Category Archives: Midlife Mischief

Drinking the Kool-Aid..

Drinking the Kool-Aid..

Day 14 of a 14 day detox program and ready to report on better health, better sleep, better outlook on life, better woman, better have a glass of wine soon or I’m going to levitate off the planet.

I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and I’m detoxed, de-flead, delightful, decompressed, delivered from sin and indecisive about the results, end product, over-all value of the experience and determination to continue some kind of gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, throw caution to the wind never again kind of life-style.

Did you follow all that?  Perhaps you need a detox so that you can think more clearly and join the ranks of the “free people” who will certainly reach a state of nirvana in this lifetime.

“Let me know how it turns out!” said my friends and co-workers.  It’s like bungee jumping.  If you are alive at the end with no major injuries you might be able to convince other people to do it!  But for the time being, they are content to watch you endure it all.

The crowning event of my 14 day detox was the day 13 Faculty Appreciation Dinner at my place of employment, Presentation High School.  Several weeks ago I signed up to do my duty and bring a dish to the event.  I accidentally signed up for the “free” table.  And I mean gluten, sugar, dairy, peanut, unknown additive free table.  Oh well, I figured what’s the big deal?  I was told that only the “free people” would be eating from this table.  The rest of the group would be consuming the “catered” option.

At the end of the night I took home at least 99/100ths of my homemade arugula, cucumber, green onion, mushroom, tomato, toasted pecan with oil and vinegar (on the side please) salad.  Where were all those free people??  Did they drink the kool-aid of the fried, buttered, glutened and sugared? Glancing at the table as I reclaimed my beautiful salad, I noticed that the food had hardly  been consumed.  Shall we add waste-free to the agenda?  Oh Lordy, the people are starving in Biafra and we are picking at our plentiful food sources!

So the final evaluation?  Drum roll please..

  • I gave up coffee and am switching to green tea in the morning.
  • I have so much energy from this detox that I haven’t really slept in 14 days.


Rather anti-climatic isn’t it?

Overall, I’m happy that I joined the ranks of the ”free people” and have had the discipline to do a 14 day detox.  Now I know.  I’ve been redeemed.  I can enter into all those crazy conversations that the “free people” have and sound intelligent and informed.  I can go to Whole Foods and find the chia and flax seeds and know how to use them.  I am dangerous.  I can spot a gluten in a list of ingredients.

I have drunk the kool-aid and lived to tell the story.


A Plethora of Women

A Plethora of Women

This last weekend I had the opportunity to facilitate a Day of Reflection for AMEN- The Alumni Mothers Extended Network for Bellarmine College Prep, the high school where my three sons attended and thrived.  I was sort of a replacement gig.  Sister Rebecca Shinas, better known as “the rockin’ nun of MySpace”, had some urgent family business to attend to.  So, my friend, Rosemary, had the thought to ask me.

Well of course!  What are the degrees of separation between Sister Rebecca and me?  I do have a Facebook…

Wondering if I was equipped to replace a sister who has devoted her entire life to spirituality and celibacy,  I was hesitant to accept.

I remember when Rosemary called me to ask.  I was standing in my kitchen and as she set up the invitation my head was telling me NO and my heart and intuition were screaming YES!  YOU CAN DO THIS!  BE BRAVE!

After a month of pulling books off my bookshelf and pouring over underlined and highlighted paragraphs, searching through my journals for significant dreams, scanning TED talks for presentations on life after raising a family, and searching the web for 10 ways to find your passion, I had my script and I was armed and ready.. perhaps dangerous.

I met some incredible women and of course the better part of the day was spent with their personal sharing.  One thing I’ve learned from being  Catholic and having to listen to priests talk from the pulpit every week and not being able to raise my hand and add my two cents is that women want to talk!  They want to share, to ask, to unfold their insecurities in a safe place and gain wisdom and strength from other women.  I was fortunate to be the facilitator for this day.  But truly the best material came from the gaggle of courageous and forthright women who attended.

So Amen to all of us!  We are brave.  We are courageous.  We are seeking answers.  We are finding our path.

What fruit will come from this day together is yet to be determined.

In the meantime, I promised to post the resources I referenced for my talk.  Some of them are pretty dated but really.. how much does this wisdom change over the years?

Ban Breathnach, Sarah. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1995.  Something More. Excavating Your Authentic Self. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1998.

Bolen, Jean Shinoda, M.D.Crossing to Avalon. A Woman’s Midlife Pilgrimage. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994

Bridges, William. The Way of Transition. Embracing Life’s Most Difficult Moments. New York: Perseus Publishing, 2001.

Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way. A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992.  The Vein of Gold. A Journey to Your Creative Heart. New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc, 1996.

McCauley, Lucy; Carlson, Amy G.; and Leo, Jennifer.  A Woman’s Path. Women’s Best Spiritual Travel Writing. San Francisco: Publishers Group West, 2003.

Carter, Cherie-Scott, PhD. If Life is a Game, These are the Rules.  Ten Rules for Being Human. New York: Broadway Books, 1998.

Hendricks, Gay, PhD. A Year of Living Consciously. 365 Daily Inspirations for Creating a Life of Passion and Purpose. San Francisco: Harper/Collins Publishers, 1998.

Hendricks, Gay, PhD. & Hendricks, Kathlyn, PhD. Conscious Loving. The Journey to Co-Commitment. A Way to Be Fully Together Without Giving Up Yourself. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.

Livingston, Gordon, M.D. Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart.  Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now. New York: Marlowe & Company, 2004.

Martz, Sandra. The Tie That Binds. A Collection of Writings about Fathers & Daughters, Mothers & Sons. Watsonville, California: Paper-Mache Press, 1992.

Lindbergh, Anne Morrow. Gift from the Sea. New York: Random House, 1955 (the original printing)

Rupp, Joyce, OSM.  Praying Our Goodbyes. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1993.

Viorst, Judith. Necessary Losses. The Loves, Illusions, Dependencies and Impossible Expectations That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Grow. New York: Ballantine Books, 1986.

That wonderful 80 year old therapist who has her office on the Alameda?  Email me and I’ll send you her information.

Sparkly pens- from Target :)

Thank you, ladies, for being such attentive and engaged participants!  Until we meet again..



Make Believe

Make Believe

Halloween is such a great excuse to dress up, try on a new identity and pretend we are someone or something other than who or what we are.  Most other days of the year it would be considered eccentric at best if we were to try to pull that off.  But in the world of make believe, we have permission to let our minds wander and wonder…

Many times in my life, I must admit, I’ve felt like I have gotten off the freeway at the wrong exit.  I wonder if I’m the only one who has ever felt this way.  Even though I am quite content with my life as it is, it is titillating to imagine how it might have been different if I’d taken the other fork in the road or followed a passion that seemed too impractical at the time to consider.

Woulda coulda shoulda ….

I have a card game that I play with students when they come in for counseling and it involves picking a card from a deck and answering the question posed.  How would you answer this question?

If you could relive one moment of your life, what would it be?  Would you change it?

Not that it matters now…

I’m just trying to scare up a little midlife Halloween mischief!

My Second Act

My Second Act

I just celebrated another birthday.  They seem to be coming faster and faster and as Joni Mitchell says in her song “Circle Game” I want to drag my feet just to slow the circle down.  I’m really not that old.  Just old enough to live in the new “senior” housing in Morgan Hill (if I wanted to).  Just old enough to get a discounted ticket at the movie theater.   Just old enough to be courted and and pursued by AARP.  Just old enough to know better most times…

At least I don’t feel old.

In honor of my recent birthday I’d like to give myself a big round of applause for Act One of my life!  It has not been without struggle and I want to take a bow and acknowledge all the varied and sundry experiences, the provocative and stimulating people, the gut-wrenching turmoil, the unexpected deliriously joyful surprises, the down and dirty hard work and the yin and yang of it all.

I want to shine the spot light on it, acknowledge it, nod respectfully to it and have it exit stage left with its playbill for safe keeping in an archive of sorts.  Curtain closed.  Fade to the second act.

Act Two..

Whereas Act One was filled with calculated planning and career climbing and husband finding and child raising and house cleaning and penny pinching and weed pulling-  it seems only right that Act Two should be something different and unexpected!  The plot should thicken and the tables should turn!  There should be adrenaline pumping suspense and goose bump anticipation!  Why not take risks and do something mischievous and spend so much money on cowboy boots that I’m forced to sell my unnecessarily large house and rent an energy efficient cottage and be able to walk away from it for weeks at a time in order to go on a writers’ retreat or babysit my grandchildren or fly out to spend time with one of my siblings or go to Peet’s and pen that Act Two book?  Maybe I’ll  get a humongous dog and wear tie dye, let my hair go grey and move to Santa Cruz.

I think it’s time to start that girl band.


Did I hear someone yell Bravo?



Out of my comfort zone…

Out of my comfort zone…

Three years ago I was in a friend’s kitchen engaged in a very uncomfortable conversation when he suggested to me  that I “Be brave”.  I was at a crossroad in my life and feeling quite insufficient, insecure, and needy.  I wanted saving.  But on this particular night it was clear that being saved was not going to happen.

I found this card somewhere in some store.  I remember thinking that the whole universe was telling me to “Be Brave”!  “Alright already” I responded and put the card in my home office in clear view.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that I’ve become more attached to my house, my garden, the family silver, my mother’s jewelry.  Does ADT really bring me the peace of mind that I require?  Do my possessions make me feel secure?  Clearly, no.

My sons are great adventurers. Rob spent three years traveling all over the country on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus (, sleeping literally on a shelf and taking occasional showers in hotels in random large cities.  Patrick just came home from five weeks in China, part of his course work for his Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture.  Peter lived in Santiago, Chile for a semester during college and then escaped for five months to India, Vietnam and Thailand when his studies were complete, returning home only when he realized his Visa was going to expire.

Where did they get their courage?  How BRAVE are they?

Can mothers inherit this from their sons?

This summer I agreed to go with six colleagues to Nicaragua to shadow one of our Sisters of Presentation who works as a missionary in Somotillo.  One week didn’t seem long enough to be on a great adventure so I wrote a Professional Growth Grant requesting money ($2000) to tack on two weeks in Antigua, Guatemala in order to do a full immersion Spanish language program, live with a family and work towards Spanish language fluency.  In my typical ADD manner, I didn’t think it through much.  I’m a good writer, very persuasive, yet I didn’t really think that it would be funded.

It was funded.

I made all the arrangements.  I was going to Central America for three weeks.  Two of them would be a solo gig for me.  Alone in a foreign country.  Wow.

“Be Brave, Rosemarie! You can do this!”- I told myself.

My peers were skeptical.  “You’re going alone? Be careful!”

I decided to stop telling people my plans.  Get behind me, Satan.  Don’t rain on my parade.  They just don’t understand my personal journey.  I am totally out of my comfort zone and I need to be.

My sons gave me all the confidence I required.  I think they were even a little bit proud of me.  Their mother was traveling alone in Guatemala while their friends’ moms were going out to lunch and getting mani/pedis.   Peter’s email to me set the theme for my journey.  Vaya con Dios!  Go with God!

I am happy to report that the trip went off without a hitch.  ADT did it’s job protecting the family silver and my mother’s jewelry.  The little neighbor girl across the street kept my kitty, Ethel, alive and happy and tended the garden.  Everything was as it was when I left it.

Except me.  I am different.

I am finally,

assuredly, conclusively, inexorably, irrevocably and beyond a doubt


What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine also!

What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine also!

I went foraging today for greenery, pods and other accoutrements of fall in order to decorate my front door wreath and herald in the new season.  Off I went up Llagas Ave with my hand pruners and a recycled Safeway grocery bag under my arm.  Today’s booty included pale pepper tree berries (they will be bright red by December and worth another trip up the hill for Christmas decorating), fragrant eucalyptus with flowers intact, almonds still encased in their protective hull, wild pomegranates (oh they pruned back my favorite bushes so they are scarce this year) and some unidentified tree pods.

I am writing this post at the urging of my middle son, Patrick, who has endured patiently his mother’s habit of petty theft, all with good intentions of thoroughly enjoying God’s beautiful earth.  I learned how to do this very early in life (along with a few WWII marching songs) while walking with my dad for exercise.  My dad always said that if it hangs over the fence onto the sidewalk it’s yours!  That includes apples, kumquats, avocados, almonds, olives and any kind of greenery that might look good on your fireplace mantel.

Oh Lordy!

This seemingly harmless activity became a habit when we moved to Portland, Oregon.  So many beautiful flowers and colors I’d never seen before having grown up in semi-arid season-less Southern California.  I couldn’t resist the lovely hues of violet in the hydrangeas and lilacs that grew so prolifically around every corner.  I once had a small gathering of friends for tea and one of my guests asked me “Where did you get those beautiful flowers?”  I replied, “Which ones?  The hydrangeas are from 31st Ave near Crystal Springs Ave and those roses came from behind Reed College.”  (Whoopsy.. maybe that wasn’t exactly legal.)

When we moved back to Northern California my Lebanese neighbor Eza and I used to walk together on Saturday mornings and catch up on our work week adventures.  She wasn’t too sure about my habit of pinching and picking but I taught her the song: “This land is your land. This land is my land.”  That seemed to quell her anxieties.

A couple weeks ago I came home from work and it appeared that my neighbor, Rick, was having a tree trimmed in his back yard.  On further inspection I saw that it was my gangly out of control curly willow that the gardeners were dragging out to the wood chipper!  It was hanging over the fence dropping leaves and debris all over my good neighbor’s yard.  He took it upon himself to have it trimmed- never mentioning a word to me or asking me to share in the expense.  Now that’s a good neighbor and an interesting twist to this tall tale.  It hung over his fence so he considered it his problem.

Now I am going to Mass tonight at the Santa Clara Mission to pray for my gracious neighbor, Rick, to thank God for the wonderful community I live in and to ask forgiveness for my sins and mercy to overcome my bad habit.

Oh.. did you know they have the most beautiful rose garden there?

Mea culpa! Mea culpa!








They came, they danced, they dined and they sang, they laughed and they loved and they left better women…. The Divas!

They came, they danced, they dined and they sang, they laughed and they loved and they left better women…. The Divas!

What could 12 random women in their double nickel year- who went to high school together 37 years ago- possibly have in common?  To be honest… not a whole lot.  But get a conversation going about Mr. Terry and his Driver’s Ed class or blast Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” on the iPod and watch them reduced to a dozen silly hormonal- braces on my teeth and pimpled- 14 year old girls!

It’s the Diva world.  The essence of whatever made us all bond together as adolescents and what continues to draw us back to spend quality time as sisters every year.

We have all dispersed from the common mold of suburban Anaheim High School with its’ non-impressive academics yet stellar athletic and music programs.   Our lives have taken each of us in different directions.  Some more traditional than others.  We talk about our careers, our significant others, our husbands, our children and our grandchildren.  We juxtapose conversations about our vacations with those about our chemotherapy- our communication is real, not necessarily polite.  The Divas get to the subject matter at hand.  No need to dilly dally.  None of us are out to make an impression or give false pretenses.

Linda brought gluten free.  Patty brought her Silpada jewelry to make us all beautiful. Roberta bought us some devious desserts and Nancy threw in a few pounds of gorp.  (Ok.. who picked out all the almonds??)   Kelly bought a case of wine and Claudia brought her fiddle for the hootenanny!  Trips were made to Trader Joe’s to reinforce the edible booty (and our booties..).  We had plenty to eat.  We kept our computer time to a minimum being that this seemed to be a sore spot on previous Diva weekends.  Divas were kind and thoughtful, working out the sleeping arrangements, taking over the kitchen,  cleaning up after long nights of wild activity or thoughtful discussions.

Kim brought scarves for each of us from a recent trip to Paris and we adorned ourselves with them throughout the long weekend.  The scarves became our symbol.  What are the ties that bind us?

We all graduated from the same high school in the year 1974. We are all women of substance and integrity.  We like to have fun with limited censor.  We recognize the value of lasting friendship and the wisdom of other women in our lives.  We have the energy to light up a small city.  And there is something tangible in our bond that we would like to harness and “pay it forward”.

But mostly we recognize that if 12 to 15 women can live together harmoniously in one house for four days without conflict WORLD PEACE is attainable!!

One by one we peeled off- destinations home and husbands and pets, ailing parents and children entrusted in our care.  (We are a sandwich generation.)  As the group grew smaller, more intimate conversations were had about personal relationships, life challenges, being strong women who say what they mean and mean what they say. Women who tirelessly and courageously take care of the business at hand.

Until we meet again ladies- Diva love and protection to you.

Let’s keep dreaming about how we can harness our Diva essence and make the world a better place.





The Divas are coming! The Divas are coming!

The Divas are coming! The Divas are coming!

New friends I treasure and cherish their worth

but old friends to me are the salt of the earth.

~author unknown


Divas far and wide gather every year to celebrate another year of friendship.  Our common denominator being that we are all graduates of Anaheim High School in the year of Minnie Riperton, the Watergate Scandal, Kojak, The Exorcist, the gas shortage, Linda Ronstadt,  and the Volkswagon Super Beetle.

Collectively we have survived such atrocities as cancer, divorce, infertility, betrayal, organ transplants, joint replacements, and children with assorted medical emergencies.   We’ve had dashed dreams and aspirations and we’ve been orphaned.

But mostly we’ve all passed a significant midlife marker and we come together seeking comradery, support, laughter, mischief, revenge… you name it.

This weekend we will create enough energy to light up a small city.

What is it about women and friendship that sets us apart from the male species?  Is it hormonal?  Is it the neurotransmitter exclusive to females that bathes our brains in serotonin when we bond, dance and do each others’ hair that gives us a new lease on life and a positive can do attitude after we spend significant time together?

Fifteen women are core to this group- others participate in the emails, the planning, the wishes they could be there this year and the “after-party” pictures on our exclusive Facebook page.  This weekend 12 fabulous women will meet at my house for catch up, wine, cocktails, salad, BBQ, gluten free, non alcoholic, hold the blue cheese, I only drink Yuban, wild dancing and hootennany music and four days of estrogenous bliss.

Knock on my door at your own risk.


Divas in Palm Desert- Summer of 2008