Change Squared

A little over two months ago, my mother had a stroke.  I have been posting blog articles that I wrote in advance during the time since she was taken ill.  I thought it was time now to share some observations about the situation with you.

In a wicked irony, the stroke occurred on the very day I posted my article, Growing Up, about the changes in the relationship between my mother and me.

I have been examining the transitions in my life since retirement in excruciating detail in this blog over the past ten months or so.  Despite this little exercise in egomania, the day my mother had her stroke I learned that I know exactly nothing about adapting to change.  Whining about my sod drama pretty much loses its “oomph” when compared to this.

When I went over to my mom’s mobile home (where, yes, she was living alone… as I have had to shamefully admit to one medical professional after another over the past several weeks), she seemed, at first glance, to be asleep.  That wasn’t too unusual, especially since she had been staying up to all hours to watch the Olympics on TV.  However, I quickly noticed that something was very wrong.  Her “magic button,” that is supposed to be her lifeline for help in case of emergency, was on the charger rather than around her neck. I pushed the button and got emergency services, but it is likely that she suffered the stroke several hours earlier.

My initial reaction was pure guilt.  How could I have let her live alone? How could I not have been there when she needed me? How could I have moved her from the world she knew across the country to a very different life?  Have the adventures, fun, and care I hope I’ve provided for her in her new home been enough to compensate for what she gave up? Has she been happy?  Does she regret moving from her old life? Have I done right be her?

These questions quickly morphed into a solid concrete boulder of shame lodged somewhere between my lungs.  That boulder remains to this day, impeding my ability to breath, sleep, and eat.

Even as I struggled with this tsunami of self-loathing, I knew this event was not about me.  I had to put my feelings aside to focus on what my mother needed me to do… whatever that might be.  Once more, I found myself in the situation of having to deal with problems and accomplish tasks I had no idea how to do.  Trying to achieve what she needed or would want was made even more difficult by the fact that my mother’s cognitive and communicative skills at that point were just barely above non-existent.

Trying my best and expecting an incredibly unrealistic standard of adequacy from myself, I plowed my way through fogginess and failure and frenzy to work with the doctors, nurses, therapists, and case managers at the hospital.  I researched and toured rehab facilities so that, when the hospital suddenly announced on Sunday morning that they were going to release her, I was not completely unprepared.  Still, this announcement prompted me to scamper around to ensure I decided on the best facility I could for her.  I hope I did, but there is really no way to know.

While I was pushing my way through the tasks and decisions necessary and keeping other family members informed, I realized I was also pushing through something else.  There was a sadness so deep and dense and profound, it felt like everything I did, I did while swimming through a turbulent ocean of jello.

My mother was living her worst nightmare.  As her body has aged and worn out, she has always said she could live with whatever physical impairments she had to face, as long as her mind still worked.  Now exactly what she has dreaded for years has happened.  Her brain in broken. In the early days after the stroke, it certainly looked like there wasn’t much hope of fixing it.  I couldn’t make it go away.  It felt like there had to be something I could do to fix it, if I could only figure out what.

Maybe for the first time ever, I truly, truly understood what people mean when they say “my parent wouldn’t want to live like this.”  While I’ve always understood the general concept, I couldn’t help feeling that there was at least some measure of self-interest behind the statement.  Maybe the person is actually despairing over how she will take care of the parent without losing her own physical, mental, emotional, and social health.  Maybe she is despondent over finances.  Maybe she is hurting unbearably watching the parent suffer.  However, after seeing my mother for the first few days after the stroke, I could understand the belief that a person would not want to continue to live in that state, self-interest completely aside.

I don’t say that self-interest is part and parcel of the “may parent wouldn’t want to live like this” reaction to imply criticism.  It is absolutely fair, right, and necessary to consider self-interest in making decisions that will impact your life.  Good people consider all interests, including their own, trying to figure out the right thing to do when faced with a bunch of really bad options.  Balancing those interests to pick the course of action that best meets the most needs can be unbearably hard and scary, especially when one of the interested parties has severely impaired cognitive and communicative ability.  I find myself trying to think what my mother would have wanted, based on her general philosophies, before the stroke.  That at least gave me a starting place.  That methodology does have one major flaw, however.  Before the stroke, she had only a theoretical idea of what she would feel like if she was ever in the situation she is in now.

I usually do not sleep at night.  I spend the nights on the internet, futilely looking for any information to make me feel better.  I make endless lists of tasks I have to complete.  Each morning, I face the day with dread.  I dread watching my mother struggle and hurt from the therapies and transfers.  I dread tracking down one or another care professional to get the status of her condition.  I dread the administrivia that I had to try to conquer without a legal power-of-attorney. I dread the decisions that were going to have to be made about her future at some point. I dread trying to find the right words to update friends and family about my mother’s progress and prognosis.   I dread facing the financial cataclysm this situation will cause.  I dread the mourning for the loss of my mother as I knew her.  And at the same time, I am ashamed of myself for being mired in dread.  This isn’t about me; it is about my mother.   Truth be told, the thing I dread the most is facing another day of not being able to illuminate the dark place that my mother’s brain is struggling so hard to escape.

As the days progressed and my mother got therapy at the rehab facility, her situation starts to improve.  Her physicality is improving, as well as her cognition and communication.   The advances are tiny and we are both impatient, but those advances are steady.  I acknowledge and celebrate those small victories daily.  At the same time, each day exhausts, overwhelms, and guts me.  It is hard work to encourage her to do physical activities to maximize her therapy and to come up with exercises we can do together to strengthen her.  It takes incredible concentration to patiently listen and follow what she is saying.  It takes patience and respect to try to converse with her in a way she will understand.  It takes so much resilience to face her slips into a different time or situation on those occasions when her increasing cognition takes a detour.  It takes so much faith to keep going when she bounces back and forth between the hospital and rehab facility, as the medical providers come up with additional concerns to be evaluated.   I’m doing the best I can.  I am sure I am not doing it right.  I’m just doing the best I can.

While my mother battles with her physical recovery and I deal with the pragmatics of her care, we have sad, sparse conversations about independence, finances, and dignity.  I tell her I don’t want her to worry, but I don’t want to lie to her, either.  Some of these conversations are challenging, but, so far, they have also been productive and satisfying.  We try to be hopeful.  We try to maintain some happiness in what we share and what we still have.  In all honesty, though, joy is in short supply.  It is important to keep looking for it, though.  Maybe, just as a flower grows towards the sun, my mother and I can learn to grow towards joy.

As we make some progress, I start looking towards the future and what the “new normal” will look like for both me and her.  I am beginning to learn that there is really no way to know.  Maybe learning to adapt to change means you just have to be able to stand at the edge of the great blackness of the unknown and take a step into whatever is.  I just don’t know if I am brave enough to do that.  I also don’t know that I have a choice.

So what are your thoughts?  Do any of you have any suggestions about how to surf these challenging new waters without getting pulled under the waves by the undertow?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative,  you can send me an email at

Thanks for reading.


Can You Still Call It A Vacation After You’re Retired?

A few months after I retired and we moved across the country, Max and I took a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. We were looking forward to exploring the Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. We would see the remains of the first English settlement in what became the United States of America.  We would watch artisans make glass, silver products, and clothing as it was made in the 1600s.  We would take a carriage ride around the perimeter of the first capital of the Virginian colony and attend a re-enactment of a colonial officer’s treason trial.  We would eat gingerbread made as it was in the early 1700s.  We would stand at the site of the decisive battle of the American Revolution.  Our plans were packed with educational and culturally enriching opportunities.  And shopping.  Besides the numerous gift shops adjacent to the aforementioned educational and culturally enriching opportunities, there was a large outlet mall, a huge Yankee candle megastore, and at least four multi-level shops devoted to selling Christmas decorations.   Scenery, history, and shopping… what more could a girl ask for from a vacation?  Maybe an amusement park?  Oh, there’s a Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, too. 

As we awaited the day of our departure, something was still bothering me, however.  Before we left, Max kept a countdown on the number of days until our “vacation.”  Every time he used the term “vacation,” something just didn’t sit right with me.  I asked him if it was still called a “vacation” since we no longer had jobs and, thus, really, had nothing from which to vacate. 

We tried to think of something else to call this event, but were not successful.  We tried “pleasure trip,” but that seemed too cumbersome.  We tried “getaway,” but thought that didn’t seem completely accurate, as there was no one chasing us.  Besides, there were no criminal activities, machine guns, or speeding cars involved.  Finally, we gave up and stopped calling our impending trip anything at all.

This issue of what to call this trip begged a bigger question.  When we were working, this sort of trip was incredibly fun, partly because all the time spent in this riot of entertainment was time not spent working.  I was worried that the trip would not hold the same appeal and enjoyment as past “vacations” now that the guilty pleasure of playing hooky from our jobs was no longer a component.

On the Sunday we arrived in Virginia, it was drizzling.  We had planned to go to Busch Gardens for part of the day, since I had not realized until a few days before we left (and AFTER I had already purchased online admission tickets) that the amusement park was only open on Saturdays and Sundays at the time of the year we were going.   Something weird happened, though, and I made an uncharacteristically spontaneous decision.  I decided that, instead of braving the rain and racing around trying to get to Busch Gardens to use those prepaid admission tickets, we should just let it go.   Max and I have a tendency to overplan things.  I still refer to our first visit to Disney World as the “forced march across central Florida” because of my obsession with planning the heck out of stuff to avoid missing anything good.  This fateful decision to throw Busch Gardens to the winds ended up setting the tone for the whole trip.  Our pacing turned out to be just perfect.  As we pursued our fun, we did not run; we meandered.  Over the next five days, we saw all the sights we intended to see and more.  We walked aimlessly and endlessly through beautiful, tree-lined paths and reconstructed colonial towns. We absorbed the wonderful atmosphere with the very oxygen that we breathed.  We stopped at the College of William and Mary bookstore several times to browse, bask in the energy, and linger over a beverage.  I spent some time each day in the hotel’s indoor pool.  We ate well.  I managed to purchase goods from all four of the Christmas stores.  We both slept soundly and peacefully every night.   Although I was not aware I was feeling any stress before we left for Virginia, I became acutely aware of the complete absence of tension during this trip.  I was completely in the moment and enjoying everything as it happened. 

Maybe it was a vacation after all.

A few months later, we decided to take a trip to Las Vegas, which rekindled the whole debate.  This trip would not be the lazy, spontaneous type of trip Williamsburg had been.  We had tickets and dinner reservations and had a pretty strict schedule of touring.  As we bounded through the four days in Las Vegas, our steps were springy and our eyes were wide.  Everywhere we looked, there was something different to see and everywhere we went, there was something different to do.  It was like an unending buffet of activity- even when we started to get full; we gulped and savored one more bite.  Still, I found myself still wrestling with the question of whether or not it is still a vacation when you no longer work for a living.  I was able to resolve the dilemma by asking myself a few simple questions:

  •   Was I cooking, cleaning, or doing laundry?  No.
  •  Was I suffering through some new house-related disaster?  No.
  •  Was I hauling my mother to medical appointments or evaluating health insurance plans for her?  No.
  • Was I evicting less-than-cuddly wild animals from my garage?  No.
  • Was I on vacation?    YES!

So what are your thoughts?  What makes a “trip” a “vacation” for you?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can send me an email at

Have a great day!

Terri 🙂

My Place in the World

Hello.  My name is Terri and I am a Disney addict.

I never stood a chance.   From the time I was born, my parents called me Tinker Bell.  When I was five, we moved from New York to Anaheim.  Our house was literally in the shadow of Disneyland.  We could see the fireworks from our backyard.   I grew up thinking that Disneyland was the most marvelous “someplace special” that we could go on a family outing.  One year, my parents gave my brother and I the choice of going to San Francisco for my mother’s birthday or taking our usual annual trip to Disneyland.  I could tell that the “right” answer was to choose San Francisco, so I agreed.  I cried myself to sleep for a week.  The last present my father ever bought me was a personal license plate that read “TINKRBL.”  I kept that license plate for three cars.

I made six trips to Disney World in Florida while I was still living in California.  I never had any children and, as would follow, I have no grandchildren.  I enjoy watching kids experience the World, but I have never brought any there on purpose.  I am still Disney-crazed.    I have a wardrobe of Tinker Bell shirts, hats, shoes, and handbags that is the envy of four-year-old girls everywhere.  I even have a custom-made sweatshirt with Tink and her sister Periwinkle on it, proclaiming that “I am the Third Sister.”  For those of you not up on your Tinker Bell lore, google “Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings” to get a crash course on the sister reference.  It is all Tink all the time in my world.

When I retired and decided to move out of California to a more cost-friendly area, I feared my very DNA might just unravel if I ventured too far from the Happiest Place on Earth.  I ended up settling in central Florida, where I can get my Disney fix on a regular basis. Max and I put small children to shame in our passion for exploring all Walt Disney World has to offer.  I think I can see skid marks on our annual passes, if I look hard enough.

Disney knows how to entertain children of all ages, even those who are… let’s say… children emeritus.  Judging by the folks I see gracing the walkways of the Disney properties, I have to say that I am not the only one who revels in the Disney experience, despite being well past the age of reason.  After all, who needs reason when you have fantasy?

I have learned some valuable lessons in my adventures with Disney.  There are some things to keep in mind if you, too, are a bit more experienced than your average child and would like to wander the World without benefit of youngsters.  The most important thing is to have your own brand of fun.  If you are thinking of taking your inner child to the most magical place on earth, you might consider the following observations.

It’s all about you!

Stop worrying that you are a grown adult who is at Disney World without children.  If you want to do something, forget whether or not it is appropriate for an adult or if it is intended just for children.  If for some reason there is an age, height, or weight limit on something, some Disney cast member will tell you.  Just about anything on the property, even if intended for children, is available to you if you want.

Embrace the silly.  I always reserve my Fast Pass to visit Tinker Bell when we go to the Magic Kingdom.  The first time we went to Disney World, I really wanted to go to a character breakfast.  I thought that the characters visiting the breakfast might concentrate on families and children.  I thought, as a couple of oldsters unaccompanied by children, Max and I might be a bit on the fringes of things.  I still wanted to go.  I made advance seating reservations for the Cape May Café buffet. I was amazed at how well Disney manages these experiences.  The characters visit EVERYONE.  They float from table to table, regardless of the age of the occupants, spending a good deal of time with every party. Pretty sweet interpersonal skills for animals that can’t talk!

A Little Advance Planning Never Hurts

There are those who insist that a trip to Disney must be approached like a major military tactical battle.   They believe you must get to parks early, experience attractions in a particular order, and avoid liquids so as to minimize bathroom breaks.  I agree that, if you are bound and determined to see the most you can, it is important to be ruled by a grand plan.  On my first trip to Disney, there were many lists and spreadsheets involved.  It is possible, though, to enjoy your adventure without quite so much strategy, if you find the idea of a more leisurely, serendipitous pace more appealing.  With just a little bit of forethought, you can reach a balance between experiencing a great deal of what you wish to see at Disney World and taking things as they come.

The website is invaluable for deciding when to visit to avoid the most crowds.  For a small annual fee, you get access to a number of tools for deciding when to visit, include a crowd calculator which predicts a crowd level for each park, each day.  They have some special magical formula, which is pretty accurate.  Once in a while, they miss a cue, but their ratings are fairly reliable.  Try to plan your visit for days that are rated 6 or below.  Having said that, just know that, no matter what the rating, there will likely be more people there than you expect.  It’s Disney.  You aren’t the only one who wants to be there.

Take advantage of the Fast Pass system to select the attractions you most want to see BEFORE you visit.  Fast Passes will give you guaranteed access to a few of your “must-do” attractions at a specific, pre-arranged time without standing in the regular line. If you want to experience some of the more popular attractions, the Fast Passes can save you lots of time and aggravation.  The Disney website will allow you to select your Fast Passes 30 days ahead of time if you are not staying on property or 60 days from the first day of your reservation if you are staying on property.  Because so many people do reserve their Fast Passes ahead of time, it may be pretty much useless to try to get a Fast Pass once you get there.  If you didn’t get a Fast Pass and want to do something, don’t despair.  You may still be able to get on the ride with a minimal wait, depending on the attraction and the timing of your visit.

Know Thyself

If you are not as spry as you once were (or if, like me, you were never that spry to begin with), understand that there is a lot of walking around the World.  Max still refers to our first trip to Disney World as the “forced march across central Florida.” You might want to go into training before your trip by walking a little more each day for about a month, just to give your body a jumpstart for the increased demands you will make on it.  Also, manage your own expectations.  Instead of thinking you are going to go gallivanting from one end of a park to the other and back again and zig zag all over it several times in order to experience everything, figure out ahead of time which three or four attractions are your absolute “must-dos.”   Set your mind to be happy if you get to at least enjoy those attractions.  Then, have a list of other attractions that interest you and experience those as you run across them.  It is likely that if you think to yourself, “I’ll come back to this after I do so and so (at the other end of the park),” you will wilt before “after” comes and won’t make it back.  Keep hydrated, even if that means you have to take more frequent restroom breaks.  When you feel like a rest, go ahead and sit down and enjoy the scenery.

If you have mobility challenges, think about renting a wheelchair or scooter.  You can rent them at the parks and at Disney Springs.  Often, you can get a wheelchair in the parking lot to use to get up to the gate where you can rent a scooter.  You can also check out medical supply rental companies in the Orlando area.  They may be less expensive than Disney and may be willing to bring the wheelchair or scooter to your hotel.  Even if you do not normally need a wheelchair or scooter, you might want to get one for the visit since you will likely be covering way more real estate than you normally do.  You are paying a lot of money to visit Disney and you want to enjoy it.  If a scooter or wheelchair will enhance that enjoyment and give you the freedom to experience things you might not otherwise be able to do, it may be a great investment.

Don’t “Should” All Over Yourself

Remember to enjoy the moment.  This is good advice, no matter what you are doing.  At Disney, though, it can be really easy to get caught up in concentrating on all the big events that you “should” be doing.  Yes, you are paying a ton of money to go.  Yes, you want to get maximum enjoyment out of the trip.  But how do you define “maximum enjoyment?”  Is it seeing every parade and fireworks show?  Is it going on all the newest roller coasters?  Or is it slowing down enough to see the less-popular treasures and experience the serendipity?  Some of my favorite moments in the World involve times when I just happened to catch an experience that I didn’t know about or plan- awakening Tinker Bell in a shop in the Magic Kingdom, seeing the Mickey’s Philharmagic 4-D show in its soft opening, hearing a cast member call me princess, watching small children (who weren’t my responsibility) dance to pre-show music at the Epcot pavilions, sitting on the beach near the hotel at night watching the lights of the Boardwalk across the lake. Maybe “maximum enjoyment” is going back to the resort and taking a nap in the middle of the day or walking around the hotel’s beautiful gardens.   Sure, have a plan and make sure you experience the attractions that are important to you.  But stop and smell the churros, too!

Enjoy your own brand of fun at Walt Disney World.  You earned it and you deserve it.  Remember, you don’t have to be a rugrat to love the Mouse!

So what are your thoughts?  Are you a Disney fan, too?  What tips do you have for enjoying Disney as an “experienced” child?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a magical day, as they say in the House of Mouse!

Terri 🙂

You CAN Go Home Again

I thought I would stop feeling chronically stressed and overwhelmed once I stopped working.  I realized that work issues are not the only stressors in life.  I knew that thinking I would NEVER feel stressed again was patently unrealistic.  Still, I thought the relentlessness of the condition would disappear.  I was wrong.  The stress storm that raged inside me through my work life hasn’t really blown away.  It has abated from hurricane level, but I’m not taking the storm shutters down just yet.

I think I’ve hit on a theory as to why that constant feeling of vague panic hasn’t left.  Somehow, in the rush of changes and new experiences, I’ve become less the sum of my parts and more my role in the world.  I seem to be less who I am and more what I am.  It seems “me” is no longer a compilation of my attributes, preferences, perspectives, values, and unique quirks. To the world, I am the senior citizen living in a retirement community.  To most of my former employees and colleagues, I am the retired leader who isn’t in the loop.  To my mother, I am the administrative assistant and caretaker.  To Max, I am the strategic and tactical partner in carving out our new life.  None of these roles is bad.  In fact, they all contribute to who I am.  Still, feeling that I am always the somewhat one-dimensional role and not the multi-faceted person is stressful.    Every now and again, I observe myself in a moment just being myself and reacting to others in a way that feels genuine and effortless.  It is wonderfully refreshing.  Most of the time, though, I am doing and saying things that seem right for the role I happen to be filling at the time. The living of my life seems to be a performance and a rather forced one at that.  I often feel like I am waiting to be me.  I’ve found that this can be as stressful as postponing a priority of my own when something happened at work that forced me to change my plans.

So how do I stop living in the role and allowing myself to be who I am?    I have a few ideas.

I need to notice what is happening when I observe myself just being me and do what I can to replicate those conditions.  I think those “me” moments often occur when I am talking about something or doing something that is quite apart from any of my roles.  I guess the common denominator is that I am usually focusing on a passion of my own.  For instance, I joined a book club about a year after we moved.  I have always loved books and revel in the artistry that goes into truly elegantly constructed literature.  About a million years ago, I majored in English in college.  During my career, I was not called on to discuss books.  However, many of the most satisfying aspects of my job involved analysis, discussion, and communication.  Those elements of analysis, discussion, and communication are certainly present in the book club.  I find the conversations at the book club to be fascinating and wonderfully soul-nourishing.  The club discusses a wide variety of genres and styles, which broadens my understanding of the world.  The other members’ comments enrich my understanding and enjoyment of the books.  I also love it when I can offer a perspective that the majority haven’t considered.

I also need to allow myself to speak genuinely of my interests to the people in my life.  I find that I have started to communicate in a rather sparse, functional way.  Instead of sharing my thoughts and feelings about my passions, I often edit myself and only talk about what needs to be done in the context of the role.  For instance, if my mother asks me how the book club went, I may just answer “fine” and move on to asking her about how she feels or what tasks I need to complete for her.  There is no reason to withhold my thoughts about the book club discussion.  It isn’t a secret society or anything.  In fact, my mother is interested in what I do when I am not with her and is always pleased to hear about my activities.  Maintaining relationships instead of merely fulfilling roles requires honesty and sharing ourselves generously with others.

Another strategy that will help is to protect the time I’ve set aside for doing fun things with Max and enjoy the day adventures we take.  I often find myself most relaxed and light-hearted when we are sitting watching a movie at home or spending a whole day together at a theme park or shopping mall.  Unfortunately, though, I will sometimes sacrifice that time either to do something that needs doing or compromise it by overscheduling myself and feeling rushed when I should be having fun.

I also need to make time for activities on my own.  I love doing things with Max.  I love doing things with my mom.  I love doing things with my new Florida friends.  Still, it is really fun and refreshing to sometimes just go out and have an adventure on my own without having to worry about what the other person wants or needs.  When I was working and before we moved, it was relatively easy to do something on my own because malls and events and other activities were all around us.  It was pretty easy to stop somewhere for an hour or two on my way home from work to get a little “me” time.  In our new home territory, things are more spread out, so going somewhere on my own is a little less automatic.  With a little forethought, however, I find it is possible and necessary to have Terri Time.

And, finally, I CAN go home again when I need to feel like me again.  Usually, that “going home” means a phone, text, or email conversation with a much-loved faraway friend.  However, planes do fly both ways and I certainly can travel to visit the folks who understand the real me best.

A few months ago, I made a quick trip to my home state to do just that.  I had not intended to go back so soon after moving, but there was a confluence of circumstances that motivated me.  A dear friend from another state was coming in to my home state for business.  The opportunity to see my three bestest friends in the same geographic vicinity was too good a chance to miss.

It was a whirlwind trip and very busy. I did not sleep late or loll around doing nothing.   It involved lots of planning and scheduling and visiting multiple airports.  I rushed hither, thither, and yon to spend time with the people I cherish.   I rented a car and drove about 800 miles in the four days of my visit.  I didn’t spend more than one night in any one location.  Still, I arrived home feeling re-energized, happy, and loving life.

When I thought about why the trip had been so wonderful, I realized that, to the friends I visited, I was just me.  They didn’t need me to do anything for them.   They relished in hearing me talk about our common interests and about my new life.  They had been looking forward to just being with and laughing with me.   I was not filling a role.  I was simply Terri- their sister of the soul.

So what are your thoughts?  Have you ever felt “on-you” after a major life change, like retirement or a move?  What did you do about it?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at 

Have a wonderful day!

Terri 🙂

Note: Next week, I’ll be back to posting on Wednesday morning.  Thanks for your understanding…. and for reading!  You all rock.


Are There Crumb Buns in Heaven?

One of my mother’s fantasies about moving east involved finding tons of family-owned local bakeries.  More specifically, she was determined to hunt down crumb buns.

When my mother lived in New York, every neighborhood had at least one “real” bakery.  The bakeries were warm and crowded with happy, well-fed customers, clutching numbers and waiting for their turns to purchase freshly-made bread, cookies, cakes, and pastries.  These storefronts were fragrant with the most marvelous aromas and actually oozed charm.  And, on Sunday mornings, they baked crumb buns.  People came from all over the neighborhood to wait in line for these delectable treats, taking them straight from the oven to their brunch tables.  I was too young when we left New York to really remember the crumb bun experience.  When my mother moved to California, she mourned the loss of bakeries that weren’t located inside of supermarkets.  She was certain that, when we moved “back east,” crumb buns would abound.

We did take her to the quaint fairy tale German bakery in the woods near our house. However, she didn’t love it. More importantly, there were no crumb buns in sight.  She asked if maybe they made them on Sunday and, when she found out that the proprietor didn’t even know what a crumb bun was, she considered having him arrested for impersonating a baker.

Thus began the hunt for a real “east coast” bakery.

I searched the internet and asked folks in my community about their favorite bakeries.  Nobody knew of a real bakery. We found some good baked goods at local farmers’ markets and my mother enjoyed apple turnovers and oatmeal cookies, but there were no crumb buns to be had.  Most of the bakeries I found on the internet were no longer in business.  There was one place that looked more like an ice cream shop than a bakery to me.  Not that it made much difference.  It was in an old downtown section of a town about 20 miles away and the only parking available was parallel parking on the street.  Have you ever tried to get someone out of the passenger seat of a car parked parallel to the curb and into a wheelchair?   Well, I have.  And failed.  We finally did find a sweet little bakery in a tony town about 60 miles away (never let it be said I didn’t give my all for Team Crumb Bun).  We went for my mother’s birthday.   Still no crumb buns, but she did seem to enjoy the donut.  That’s right.  Over 120 miles round trip for a donut.

I was starting to admit defeat.  I explained to my mother that, while we had moved to the east, we had moved to the south east and I thought that probably explained why we weren’t finding New York style crumb buns. Her theory was that, with all the New Yorkers that retire to Florida, there must be some transplanted crumb bun crafters.  Personally, I think that if there are a bunch of retired bakers around, they might not want to be up at three in the morning making crumb buns.  That might actually be exactly why they are retired bakers.   I also must point out that it has been 50 years since my mother lived in New York. I doubt that even New York still has New York style crumb buns.  Family bakeries may have crumbled with the advancement of megastores.

Then, I read that one of the hotels on the Disney property opened a bakery selling something called a New Jersey crumb bun. I figured a New Jersey crumb bun couldn’t be that different from a New York crumb bun.  After all, there is only a river separating the two places.  So, Max and I took a drive down to the hotel and, lo and behold, found an actual crumb bun.  I brought it home to Mom with great fanfare.

Well, I guess New Jersey and New York are more different than I realized.  She said the crumb bun was good, but just wasn’t the same as the crumb buns of her youth.  Apparently, it was more bun than crumb.  Who knew that there was an optimum crumb to bun ratio?  There was also some sugary white icing drizzled over the crumb bun, which wasn’t necessarily bad, but did take away from the authenticity.

A few months later, Max and I took a trip to Las Vegas.  At the Venetian Hotel, there is a Carlo’s Bakery.  Carlo’s is the Hoboken, New Jersey bakery operated by Buddy Valastro and his family on the TLC television show Cake Boss.  The family branched out by opening this Las Vegas location.  I read online that they sold crumb buns.  I wanted to see for myself.  I waited in line outside the bakery and was rewarded.  I came face to face with a crumb bun!  I wouldn’t be able to get one home fresh for my mother, but I had heard that the Valastros were going to be opening a branch near Disney World in the coming months, so I wanted to sample the wares and see if it might be worth taking my mother when the new store opened.

With my first taste of the crumb bun, I understood my mother’s obsession.  This thing was a mouthful of AWESOME.  Sweet and simple, yet rich and flaky and streussely and decadent. Pixie dust for the taste buds, for sure.

The new Carlo’s opened at the beginning of December in a huge mall in central Florida.  I checked the website and couldn’t stop grinning stupidly when I saw crumb buns were on the menu.  This mall is attached to a big hotel and conference center.  It is a massive international tourist draw, with tons of stores and services.  The place is fairly overwhelming, even without holiday shoppers and tourists hoping for a glimpse of the celebrity cake maker himself at the store’s debut.  We waited it out for a few weeks.   Once we were solidly into the new year, I brought my mother to the mall, with our appetites primed in full crumb bun mode.

Well, curses!  Foiled again.

As I wheeled my mom to the display case, my heart fell.  I saw not a crumb nor a bun.  I asked the salesperson if they were out and she replied that they did not carry them anymore.  I could literally feel my face sag, my eyes droop, and my lip extend to a very sad pout.  I could tell I was breaking the salesperson’s heart.  Not. She was polite when I explained how we had driven all the way to the mall for a Carlo’s crumb bun, but I could tell she was wondering what I expected her to do about it.

Dang you, Buddy Valastro.  Another crumb bun dream crushed.  My mother was disappointed, but she did manage to down two cream puffs while I morosely ate a chocolate-covered strawberry.

Oh well, life is not perfect.  And I’ll keep searching for crumb buns.  It is good to have goals.  As Robert Browning said, “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?”

What food waxes nostalgic for you?  Have you ever started on a quest for some particular treat and the quest comes to mean more than the actual food?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at 

Special programming note:  Next week, I’ll be posting on Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday morning.  Please visit early and often!

Terri 🙂 

The Hoppiest Place on Earth

When I moved to Florida,

There was no one to caution

That I’d find plagues

Of Biblical proportion….


It wasn’t an eclipse of the sun.  Water didn’t turn to blood.  I don’t have boils.  It is frogs.

The other day, I opened the garage door.  Max came out to open the garage screening so I could go to my water aerobics class.  He took one look at what lurked outside on the driveway and, without moving the screens, he fled to retrieve a broom.

Frogs.  Hundreds and hundreds of them.

Yes, there were literally hundreds of baby frogs lethargically hopping around outside our garage door.  They were each about the size of a watch battery and the color of raisins.  I’ve never seen a raisin-colored watch battery move before, though.  These critters were definitely moving, although pretty laconically.  I guess baby frogs don’t really have a sense of urgency.

I dealt with the lizards.  I dealt with the snakes.  I guess I can deal with the frogs.  But what’s up with them, anyway?

I hopped (with considerably more energy than the baby frogs, I might add) onto the internet to google “invasion of baby frogs.”  As an aside, doesn’t “google” just sound like something relating to frogs?  At any rate, I learned that it is actually quite common to encounter zillions of baby frogs hanging out around your property in central Florida.  Apparently, mother frogs lay sufficient eggs to result in up to a thousand baby frogs at a time. Then, the moms just hop off to greener pastures.  Our driveway was the froggy equivalent of a doorstep on which to leave a baby…. excuse me…. vast quantities of babies.  There are no baby froglet Mommy and Me classes. Apparently, there is no nurturing or rearing of any kind.  According to the Internet, few of the thousand or so baby frogs survive beyond their first week.  Go figure.  I’m sorry to say that the baby frogs born in our driveway amphibian maternity ward probably have a shorter life expectancy than most.

I didn’t really have anything against them per se.  They didn’t annoy Max as much as the lizards did.  They didn’t creep me out the way the snakes did.  They were actually kind of cute little buggers.  It was just the sheer number of them that was kind of disturbing.  There were so dang many of them; it was almost like there was an entire layer of frogginess on top of our driveway. I’d say there were more frogs in my front yard than there are people in my entire community during the summer.  We were definitely outnumbered.  It was kind of alarming.  We sprayed some stuff across the entry to the driveway and swept away as many of them as we could.  I’m sure I probably ran a few of them over as I backed my car onto the street.

As we looked around the perimeter of the house, we saw that we were kind of surrounded.  Everywhere we looked, more baby frogs.  We kept spraying and sweeping so that the baby frogs stayed “around the house” as opposed to “inside the house.”  This operation continued every time we wanted to go in or out any door to our house for the next several days.  Knowing it was a self-limiting condition made it easier.  Sure enough, after about four days, we no longer had layers of visible frogs surrounding the house.

It has been a couple of weeks now since the frog plague.  We still see the odd toddler frog around the yard.  They aren’t bothering me, so I don’t bother them.  After all, if we have to have a plague of Egypt descend upon us in central Florida, frogs aren’t the worst of the bunch.

Of course, I still have a few niggling doubts.  How do we know that the frogs are the only plague in the offing?  What bothers me most is that both Max and I are first borns…

Of all the situations I’ve encountered since moving, I think the frog invasion is the oddest!  What about you?  What is the weirdest thing that you’ve experienced in moving to a new place?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at  Have a great day and hop to it!

Terri 🙂

Get A Life

While I was working, the calendar didn’t really measure the rhythm of life.  Even in a job that isn’t “seasonal,” per se, there are seasons.  There are different times of the year when we concentrate on different types of work.  There are different events for which we prepare and execute.  There was a certain momentum that these “seasons” provided to my life.  Time didn’t just pass, it propelled towards a larger picture.

Once I retired, it seemed like I had lost that momentum.  Days just sort of floated amorphously from one to the next.  I rarely felt like I was accomplishing anything.  I couldn’t tell you what day of the week it was.  Time passed pleasantly enough, but without a sensation of rhythm.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  In fact, one of my goals in retirement was to discover what it felt like to waste time. After a full career of activity, always bolting towards the next goal, I needed to rest and let life just wash over me like the tide.   It is kind of pleasant to go through life regularly feeling as languid as you do when you lay in the sun next to the pool on vacation.

Some people are perfectly happy in retirement, savoring whatever miracles happen along their paths and not thinking too much about creating a life.  For them, it is enough to just live the life that tumbles before them randomly each day. I, on the other hand, am sort of pathologically unable to just take each day as it comes.  When I realized I was measuring the seasons of time by when Survivor came back on TV, I thought it was time to reassess.

I found that I missed momentum.  In a strange way, it felt like I didn’t have a life.  It wasn’t that I was bored, exactly.  When I looked at my days, they were filled with activity.  I was actually much busier than I expected to be.  It wasn’t even that those activities were all drudgery, either.  Yes, I did housework, errands, and caretaking.  To be fair, though, my days did include plenty of fun activities.  I was also getting regular exercise, fresh air, and relaxation.  I still had this vague feeling of disorientation. Days were passing me by without me feeling like I was engaged in that passing of time in any way.  I felt like I was watching a movie (a really, really boring one!) of someone else’s life.

In musing over what I needed to do to get back that sense of ownership over my own life, I remembered that feeling of momentum I had while I was working.  How do I get that back?

After contemplating the matter for a while, I did some experimenting and figured out a few things.  If you, too, need a bit more structure and foundation to your life in retirement, it might be helpful to consider engaging in at least one or two “powerful projects” that will serve as cornerstones for the way you organize and spend your time.  I think of these “powerful projects” as the beams that will hold up your life.  You can change a lot in your life and can decorate it with whatever activities you feel like doing on an ad hoc basis, but you might feel more like you are living instead of just spending time if you build and maintain strong beams.

After about a year of retirement, I found two such “powerful projects” to help me get into a satisfying rhythm of living…. My book club and writing this blog.

What makes something a “powerful project” rather than just a bunch of activities?  For me, there are four components that identify a set of activities as a “powerful project” in my life.


Initially, I thought the problem was that my life lacked purpose.  However, that theory didn’t totally hold water.  Much of what I was doing did have purpose- I think taking care of my mother is a very purposeful activity.  It might actually be the most important project I undertook when I retired.  I organize my time to take care of her needs and her wants.  In addition to just making sure she is safe and comfortable, I also plan and strategize to think of activities that will be fun for the both of us, keep her feeling engaged and happy, allow her to contribute to and have an impact on life, and make memories for us together.  Still, I found that just having purpose was not quite enough to make me feel like I have a vibrant life.


Does your heart leap and your eyes light up when you talk about your “powerful project?”  Do you feel a burst of energy when you think about what actions you might take next or what you want to accomplish over time?  Can others tell that this Continue reading “Get A Life”

Smarter Than The Average Bear

The closest real shopping mall to us is about 40 miles away.  The first time I went there, I noticed a sign along the way with a silhouette of a bear on it.  A little further along, there was another such sign with the clarifying information, “Bear Crossing Next .7 Miles.”  For about 15 miles, there are similar signs along that road.  It was a novelty when I first saw it, but, passing it again today, it got me wondering about a few things.

First, how do the bears know where to cross?  Can they read the signs?  And with such precision!  I mean, bears must have a pretty finely tuned sense of direction to know they are supposed to not only cross at a certain point in the highway, but also to know that they are supposed to stop crossing the road in exactly seven-tenths of a mile. 

Secondly, what if a bear crosses the street somewhere other than the authorized bear-crossing zone?  Is there a fine?  Bear jail?  And who enforces the bear traffic laws?  Is there a bear police force somewhere?  And are the bears entitled to free legal representation?  By a bear-ister, maybe?

Finally, why do they even have signs telling me about these bear crossings zones?  I mean, what am I supposed to do if I am tooling on home from Macy’s one evening and come upon a bear meandering its way across my path?  Yield?  Of course.  After that, what do I do?  Sit still and try not to look like a marmalade sandwich?

Bears are a part of living in central Florida.  Who knew?  I assumed there might be alligators and bugs and snakes.  I wasn’t issuing any invitation to the alligators, bugs, and snakes to stop by for a bar-be-cue, but I knew it was possible that I would encounter them.  For some reason, I never thought about bears.

I like bears as much as the next person.  In fact, I probably like bears more than the next person.  I have spent hours upon hours watching bears at zoos.  I drove about 200 miles round trip recently to visit Bearadise Ranch, a private home/ranch where a family has been raising bears and training them to work in the entertainment industry for several generations.  I personally own about 35 teddy bears (yes, I know that is more than any five-or-six-year-old should own, not to mention more than a 56-year-old should own).  Max and I refer to ourselves as the “Bear Family.”

Still, I don’t think I actually want to see a bear in the wild.  Or, more precisely, in the what-used-to-be-the-wild.  Like my backyard. 

My mother said she heard on the news that there was a recent bear sighting within the confines of our town.  She thought they said it was on Mason Avenue.  Now, unless the bear needed orthodontia or treatment for a random fishing accident or to have his toenails clipped, I am not sure what he was doing on Mason Avenue.  Mason Avenue is the main medical drag for our town.  The street is literally lined with doctors and dentists and hospitals.  It is sometimes difficult even to find space to park a car, much less space to park a bear.  There are certainly no “bear crossing” signs on Mason Ave. I’m not sure how a bear even COULD wander into this area.  If he did, I am sure he found the whole experience quite disconcerting.  I think it must have been like Alice falling down the rabbit hole for the bear.  In fact, maybe that’s it.  Maybe the bear was chasing a rabbit and fell down the hole and, instead of landing in Wonderland, he landed in MasonMedicalLand. 

It turns out that the state of Florida maintains a website that reports bear sightings.  There is a listing for each sighting.  There is a map with a little red dot for each sighting.  I guess this answers the question about what you are supposed to do if you do experience a bear sighting. You are supposed to report it so the nice people at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission can put another red dot on the map.  That may or may not be all that helpful.  Right now, you can’t even tell where the sightings actually are. There are so many sightings that the map is literally covered with overlapping red dots.  The individual sighting listing was more helpful in my quest for information about our native son of a bear.  Yes, there was a bear sighting just within the confines of our town, but it was on Old Mason Ave.  Old Mason Avenue is a bit more rural and extends a good distance into the far reaches of the town frontier.  If the bear actually was looking for orthodontia, I think he was probably out of luck on Old Mason Avenue. 

There is still the fact that I am sharing my zip code with at least one bear.  There goes the neighborhood.  Of course, the bear would say that the neighborhood “left” long ago when the first developer built the first housing community in the area.  Who is to say which perspective is correct?

So what are your thoughts? Anyone else have any musings about the “bear necessities?” Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. You can email me at:

Have a just right kind of day!

Terri 😊


The Next New Job

People ask me what it feels like to be retired. The closest analogy I have come up with is that it is like the experience you have when you are pursuing a new job.

At one point in my career, I was preparing myself to compete for my first job in middle management. You could say that getting the job was sort of the pinnacle of my career. I had several other jobs after holding that position, but all the subsequent positions were offshoots of that first middle management job.

Before I got the middle management position, I spent literally years developing myself for consideration. I was doing all kinds of things to build my skills and to enhance my visibility within the organization. I wanted the folks above me to recognize my name and think of me as a strong candidate. More importantly, I wanted to have the talent and experience to actually BE a strong candidate. I was a first line manager for almost twenty years and I spent all that time growing my skillset.  I learned from my experience and from my leaders.  I tried to take the best of myself and my various managers to create a quirky cocktail of a leadership style that I employed in all my first line management positions.  When I began preparing for the next level in earnest, I took classes, read books, took on extra assignments, and put myself in challenging situations to grow my abilities. I applied for, was accepted into, and graduated from a “readiness” program- which is sort of like rush week and hazing for management jobs in my agency.   In short, trying to get the middle management job became nearly as much of a job as my “real” job at the time.

Ultimately, I succeeded. I competed for and got that first middle management position. There may not have been a ticker tape parade exactly, but there was celebration and rejoicing.  I seem to recall balloons being involved.  Everyone congratulated me and wished me much happiness. Colleagues and mentors who had been helping me in my development breathed a collective sigh of relief to finally be able to wash their hands of me and let me float on my own.  It was thrilling and I was quite giddy.

For the next several weeks, I became engrossed in the practicalities of getting a new job.  I finished up projects and tasks that I was doing in my current position.  I prepared the person who would be acting in that position until the agency selected a new permanent manager.  I packed my stuff and moved to the new office.  I did the administrivia necessary to get authorized on the new computer systems I would need in my new job.  I explored the lay of the land in my new office.

Once I completed all this “changing of the guard” work, I found myself in a difficult situation.  I had held the front line manager position, in one form or another, for such a long time.  I realized that I had become a master at it.  It wasn’t that it was easy for me or anything, but I certainly had developed a certain facility and confidence and momentum in executing my responsibilities on a day-to-day basis.  By the time I was selected for the target middle management position, it could even be said that I had become a master at the job of getting this job. Now that I had it and the novelty had worn off, I was back to square one. I was faced with the whole new challenge of actually having to DO the job!

All of sudden, “routine” tasks and decisions were not routine.  Instead of tumbling through a day of problem solving and getting things done, as I had for years in my front line management position, I found myself stumbling over each step because I found all the steps to be new to me.  The steps were all in unfamiliar places now, steeper, and made of different materials than I had experienced in my former job.   In my front line position, I easily contemplated the possible strategies for addressing each issue of the day and experimented with reasonable confidence that I would find a way to success.  In this new position, my mind felt tight and restricted when I tried to percolate new ideas.  The stakes were higher and I seemed to have less mental resources and agility to propel me towards success.  As certain as I had been that I would succeed as a first line manager, I was often as certain that I would fail as a middle manager.  After all, you can only use the excuse “I’m new” for a short time.  As I struggled with problem-solving and fueling effective operations, I was well aware that I couldn’t just try any strategies.  I had to try the right strategies to produce results.  I knew that, as some point, I would have to produce the results expected of me or I would have to face the fact that I had failed… no matter how hard I had worked or how many creative strategies I tried.

Retirement was kind of like that for me. I aspired to retirement for years. I thoughtfully and strategically set up my life to prepare myself to retire. When it finally happened, there was all manner of celebrating and well-wishing. For a few weeks, my life was a whirlwind of “getting set-up.” Just like when I changed jobs and had to deal with the pragmatics and tactics such as getting on necessary computer systems and arranging my office, I spent the beginning of my retirement packing and moving and making sure the processes of my new life were in place.

After that first flurry of activity, I came face to face with the same reality I did when I actually started my first middle management position. I had no real idea of how to “work” retirement on a day-to-day basis any more than I had any idea how to “work” the middle management job on a day-to-day basis.

It wasn’t that I was unhappy in either case or that I regretted my decisions to pursue the career-defining job or to retire. In both situations, I was excited and joyful. It is just that, in both situations, I was disoriented and lacked confidence that I would ultimately right my ship and sail somewhere wonderful.

In the middle management position, I may not have hung the moon and the stars, but I think I did succeed. I am proud of my little legacy.

As time passes in my retirement, I find myself experimenting with numerous strategies and approaches to craft a success of my retirement life. I think it is working. I am less disoriented and my confidence is growing all the time. I feel like I am clicking along well on all cylinders now.

I have learned that, in retirement, unlike in that next new job, the creative strategies I employ to succeed cannot fail as long as I satisfy myself.


So what do you think?  Did your retirement feel similar to transitioning to a new job?  Or was your experience different?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you an email me at Have an exciting (in a good way!) day!



Growing Up

My relationship with my mother has changed since we all moved. 

I knew about the phenomenon of role reversal that many adult children experience with their parents.  As the parent ages, the adult child becomes the caregiver.  The parent becomes more and more dependent on his or her child.  I have seen that happening gradually in my own relationship with my mother since my father died suddenly about twenty years ago.  The velocity of that role reversal has certainly increased since our move.  In our old home, my mother needed a lot of help with even simple physical tasks, but was very independent and competent when it came to arranging her own life and making decisions.  She always made her own medical appointments, decided on her own purchases, and even untangled problems like a glitch in her credit card billing on her own.  Up until a year before we moved, she was even preparing her own tax returns.  Since our move, she has had something of a crisis of confidence.  She is still perfectly capable of making her own decisions and arrangements, but seems reluctant to do so.  I am making her doctors’ appointments, overseeing her home improvements, monitoring her health insurance coverage, and, at her insistence, reviewing any research she does prior to making any decision. 

 At first, I was a bit disconcerted with this, as I thought it meant that her move across country had somehow triggered a decline in her general ability to cope.  After all, if she was doing all these things on her own and working full time for several months a year and doing substantial volunteer work while she was in her old home, why could she suddenly not trust herself to decide on a medical insurance plan once she moved across the country?  Then, a friend of mine suggested that it was very possible that my mother was managing all the routine tasks of her life the best she could simply because she had to do it herself.  My friend was absolutely correct.  My mother might not have been comfortable or confident in what she was doing, but didn’t feel she could ask for help because I was working fulltime at a very stressful job and lived 70 miles away from her.  Once I retired and we were living 15 miles from each other, she felt freer to show her vulnerability.  In reality, she has not declined.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  She is feeling well and her blood pressure is under control, even without medication.  She admits to feeling happier and less stressed.  Now, my challenge is finding the balance between helping her continue to feel well and making sure she retains her sense of independence and competency.

 So, the real change in the relationship is not the role reversal.  It is more related to that living 15 miles from each other thing. 

 When I was living 75 miles from my mother, it was easy to seem like a supportive, compliant daughter.  I talked to my mom on the phone a couple of times a week and saw her every three weeks or so. I’m sure she thought I was pretty close to perfect.   If I made a mistake or did something of which I thought my mother would disapprove, it was easy to just not mention it.  Once we started seeing each other four or five times a week, it was more difficult to keep things from her.  She knows when I buy something she thinks is frivolous.  She knows when I give a homeless person money just because I don’t want to deal with his annoyance if I refuse.  She knows when I agree to something that Max thinks we should do just because I’m tired of arguing.  She also sees me get snappish and sarcastic when I am tired or hungry.  I am pretty sure she knows now that I am nowhere near perfect.  Even though she only voices her opinions gently and occasionally, I know her well enough to know when she disapproves.  If I basked in the sunshine of her approval for 55 years before our move, I fear I am now in danger of sinking into the mire of her disapproval.  And I care way too much about that.

 It has been an uncomfortable transition.  When I first noticed the shift, I felt sad and empty.  I mourned that, in trying to do a good thing by taking on my mother’s caretaking, I seemed to have lost my relationship with her.  I knew my mother still loved me and appreciated who I am and who I try to be.  She probably has a much better grasp than I do on the fact that it is perfectly okay that she disagrees with some of my decisions. Still, I tended to become overcome by anxiety by the fact that my mother might not always agree with me. 

If I am not the “easy” daughter who is never a cause for concern, do I cease to be lovable?

Of course not.

As more time passed, I remembered that love is a verb.  And so, in some weird non-grammatical way, is “relationship.”  It moves and changes and grows.  As I went about my regular routine of helping my mother and trying to maximize the joy in her life, I realized that I was starting to enjoy the same closeness I used to share with her.  As my mom and I “relationshiped,” we surfed through the turbulence.  While we may not always pull in absolute tandem, we do respect where each other wants to go. 

I learned that parental disagreement, even disapproval, is not a catastrophe.  Growing up should teach a child that it is safe to disconnect from a parent and live her own life without losing the love of the parent.  This education happens to everyone.  It is just that, for most people, it happens at around age 15 or 16.  It took me until I was 56.

 As my mom and I continue to come face-to-face with disagreements and no catastrophe happens, I think our relationship is becoming more authentic again.  Perhaps even more authentic than it used to be.  We are both coming to terms with the fact that we are each complicated, real people and not just our respective roles- perfect daughter and perfect mother.  Or more likely, we are just redefining what our “perfect” means. 

So what do you think?  Have you taken on additional caretaking responsibilities?  Has it changed your relationship with your loved one?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

As a side note, we had a bit of a “power surge” of new visitors this past week.  Welcome to all! I hope you enjoy enough to continue visiting, reading, and sharing.  I have been posting every Wednesday.  If you would like to be notified when there is new content, please send me an email at 

Have a wonderful day!

Terri 🙂