Monday, April 27, 2015


Reading the local newspaper every morning of my adult life has had its benefits. I've scanned countless articles about keeping fit, both physically and mentally. I've seen a gazillion ads on weight loss. I understand a lot of people have been cured of devastating illnesses by simply using laughter as a daily medicine.

At my age, fitness and weight loss are not easily attained, and, if by the grace of God they are, maintaining these milestones are next to impossible. I try my best, but when a person's knees won't cooperate, and her desire for ice cream has never abated since childhood, reaching certain goals most-likely won't ever happen now. 

But because I have a glorious, and oftentimes weird sense of humor, my chances of warding off life-threatening illnessses are pretty good. My ability to see the 'funny side' in even the worst of conditions helps my body and mind tremendously. By choosing to not take everything so seriously, myself included, the weight of the world is less burdensome.

Today I read a study done in Sweden and Finland regarding positive attitude in the elderly. It showed that people over 85 who remained busy and had purpose in their lives lived more than five years longer than their sedintary, sour counterparts. Hey, at this point I'll do whatever is necessary for extra minutes on this wonderul earth!

Positive attitude is a choice! We all have aches and pains, we all experience devastation and loss. We all could very easily give in to the woes of the world and surrender. But choosing to be positive amid the many negatives we face every day, gives us the opportunity one more time to celebrate the little things we usually take for granted.

I find waking up every morning a huge accomplishment at age 70. What's even more astounding is that I can walk down the steps, take my dog out, fetch the paper (I do the fetching), brew the coffee, and then settle down for an hour of quiet alone time. 

Since I started my writing career only 3 years ago, I'm busier than ever before. In the beginning, on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, from nine o'clock until about noon, I pounded away on my computer keyboard, formulating hilarious tales for my seven grandchildren. Once I completed a book for each of them, I turned my cites to writing chapter books for tweens and teens. These stories are based upon growing up in the Fifties, and depict actual events in the lives of me and my brother, Dan.
A host of family characters are included with my Baba's house being the center of our existence. Recalling those times and typing them out for others to appreciate is such a rewarding experience. 
I'm always eager to get started, and can easily spend six to eight hours at it before needing a break.
Talk about having a purpose! You betcha!

Along with my writing, I look forward to visiting my children and their families, two in the Carolinas, and one in Ohio. What gives me great pleasure is that they are very happy to see, hubby, me and our twelve year old dog, Shadow, and welcome us with open arms. We are always on the go when visiting, so much so that busy doesn't even begin to describe it. Going to parks, ballgames, hockey rinks, swimming pools, festivals, and church are only a few of the activities lined up when we're with them. They never take into account that we're older now, and simply expect our participation. And because the see us as capable, functioning people, we act accordingly.

Purpose and positive attitude, yep, the last time I looked, I've got a ton of both of them. If that study has any validity at all, I'm sure to make 100!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Oklahoma City Bombing

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on April 19, 1995,when I heard about the horrific devastation in Oklahoma. I was in my office talking on the phone when one of my staff informed me that a building out West had exploded in which a daycare was housed. Facts were scarce, but it was believed that a number of children had died in the blast.

As director of a bustling preschool twenty minutes outside of Pittsburgh, the news was extremely personal. After saying a prayer for those who had perished, all I could think of was what if such a catastrophe ever happened here? If I were to be spared, what immediate actions would I undertake to save as many lives as I could? Where would I start?

My first inclination would be to dial 911, but what if the lines were inoperable? I know getting the children and staff out would be my top priority, but since I'd never devised an evacuation plan other than posting an escape route in each classroom, would that be possible?

Hearing the screams and crys of the little ones entrusted to my care would be unbearable, yet I would need to provide my charges with a soothing environment, and assurance that everything would be all right. How would I accomplish this objective and sincerely mean it?

Having required everybody employed at the school to have CPR training, would we as a group jump into action, utilizing our skills on whomever was in distress? Would we remember the techniques? Would we have the courage to even initiate them if we did indeed remember them?

And what about the severely injured? Would we have the know-how to deal with uncontrollable bleeding, head truama, limb amputation, and crushed organs? Unless there were medical professionals available, my answer would be a definite 'no.'  We would do what common sense would dictate, but unfortunately our efforts would  result in few positive outcomes.

Thankfully during my tenure, nothing like the Oklahoma tragedy ever happened at our beloved preschool. Our children and staff enjoyed a safe, happy environment where learning to share and a few scraped knees were the only emergencies we faced on a daily basis.

After the inexplicable actions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols on that sorrowful day, my view of a preschool director's responsibilities drastically changed. If it could happen in Oklahoma, it could happen anywhere. I no longer walked through our facility with the same care-free spirit I'd had before April 19th. Over the next five years, there always lurked a nagging fear in the back of my mind, that things weren't exactly as they appeared. Previously I had embraced a false sense of security, but now I knew better. We are only as safe as the people that come into our lives are morally grounded and mentally sane.

Yesterday I prayed for the victims and families impacted by the Oklahoma City bombing, and again realized that we are all potential targets of similar devastation. We can simply hope that we will be spared such pain throughout our lifetime, and be strong enough to live each day with happiness in our hearts and a zest for living that nobody can rob us of, even when they inflict the most hideous of brutalization.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


WHEN GRAMMY GOES AWAY,by Flo Barnett, a pre-school director & kindergarten teacher, deals with loss of a loved one in a sensitive, age-appropriate manner.

Young children need to be able to express themselves during such difficult times no matter how atypical their behavior may be. They need to be allowed to ask questions and receive answers they can understand.

WHEN GRAMMY GOES AWAY is based on my personal experince of losing my dad when I was only three years old. In 1948, children were expected to be seen and not heard. I never knew why my father left for work one day and never came back. No one ever took the time to explain what had happened because I'm sure they thought I wouldn't understand. I was exposed to the crying and anger which normally accompanies loss, but had no idea why my family was acting that way. As a result, I became fearful and anxious. Although it's been 67 years, my dad's death has had an extreme effect on my life. Had WHEN GRAMMY GOES AWAY been written then, I believe it would have made a great impact on how I looked at loss over these many years. Do yourself and your children a huge favor, and have my book on hand for the difficult times in your lives.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hurray 4 Opening Day!

I know my post is extremely late for the #MondayBlogs, but I really do have good reason to be delinquent. Today was the Pittsburgh Pirates' Opening Day at PNC Park and I couldn't express my views until the final score was in the books. At approximately 4:15p.m., the Pirates (3-4) beat the Detroit Tigers (6-1) 5-4! Go, Bucs!

I wasn't at the ball park, but did watch most of the game on T.V. In the bottom of the first inning, Josh Harrison, our amazing third baseman, smashed one over the wall in center field, hitting a homerun on pitch #1 of the Home Opener. What a way to start the season, JHay!

Gerrit Cole was on the mound for the Pirates today holding the Tigers scoreless through six and two-thirds innings. Cole was superb, striking out at least 8 batters that I witnessed. However in the seventh, with his team leading 2-0, he allowed a single and two walks which loaded the bases with no outs. Clint Hurdle relieved Cole with Jared Hughes who with his first pitch, forced the runners into a double play. Now the score was 2-1. The next pitch Hughes threw was hit and caught for the third out.

Now up comes Alvarez in the bottom of the seventh. He slams one into center field which adds to the Pirates lead. Cervelli, our new catcher, gets on with a single, and Corey Hart, a pinch hitter socks one out of the park to make the score 5-1.

Game's in the bag, right? Not so fast! In the top of the eighth,Marc Melancon came in to face the Tigers; they hit two doubles and a homer, causing Pirate fans to bite their nails and clench their fists thinking that their beloved team could suffer a loss on Opening Day.

The Pirates went down in the bottom of the eighth without much of a fight. Fortunately for Melancon, his team, and the almost forty thousand fans in the seats, the Tigers faltered in the ninth, without so much as a whimper much less a growl!

Hurray 4 Opening Day!  We won!  Let's Go Bucs!

The Home Opener in Pittsburgh is considered an unofficial holiday. Dads schedule a vacation day months in advance, moms pack up the toddlers, and kids feign illness in order to be at the ballpark for this momentous occasion. Everybody plays hooky from their responsibilities to witness the rebirth of America's favorite pasttime. It happens every spring. It's been happening since I was a kid and way before that when my elders were just youngins'. I know Opening Day will remain an icon long after I've gone to that great ballfield in the sky. And you can bet that when I have that bird's eye view, I'll be cheering on the Pirates just as I did today!

BTW, Playing Hooky is the title of the first book in my When We Were Kids series. It has nothing to do with baseball, but takes place in the Fifties and focuses on family life, growing up, losing a loved one, and dealing with the consequences of our choices. Although Playing Hooky is slotted in the tweens/teens age group, parents, grandparents, teachers, and other adults are raving about it because of the many memories being conjured up throughout its pages. If you'd like to know more about this engaging book, visit

Monday, April 6, 2015

Jesus Christ, Super Star!

On the Thursday prior to Easter, I went to see the play, Jesus Christ, Super Star, at the Palace Theater in Greensburg, PA. Although this amazing representation of Christ's love of mankind had been around in film and on stage for decades, I'd never been privileged to see it.

What struck me most was how Christ was realistically portrayed. He wasn't this meek fellow that simply accepted his fate without question. He riled against Roman paganism, threatened the leaders with death unless they changed their ways, and fiercely fought against the agonizing torture and cruel slaughter that awaited Him. He begged His Father to release Him from the dictations of Scripture up until the last moments of His earthly existence. Although Christ was the Son of God, He was truly human as well. I think for the first time in my life I understood exactly what being human meant as far as Jesus was concerned.

I've attended Holy Week services for over sixty years, but never once did I actually realize more of what Christ went through on my behalf until I witnessed it on stage that night.. His unyielding efforts to reverse Roman beliefs, His struggles to deal with the infidelities of His apostles, His excruciating internal battles to accept what He was destined to endure, His fear and despondency over His Father's expectations, and His horrible punishment and inhumane treatment left me heartbroken. This two hour portrayal was the most impactful service I'd ever attended throughout my entire life!

Roma Downey and hubby, Mark Burnett, produced a twelve week series, A.D. the Bible Continues, which began airing on Easter night. Roma, as you may remember, was the star of Touched By An Angel, and Mark is the producer of both Survivor and Shark Tank. Roma is a devout Catholic, Mark, a devoted Christian.

After being profoundly moved by Jesus Christ, Super Star, I was compelled to watch from the beginning. Although the first show was a reiteration of the events leading up to Calvary, and the Crucifixion itself, I'm eagerly looking forward to the next eleven episodes. I want to know more details about the days following the Resurrection, and what happened to Christ's apostles over time. I want to experience the countless attempts to crush Christianity, and most importantly, I want to take pride in the tenacity and stubbornness of the men and women who refused to be denied.

Even at seventy there is much to be learned if only a person is willing to be taught!

Happy Easter!