“Perhaps it is at best difficult, at worst, impossible for children and parents to be adults together. But I would love to know that.”

~Anna Quindlen, Absence Makes the Heart Grow Curious~

I’ve been working my way into Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Daughters, like it’s part of my Master’s thesis or some other rite of passage.

Maybe it is.

I have to concede–it won’t be a quick read nor will it won’t be an easy read.

For sure–it will be an emotional read.

My heart tells me there are other women out there in need of the validation I’m finding in this book after just the first few pages. Along with me, they need to know they’re not alone in the quest in coming to terms with their past.

I’ve started this book so many times before.

It was easy to see where I’d stopped in the past. I just needed to look for the spot where all the yellow highlighting stopped.

My goal yesterday was to get to that spot–I almost got there.

The surprising part was what caught my attention now I’m older compared to what I’d highlighted years ago. Yes–it was years ago.

Yesterday different passages caught my eye and held my attention. Because I’ve had more life experiences that color my perception, what I’d highlighted before seemed insignificant to me while other words jumped off the page.

The first few pages of the book contained letters written to the author, Hope Edelman. Each letter tells a personal story about the loss of that woman’s mother. These letters held different message for me and each seemed to gently encouraging me onward.

Some of the feelings that resonated with me:

  • They thought that they would die at the same age as their mother.
  • No one talked about their mother after she died. This lack of communication made them minimize their own memories of their mom and the pain they felt in the loss of her.
  • They never had the chance to know their mother as an adult. They never were able to relate to her on an adult level.
  • Many felt guilt for carrying around their grief for so many years.
  • Many felt they had no peers to talk to about their feelings and experiences at the time of their mother’s death.
  • Living a life time of grieving made them strong because they had to be strong. Their mother was not there to help them.
  • Ultimately, the loss of their mother resulted in a general feeling of hopelessness and chronic melancholy they carried with them throughout their lives.

I didn’t make it far but I did make it through the first few pages comprehending what I’d read. I’d certainly cried but I was functional.

I also knew in order to continue moving forward, I’d need to give my heart and soul a rest. I closed the book, put my notes down, and allowed my brain time to process what I’d read.

Those of you who have walked this path understand. Those of you who have not–will–eventually.

I’d heard Timothy Shriver talk about how the Kennedy family never talked about the tragedies that’d struck his family. In the Kennedy family it was an unspoken understanding you just moved on.


Hearing that made me feel okay–more normal–kinda.

Honestly, didn’t we Irish Catholics think the Kennedys were the Gold Standard for what was normal and acceptable?  Wasn’t this an example of the ultimate “What will the neighbors think?” type reaction?


It was okay I’d all buried my questions along my feelings and moved uneasily on.

I think in the back of my mind the questions and the unease never went away. They’d been biding their time, waiting for me to grow strong enough to stay on course learn what I needed to learn in order to move on–peacefully and in grace.

“In that first year we continued on with the routines of schoolwork, vacations, and bimonthly haircuts as if a central family member were so dispensable that her absence required only minor reshuffling of household chores. Anger, guilt, sadness, grief–all emotions were suppressed, shooting out like brief bullets only when we couldn’t contain them anymore.” ~ Hope Edelman, Motherless Daughters~

I am…

B…simply being…






A Little Sprig of Spring

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.

Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.

Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.

Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” 

Yoko Ono

There are several pairs of wrens in our backyard who entertain us daily. Their chatter and busyness warms our hearts and gives us hope Spring is not that far away.  I thought I’d share a picture of their new home today for all my friends fighting sub-zero temperatures.

We are very fortunate when you compare our temperatures to those in the Midwest. Oh, I remember those bitterly cold days, covering our faces with scarves so our noses wouldn’t freeze shut and we could breathe through your mouths without making our chests feel like they’d explode from the extreme cold.

One memory stands out from the rest.

It had snowed and the temperature was well below zero. Because of that, we had a snow day. I’d asked to go to a friends and told I could go after shoveling the walk and driveway. Done. I was on my way. There was only way for me to get there–I’d have to walk. Not at all appealing but I was motivated. I’d already set a plan in motion to meet my boyfriend along the way.

There was a problem. I’d worn my only hat to shovel. Now it was not only ugly but wet. There was NO way I was going anywhere with that on my head. Plus, who wanted hat hair? After thinking it over for about ten-seconds, I figured I’d be fine. I wouldn’t be gone that long and I’d be okay–and way cuter without the dumb hat.

Amazing to me how well all our little plans came together without the help of cell phones. Without a dozen calls or texting we found each other just fine. For an hour or so we talked and walked through the fresh snow. The excitement of the new relationship dulled my senses to the increasing pain in my ears. Eventually the light began to fade and it was time to head home.

Once I was alone, I began to realize I couldn’t feel my ears. I’d always spent a lot of time outside but never felt anything like this. I began to warm up and my ears began to tingle–like they were asleep. I put my hands up to see if they were warming up and realized they were not just warm but on fire and had swollen to twice their size. As I pulled my hands away I could see that they were an odd color and immobile–hard as rocks.

I had no idea what frost bite really was but I knew I’d gotten myself into quite a fix. I had no idea what to do. Luckily my long-ish bob style hair cut covered my ever-expanding ears. It would be hard for me to explain how my ears had gotten in such shape from being at my friend’s house for the afternoon.

By the grace of God, my ears recovered–eventually. I had a few days of incredible pain as they morphed back to something closer to normal. It could have turned out so much worse.

This was one my first lessons where common sense is pitted against my stubbornness. This lesson remains one

I’m given often and one I continue to struggle to learn. Throw a little vanity into the equation and the odds of successful lesson completion do not swing in my favor.

Learn from me, my friends. Stay safe and warm in these extreme weather conditions.

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet

I am…

B…simply being…




First Job

“First job:Be older sister

Second job:Cope with first job

Third job:Get annoyed with jobs.” 


Since I wrote about first borns, I could not get the picture I used in that story out of my mind. This picture is such a great example of our three personalities. My sister, Beth, the middle child, is the curly haired pixie on the left. My sister, Sue, the youngest, is the wide-eyed cutie on the right.

According to Natalle Lorenzi in the online Parents magazine article, How Birth Order Shapes Personality, the middle child is the opposite of the first born which happens because that role is already filled. The middle child will find another way to distinguish themselves. The traits the middle child develops is in direct response to the next oldest in the family. This makes the personalities of middle children difficult to pinpoint. Ingela Ratledge in a Real Simple article on birth order and personality traits, describes the middle child as a social butterfly, a peacekeeper, and fairness obsessed.

In our family, this describes Beth very well. She was by far the happiest kid around. Regardless of what was going on she found ways to roll with the flow. Her light heartedness enabled her to diffuse some of the heated arguments between the oldest, me, and the baby, Sue. She was all about being fair and was an expert when it came to compromise. Her ability to stay neutral carried into our adult lives and is certainly sorely missed.

For many reasons, my youngest sister, Sue, had a childhood with fewer rules, which is typical for the youngest child. Due to family issues, as Sue grew older our home rules became much more lenient if there were rules at all. This freedom definitely opened the world to Sue and allowed her to be a more care free person. When it came to risk taking, she was the winner, hands down.

There are several things that can throw off birth order. According to Dr. Frank Salloway, PhD., genetics affects personality development but half of our personality it due to the temperament we are born with–where we fall in the family order. The first born is expected to excel at whatever it is the family prizes. If the first born does not assume that role, it goes up for grabs.

Gender is also important in family role assignments. Dr. Alan E. Stewart gives the example of the first born being male and assuming the typical first born role. The second born is a girl. She does not need to create a new niche like a second born boy would which creates the possibility of two first borns. In large families with a lone girl or boy the “exotic” role enables that child to escape the position they were born into and move into the position of choice.

Physicality plays a role in role assignment. Dr. Kevin Leman, Birth Order Book, tells us that age and size often go together. Older kids boss around younger kids except when there is a very small oldest child or a very outgoing middle or youngest child. In those cases the dynamic can flip-flop.

When one child is “special” a change in the typical dynamic can change. That star figure skater or violin prodigy gets the prime treatment and pressure usually assigned to the first born. For that chosen one, according to Dr. Leman, being special will negate birth order and the other children will adjust their roles.

If children are close in age there will be more competition. One to two years age difference in the same gender children will create more conflict meaning more stress for the parents. In this case, the second child may overtake the first born role by being stronger and faster. A three or four year separation is called the sweet spot. These children are close in age but far enough apart they can establish their own identity. An age span of five years or more is like hitting the reset button–the roles already established do not change. A second child born ten years after the first born will take on the first born role or the only child role–a role described as a “super first born” personality. For large families, family counselor, Shai Lagarde, tells us birth order recycles after the fourth child.

What about the only child? Dr. Lehman states that only children are “super first borns.” They are confident, well spoken, pay attention to detail and do well in school. They act like little adults. Because they only have adults as role models, they are even more susceptible to perfectionism.

The few articles I found gave me some great insight into my family, friends, and co-workers.  It was fun to read the people who were also first born–Barack Obama, Oprah, Hillary Clinton, Penelope Cruz, and Kate Middleton. For you middle children, the list of other middles include–Martin Luther King, Princess Diana, and Bill Gates. Interesting, Donald Trump is a middle child. His older brother did not fulfill the role of fist born so Mr. Trump is an excellent example of a middle child rising to the first born position and personality type. You babies of the family, other youngest children include–Rosie O’Donnell, Paula Abdul, and Cameron Diaz. Finally, for you only children, other “super first borns” are–Natalie Portman, Tiger Woods, Alicia Keys, and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Isn’t it something–how we all come from such different backgrounds but we are all so much alike?

I’m thinking there’s a lesson here.

“Nobody could hold the same place in your heart as your sister. Love or hate her, she was the only person who grew up exactly like you, who knew the secrets of your household—the laughter that only the walls of your house contained or the screaming at a level low enough the neighbors couldn’t hear, the passive aggressive compliments or the little put-downs. Only your sister could know how it felt to grow up in the house that made you you.” 

Jessica Taylor, A Map for Wrecked Girls

I am…

B…simply being…





Lighten Up

You have a unique gift to offer this world. Be true to yourself, be kind to yourself, read and learn about everything that interests you and keep away from people who bring you down. When you treat yourself kindly and respect the uniqueness of those around you, you will be giving this world an amazing gift… YOU!” 

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

It’s been great hearing from other first borns since I posted my story yesterday. We certainly share many of the traits I mentioned as well as a lot of guilt. We do take charge and set very high expectations for ourselves. Perfectionism is a hard taskmaster and failure is not an option. Being kind to ourselves is foreign to us and something we have to work hard to learn.

It’s going to take time. With a little patience and help from each other, I think we can learn how to live a more balanced life and “lighten-up.”

May Rabbi Levy’s prayer help us all.

A Prayer When We Are Too Hard on Ourselves  

Teach me how to love myself, God. I am so critical of myself. I set such high standards for myself. I accept shortcomings in others, but I am so unforgiving of myself. Help me, God. Teach me how to enjoy my life. Remind me to be kind to myself. Show me how to embrace the person I am. Lead me to appreciate all the miracles that surround me each day. Soften my heart, God; open my eyes. Fill me with the capacity to treasure my life. Thank You, God, for creating me as I am. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration 

I am…

B…simply being…




First Born

To our First Born

First born children are full of grace. God grants to them a special place. They with deep thoughts and loving heart. Give of their best from the very start. Because you make your parents smile. We’re proud of you, our first born child.  Perry Tankelsey

I’m sure it’s no surprise I am the oldest child in my family.

Yesterday I read several online articles about the characteristics of first born children. Nothing I read surprised me. What it did was confirm what I’d experienced as a child and in my professional career.

Carina Wolff describes what I would call personality types shared by first borns in her article, “7 Interesting Habits All First Born Children Have In Common.”

  • First born children tend to make friends with other first born children because they share the same traits. These kids are the leaders because they are used to taking charge at home. As if to balance out this take charge attitude, first born kids are also more conscientious.
  • First borns are more independent and have no fear of taking off on their own. Ms. Wolff felt that this was due to the parent’s focus on the younger children leaving the oldest to take care of themselves.
  • First borns are caregivers because their younger siblings looked to them for comfort, help, guidance, and protection.
  • First borns are leaders and are often the ones to take charge since this is the role they played in their families. The University of Georgia found most of the US presidents were first born as well as astronauts and CEOs.
  • First borns are hard workers because they are achievement oriented. As their younger siblings arrived, the attention was shifted from them to their siblings. In order to get attention the first borns had to work harder to make an impression.
  • First borns follow directions well and are most likely to conform because they had one-on-one parental attention without sibling competition.
  • First borns are better at picking up a second language. A study in Frontiers in Psychology found in bilingual families the oldest showed better second language skills.
  • Lastly, according to this article, first borns are less likely to take on risky behaviors and are better behaved in their teen years.

From an article in the online Parents Magazine, How Birth Order Shapes Personalities, by Natalie Lorezi, I learned about first, middle, youngest, and the only child birth orders. For today, I’m sharing information on the first born.

Ms. Lorezi cited work done by Frank Sulloway, PhD, a birth order expert and the author of, Born to Rebel. According to Dr. Sulloway personalities do not hinge on birth order but on the roles siblings take on that lead to differences in behavior. The methods used by children differed depending on the position they held in the family line-up. As each child developed their individual roles, the parents unknowingly reinforced them.

The oldest child has the parent’s undivided attention and the parents are the child’s only role models. He or she mirrors the parents behaviors, follows their lead, and takes charge. The first born likes taking charge and does so with confidence. Kevin Leman, PhD, states first borns are so confident because they don’t have older siblings making fun of them as they learn. The adults take them very seriously and encourage their progress which further boosts their confidence.

All this attention is a set up for first borns to become perfectionists. Because adults are their role models, the standards they set for themselves are unreasonably high. They watch the adults pour their milk without spilling and color within the lines. Their observations become their expectations. The first born wants to get it exactly right the first time. This unrealistic goal may prevent them from trying new things. If they try to do new things, they may make a mistake which would not be acceptable. It is this perfectionist trait that makes it hard for the first born to admit when they’re wrong.

It’s not hard to see why first born children are uptight. Their inexperienced parents were over protective as well as being strict and demanding. The parents assign the eager-to-please first born extra responsibilities which, when completed successfully, were rewarded with more privileges.

As I begin my study of me, I really had no idea where to begin. I found these articles archived in my reading list and thought it’d be a good place to start. As I read I found each article to be surprisingly helpful and enlightened me more than I expected.

While I made my notes and thought about what I’d read, I began to understand there were and are legitimate reasons why I did or didn’t do well in certain situations. This awareness gave me hope and reinforced my feeling that I was finally on the right track.

“A Prayer for Daily Insight

Open my eyes, God. Help me to perceive what I have ignored, to uncover what I have forgotten, to find what I have been searching for. Remind me that I don’t have to journey far to discover something new, for miracles surround me, blessings and holiness abound. And You are near. 


Naomi Levy, Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration

I am…

B…simply being…


A Prayer for Insight

“Study the past if you would define the future.” 


My journey has begun–the path ahead is long but the roadside markers are coming into focus.

It’s not going to be fast. I’ve found my teachers.

I am ready.

Just putting that statement in writing makes me feel stronger and more confident in my decision. The reading is tough and emotional–all forms of obstruction my mind has used in the past as a way to slow me down and discourage me.

My intention to learn and understand supersedes all.

A Prayer for Daily Insight 

Open my eyes, God. Help me to perceive what I have ignored, to uncover what I have forsaken, to find what I have been searching for. Remind me that I don’t have to journey far to discover something new, for miracles surround me, blessings and holiness abound. And You are near. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration

I am…

B..simply being…



I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog. You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful pictures on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa. Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.


Oh, chere,” said Moma softly. “Dying isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s just the only thing I won’t live through.” 

J.T. Geissinger, Burn for You

Sundays have always been family day.

When I was living in Iowa, it was the day my sisters came over to just be together. We’d play cards, drink beer, and wait for Sunday dinner.

After moving to Denver, Sundays became family phone call days. That was in the 80’s and long before cell phones. Our calls started after whatever the peak call time was so we could talk longer for less money. Because of that, there was not a lot of long conversations or sharing of memories.

Yesterday was Sunday and it remains my family call day. What a blessing to have cell phones. Thanks to that technology I can call anyone anytime and talk for any length of time.

For me–the saddest part of family call day is the fact there are very few names on my call list. So far I’ve yet to find a cell phone provider with a cell tower in Heaven.

Yesterday my conversation with my sister, Sue, took a very interesting turn. Sue began taking about some of her childhood memories–something she rarely shares.

One of the things she talked about was getting in trouble for eating the creamy filling out of the sandwich cookies. She went into great detail–mentioning how we had the kind with both chocolate and vanilla cookies in the same package. Neither one of us remembered who but one but one of us snatched the crinkly package out of the bread drawer and carried it out to the front porch to share.

We both had a very clear image of that bread drawer–probably because we were in and out of it often. This drawer had multiple purposes–it was the only way any of us could reach the counter which would put us in the position for exploring all the mysterious kitchen cabinets. Not hard to imagine how the repeated bouncing weight of three little sets of feet stressed the construction of those old wooden drawers. No wonder it never worked very well.

After devouring the filling each of us would match up our cookies and carefully place them back into the package. I can only imagine those crooked rows visible through the plastic package which is now covered with little oily fingerprints. We thought we were so smooth and in reality our craftiness was lacking on so many levels.

After sneaking the package back into place it did not take long before a very stern voice commanded us to the kitchen. I’d known for a long time that it was never a good sign when we were summoned by our full names!

It was one of the few occasions when Mom lost her temper. My sister said it was the only memory she had of Mom “patting” her bottom–a memory that surprised her.

I thought of our conversation a lot after we ended our call.

As I thought, I remembered we had the big bag of cookies because Grandma and Grandpa were coming to visit. Those cookies were what Mom planned to have with coffee that afternoon. I also remembered the later conversation I had with my Grandma when she asked if I understood why we were all punished for destroying the cookies. I hung my head and told her no. Honestly, I seriously thought that we had not done such a bad thing–the cookies were just fine in my little kid eyes. Without the creamy centers, they were perfect for dunking in their coffee! She listened to my kid logic but then shared with me a very important lesson. She told me it wasn’t the fact we’d ruined the cookies. What made our deed serious was the fact we’d lied.

Family stories like these have been playing back for both Sue and me for awhile now. Hearing them from Sue has given me a lot of comfort and has been the gentle push I’ve needed to finally open and begin to read Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Daughters. I’ve attempted this so many times. Just thinking about it is tough.

I’m 65 years old and I’ve side stepped grieving for my Mother for 55 years. Ms. Edelman says you grieve when you feel secure enough to do so. Hearing my sister begin to share her stories was just the signal I needed.

Sometimes God does not work in such mysterious ways.

Coincidences mean you’re on the right path.” 

Simon Van Booy, Love Begins in Winter: Five Stories

I am…

B…simply being…


The Backseat Driver

“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer”

Mark Twain

Looking over my bookshelf, my little red book, Unconventional Prayers, caught my attention.

I opened the book to the prayer “For a Back Seat Driver.”


I am a classic example of a back seat driver so it’s appropriate for me to share  Dr. Allen Stockdale’s prayer.

A reminder–1955 is the copyright date of this book.

Dear safety-minded Guardian Angel, I am a driver of an automobile. The traffic is severe and driving is dangerous. I have a wife who rides on the back seat, opposite side from the wheel; her angle of vision is different from mine, for she does not drive at the wheel, but continually tells me what to do while I’m driving. maybe in heaven there are no automobiles and no back seat drivers and you don’t have to meet the problem. I am not ready for heaven yet and still must meet these earthly irritations. I pray thee, good Angel, look down upon me in divine pity and tell me clearly what to do. Religion is a life as well as a belief, but I have more trouble with the life part of it.  

Maybe it’s only me but I think most my fellow backseat drivers have much shorter and more intense prayers as we sit in the passenger seat. I think most of our prayers are more in the Mark Twain style.

I am…

B…simply being…


Tossing and Turning


I cannot get to sleep tonight.

I toss and turn and flop.

I try to count some fluffy sheep

while o’er a fence they hop.

I try to think of pleasant dreams

of places really cool.

I don’t know why I cannot sleep –

I slept just fine at school.” 

Kathy Kenney-Marshall

I’ve said several times the past few weeks I rarely have trouble sleeping.

I jinxed myself–big time.

For the past week I’ve tossed, I’ve turned, and tossed some more.  Like an illusionist, sleep slipped into the swirling fog created by my thoughts, returning without any remorse near dawn’s early light.

As I somewhat smuggly boasted, maybe I planted a subliminal seed which sprouted this round of insomnia. Whatever the reason, I have another lesson in being more mindful–more aware–of what and how I say things.

I’m have known for some time prayer helps slow the whirling of my mind. Just my usual conversations with God work but there is something special about the following prayer. May it help ease all of us into peaceful sleep.

Prayer Before Sleep

Dear God, as I lay me down to sleep, relax the tension of my body; 

calm the restlessness of my mind; 

still the thoughts which worry and perplex me.

Help me to rest myself and all my problems in your strong and loving arms.

Let your Spirit speak to my mind and heart

while I am asleep, so that, when I wake up in the morning, 

I may find that I have received in the night-time,

     light for my way;

     strength for my tasks;

     peace for my worries;

     forgiveness for my sins.

Grant me sleep tonight, and tomorrow power to live. Amen

~God’s Spoken Word Ministries

I am…

B…simply being…


I am thrilled to include the photography of one of my special Iowa friends in today’s story. Thank you, Jo Heiple Thedens. The balance and composition of your art is wonderful. You and your photography nourish my Iowa roots and heart. Thank you. 

Caring For Yourself


Be Yourself– Truthfully 

Accept Yourself– Gracefully 

Value Yourself– Joyfully 

Forgive Yourself– Completely 

Treat Yourself– Generously 

Bless Yourself– Abundantly 

Trust Yourself– Confidently 

Love Yourself– Wholeheartedly 

Empower Yourself– Prayerfully 

Give Yourself– Enthusiastically 

Express Yourself– Radiantly 


~Brad Boyd  

I have met some of the most amazing people through Facebook.

One such amazing person is Terri Boyd Lucher. She is a suicide survivor and someone I now have the pleasure of chatting with on a fairly regular basis.

Our “friendship” began when I sent a message asking to use the picture I’m reusing in today’s story. She graciously gave her permission and shared more about her story.

All I can say is her guardian angels were definitely beside her for some time during her recovery. I am thankful to have the opportunity to call her my friend and thankful she continues to not just live but thrive in all she does. God bless you, Terri, and many thanks to your brother as well.

Between the two of you, my work today is beautifully and easily completed.

Just goes to show you how gifts find their way to you when you least expect them.

“I find that the more willing I am to be grateful for the small things in life, the bigger stuff just seems to show up from unexpected sources, and I am constantly looking forward to each day with all the surprises that keep coming my way!” ~ Louise L. Hay

I am…

B…simply being…




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