Book Review: Grace in Tension, by Claire McGarry

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Choose the better part, and it will not be taken from (you)” (Lk 10:42)

Martha and Mary…most of us know this Bible story well. Martha was angry, thinking she had been wronged by her sister, Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus while Martha was slaving in the kitchen. But Jesus did not take Martha’s side, basically saying that Mary was in the right place, and Martha should quit worrying about so many things (and join Mary at His feet!). Martha was wrapped in tension, while Christ tried to teach her a “better’ way.

That’s what this book is all about. Bringing to light God’s grace, in the midst of our daily stress and turmoil.

In her book, Claire McGarry dives deeply into that scripture, and invites us to enter in and understand, to draw insight and knowledge of our own faith life, and the results of our misled (albeit often well-intentioned) choices.

When we forge ahead without discernment and confirmation, we are failing to properly aim our “rudders.” God will lovingly allow tension to build in our lives. Because we have said yes to things we should not be taking on, or simply set our standards too high and chosen not to ask for help, we begin to feel overwhelmed, start floundering, and find ourselves wrapped up in tension. This is just one way that God gets our attention!

Within this tension, the author has unearthed the ever-loving, always merciful, nudge of God. In our stress, He is offering us an opportunity for spiritual growth and an outpouring of His grace. “There’s no better place to realign ourselves than at the feet of Jesus.”

The author’s insight is that we can view our stress as a sort of lighthouse, warning us that we have gone off-course, spiritually speaking.  Through specific steps of prayer and discernment laid out by McGarry, we can turn to the Light of the Holy Trinity and get back to calm and safe waters, choosing the better part, using our time and talents in the way that God intends for each of us.

Following the steps set up in Claire’s book (identified by the acronym G-I-F-T), you can pray your way through the tension, making better decisions, while focusing on “being, rather that doing.”

You’ll learn about setting healthy boundaries, adjusting your expectations, avoiding comparison and competition, learning to ask for help, avoiding the practice of making yourself a “martyr,” empowering others to use their gifts, and even accepting the unresolvable.

Reading this book at my age, as an “empty-nester” Mimi, a term which is a complete fabrication, in my opinion! (Which you should know if you read my blog regularly!), I recalled overhearing my youngest daughter saying this many years ago, to a friend, “My mom is in charge of EVERYTHING!” and she was right. I was the leader of two American Heritage Girl units, and I often did everything myself, rarely asking my co-leaders for help (which I realized too late was not a kind way to behave!). For three years a friend and I were in charge of a huge event, “AHG Spring Camporee,” gathering a team, doing ALL the planning and coordinating of all the stations and activities. Then I volunteered to take over the track and field day planning at our school, and changed it into a themed, cross-curricular event. I started Children’s Liturgy of the Word at our Church. When we started homeschooling, I began a DTS youth group, and planned service opportunities for the members and other homeschoolers, including complicated mission trips for high school students, topping it off with a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, staying with the Salesian priests there. Of course, I also HAD to plan at least one bus trip for our parish to the March for Life! Eventually I was a co-president for our homeschool support group, and from there went on to be a co-leader of a parent-led homeschool co-op we attended. The list goes on and on, but with this small sample, you can understand the tension I brought into my life as a young mother. I had a lot of fun along the way, but I definitely wore myself out far too often.

That’s why I think EVERYONE (but especially mothers!), will love this book, appreciating the insights and the beautiful prayers, while bringing your life pursuits and projects in line with your particular gifts, used within God’s will (and always remembering that tension and stress are God’s way of calling you back to His side!).

The upcoming season of Advent is a PERFECT time to work through this book, and/or wrap up a copy for a friend or family member’s Christmas gift. Order a copy today through Amazon, you’ll be so blessed by it!

It’s a Wonderful Life I have!

Wait a minute….WHAT? How did weeks (or months?) go by without me doing a blog post? We’re halfway through October, and 3/4 through 2021. How does this happen? I remember January like it was yesterday. (Okay, that’s not true. I relied on all the notes on my wall calendar to compose this story!) In January (with VERY little “coaching,” and prep time), I did my first virtual interview for a podcast aired by our local archdiocese. I was nervous as all get-out, but with a bit of editing, the podcast video turned out great. It aired in March. Here’s a link if you want to see how talkative I can be!

https://youtu.be/htNt1q-HNoI

Also in March, our youngest + husband put a bid on a house. It was a crazy time to be a buyer. They had to jump through all the “seller’s market” hoops to snag a house, but they found a really good one, only a 10 minute drive from our house! (side-note: Our oldest is 11 hours away, our middle one is a little over an hour’s drive away, and our youngest 10 minutes. I told my husband, with the way things are trending, if we’d been able to have more children, any additional ones would have never left home!) Anyway, the house-buying step set up a month of pre-moving fun. I drove around town gathering up free boxes from friends, ended up with a plentiful pile, then we started helping with wrapping & packing.

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The months of Easter and Mother’s day went by in a blur of family gatherings, finished off by a trip to Minnesota. The periodical cicadas were just beginning to show signs of emergence when I headed north, but a cool-down stymied their efforts. I was afraid I was going to miss the mega emergence craziness, but they waited for my return, and were with us through the end of July. They didn’t seem near as bothersome as they used to be. When you’re looking at the world through “covid-colored” glasses, little nuisances lose their power! But the BEST thing about July is that our oldest foster child became our legally adopted grandchild. What a joyful day that was!

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August brought us the dog days. I really dislike the dog days (even with my “covid” glasses!). I get SOOOOO overheated. I thought old people were supposed to be cold all the time. I guess I’m not that old after all! My elderly clients are always cold in the heat of summer, and I’m in their houses melting into a puddle. I can’t work for a client that doesn’t supply a powerful fan for me to use for emergency cool-down therapy! (And, in August I got back in the business of caregiving, only for one client, and as a helper for her son, a dear friend of ours who’s been diagnosed with ALS. I must admit though, it’s good to be back. I LOVE hanging out with the elderly, such a gift they are to us!) Sultry August managed to redeem itself midway through, by welcoming our 9th grandchild, so I’ll give it another chance! ❤️  (But, that’s my very private child, so no baby pics allowed….SORRY!)

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September…..did we even have a September? Oh, yeah, I remember now. Our family campout was delayed this year until September, so the northern contingent could meet the new baby. Two weeks before the campout, the camper we always borrow from a friend was in an accident, unable to be used. Suddenly, I had to do a huge cleaning at the cabin we have on our property (and have used mostly as storage for several years). I pulled out all the stops – spending two full Saturdays at “the farm,” dusting, sweeping, removing all of the musty bedding, and lugging it home to wash (and hang on the line in the sun!). In addition, I shopped for food, baked, and gathered up toys galore, from thrift stores and yard sales, to keep the nine grandkids entertained. I would get home and fall into my bed, totally exhausted! When the camping kicked-off, I packed food, baby beds, extra toothbrushes, towels, coolers galore, etc., and headed west. We had a great time (hot the first week, cold and rainy for a few days into the 2nd week). All the craft items (most of them sent to me from a dear friend!) and the toys really came in handy during those dreary days. The kids had a blast, even when stuck in that little house! Then, everyone headed home, and after two more weekends of cleanup, it was just a lovely memory (and I lost 4 lbs! Ha, ha!).

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So, here we are in October. I’ve met all of my writing deadlines for the month ahead (actually, I ALWAYS meet my riding deadlines, with the hubsters often supplying my photo illustrations! I’ve learned that deadlines are my friend, unless they’re self-imposed, and then I ignore them!). Now, I’m packing again because I’m off to Minnesota. I’ve never missed a first birthday celebration for my grandkids, and there’s one coming up soon. By the time I get home, I’ll have to drag out all of my “winter clothes,” and start thinking about Christmas decorations. What a great year I’ve had, so many gifts and blessings, and I treasure them all, and thank God for the little things. It’s always the little things that fill up our lives, and make them worth living! Find the little things in your life today, and relish the joy you find in them!

Due Any Day Daughter

This is turning out to be an exciting end of July for my family and I. Forget those noisy fireworks (that scared your dog and kept you up late) at the beginning of the month! We’ve got our own version of fireworks going on in our family, and it’s a grandchild explosion!! Tomorrow we will celebrate the adoption of middle daughter & sil’s oldest foster child. 

The child is 2 1/2 years old, so it’s been a long and bumpy road, with drug addicted parents who came and went for months. Foster agencies give them plenty of opportunities to get their act together, but at a certain point, they “disappeared,” after angrily threatening to fight tooth and nail for their continued custody of their child. No one has heard anything out of them for months.

So, here we are, red tape unraveled, the magistrate for the case finally returned from a month-long vacation, and tomorrow we celebrate: adoption/baptism/party! It’s going to be a joyous occasion, so yours truly is packing a few hankies.

In the meantime, while middle daughter and sil were finalizing all the plans for the big day, they were suddenly asked to take in more foster children last week. They said yes, because they are already fostering a sibling, so they wanted to keep these children together. This is a huge and selfless sacrifice, and I could not be prouder of my daughter. What a great witness and mercy and charity they offer to these little ones (and also to the birth families). Of course, “we” would love to adopt all these kids, too, but it is a long process, and it’s ALWAYS an emotional roller coaster ride, but birth mom actually asked to have the children removed, so we think that is a sign that adoption could be in the future. So we love and give without holding back, knowing that our efforts will bring at least some beauty into the lives of these precious children.

“But wait a minute,” you’re all asking, “what’s the deal with the title of this post?!” Hang on a minute, I’m getting to that! Youngest daughter and her spouse are signed-up to be the Godparents of the one who joins our family by adoption tomorrow(on the feast day of Blessed Solanus Casey, I might add, one of my most beloved “saint friends!”). Youngest is pregnant, and at a point right now when she could go into labor any day, so we are hoping and praying that it’s not tomorrow. It’s a bigger deal because the baptism is an hour’s drive from their house, so they can’t really zip to the hospital quickly. If we get through tomorrow with no progressive contractions, we will ALL breathe a big sigh of relief. Probably sometime next week, we’ll get to meet that little one in person.

This past two weeks has been busy with helping middle daughter with odd jobs around the house, and youngest daughter with preparing casseroles to stick in the freezer and doing a good house-cleaning, as well as just spending time with her to keep her distracted. (Oldest daughter lives far away, and has 4 children of her own, so she joins in on the iMessage group chats. In times like these, I thank GOD for iMessage and FaceTime!).

At any rate, counting all of the grandchildren in our family (which includes all those still in foster care, and the one in the oven who is almost “done,”) we now have nine grandchildren here on earth, plus two in heaven who we haven’t met yet, but will someday.

Children are the greatest blessing in life, and all I ever really wanted to be was a mom. I gave motherhood (and my children) all I had to give, or so I thought. I’m having the 2nd chance experience now with my grandkids, and finding that there’s more love than ever in my heart to share with them. Now, if only I could sign-up for that 2nd chance energy renewal, there’d be no stopping me! Hold your kids tight and spend lots of time playing with and listening to them. They are your stepping stones to joy and fulfillment in this life!

(Author’s note: the adoption and baptism were actually today, Friday, July 30th, and youngest daughter was there, she made it through the long day of adoption, baptism, & party! I’m doing this quick post with no photos to share. Once photos start circulating through the family, I will snag some to share on here!)

Book Review

I have to say that one of the greatest perks for being a monthly contributor to CatholicMom.com is the opportunity to read and review newly published books. Sometimes I receive a PDF copy of a manuscript via email, but most of the time, a hot-off-the presses book is delivered right to my door. How awesome is that?!

I just recently reviewed two new books, and I’ll tell you about one of those today, which just happens to be the memorial “feast day” of the saint about whom this book is written. (The other review will be published on Catholic Mom, and I will provide a link on my blog when that happens – that one was one of THE BEST saint books I’ve ever read, by a very talented writer, so be sure to keep an eye out for that!) 

There are several feast memorial options for today, but two of them are a married couple who lived in France in the 1800’s, Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin. They also raised several children who would later become canonized saints, most notably St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower.

The story of Zelie Martin is historical fiction in the form of a personal diary, based on factual events, with the author using her research and knowledge to fill in missing information, while also making it a more intimate reading experience. If you’re like me, and often find yourself nodding off in the middle of a saint book (I sheepishly admit!), then you will enjoy being drawn into this intimate story of Zelie Martin. It felt like I was reading letters from her, coming to know her personally, and I learned so much about her life. She should be the patron saint of working mothers, because she ran a very successful lace-making business from her home while raising her children. So if you are a mom who’s raising a family while also holding down a “second job,” you’ll appreciate Zelie’s struggles.

Join Zelie and her family in the day-to-day struggles of their lives, enter into the joy and the pain, the suffering and the rejoicing, but most of all, the prevailing faith that carried St. Zelie Martin through it all. Pray for us, Sts. Louis and Zelie!

Laughing at Death

I’ve always said that I want to be the kind of person who is telling jokes as I leave this world. I’ve heard stories of other folks on their deathbed, making everyone around them smile and laugh. I want to be like that, telling those in shock to have faith, and understand that we are not made for this life, but for something SO MUCH BETTER! Death is a gift to mankind, to keep us from being separated too long from our eternal joy. It’s the promise of that joy that gives me a (sometimes strange) sense of humor in what many would consider their darkest hours.

Even though I have this goal, to laugh in the face of death, I obviously have no idea what my actual death will be like, but I had a little “rehearsal” just last week.

I was working outside in the sweltering heat. I came in and turned two fans on me, trying to cool down. Then, a feeling of “tightness” started in the middle of my chest. I couldn’t call it painful, but it was VERY uncomfortable, definitely something I had never felt before. I kept trying to find a position that would relieve the discomfort, but it got worse. I sat in my living room thinking, “Is this a heart attack? Is this the end for me?” I wasn’t frantic, but I was definitely concerned. Then I remembered that I had just received the sacrament of penance the previous evening, and felt tremendous relief in that regard. If it’s my time to go, I thought, at least I have that in my favor. 

And then, the next thing that popped into my mind was the old TV sitcom from my childhood days, Sanford and Son. If you remember that show, the father, Fred, was always getting upset with his son, and trying to manipulate him into guilt and submission. Fred would put his had to his chest and say something like, “This is it, Elizabeth (his deceased wife), this is the big one. I’m coming Elizabeth!”

So, what did I do…? Well, obviously, I put my hand to my chest and said, “This might be it Elizabeth! I might be coming! (But, since we were still in the month of St. John the Baptist’s nativity celebration, I called upon his mother, St. Elizabeth.) 

I was proud of myself. In the midst of some sort of health upset, thinking it could be cardio related, and I was making jokes, and feeling grateful! At that point, however I began to feel some tingling in my fingers and toes, and got a very strong urge to get to the ER. I actually drove myself there, because my husband was in the middle of a sweaty, outdoor job. 

The ER nurses and docs were very concerned about me. They seemed pretty certain it was a heart attack. I immediately had an electrocardiogram done and blood samples taken. Based on my own health history and family history, they said that no matter what, I was an automatic admission, and I’d be in the hospital for 2 days, having more tests run. That did not sound fun (and DEFINITELY not affordable), but my husband and I were open to doing what they thought best. My first test results showed no sign of a heart attack, and the 2nd set done a few hours later exhibited no changes.

They still wanted to admit me, but hubby and I decided against it. I was feeling pretty good by that point, my BP readings were back to normal, and our self-pay status (with membership in a Christian health sharing program) has taught us to think things through very rationally in regards to health care. The doctor finally agreed that I could go home, as long as I promised to follow up with testing.

I have since seen my GP doctor, and we’re in agreement that the whole thing was probably related to my autoimmune issues, specifically my extreme sensitivity to medications. I had recently had an increase in dosage of my thyroid meds, which can cause higher BP and extreme sensitivity to heat, as well as adrenaline overload. We’re going with some less expensive testing to get that system back into balance (and, trust me, it is a VERY tricky job!)

But, will my “gallows humor” hold out to the end, even when I encounter the natural fear and uncertainty that comes when facing certain death? Or will I go in a flash, with no opportunity to do my comedy routine? Only God knows, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to spread smiles, laughter, and encouragement wherever I go.

At any rate, I learned some really important things. First of all, I learned what a panic attack feels like (my “emotional outlook” was not at all in panic mode, so that made it hard for me to assess). I learned that I can drive really safely, but FAST, in an emergency. And also, I now know that it’s okay to walk into an emergency room without a face mask or a bra. No one said a word about a face mask, and the no bra mode made it much easier for ER nurses to start sticking testing patches all over my chest! 

But, most importantly, I learned that I can face death with grace, and a sense that I have lived a good life and accomplished many wonderful things. My kids and grandchildren would be sad without me, I know, but I have formed them well, and I know I would have LOTS of prayer support on my trip to eternity!

This week, (which has been a week of low energy with lots of naps!), I’m feeling more thankful for ALL the gifts I have, especially my beautiful family, and more pertinently, the gift of humor, which helps me sort the essentials of life from the nonessentials, and discern everything through the joyful outlook of faith. 

May God bless you all this week with “clearer vision!”

Cicada Lockdown, 2021

  The cicada invasion was interesting and distracting, at first…, but the fascination is waning rapidly. I’m done with their clumsy flying, constant buzzing, and (now) decaying bodies all over the ground. Going for a walk in the neighborhood has … Continue reading

Mimi Rides Again

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Back in the day, Mimi used to take the Megabus from Cincinnati all the way to Minneapolis. Not just once, but TWICE, I was able to get 2 round-trip rides from Cincy to Minne & back. They had that advertised $1 ticket price (and I needed 4 total tickets for my entire round trip). With the 4 tickets and a service fee, the price was $5 for both long rides! Even when I had to pay a little more, the price was still amazingly cheap. It was a sad day when the Megabus changed its downtown Chicago stop too far south to hang out at the train station during my “layover,” and nowhere else nearby to hang out while waiting, and also changed their schedule so that I would get dropped off on some random sidewalk at about 1:00 AM. Hmmmmm….1:00 AM on a downtown Chicago street, with nowhere to take shelter. Bye-bye Megabus! It was the end of a daring adventure. Here’s one of my old, Megabus posts:

https://grandmascoffeesoup.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/59/

 

From there, I turned to Southwest Airlines. The price was okay, but ALWAYS included a layover at Midway. After several flights with Southwest (which I always enjoyed, except for that layover), Delta suddenly came up with a non-stop flight to MSP. If I fly the Basic Economy option, the price is about the same as a layover flight with Southwest. I have to pack light (a carry-on and one “personal bag” only.) Non-stop flying is a dream come true! I’ve been slowly building up my all-season wardrobe at my daughter’s house in Minnesota, and although it’s not quite perfect yet, I can get by okay with what I have stored there and what I can borrow from my daughter. With a few more thrift store trips while I’m up there, I’ll be good to go, any time, any weather! (I even have a pair of barn boots, for when I go take care of the chickens!)

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This last visit was one of the best I’ve ever had with “the northern contingent” (as I call them). I planned a two week stay, because…why not max it out, right? It started out chilly but quickly warmed, just in time for my oldest granddaughter’s First Communion. I felt so good while I was up there. I often struggle with fatigue, chronic dizziness, and insomnia, but I had none of that during my stay. In addition to stepping back into my role as chicken care manager, Coco and I did a decoupage project, making a box for her to put her First Communion gifts and cards in. I took on many cleaning and organizing projects, because it’s what I like to do when I have the energy (Coco said she likes how I always have such good ideas, and make things look nicer!). I took the girls thrift store shopping for summer clothes, and helped them change out their dressers for the new season and pack the old items away. I drove them to swim lessons, went to dance and horse-riding lessons with them, visited the neighbor and met his horses, and pushed my first grandson in his stroller, up and down their steep driveway so many times that I had to have regained muscle power in my thighs!

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We planted flower pots together, and hiked the trails on their property, gathered eggs daily (and, sadly, lost 2 chickens to a coyote while I was visiting…). One day I came out of the barn with just one egg, and an Insta-Cart delivery driver was at the house. He was very nice and friendly, waving and wishing me a nice day, so I said, “Would you like a super fresh chicken egg?” He got so excited about that egg. I kept thinking later that I should have thought to go in the house and get him a couple more eggs, but he acted like that one, little egg was the best tip he ever got!

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After one of the cleaning jobs I had done, which provided a nicer view for my son-in-law, I asked him if I could drive his John Deer tractor as a reward. On my last Saturday there, I did it, and s-i-l attached the trailer so I could give the girls a ride. I never heard such hoopin’ and hollerin’ and giggling! They love to be bounced around, and the holes that the big dogs dig in their yard offer plenty of bouncing opportunity. I must have driven them around the yard 10 times before we finally gave it a rest. It was a grand adventure! A few days later I crammed all I could back into my carry-on and headed to the airport. I left behind three sleeping girls who had offered sad good-byes as they headed off to bed the night before. I had an early flight, but I took time to write them each a special letter for breakfast reading. The letters were a big hit, cheered them up!

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It is SOOOOO fun being a “Mimi, and a helper for all of my daughters and s-i-l’s. I’m truly blessed, and am considering retiring in Minnesota someday, with horses and chickens and grandkids galore! (I’ve always told my kids that, with me being a stay-at-home mom, plus their homeschool teacher, THEY are my retirement plan!) My husband, on the other hand (who hates cold weather), will be somewhere south, with his faithful dog, both of them warming their old bones in the year-round swelter of the southern states. And if I can’t get me a cheap ride on a Megabus without a midnight drop-off in downtown Chicago, then we’ll just have to video chat until I get cold enough to head south again!

Missing Emergence

I remember well our city’s last two exposures to the Brood X cicadas. It’s one of my favorite “old person” stories to tell. “Gather round kiddies. Mimi’s got a story to tell you, that began way back in NINETEEN-EIGHTY-SEVEN (i.e., … Continue reading

God Gave Me Homework!

You might be wondering where I’ve been lately. During Lent I was busy with a stack of faith-based reading, and from that reading, a book idea was born. At first, I thought it might be just an article idea, but the more I read and the more people I turned to for opinions, the clearer the audience and essence of my brainstorm took shape. Now, I am VERY excited about the potential of this work I’m doing! I feel the Holy Spirit has truly encouraged me to write this book.

I always thought that my first “real” book (recall those two children’s books that I self-published, but then failed to self-promote…) would be a comedy. I do love to make people laugh! But these days, I feel like people don’t laugh as easily, and what most of them crave (even if they don’t know it) is baby food for their souls. (And besides, comedy is not what it used to be. I search for places to sell my comedy pieces, and publications are looking for really raunchy and shocking pieces that make me want to puke! All in the name of so-called comedy.) What I’m undertaking with my new book idea is preparation of a homemade batch of spiritual baby food, in an attempt to draw people back to the source of all life, truth, goodness, and lasting joy.

Being a child of the 60’s (i.e., old, and not as tech savvy as I should be), I don’t go right to my computer when I start a big writing project. I prefer the comfort of my lounge chair to a desk chair, and piles of books filled with tab page markers. From that set-up, I begin to fill a composition notebook (in an organized format) as the “story” reveals itself to me. Once I have all of my research done, I’ll be sitting at the computer for hours, writing and re-writing, organizing and editing (many times!), and composing a logical, sensible, and (hopefully) inspired piece of writing.

So THAT is why blog posts have been put on the back burner. I’ll try to provide monthly updates on my progress, and in between times, I humbly ask that you keep me in your prayers, as I struggle to do God’s work with my talent of writing. I thank you in advance for those prayers!

A Sale on Brawls at Victoria’s Secret (a short story)

I have a friend who tells THE BEST stories. In addition to that, she always has the most unusual encounters and experiences. Put those ingredients together, and she’ll have you on the edge of your seat and/or laughing so hard you’ll cry. Sometimes I ask her, like a kid who loves a book so much that they never grow tired of it, to retell old favorites again. She told this particular story as several friends were gathered around someone’s dining room table (with an, older, mother-in-law in attendance).

She had gone to a local shopping mall one day with her kids (and this was an upscale, ritzy mall, in the wealthy part of town!). They were in the food court, when her older children pointed out to her a sinister “buzz” building in the atmosphere. She decided they better clear out….QUICKLY! This was before riots and radical vandalism had become routine and rampant, but still, she already had good instincts!

She and her kids planned to head to an exit, but the crowd began to trail after them, rapidly gaining speed and fever pitch, and her two older children got separated from them. She scurried along with her younger daughter, trying not to alarm the little one too much and hoping for the best. At some point, she looked back and realized that the crowd had all funneled into a Victoria’s Secret store, and there was a now a hullabaloo taking place in there. She made it to her car, and waited nervously for ten or fifteen minutes for her other kids to show up (which they did). In the meantime, cop cars were streaming into the parking lot.

She sat for a while. Allowing her trembling hands and beating heart to calm so that she could drive safely, and they headed back to their rowdy, west-side neighborhood (where such events are expected!).

We all sat there at the table, amazed by this story (and wondering why she’d never told us this before), and then I said, “Wait a minute…., there was a brawl…at VICTORIA’S SECRET? Was there an announcement on the mall’s PA system just prior to that, announcing ‘Attention shoppers, there’s a sale on “brawls” taking place right now at Victoria’s Secret?!’” Everyone laughed and laughed, and then I remembered we had an older woman at the table, and I looked at her and said, “I’m sorry, are you okay.” And she got a big smile on her face and said impishly, “I’ve never been better!” (I’ve simply adored that woman ever since that moment!)

My theory is, this is EXACTLY what we all need right now, good story tellers equipped with a sharp-witted comedian standing by (along with the ability to laugh at ourselves and smile at others, whenever possible). The world would be a much better place, if we all surrounded ourselves with such friends!