Monday, March 19, 2018


From the time I was child, I had a keen interest in card playing. I'm not talking about 'Go Fish' or 'Old Maids' though. Every holiday after the dishes were cleared from the dining room table, my Zedo, uncles, and cousins would dig into their pockets and pull out all the cash they had. Zedo would shuffle the deck and a three hour poker game ensued. Although I was too young to participate, I would stand on my grandfather's left side and watch every check, raise or fold that happened throughout those 180 minutes. Occasionally Zedo would point to some cards in his hand and slightly nod. I knew that meant that those were potential winners, and excitedly waited as he threw down the duds and picked up ones that could complete a flush or straight. When he was lucky enough to get the right cards, I'd remain stone-faced as the rest of my insides trembled! Zedo would raise low so that as many as possible would remain in the game. As the group dwindled, usually one of the guys would hang in there, sure that Zedo was most likely bluffing. Zedo never bluffed!

As I got older, I learned to play Gin, Pinochle, Hearts and a bunch of other variations. My hubby enjoyed cards as well, so in the early years of our marriage  we'd spend weekends with friends and family playing the night away either for bragging rights, money, or both!

Currently we haven't found folks that know the games we play or don't have the time. When I'm finished doing marketing online for my children's books, I'll head over to the Facebook GameRoom to play some Hearts. People from all over the world plug in and either accept or decline your offer. Bids range from 20-500 coins. The first time you enter the GR, you receive a number of free coins. If you run out however, you then must purchase coins in order to continue playing. I've never once had to buy coins and have been playing Hearts for over six years!

What I truly love about this game is the mental gymnastics it takes to outwit your opponents. If you play long enough, by the cards in your hand, you can actually predict what the lead-off person will throw. Throughout the game, individuals will try to divert your attention by getting rid of a particular suit. This tactic can be used to set the rest of the group up to 'shoot the moon' thus adding 26 points to their total, or simply eliminate the possibility of oneself from being caught with the Queen. I'm not about to give a tutorial now, but if you're familiar with Hearts you know what I'm talking about.

I just finished a game with Mehmet, Lillian, and Rhonda. After the first hand, I was low man on the totem pole with 24 points. Mehmet, 0, Lillian, 1, and Rhonda, 1. Next round, I had 49 points and looked like I was doomed. However in the third round, I took in all the hearts as well as the queen and handed each of the players 26 points! For the next thirty minutes or so my three opponents continued to add to their count while I remained at 49. When I won what would be the last round, I elected to increase their scores and wound up winning the game! I had 64 points while Rhonda, the loser,  had 103!

In the GR, you can challenge anyone on the list of players. Over the years, we've formed a little group that knows Hearts very well and enjoys playing folks who have similar skills and experience. We love to test each other with crazy moves and sneaky plays. Oftentimes, I'm the QUEEN OF HEARTS and I owe all of my playing prowess to my Zedo for allowing me to listen and learn!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Winter Freeze

I think I was about ten when I fell in love with poetry. At first, anything that rhymed caught my attention, but as I grew my poetic preferences matured as well.  When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher, Sister Rosemarie entered one of my poems in a national contest. After months of waiting, I received a letter saying my submission was selected and would be published in the National Poetry Anthology come spring. Finally the day arrived when my teacher handed me the official book, was asked to read my work to the class, and was graciously applauded for my success. I was on cloud nine!

Funny thing though, I couldn't tell you where that prized possession was now if you paid me, and I haven't a clue as to what the title of my poem might have been. Over the years, my writing has evolved, but every now and then I return to my beginnings and scratch out a poem or two. Since this winter has been hanging on like a bad cough causing me great angst, I decided to pen my frustrations in poetic fashion. Since I rarely do poetry now, I'm not promising national contest quality, but hopefully WINTER FREEZE will strike a cord with some of you. Enjoy!


Like the arrogant thief
Who creeps into a home
Taking valuable treasures,
So too, the Winter Freeze
Seeps under the door frames
Stealing warmth.

Long days foster dejection,
Despondency leads to defeat.
My happiness is gone.
Joy and laughter cease
Replaced with soulless stares.
I retreat.

With frustration mounting,
Hot anger bubbling up,
I relinquish my spirit.
Depression weighs on me,
Helplessness abounds,
I surrender.

Death is everywhere now.
Nature has lost its fight,
The world compromises.
I die a little, too.
Devoid of thought and zest,
I succumb.

When, if ever, will it end?
Frigid cold, howling winds
Chafe the skin, dry the throat.
The Winter Freeze pities not
Woman, man, or child,
It's power.

Why am I abandoned?
Does God not hear my cries?
Despair knocks me down.
Yet with little breath left
 And determined purpose,
I rise.

The absent sun appears
Warming the desolate earth,
Restoring faith once again!
As Spring begins to emerge
So does a Winter's prisoner,
I celebrate!

I'd like to know what you think, but since poets tend to be somewhat wimpy when it comes to reviews, please be gentle!

Blessings and Peace

Monday, March 5, 2018

PA Gun Laws: Outdated and Highly Ineffective!

Here is a synopsis of PA Gun Laws as reported in yesterday's Trib:
#1  a) No one under 21 can purchase a handgun.
      b) Those 18 or older can purchase long guns.
#2  a) Those under a PFA order MAY have guns and weapons confiscated for the duration of the order.                          
#3  a) Those under a PFA order can relinquish weapons to a dealer, friend or relative while serving the order.                        
#4  a)  Anyone committed involuntarily for mental health issues cannot purchase a weapon.
      b)  Anyone judged incompetent cannot purchase a weapon.
#5  a)  Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or owning a gun.                              
#6  a) Licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks on both handgun and long gun purchases                         .
      b) There is no similar requirement for purchasing rifles/shotguns from private parties.

Let's now examine each of these mandates from a common sense perspective.

#1 a) clearly negates #1 b) According to the law, a handgun is a 'no-no' until you are officially an adult, but allows you to purchase a long gun way before your brain is fully developed! Makes no sense in my estimation, but what the hell do I know!

#2 & #3 So those who have been issued a PFA order are still permitted to own a weapon unless the judge deems it necessary to confiscate it. And if they cannot own a weapon under the law during the time the PFA is in effect, by all means hand it over to a friend or relative for 'safe keeping'!  It has been shown again and again that the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence or stalking is when they've filed a PFA against their abuser. Having access to a gun or the ability to easily repossess a weapon from friend or family gives the perpetrator the 'go-ahead' to make good on his promises to seriously injure or kill the one who has had the courage to fight back by filing a PFA. Remember folks, a PFA is merely a piece of paper that most deranged abusers hold little to no regard for, and have no power over them once they've decided to carry out their revenge. 

#4 a&b are simply ludicrous! Okay, so you've been involuntarily committed or judged incompetent and therefore cannot purchase a handgun or long gun. By the time such commitment or incompetency has been executed, these people already have a cache of weapons that they've legally or illegally purchased that even those closest to them are clueless as to their existence. Duh!

#5 Do you really think domestic violence convicts care about the federal law that prohibits them from purchasing or owning guns? They don't give a rat's ass about anything the government has mandated and can buy, steal, and own as many guns as their little hearts' desire. No, their purchases aren't legal, but, my dear people, to them, 'legal' is not in their vocabulary!

#6 a&b Legal gun dealers are required to run a background check on all handgun and long gun purchasers, but that same  requirement doesn't apply to private parties selling rifles or long guns. I, myself, bought a handgun for protection a month ago, and was allowed to walk out of the store, weapon in hand, immediately. I was told I'd receive authorization in about two months after the background check was concluded. I'm still waiting!


Although I don't know the gun laws for all 50 states, I wouldn't be at all surprised that they are very similar. Without any intentional disrespect or heartlessness to the countless survivors and families of the victims of mass shootings over the last 20 years. I still don't believe gun regulations will stop this insanity.  No matter how stringent we make our laws, those who choose to take up arms for the purpose of killing will not change their minds simply because our laws make it harder for them to obtain their weapons of choice. Sure, by making it impossible to purchase semi-automatics, and accessories that bump up their power is both necessary and perhaps somewhat effective. But hey, how about banning the manufacturing of these types of weapons altogether. Would it be impossible to obtain guns if such a prohibition was instituted? The answer unfortunately would be 'no' but it would definitely increase the difficulty over time!

I wish I could offer a foolproof suggestion that would eliminate the madness going on in our country today, but the many problems connected with this dilemma seem insurmountable. Hopefully somebody does have the answers and hopefully they come sooner than later!

Blessings and Peace!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Taking the Podium

There are a number of reasons folks find themselves addressing an audience at some point in their lives. Whether taking the podium is job-related, politically necessary, or personally chosen, being a successful orator requires three important attributes both the speaker and the speech itself must reflect.

First and foremost, personal authenticity is essential. The speaker needs to briefly reveal his or her own history and background in a particular topic so as to give the audience confidence in the credibility of the person standing before them. Knowing their education and training is a huge plus towards keeping the audience's undivided attention throughout the session. However presenting these stats in a 'laundry-list' fashion isn't at all effect, but to a degree can actually appear boastful. Instead, the telling of the 'when, why, how' you chose and trained in this area of study reflects a human quality which most people find endearing. Lastly, find a way to sprinkle a little humor in with your introduction and from that moment, I can guarantee the audience will hang on your every word!

Secondly, the material you present should not be perceived as 'book learning,' but must be recognized by the audience as your sincere belief that its contents will bring positive change to their lives. They've come to hear you speak on a topic that they find interesting for a reason. Maybe they themselves have related issues, or perhaps someone close to them has been experiencing problems for years, so it is your responsibility to provide authentic material that both satisfy and offer a significant degree of hope.

Thirdly, including successful stories of how your message has helped others, is key to the audience's acceptance of your mission. Showing them how to effectively utilize what you've taught, and revealing testimonials from folks who have benefited from this material and these techniques, ensures audience satisfaction that their time has been well spent and definitely worthwhile.

Remember to express a heartfelt 'thanks for coming' to the group, and graciously speak with individuals who seek clarification or justification of sorts on a particular component you've presented.

Above all, be yourself. Of course, speak what's in your mind, the knowledge that you've accumulated over the years is invaluable. But, more importantly, speak with the passion that resides in your soul for the message you deliver so that its embers start a fire in the hearts of those seeking to hear it!

Take the podium, present with personal and factual authenticity, and back up your experiences with credible realities, spreading your truths with honest passion. A definite recipe for success, I promise!

Blessings and Peace

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Life Partner? YES!

It matters not if you're 'Adam and Eve,' 'Adam and Steve,' or 'Eva and Reva,' all creatures big and small were meant to have a partner in their lives! Family is great, friends are fantastic, but your partner, the one who walks in this world with you in good times and bad and all the other times in between, is absolutely essential to your well being and happiness.

Before I continue, let me be very clear; in the realm of humanity I'm not saying you and your partner will be together from your first meeting to your last breath. Throughout your existence, you may find yourselves alone for many reasons:
separation, divorce, death. At times the circumstances surrounding a partner's departure is out of your control, but being able to move on with your life and find another person who completes you is definitely within your power, if only you have the courage to start anew.

So, why a life partner? I think the answer is a no-brainer! As physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual beings, having that one person who satisfies your needs, and supports you in becoming self-actualized is critical.Without that someone, there is a vital component missing that leaves you unfulfilled, unable to be completely you.

From the physical standpoint:

When you're young, finding that special person is exhilarating! The 'dating and mating' part of getting to really know someone leaves you both satisfied and wanting more in the same moment. Hugging, kissing, touching and being intimate is what makes being human so wonderful! And if these physical connections are not just 'hook-ups' as today's young people refer to having sex, but rather the developing of a true relationship with an eventual partner, so much the better! As you age, not that intimacy isn't important, but you take great pleasure in the little things partners do for one another as well. Holding hands, caressing a cheek, rubbing shoulders, even applying suntan lotion are physically satisfying when done by a loving, caring partner.

From the intellectual standpoint:

'Two minds are better than one' is a truism in my opinion. Being with a partner over time is extremely beneficial to intellectual growth. It doesn't matter who has the higher I.Q. because each has their own special talents. While one may be mathematically inclined, the other has exceptional literary skills. One may have an acute vision for detail, the other sees everything from a global perspective. Whatever their strengths, the two have the opportunity to learn from each other and become better equipped in areas where they once were lacking.

From an emotional standpoint:

Humans are highly emotional creatures. When happy, boy are we happy, and who doesn't want to have someone to share their happiness with! But when sad, tears flow and hearts break. When angry, ugly words fly, and doors are slammed hard! When depressed, silence is deafening, and confusion reigns. To be alone when bombarded with these types of emotion can be devastating.  Everybody needs someone to rely on, to care enough for them to help carry the load. When there is a comforting  partner in the mix, little by little a person can let go of such negative emotions, and the longer you've been together, the easier it is to be yourself without the threat of judgement or rejection.

From a social standpoint:

Just recently a dear friend of mine expressed her sadness about coming home to an empty house with so much to say and no one there to hear it. Humans are social beings. YOU DEFINITELY NEED A PARTNER WITH WHOM YOU HAVE AN EXTENSIVE HISTORY!  Having the same friends, visiting the same places, reading the same books, dining at the same restaurants, sharing the same life enhances your social experiences tremendously. And from these shared interactions, you deeply appreciate having a partner who easily identifies with the people you know, the places you've been, the books you've read, the restaurants you've patronized, and most importantly, the life you've shared!

From a spiritual standpoint:

Perhaps the spiritual connection between two people is the most important. Being there for each other when miles apart, having hearts and souls lovingly entwined, and unconditionally investing in your personal relationship gives each partner a sense of belonging and peace. And when all is said and done, isn't it that sense of belonging and peace each and everyone of us is searching for?


I hope I've given you food for thought regarding the value of a life partner. I'm concerned about the folks who go it alone because I truly believe they're missing out on the very best humanity has to offer. If you notice, I never once mentioned marriage because taking that step is entirely up to the two of you. It isn't necessary to 'tie the knot' in order to live a fulfilling life with someone who loves and adores you and is willing to be there for the long run! Find that special person with whom you can willingly and happily share your body, mind and soul. Find that special person who is meant to be your life partner and nurture and treasure your time together!

Blessings and Peace

Monday, February 12, 2018

What IS 'Meaningful To Your Well Being?'

'To simplify is to make space for what's meaningful to your well being...' ( 

After receiving this succinct definition of what it means 'to simplify,' on a Facebook post last week, I began to consider what exactly IS MEANINGFUL TO MY WELL BEING. What is it that makes me complete, whole, wanting nothing more? 

I decided the best way to approach this question was to close my eyes and let the answers appear in my mind. Besides the obvious, all the family and friend faces that immediately popped up, which contribute to my well being immeasurably, I awaited for the revelations I rarely, if ever, think of as making me complete, whole, wanting nothing more.

To my surprise, the first image I saw was the sky. Admittedly, I love to stand in the wee hours of the morning, and look towards the heavens, realizing there is someone greater than myself orchestrating our great, big, beautiful world. On clear days, when the moon and the stars are in their rightful element, I enjoy spotting the various astrological patterns. I wait for the dawn to arrive and marvel at her strength to conquer the darkness of the night. I suppose one could interpret this initial contribution to my well being as an embrace of faith, an awesome wonder of the universe, a creative and poetic nature.

Secondly, I was visited by a room full of puppies! It's no secret that I love all animals, and especially adore dogs.  Our Shadow is 15 years old and the absolute poster bearer of the saying, 'A woman's best friend!' Canines are remarkable in so many ways. They are loyal, calming, protective creatures that ask for nothing more than to be fed, watered, sheltered, and loved. They instinctively know when you are feeling sad, sick, or just in need of some cuddling. Shadow came into my life when I was at a very low point, and I sincerely believe that if she hadn't, my well being would have been greatly compromised. 

Finally I saw myself in a far away land. I didn't recognize the topography yet strangely felt quite at home.  It was an expanse of mostly green grass dotted with a few mature trees. There were no homes in sight, nor were there any types of transportation around. I didn't see any people, but somehow I didn't mind. I think it was the sweet silence that appealed to me. If anything is meaningful to my well being, it definitely is personal prayer and quiet meditation. When engaged in prayer and mediation, my body, mind, and soul are made whole, I am peaceful and want for nothing, and I am complete. 

Notice the void of material things in my quest to unravel what exactly is meaningful to my well being.  Yes, I do have a lovely home filled with a lifetime of treasured memories.  And, yes, I have everything I need to live happily for the remainder of my days on this earth. But should some unforeseen tragedy strike, and all of these comforts suddenly disappear, my well being would still remain in tact because it is fueled by faith, freedom, creativity, wonder, loyalty, prayer and meditation.

Blessings and Peace!

Monday, February 5, 2018

The 'C' Word

Nobody wants to think about it, talk about it, and certainly not hear it in a conversation with their doctors in regards to the results of a recent health assessment. I don't believe there is another word that strikes more fear into us than 'CANCER'! Yet everyday in every city in every part of the world people are diagnosed with one form or another of this devastating disease. With all the research, technology, focus, and money that has been poured into finding a cure, why do millions in this day and age still receive the tragic news that translates into a death sentence more often than not?

Seriously, I want to know the answer.  Our primary physicians, oncologists, and cancer specialists who work in the trenches day after day, watching their patients suffer excruciating pain, trying their very best with the treatments available to them, must also witness the wailing and heartbreak of the family who has just lost a mother, father, wife, husband, daughter, son to this monstrous avenger. I can't begin to imagine the degree of failure and guilt these doctors on the front line must endure time after time.

So again I ask why?  I know there have been great strides in finding cures for certain types of cancer, and if found at the onset, many can be relegated into remission for longer periods than ever before. I think these situations are indeed cause for celebration for those who have 'won the battle' at least temporarily.

But with cancer being around for decades, one would expect there to be much more in the way of curative progress than is currently available.  Testing should be more sophisticated by now, treatment more humane and effective, and results. definitely more positive.

My mind keeps returning to a day in the Sixties while sitting in a teachers' faculty dining room discussing the sad news that one of our own was diagnosed with cancer. Just weeks before, she appeared healthy and robust, but was now hospitalized with little chance of recovery. One of my fellow educators told of a letter she received from her sister. a nurse, who was working in a German hospital. According to what her sister had to say, there did exist a cure for cancer, but probably would never be utilized on the general public. The sinister  hypothesis she gave for why the cure would only be relegated to the 'chosen few' was monetary in nature.  Treating cancer patients had become a million dollar industry then. a billion dollar market today, and there was no way the medical establishment and pharmacutical companies were about to forego their profits in lieu of the peoples' return to health.

At the time, I thought the nurse's conclusions to be ludicrous, and didn't believe what she had to say for one moment. Surely the drugs being developed and the CEOs of the companies bringing them to fruition to provide hope and possible cures for cancer patients had the highest of intentions. Furthermore, I had no reservations about the medical profession's sincere efforts to wipe out this horrible disease before the end of the 21st century.

Sadly my Pollyanna attitude back then was just that, a pie in the sky belief that altruism would trump monetary gains every time, especially when people's lives were at stake. I'm a lot older now with cynicism replacing idealism at a rapid rate these days, and according to the odds-makers, a possible candidate for cancer myself at this stage of my life. Though I don't fear death, if I had the choice, I would definitely chose something other than the prolonged, agonizing suffering of cancer. Hey, having my parachute fail to open while skydiving, be eaten by a shark while swimming the ocean blue, or being trampled by an elephant while on safari, in my opinion, are far better ways of dying than being treated with chemo and knowing that after all the misery I would endure, and believing that I could have escaped the terrible pain if only those who could have prevented it would have!