What a Difference a Week Makes


Yes I recall bemoaning the end of Ragdale last Saturday. Yesterday and today, my first success story left her kids with us while she is a brides matron in a college girlfriend’s wedding. Six years old and six weeks old, what a lot of love surrounding me.

I remember being pregnant with my second greatest accomplishment–afraid I couldn’t possibly have any more love left! Silly, of course. But a wonderful way to learn of the infinite measure of love.

Daughters, grandchildren, healthy and happy. I don’t know much for sure. This,  tho, I do. I may be the luckiest person alive.

Sharing Some of the Magic


I’m at Ragdale artist/writer retreat in Lake Forest, IL. Lady luck placed me on the wait list should there be a last-minute drop-out. I was explaining the wait list to someone a week earlier, saying it was a “good thing” I hadn’t heard from them for this upcoming 18-day span because my oldest daughter just gave birth to a son.

A new grandchild offers an ideal excuse to invade your child’s every adult-day world, especially in the winter of the polar vortex. I serve a purpose after all: bundle up and walk my beautiful granddaughter to kindergarten, help my daughter around the house and care for a perfect and handsome new addition to the family so she can steal an hour sleep here and there. Just to have reason to be with my first baby and soak in her life is a joy beyond words. Those years where I was mom and she was the one needing my help to get to school defy relative speed a thousand-fold.

A Retreat with a View: Ragdale

Within days of that discussion I received the email I’ve dreamt about, then dreaded. Eighteen days starting Monday. My daughter and her family are getting along with remarkable ease, both heartbreaking and reassuring. They don’t need me. Of course not, but my son-in-law convinces me they miss my help and are happy I’m doing something for myself. And to top it off, they sent a rainbow of flowers delivered by that little kindergartener who just yesterday was her mother, my brilliant 6-yr-old.

So what about the the magic? Ragdale is the solitude of a setting meant to stir words, time to read what inspires, and today tripping over a very short video compendium defining the secret of happiness by the best of the TED-sters. And now the chance to share it with all of you in your crazy-busy lives. Less than 2-minutes, go for it:  http://vimeo.com/3686182

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you and miss you.


My mom sent me a gift this year on her birthday. She would have been 91 on March 2. We would have celebrated around the dining room table with the fancy chinaware and silver-stitched linen table cloth, along with my niece whose birthday is February 29, keeping her 9 until another leap year. Sharing her birthday and that leap-year baby are other stories attesting to her generosity.

This one is about the reach of Shirley Stone’s devotion and resolve that showed up in my email on March 2, 2014, because I’m without doubt it was directed from whatever cloud or treetop she’s long settled upon, probably in Sycamore.

I woke up on her birthday to an “official” email from Ragdale, an artist/writer-in-residence retreat in Lake Forest, IL, saying there was a last-minute opening I was welcome to attend. Starting March 3. Until March 21. Eighteen days of writing nirvana, and if there’s a heaven for everyone, this is surely mine.

Of course so many others make this possible―from my husband and daughters, son-in-law and leap-year niece, to a mentor who happens to be here now, too, and more recently acquired mentors from StoryStudio and LinkedIn. I can’t yet put into words my gratitude to the Ragdale Retreat and Foundation, comprised of creative souls who found me worthy of a place on their waiting list; and the friendliest, most encouraging fellow retreaters and staff, each enabling this to be the most likely spot for me to write words worthy of other’s time.

I don’t believe in coincidence. March 2 is always a bittersweet day since my mom passed away. I descend from a long line of incredibly strong women, and the email from Ragdale on March 2, 2014, is testament. Look at all Shirley Stone orchestrated to surround me in a setting that allows me the space to recount the stories she always knew I would tell.

I hope I will make you proud, Mom. I miss you but thank you for your gift: a reminder you are no further than my heart.