Finding Friends in Odd Places

So if you read my last post, you know that we are in the midst of having our kitchen renovated. Finally, after 20 years of planning and 10 years of yearning and 2 years of sheer desperation, we are having our kitchen renovated.


Naturally, being the overly dramatic Italian woman that I am, I have shed some tears over past memories. But now that the new clean, white, wide, sturdy cabinets are in, I’m feeling a whole lot better.

The process isn’t finished quite yet, as I have no counters and no sink, but it still looks a million times better than it did two weeks ago.

I’m delighted with my new space.

But the best part?

The guys who did the work are now three people we consider to be friends.

It’s funny. The crew who did this fabulous work are all blue collar, red voting, conservative GOP guys. One is a retired cop.

To get to our house, they had to turn in just past the rainbow flag. They parked their cars by the shed with the huge “BLACK LIVES MATTER” banner. They maneuvered past our cars with their “Millionaires Can’t Buy Bernie!” stickers and their “People’s Party” magnets.

The Chauvin trial was on TV while they were here, and I was watching it the whole time.

Should have been awkward to say the least, right?

But these three men were kind, thoughtful, funny and open minded. I gave them coffee, offered them lunch, laughed about getting in their way. They cleaned up every speck of dust they created, thanked me for letting them use the bathroom, and helped with more than one little issue that cropped up during the week.

We shared our opinions with honesty and respect. We laughed about our differences. At one point, I handed out cups of coffee and one of the guys said, “Jeez, who knew socialists could make such good coffee.” I kidded them that if they used the soap in my bathroom they’d turn into commies.

The man who owns the construction company brought his beautiful German Shepard with him every day. He told me that she’d be happy to stay in the truck while he worked, but I have a fenced in dog yard and two excitable young dogs. So every day for a week, that Shepard came into the yard and ran and played and chased with my dogs. The payoff, of course, was three tired and supremely happy dogs every night.

And on a few of the days, that same man brought his daughter with him to my house. At first he was hesitant, and promised that she’d only be there for a short time and that she had a backpack full of things to entertain herself. He said that she wouldn’t bother me.


That wonderful young lady and I spent the better part of two full days together and it was the best part of my week. We went outside on a nature hunt. We painted. We sketched. She came with me to my violin lesson. We shared music, and played video games and ate lunch together. She was a shining light who brought me so much joy. I taught her how to say “I love you” in Russian and we hugged each other as we said it. She asked her Dad if she could come back to see me soon, and if I could be her babysitter once or twice.

With our arms around each other, we looked at her Dad, my contractor and simultaneously begged him “Please????”

Life if such a funny thing.

I am just about the most opinionated old lady around. I wear my heart and my thoughts on my sleeve. I regularly yell at the TV when the speaker says things that strike me as wrong.

But in my house, in my kitchen, surrounded by kind and loving humans, all of that political stuff falls away, and friendships bloom.

If only we could find a way to spread that into the wider world, huh?

I Met Someone

I met the most fascinating woman last weekend! Although I went to high school with her son, I’d never known anything about Jean before now.

But in meeting her, and getting to know a little bit about her life, I found myself enchanted with this older lady.

Jean was born in March, like me, but her birthday predates mine by 33 years. Even so, I felt like we were kindred souls.

I learned last weekend that Jean was born in the small city of Berlin, NH. My family has been going on vacation in the same area for almost 50 years, and I know Berlin very well! That was one thing that made me feel a connection. Jean described looking up at the beautiful Presidential Range which overlooks the city, talking about how deeply she appreciated the beauty of the spot.

It could have been my husband or one of my children talking! That range is their favorite place in the world.

As I learned more about Jean, I also learned that she loved music intensely. In fact, she loved it so much that she defied her penny pinching father by renting an instrument in his name and taking lessons that he ended up paying for. I laughed out loud at that story.

Like me, my new acquaintance was a young nerd. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been as smart or as studious as Jean, but like her I have always loved to read. We both love to learn new things, even as we age.

What I liked best about Jean, though, was her life philosophy. I can’t remember her exact words, but it was something like this: “To find as much pleasure as possible without hurting anyone.”

I want to be like her. I want to be as full of joy. I want to be as dedicated to enjoying my life.

I’m so glad that I got to meet Jean. I wish I’d met her years ago, when there was still time for us to be friends.

You see, Jean died last February, at the tender age of 95.

I was never lucky enough to have actually met her.

But Jean was a writer. She recorded the stories of her life. She wrote with love, and with humor. The warmth of her voice as a writer pulled me in and allowed me to feel like her friend.

What a gift!

Many thanks to Stacy and Louise for sharing Jean’s story with me!

Memories, new and old

I am in bed.

I am in a beautiful lake house in Vermont, three hours from my home. It’s raining out and it promises to rain for this entire long weekend.

I’m the only one in bed this early. I am very, VERY tired.

I am curled up on this unknown bed in this lovely AirBnB house on a cold but beautiful lake. The room is warm and cosy. I feel pampered. I feel safe.

Downstairs I can hear voices. They are the voices of some of the women I love the most in all the world. They are laughing, talking, questioning, sharing stories. I’ve known all of them for at least 45 years. Some I’ve known for longer.

This is my high school best friends weekend. We are eight women, all in our early 60’s. We’ve had lives, careers, families, loves won and loves lost. We are wise. We are, every single one of us, very very strong.

We are friends.

We accept each other and celebrate each other and hold each other up.

I am so tired.

Tomorrow we will venture out into the rain and ice and visit the city nearby. We will shop and walk and eat dinner and laugh, and then we’ll probably laugh some more.

Tonight I will turn out my light. I’ll lay on my side, in this wide and comfortable bed. I will listen to the music of my friends’ voices as they catch up on all the news of each other’s lives.

I feel hugged. I feel loved.

This is the magic that keeps us going.


Jeez, what a jerk

close up me

Do you ever have those days when you know, with absolute certainty, that you are a big fat jerk?

I do.

More often than I like, actually.

I mean, I try to be a good person. I try to be kind, to be generous, to be welcoming. I do. I try.

But sometimes in the middle of a visit or a social event, I step back just long enough (like 2 seconds) to listen to myself, and I have to think, “Oh, my God. What a JERK.”

Sometimes it’s because I’m not listening well enough. Sometimes I catch myself doing that awful, selfish thing. I sorta, kinda listen to the other person just because I’m dying for the other person to pause so I can respond.


And then there is the whole “I know everything” syndrome from which I have suffered for years. I HATE people who answer every comment with how much more they know about everything than I do.

No kidding. I can’t STAND that. I mean, maybe I mention something about making homemade ravioli and the other person immediately jumps into a long lecture about the proper ratio of semolina to whole wheat flour. It does not matter if that person lived in Tuscany for a year studying under a master chef. It still just plain pisses. me. off.

So why do I do the same thing to my own friends and family?

I don’t know.

The other day I had a rare and very treasured visit from two family members. Two wonderful women who I’ve loved for 40 years. Women who are kind, smart, funny, loving, and (thankfully) forgiving. We started to talk about the medical issues that face us in middle age. You know, aches, pains, insomnia….I should have listened. I should have asked how they were feeling. I should have commiserated and made supportive sounds.

Instead I launched into a stupid lecture about medical treatments, benzodiazepine dependence and the benefits of cannabis butter.


Even as the words were flowing like a backed up sink right out of my big mouth, I was thinking, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!!!!”


I guess its a good thing to recognize my weaknesses and personal foibles. That way I can a) keep myself awake for three nights in a row telling myself that I’m a horrible person and am totally undeserving of friends and b) work toward being a better listener, friend, relative.

It also helps to put these thoughts into a little blog that is rarely read. That way I’ve thrown it out there, given it to the universe and possibly garnered a few supportive comments.

BUT: tell me the truth! Don’t you just HATE those know it all types?


Coming Full Circle


Making a snow angel at my ripe old age.  Because my friends still think we’re all 16!


I have thought a lot about this post.

I mean, A LOT.

Usually when I write,  I just sort of  notice that a thought  is fleeting through my tiny brain. I grab my laptop,  jot things down, hit publish and call it done.

Not this time, though.

This blog post is SERIOUS business. There will be editing for a change.

I need to get this right!

Because I have reached a new point in my writing life: this time the people I’m writing about are probably going to read my words.

Yeah…no pressure!

And I really, really want to get it right this time! I really want to capture my thoughts and my emotions because I am pretty damn sure that I am getting very, very close to discovering the meaning of life.

The reason for our existence.

The source of longevity, health and true joy.


Let me back up a bit, if you don’t mind.


Me, once upon a time.


We found each other when we were still children.  We were in classrooms together. We sat at the same lunch tables. We went on field trips, played on teams, shared pajama parties and crushes and dances and dates.

We were friends.

When we were 17, we thought that those friendships would last forever. How could they not? When you watch people grow up, you know them at an almost cellular level.  When you share experiences like first kisses, first beers, first hangovers, secret cigarettes and adolescent rebellion, you feel like you’ve got so much info on each other that your lives will always be entwined.

But time went on for us, as it always seems to do.  We headed for colleges and jobs and marriages and kids and moves and travel and illness. We grew up, we found other connections, we tried on different lives.  We became our serious grown up selves, and that was a very good thing for all of us! We had good lives, all of us. We were lucky.  We were mostly happy. We persevered.

And years flew by.

We no longer thought of each other every day, or even every month. We didn’t know each other’s children. We no longer knew each other.

We thought that we had  somehow become different.

I shouldn’t speak for the others, but I know that I believed myself to have become completely changed from the girl I once was, even though I had happily married one of that very group.  I believed that I’d become different from my past, from those teen aged friends. I believed that what we had once had in common was no longer valid or true.

So when a chance came up for us to reconnect after more than 35 years, I was less than enthusiastic. I was sure that all of the other women would be thin and fit and gorgeous and successful. I was afraid that all of the their kids had gone from the Ivy League to Wall Street or Madison Avenue or Boardwalk and Park Place.  I was curious, but more than cautious.

But we got together. We reunited for a weekend, carefully and politely.

And it was nice.

So we did it again.

And again.

This past weekend, a bunch of us gathered in Maine at the beautiful old house of one of that High School group.  She and her husband, another alumnus of our suburban town, had invited us up to ski and skate and tromp through the snow.

And it was THE BEST.

You know why?  Not because of the fabulous food that we all chipped in to buy and cook, although that was pretty great.   Not because of the gorgeous historic old house and the warm fires burning there, although those were incredibly cozy and welcoming.  Not because of the snow, or the beautiful woods or the wine or the chance to get away.

It was fantastic because it was………I guess it was so special because we all…….well…

Because it was so easy.  It was so natural and so real.  Those of us from the old High School crowd walked around in our sweatpants and our fuzzy socks. Our spouses slouched around with “hat head” and old jeans and comfy slippers. We weren’t afraid of each other or comparing ourselves to each other.  We shared our struggles and our aches and pains and our worries.  We listened and we commiserated and we laughed.

And there, my friends, you find the “meaning of life”.

World renowned philosopher that I am not, I will now share this key life lesson: Its all about the connections you make.  Its all about the connections you keep.  Or the connections that you recreate. (And I owe this insight to my husband, who was a part of that original group and who pushed me gently into that first reunion).

I can sum up the magic of this past weekend in two short vignettes.

One was when I pulled one of my friends into my arms, and exclaimed with joy, “You look fantastic!”  There was a time in our lives when that statement would have meant, “You look sexy and beautiful and young and fashionable.”   Now it meant, “The sight of your familiar and beloved face is just exactly what my heart needs at this moment!!!!”

The other was as we said goodbye this morning, heading off into the snowy morning.  We all hugged, High School pals and spouses. “Let’s do this again soon!” “Come see us in the spring!” “Let’s go sailing!” “When can we come back?”

And we all meant every single word.  We absolutely without a doubt WILL get together again to laugh, eat, play, get silly, reminisce and laugh some more.

THAT is the meaning of life.  This time I KNOW that these friendships will be a part of me for the rest of my life.

Thank you, thank you dear friends!  I hope I did us justice here. If not, just pretend you loved it, OK?

Being Open

Keeping the heart open

Keeping the heart open

If I’ve learned anything in the past year, its that I need to let myself be open to new experiences.  I need to let go of the “what ifs” and embrace the “let’s sees”.

I first learned the lesson last winter when we took in Lucas, our German exchange student.  That one was easy for me, though.  A boy was in need of a loving home.  I was a mom in need of boy to love.  Easy.   We opened our doors, took Lucas in, and allowed ourselves to enjoy six months with someone to cook for, someone to greet us in the morning, someone to worry about, someone to help with chores.

And through Lucas, we were able to have our second “just be open” experience. That one came when we got to know his Mom and her husband through the miracle of Skype.  We had emailed them, or course, as soon as Lucas came to live with us. “We’ve got him! He’s here, we’ll take good care of him”, we messaged.  Our emails went back and forth for a couple of weeks, and then Lucas asked us to Skype.  Paul and I don’t particularly enjoy the kind of forced conversation that comes with Skype, and we didn’t even know these people at all. We speak no German, and don’t know much about the country or culture. “Twenty minutes”, we told each other, “We’ll just say hello, show them the house, answer any questions they might have.”  So Lucas made the connection, we put on good clothes and sat somewhat awkwardly on the couch with him between the two of us.

Two hours later, we finally said good bye with many promises from both sides to “do this again soon!” Kisses were blown, hands were waved, “Bye-bye” and “guten nacht” were called out.  We logged off and looked at each other in amazement. “Wow”, Paul said, “They’re fantastic!”

It was only this week that we learned that the very same conversations had happened in Germany before and after that Skype session. “Twenty minutes “, Katja had assured her husband before the call.  “We’ll just introduce ourselves and thank them.  We don’t even know these people.”   And then, “Wow!” when the call was ended.

Because we were open to something new when Lucas needed a home, because we didn’t let our common sense talk us out of it or remind us of all of the possible complications and inconveniences, we had let ourselves make a connection with a wonderful couple across the world from us.

Pretty sweet!

Fast forward 9 months, and you will come to our third “open yourself” lesson in this surprising life.  After more long Skype sessions, glasses of wine “shared” vicariously on the screen, and many long stories, some laughs and even some tears, we had arranged to have Katja, Lucas and Jörg stay with us for a week this month. And we are in the middle of planning a trip to see them in Germany next summer.

Can you imagine? Two total strangers (technically) coming to live in our small house with our big dogs, leaving the beautiful city of Berlin and spending time in the wilderness!? We were nervous but so excited to host them!  It has been even better than we could have dreamed!

We feel like we’ve known them our whole lives.  What a joy to find people who are so smart, compatible, flexible, honest, easy.  What a week!  We took a trip to the Cape, went to Portsmouth New Hampshire, hosted a cocktail party for them and took a trip into Boston.

And it was in Boston where our final serendipitous encounter took place.

We were at Faneuil Hall, the historic old seaport area where sites from the American Revolution brush up against trendy shops and upscale restaurants.  A fun and vibrant part of our city, and one that Paul and I have seen many times before.  Our guests went to do some shopping while we walked around the original Faneuil Hall building itself.  And it was there, in front of a display about the first African American Regiment to fight in the Civil War that we made the acquaintance of a young woman from Seattle.  We started to chat about history, but moved quickly onto more personal stories.  The woman was pretty and warm and it was so easy to talk with her.  She had a fresh, honest face and I liked her at first glance. Truly, if I were to choose a word to describe her, it would have to be “open”.  Within a few minutes of meeting, I had told her that I was a retired teacher who loves history, and she’d told us that she was the mother of a three year old girl, and was on a work trip to Boston from Seattle. She began to cry as she said this, with the kind of gentle, graceful tearfulness that I thought only Ingrid Bergman could achieve.  As she wiped her tears and ruefully explained that she hadn’t ever been away from her daughter for five whole days, and missed her terrible, I opened my arms and pulled her into a hug.

It sounds pretty strange as I write this; what kind of lunatic old couple walks around talking to strangers and then hugging them? We didn’t even know each others’ names yet, but here she was, this tall, fair woman, crying on my shoulder.

We found out as we continued our conversation that she was also grieving the sudden recent loss of a close friend. Another hug for that one! And then we found out that she speaks fluent German, and that she was rushing around to see a few historical sites before returning to her hotel at dusk.  She was alone, and didn’t know the city, so she wanted to be safely in her room by dark.  She would be heading home the next morning, so this was her one chance to see part of the city.

So naturally, having learned to be open to new people and new experiences, we invited her to join us for dinner in the North End. She was surprised and delighted; see? She’s very open!

We walked through the city with our new German friends and our new American acquaintance.  We talked all the way, both languages flowing.  We had an incredibly delicious meal in a little restaurant called “Bella Vista” on Hanover St. We ate a pile of pastries and fresh cannoli.

And we hugged and exchanged contact information as we said good night and headed home.

So we find ourselves, having learned to be more open, with an upcoming trip to Germany and an open invitation to visit Seattle.  We find ourselves with new close friends in Katja and Jörg, a third son in Lucas, and the memory of having offered comfort and friendship to a beautiful young woman in a tough spot.

What could be better than that?

So, what if????

What if you had a friend, a person that you hadn’t seen in a long time?  I mean, a very, VERY long time?  Like, what if you hadn’t seen this person in over 35 years? And what if you hadn’t really ever been close friends, even way back in the past?

What if that friend had moved across the ocean decades ago, and had created a whole new life in Europe?

And what if you sort of stumbled upon each other, through a whole network of mutual friends, on Facebook?  How would you feel if it turned out that the old, nearly forgotten friend seemed to be really, really in tune with your entire life philosophy?

What would you do?

What if that old friend, that boy you hadn’t seen since he was an adorable nineteen year old, suddenly said that he was coming to the US?  What would you do?

I bet you’d do pretty much what I did!

I invited him to spend a couple of days with us!

So now I am sitting in my living room, waiting for Paul to bring Thomas home to our house.   The house is clean(ish).  The dogs are fed.  The guest room is all made up.  I have vegan snacks and vegan dinner (yay, pizza!) all ready.  I have beer on ice and wine in the fridge.

I’m nervous!

What if I seem really old?  I mean, the last time we saw each other, I was young and thin and dark haired!  What if Thomas hates dogs? What if he hates my vegan pizza?

What if I am being a complete loonie tune right now, and what if I am forgetting that even in the late fifties, people can reestablish old friendships?  What if I am underestimating my friend, expecting him to be all judgy and unkind?

What if, once Thomas gets here, and we all sit down to our pizza and snacks and wine and beer, it turns out that we really truly do have so much in common? What if we talk about climate change, and Bernie Sanders and marriage equality, and what if we laugh and reminisce and tell funny stories?

What if we find out that even after all these years, even after so much change and growth and aging, we are still able to find like-minded souls out there in the big world?

What if it turns out that all those years ago, when I wasn’t wise enough to see it, I was already in the presence of a very good friend?

ESP? Or what?

For my entire life, I have been aware that I have a little bit of….well….ESP.  Or some kind of mind reading skill. Or maybe a weird kind of serendipity.  Or something.

When I was little, I learned about this skill from my Mom, who had an absolutely uncanny ability to identify the caller when the phone rang.   “Oh, its Nana”, she’d say calmly as she reached for the ringing phone.  I just sort of assumed that everyone had the same skill.  As I got older, though, I realized that Mom’s talent was unusual, to say the least.

Later, when I was in my teens, I discovered that I had the same strange ability to recognize or create moments of perfect symmetry.  Moments of strange coincidence.

Let me give you some examples.

When I was 17, I was an exchange student. I was sent to Tunisia to live with a family for three months, learning about the culture and language. As part of the trip, I attended a two day orientation in NY City.  My group, the Tunisia kids, consisted of 18 teenaged Americans from all over the country.  I was put in a room with three other young women, and told that I would share a double bed with one of them.  We randomly paired off, and I found myself bunking in with the lovely Patty, of Long Island.  As we chatted and asked questions and slowly got to know each other, we realized that we shared a birthday. In fact, we were born within ten minutes of each other.  Both of us were the second child in Italian American Families. Both had older brothers. Both had a younger sister named Liz; they were born four days apart!

It was weird, and we knew it.  We are still friends.

When I grew up and had my own children, I moved to this small town in Central Massachusetts.  I made some friends, but didn’t realize that my odd talent for coincidence had followed me here. Not until my youngest child fell in love for the very first time.  The young lady of his dreams has a wonderful Mom, who quickly became a friend.  She also happens to share my birthday, in date if not in year.  Sweet!  And that’s not all, oh no. The young lady’s oldest brother went off to West Point after graduating from High School. Where he became close friends with (are you ready?) the oldest son of my friend from Long Island.

Seriously weird, right?

I have begun to believe that I carry a certain “karma”, too.  A certain sense of payback, for good or ill.

I once provided speech/language support to a little girl at our school, even though she did not technically qualify for “special education.” I knew that I could help her, and so I did.  I got a LOT of pressure and pushback from the rest of the special ed world, but I held my ground, and I helped the child.

Fast forward some 12 years, and the mother of that child became the mentor and teammate of my daughter when mine became a new teacher in our district.  Karma, right? Coincidence. Serendipity.

My life is filled with these kinds of small connections.

Today I had a busy day, putting the garden to bed, cleaning the house, correcting 24 essays.  At last the day began to wane, and I put dinner in the oven. I poured a glass of wine and pulled out a piece of stationary.  This week is the birthday of one of my dearest and oldest friends.  We met some 35 years ago, and became incredibly close. We sang in a choir together, worked as interpreters together, shared the angst of our twenties.  Paul and I even introduced her to her husband! Our children were friends. She is one of the people who knows me best in all the world.

She moved across the country long ago, but we have somehow managed to hold onto the love that we feel for each other.  This afternoon, my heart and mind were filled with images of my dear Deb, and all of the wonderful memories that we have shared over all these years.  I sat down, and I wrote her a long and tender birthday note.  I sealed it, put on a stamp, placed in on the countertop where I will be sure to mail it in the morning.

And then I booted up my email.  And there it was.  For the first time in at least a year, my technology averse friend Deb had sent me an email.  Talking about every single item that I had written about in my note. Every one.

I don’t know exactly what this is.  I don’t know if I have a strange kind of ESP or what.  All I know is that I am surrounded by coincidences that don’t seem to be a coincidence. I am supported by a sense of karma that prevents me from being cruel or cold to strangers, who may one day turn out to be my greatest supports.

I don’t know what this is.

But I REALLY like it a lot.



I have a friend who likes spiders.  She admires their usefulness, happy that they eat so many bugs and garden pests.

She is supremely tolerant of her eight legged friends, even living in peaceful harmony with a black widow spider who lives behind her house.   As my friend told this story, I shuddered in disgust and horror.  I am the proud owner of a serious case of arachnophobia, and I could barely imagine lying down to sleep at night, knowing that just outside my window there lurked a venomous and deadly guest, busily working to ensnare her prey.   I said as much to my friend, but she shook her head at my foolishness.

“But they eat bad bugs.”she said, trying to talk me out of my fear.  “And they build such amazing webs.”  She went on to describe the densely woven tapestries, stretching from wall to wall behind her house, providing a place for the little spider to hide, as well as a source for her sustenance.

She didn’t convince me of the benefits of spiders, of course; I could no more live in the company of  a black widow than I could bring an alligator into the living room as my pet.   But she did get me thinking.

She got me thinking about the threads that form our own life webs.

The black widow conversation took place at a gathering of old friends, people I’ve known for more than 4o years.  As one of our group put it, “These are people who knew me before I had any idea who me would turn out to be.”  Some of us met when we were twelve years old; some even younger.  I’ve known one of them since we were in the second grade!

And here we were, gathering to eat and laugh and catch up with each other at the age of 57!

There are threads that bind me to these people, as surely as the spider’s web connects one wall of my friend’s house to the wall on the other side.  Those ties, those filaments of friendship, bind my life to the lives of my old classmates, and they branch out to the spouses, partners, children and parents of those friends, too. I pictured those little strands of silk being reinforced and strengthened with each visit and each shared memory, like the web of the spider being strengthened as she passes back and forth across it.

Each of us has a web like this, made up of the connections to all of the people in our lives. I know that the strongest, most durable threads in my life are made of the links to my husband and children, and to my parents and siblings.  But each of those links branches off, too, to their friends, loves, partners, parents.

There are threads that bind me to the people at work, and to the people in their lives.  And there are more and more threads, going out and out, building the web that is my life. Threads that spread out to my students and their families, and to the people in my town, and to my doctor and my hairdresser and to the mechanic I’ve known for 23 years now!

And just like the beautiful, intricate web that shelters and nourishes the black widow, the web of my own life provides me with support, shelter and nourishment for my heart and my soul.  And I know that each time I connect with another human being, I am adding a thread to the web of that person’s life, and that each web is joined to millions of others.

I’m still afraid of spiders, but I have become a huge fan of those artful, delicate, ever changing webs, and of all that they provide.

A toast to everyone in my web: thank-you!!!


When we’re children, it seems, we are often asked to talk or write about our heroes.  I can remember writing about my Mother as a role model, and I can remember writing about Golda Meir as a symbol of a powerful woman.  In High School I found Maya Angelou, and she became a huge source of inspiration for me.

Young people are supposed to be seeking inspiration, I guess.

Or inspiration is supposed to find young people and bathe them in its golden glow.  I don’t know.

I wonder why we stop looking for role models when we get older?

I know that once I hit the ripe old age of 30 and had some kids to raise, I sort of just settled into myself and I lost some of that early self-reflection.

Now, though, I am once again at one of life’s crossroads.  No longer an active Mommy, no longer looking for the next step in my profession.  Generally content with my middle aged self.  But still looking to grow!

So I have looked around me and wondered.  Who is it in my life that I would like to emulate?  Somewhat surprisingly (to me!) there are a whole bunch of people I can look to!

And here is my little “homage” to some of those who inspire me.

First off would be my son Matt.  At 22 years old, he hasn’t really lived all that long, and hasn’t had a whole lot of life experiences.  Here is what inspires me about him: He is probably the only person I know who has a truly open and non-judgmental mind. He is politically and socially very progressive, and leans quite far to the left.  But he is able to somehow accept the fact that “everyone thinks they’re right.”  He is able to listen, to weigh opinions, and (here is what I can only hope to emulate:) he doesn’t get mad.   He learned this trick as a kid, when he figured out that if he just stayed calm when I was fussing at him, and didn’t argue back, the whole storm would blow over much more quickly.   I keep him in mind a lot when I read or talk politics.

Second would be my friend Wendy.  I have known Wendy since we were in our earliest days of our marriages, back when our husbands became work friends. We’ve stayed friends through almost 30 years of working motherhood, education reform (she’s a retired teacher) and emptying nests.

Wendy is 5 years older than I am, and here is why she inspires me.

She actively looks for fun and then she goes and gets it.   And she has mastered the art of finding joy in the truly little things!  Now that she is retired, and has free time, she has done a lot of the usual things to stay active and engaged: church, gardening, friends, travel.

But last weekend we were together for a few days, and Wendy and I were in the kitchen getting out snacks before dinner. She was chatting and laughing, as always, and I asked if she wanted a glass of wine.  She said something that I just loved.  She said that everyone in her family, including her now grown kids, is always talking about different beers.  She had never been a beer drinker, she informed me, so she had decided to try out a variety of beers.  “I’m going to have Sam Adams Oktoberfest!”

What inspired me was her excitement. She was really, truly delighted with the idea of beer!  In her early 60’s, instead of sticking to the safe and known, my friend is embracing all of the little untried pleasures she can find, and having the time of her life while doing it.

Now, THAT is inspirational.