue reading 6 FAMILY STORIES TO TELL YOUR GRANDCHILDREN AGAIN AND AGAIN on Grandparents.com.

Thank you for reading. More importantly, thank you for your healing thoughts and prayers for my sister.

What I learned this week: Our voices matter

child's drawing

I used to sing, now I mostly whistle. For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed accompanying music of all varieties, from big bands to little bands, from songs that rock to those that roll classically or otherwise. That accompaniment most often came by way of singing along.

Then I started losing my voice on a regular basis. Year after year — afteryearafteryearafteryear — I would get a bad cold that would quickly become laryngitis and I couldn't speak at all for days on end, much less sing. So I whistled.

Whistling came in handy when I had no voice, at least for carrying a tune. It didn't help a bit, though, when I needed to speak. For one long stretch of years, the years when I was a writer then editor at the newspaper, the loss of my voice every couple of months frustrated me to no end. I'd have interviews to conduct, people I'd have to speak to on the phone.

I'd gargle lemon juice in the morning before going to work, gargle lemon juice in the restroom at work, gargle it (or sometimes straight vinegar) before conducting an interview. The sour juices would cut through whatever rendered my vocal cords silent and and I could speak... for at least a few moments.

Sometimes, when the lack of a voice made it impossible for me to conduct my editorial business as I should, I had to ask my coworkers at times to return phone calls on important matters or I had to resort to emailing those who needed to talk to me. And this was before the days when folks checked their email on a regular basis — and long before texting was an option.

When my newspaper department was cut and my associates and I were left surviving on freelancing gigs, the loss of a voice still tripped me up now and again. I clearly recall one horrendous interview for a freelance article, a time when Froggy from Little Rascals had nothing on me and my croaking voice, yet the show, er, interview had to go on. I was so embarrassed listening to myself later as I transcribed that interview. So painful it was to hear, and so painful for my poor interviewee.

Soon after that interview, I started my blog. I've not lost my voice since.

As silly and new-agey as it may seem, I do believe in the mind-body connection, and the connection to losing my voice was this: I wasn't saying what I needed to say, the things I needed to let out, the things I wanted people to know about me and hear from me. My blog allowed me to make my voice heard. I was saying the things I needed to say, so no longer would I lose my voice.

Because I've been sick many, many times since starting my blog but have not once lost my voice, I firmly believe that through my blog I found my voice.

Through my blog others have found my voice, too. My voice seems to have resonated with the grandmas and others who have read Grandma's Briefs during the past four years. And this week I learned that my voice has resonated with others beyond grandmas, too.

See, back last year, there was a moment when I was incredibly frustrated by the manner in which I felt grandma bloggers were treated (or ignored) in the bloggy world. So I wrote a post about it, called it The Grandma in a Box. The post was so well received by the readers of Grandma's Briefs that I decided to enter it in the 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year, which is a pretty big honor for the bloggers chosen.

And this week I learned that post of mine was named — out of the 2,600 entries — not only a Voices of the Year honoree, but the People's Choice selection in the humor category. (The other categories were Inspiration, Heart and OpEd.)

My voice... among the 100 chosen. My voice... one of four People's Choice winners. My voice... now officially a voice that mattered.

So unexpected, so humbling, so exciting.

BlogHer 2013All 100 bloggers selected in the 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year — including several other midlife voices such as my Generation Fabulous friends Lois Alter Mark, Sandra Sallin, Janie Emaus (a Grilled Grandma!) and Shannon Bradley-Colleary — will be honored at the BlogHer conference July 26 in Chicago. The honor is a big deal, for me and for all the other bloggers named for their voices.

But the honor is a big deal for all grandparent bloggers, too, because my voice — a grandma voice — apparently mattered to folks who are not grandmas, folks who selected the Voices of the Year. Which is huge! That means grandma (and grandpa!) bloggers are finally getting noticed, finally being heard, finally, I hope, being let out of the box.

Not only does my voice matter, our voices matter. And that is what I learned this week, courtesy the 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year.

I'm over and out for the week, but I look forward to seeing you again Monday here for the GRAND Social link party for grandparents. It's where you can share your posts — your voice — so I hope you'll join me.

Have a lovely weekend!

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?

Where you'll find me

In light of this week's priority being hosting long-distance family members who are in town to attend my cousin's funeral, I began looking at older posts to see what I should re-publish for today instead of straining to be creative on a very full day. Then it hit me! I have several post on other sites, musings many of you may have never seen.

So today I'm sharing with you other places where you'll find me, other articles you might enjoy. Peruse as you please...

Grandparents.comGRANDPARENTS.COM —

What's a Grandma Worth?
Each Mother’s Day, Salary.com releases figures on what a mom is worth, the salary mothers working outside the home and within should make based on the duties she performs. Esteemed outlets from Forbes to Working Mother magazine tout the results, highlighting the ultimately priceless job mothers perform.

I think a similar study should be done on what a grandmother...Continue reading on Grandparents.com

To Move or Not to Move (Near the Grandkids)
I'm a long-distance grandma. On occasion, I complain about the many miles between my two grandsons and me. After a recent long-winded lamentation about what I miss out on by them living so far away, I was asked, by a non-grandma, Why don't you just move closer to them?

My short answer: Sheesh! I have a life!

My long answer: I have a life. A life filled with interests...Continue reading on Grandparents.com

Remembering Grandma
I’m a relatively new grandma, on the job for just over four years. Though a novice, it took me no time at all to consider myself THE grandma in my family — the family matriarch.

In my self-centered state, mentions of grandparenting led me to consider only my grandma experience, my state of affairs, my revered status. I’d mull the myriad ways my daughter might encourage my young grandsons to remember...Continue reading on Grandparents.com

7 Challenges Grandmas Face at Thanksgiving
Life becomes easier once we become grandmothers. With fewer obligations to meet, there’s more fun to be had. Except, that is, when it comes to the holidays, and none more so than Thanksgiving.

To wit:

1. We have to share. We were...Continue reading on Grandparents.com

Grandma is a Hoarder
I keep a fairly neat and tidy home. I head right from the mailbox to the recycling bin to throw out junk mail before entering the house. I make regular donations of unused clothing, books, and household items to Goodwill. I empty the fridge, cupboards, and closets without restraint.

When it comes to artwork from my grandkids, though, I simply...Continue reading on Grandparents.com

Grandmothers Helping Others Through Activism
A popular concept of late is that of finding one’s tribe, the group with whom we fit, folks whose values and actions resonate with and reflect what’s in our hearts. Grandmother and photojournalist Paola Gianturco found her tribe in diverse women all across the globe. Then she wrote a book about them — the inspirational grandmothers facilitating...Continue reading on Grandparents.com

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Huffington PostHUFFINGTON POST —

Who Puts Baby in a Corner? Not This Grandma
My favorite grandma never spanked me. She also never yelled at me, reprimanded me or restricted me.

My not-so-favorite grandma? Well, she never spanked me, either. She did, though, once make me drink grape juice I didn't want. I immediately vomited up the purple stuff; grandma immediately yelled at me...Continue reading on Huffington Post (Also published on Better After 50)

Good Riddance, 2012: An Open Letter to One of the Worst Years Yet
Dear 2012,

I had high hopes for you. After the economic mess 2007 and 2008 left us in, I had heard you'd set things right, bring us back to the normal we citizens all across the globe had grown to know and love — even though we didn't know how...Continue reading on Huffington Post

The Perils of Pauline Multiplied: My Girly Girl Daughter Now Mothers All-Boy Boys
My grandsons live more than 800 miles away from me, so I see them only occasionally. One of the perks of being a long-distance grandma — and there are a few — is the obvious growth and maturing of my grandsons from one visit to the next.

I delight...Continue reading on Huffington Post (Also published on Better After 50)

Becoming Grandma Too Soon: Tips for Navigating an Unplanned Pregnancy
As our children become young adults and we envision our eventual role as Grandma, we all imagine a certain scene, a certain set of events leading up to the glorious title and tasks of family matriarch. The imagined scene doesn't usually include a teen daughter — or a teen son...Continue reading on Huffington Post

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Next AvenueNEXT AVENUE

How to Help Your Unmarried Child Find Love
The current dating scene is a depressing place: too few suitable options and fewer still willing to commit. And far too many tears after yet another less-than-stellar first date.  

Such things should matter not one whit to me, a happily married 49-year-old grandmother. But they do matter — a lot. My heart breaks every time I witness, counsel and console my oldest, never-wed daughter...Continue reading on Next Avenue

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While those above featured original content, you'll also find me and my previously published content here:

Generation FabulousGENERATION FABULOUS

One Woman's Pleasure is Another's Worst Job Ever
I’ve been thinking a lot about jobs lately. I’m sure it has something to do with my friend Debbie’s retirement, my bloggy friend Tammy’s job search, and the quest of my former coworkers/current friends as they seek out freelance writing gigs to replace those drying up. Or it could have everything to do with the...Continue reading on Generation Fabulous


The Curse Takes Effect — Let the Gloating Begin
For centuries, or so I hear, mothers have placed upon the heads of their daughters The Curse. I’m talking about the doom and damnation of sorts that mothers pass along to their daughters, swearing that once they have children of their own, they will surely get their due for all the drama, trauma and heartache they once put their mothers through.

The Curse is such a cliché.

Well shiver me timbers...Continue reading on Generation Fabulous

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Yep, that's where you'll find me when I'm not here on Grandma's Briefs. There are a few others, but those are the biggies. There's more coming up, too, as amidst the madness and sadness of this week, I had articles due for two of the biggies above. I'll share with you those links, too, once they're published.

Thank you for reading!

Today's question:

What are some of your favorite websites to visit (other than Grandma's Briefs, of course)?