Transitions, a New Year to contemplate Joyfulness and a return to the ‘words’

It’s been over a year since I blogged. 

Forgive me, for it feels like I have let myself down, and also let you down.

Seems I was undergoing yet another transition.  I am about to ender my 49th year, and it has been said that our body changes every 7 years – thus this will be my 7th evolution~ That seems to resonate as a common thread amongst my fellow soul-searchers,  scribes, quilters, watercolorists, scrapbookers, card-makers, memory keepers, crafters and avid readers.

Many of you have asked me:  What happened to ChickChatfromtheCarriage House?  WE LOVED READING IT!  Well…………the truth is – my life coach told me to stop writing and to start living.  Somehow, when you are an intellect, an avid learner – and live in your head (and not your HEART) ~  you tend to ‘KNOW’ the facts and relish the words, but you don’t ”OWN’ them.  I was getting really good at storing up the treasures I had begun to learn in my grey matter, and intercolate the learnings into my own life, but I wasn’t living them. My soul was still crying out for ‘more’ and  I was sharing the words readily with all of you but still not living (loving) ‘ME!’

Hard lessons to learn in life.

Many of us have children who have gone off to college and started the next phase of their lives.  Some of us have embarked on new careers, and as for me I headed back to pharmaceutical sales and thus have had to put aside my inspirations and aspirations to start over, yet again. I miss my Viktorias Kreations and Kalligraphy business and my Creative Memories journey has also stalled.  I love working from the Carriage House in my own cottage industry, using my hands and creativity to honor the gifts that God has given me.  I needed to work full-time to ease the burden of funding Kelsea’s Northeastern University adventure.   Starting over is ok.  Change is good.  To be stagnant in one’s life removes the possibilities. 

So, that brings me to ‘why’ I decided to start writing today, the Sunday before New Years Eve~ I love the New Year.  It’s a time to recollect and cherish all that we have – a time to dream about what we’d like to become, where we’d like to go and make new goals.  It’s a time to shed the ‘shoulds’ and try to realize what we gain when we lose the misconceptions, the self-loathing (for whatever it is that we loathe about our beautiful selves)

Since I last wrote, I have completed my G.U.T.S course with Reggies Coaching Academy and created a future self name:  SpiritedDragonFly11.   She is the BEST version of ‘me’ and well, the next chapters of my life will be living as ‘she’ lives.  To my utmost best.  (More about her in future blogs)

I have taken to Pinterest and must say it can be addicting.  Just like Facebook, and Twitter and e-mails and text messaging and all the other ways our world communicates now, it is important to me to hold on to the words.  The words matter.  Not just the content but the words themselves, I long to write with my calligraphy nibs, to dip the pen into the antique ink well that was gifted to me from MaryKay Condon of Nantucket Hydrangea Farm.  (We found it in the Nantucket Thrift Shop and it’s ancient) I want to feel the quill scratch the paper, watch the ink run through and smudge, to pen the words that will be left behind.  All of this technology makes me worry.  What ‘will’ remain?.  Will the children of tomorrow have the tangible opportunity to pick up a book- an old, yellowed, worn-out, page turner that was adored by someone else? Will they have that feeling you get when you know that  by someone elses loving hands held the pages being read?   I don’t know about you, but there is something about how an ‘old’ book smells, wondering where it’s travelled, whose lap did it sit in, and just the legacy it provides. 

I don’t get that feeling from my NOOK, nor do I love my laptop.  I love writing letters – the old fashioned way.  I love snail mail.  I love cards and thank-you notes and actual invitations.

What do you feel?  Where do you like to seek your ‘words’ – tell me….


That “New School Year” feeling~

Do you remember what it was like to start a new school year?  Do you remember going ‘back-to-schoolshopping‘ with your mom?  I am from the era of lay-away plans and one good pair of dress shoes and the best sneakers we could afford for gym class.   I am also from the 70’s where we carried Lunch boxes to school, you now, the ones with the ‘glass’ thermos and you had to be so careful to never drop the box, or bang it against something.  I can’t even begin to tell you the trauma and drama of getting to lunch period, only to open your lunch box and discover one of two things happened.  The lid wasn’t screwed on tight enough, so the milk your mom said you were drinking because it was ‘good for you’ had leaked all over and everything smelled sour and was soaked, or the other disaster – as you picked up your thermos you heard that unmistakable sloshing sound of broken glass.  That happened to me quite a few times and mom was always mad because NOW the new thermos wasn’t going to match and it cost a lot of money to replace – I guess they didn’t have plastic liners back then.  Other things that I remember are, as I got older, I always begged my mom to let me get the ‘boy’ sneakers with the rubber toe and she always said, no.   When designer jeans came out in the 80’s I was allowed to get one pair of conservative Gloria Vanderbilt‘s but with no stitching on the pocket because mom didn’t want me to bring attention to that part of my body.  Heaven forbid!!!

 Fast forward 30 years later and I have a daughter who is entering her senior year of high-school.  Gone are the days of your ‘First-day-big-deal-back-to- school-outfit’, and gone are the days of shopping with mom.  This generation of children doesn’t wait for what they want, I call them the ‘microwave’ generation – if you can’t get it in 30 seconds – you don’t want it.  Everything they want, they must get immediate gratification because the abundance of choices, and styles and money is so different in this day and age.  (Don’t they know that delay of self-gratification is a sign of maturity?)

I remember being little and waiting for what felt like FOREVER in between Christmas and my birthday in July, until we could get something new at the end of the summer and go back to school shopping with my 2 sisters – and it always felt like such a spree.  Mom only took us to the better department stores.  First, we would travel about 30 minutes from home to order our special, custom made shoes from Richard Duff in Denville, NJ.  I think they were leather soled buster browns or something, but we never wore shoes like the kids do today, we didn’t have Payless and Famous Footwear, you got one pair of shoes and they went with EVERYTHING.  Next we’d head over to another store where we always picked out new cotton underwear (white) and cotton socks (white) and a few outfits.  It was also the dreaded moment of truth, and the horror of having to shop for a bra with mom, when every year we went through the same distress because I had nothing to put in mine and still wore the ‘stretch’ kind until my senior year in high school.  We should have just gotten me t-shirts.  I was always the president of the IBTC – my sisters outpaced me in that department very quickly.!

We didn’t have a lot of money, but we didn’t realize it.  We always had what we needed and my mom was good with budgeting and planning. (I wish I had learned that skill from her)  My parents didn’t have credit cards and quite frankly, didn’t believe in them.  Mom always had a Christmas Club, and when they needed a new washer and dryer, I remember the first Sears and Roebuck card that entered our home, it was such a big deal!!!   My dad works very hard as a blue-collar laborer, and at 65, he is still doing that same job today, the job he started when he was 17 years old, as an electrician.  My dad is the epitome of loyalty and tenacity, he has never missed a day of work in almost 50 years ( except to when he fell down our icy steps on the lake about 30 of them, while carrying my sisters twins down to the house from the road (75 steps up) and he slipped on the ice, the baby went sledding and dad’s fall was stopped by a wrought iron railing that cracked his leg in half – he was such a brute that he waited a day before going to the emergency room, and told us all it was just a bad sprain)  He has worked for the same company and truly taught me what it means to work and work hard. 

 Everything was respectful back then,  and we were always covered up.  I am not sure what the parents of today are thinking but some of the gals my daughter goes to school with appear as if they are doing the walk of shame and just coming home from a night out in the club….I am not certain of ‘what’ their intention is for learning, but the fashion stakes and the competition to ‘fit in’ is so fierce and it starts with the lousy-stinkin-brand of sneakers you’ve got on your feet. What happened to the basics?  What happened to caring more about what was in your books than what was on your feet?  

I struggle sometimes to reveal in a non-confrontational way the tenets of being a lady to my daughter.  I try to be a good example, and keep her from the phony outer trappings that we all succumb to and it’s really a difficult part of parenting.  I have raised her to believe that she is the most beautiful on the ‘inside’ and that beauty is fleeting.  Such a tumultuous message. 

On this night before the first day of her last year of high school, I pray for guidance and wisdom and peace.  I pray for the patience to listen more than I speak.  I pray for insight, compassion and strength to endure alongside of her, everything that is thrown her way.  I pray for God’s hand to be upon her car as she drives to and from the senior parking lot.  I wish for happiness and utter joy as she discovers ‘who’ she is going to be, ‘where’  she is going to attend college and that she always remembers to be a human ‘being’ not a human ‘doing’ – my daughter is using the wings that I gave her, and is standing firm in the roots of a loving family steeped with traditions, and memories.  Our daughter is still blessed to have all 4 of her grandparents (who provide much wisdom/and commentary whether she wants to hear it or not!)  and comes from a long line of consistency and committment, for there is no divorce in our families.  When I stop and think about that, it really amazes me – 

I miss my childhood and am quite sentimental.  I miss going back-to-school- shopping with my own mom, and miss the simplicity of her sewing our outfits, buying presents for us in thrift shops, and knowing that no matter what, she was always there for us when we came home from school.  My mom baked cookies, we had snacks and home-made lunches, and lot’s of love.  I have tried to recreate that for my own daughter, and hope that she will pass the baton to her children someday.

Share with me your memories of ‘back-to-school’ , for I would really like to know……..

Are you a Balcony Person or a Basement Dweller kinda person…..?


My biggest Balcony Person, my husband and best friend, John~


As I go through my life, each and every day,  I constantly encounter ‘messengers’ and have learned that there are many paths to leaving an unapologetic legacy in a lifetime.  These mentors share with me their stories of progress, offer prayers, suggest books to read, and offer words of encouragement.   These connections go to the HEART of what matters to me.   Here is a story about one of them, a special person,    named Nancy~

Many moons ago, a ‘mom’ at my daughters elementary school, happened to strike up a conversation with me, she was the kindest person, and her house stands on the corner where the children cross to head over to Spring Garden School.  For seven years, I would pass Nancy and she’d wave.I would always see her chatting with the crossing guard and the other moms as we hurried by with our children down the one-way lane to school.  Every so often, if I wasn’t on the run, I had the pleasure of sharing life stories with her.  She was always so insightful and so loving and really had a wealth of understanding.  One day, as I was chatting, she mentioned to me that she had a ‘lending library’ on her front porch and she wanted to share two books with me.  One is called:  Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley and the other is Hung by the Tongue and I can’t quite place the author.

Nancy ran inside and grabbed the book for me and asked me to take some time to read it and pray about it, and learn from it, and to return it.   I held onto it for months.  (The book is paperback and was written in 1984) I read the book over and over – it’s only 70 pages.   I devoured the book and began to align myself with this philosphy and noticed within the first few pages,  ‘who’ were my Balcony People and ‘who’ were my Basement People.  As you can imagine, the words stand for EXACTLY what they truly mean. 

Balcony people cheer and are in the light, and Basement people leer and jeer and are in the dark. I began to want to immediately extract myself from Basement People, but also began to realize in my life where I had begun to exhibit that dreaded cellar personality, and contemplated, am I being a Basement person to anyone?  That began the mission –


Uncovering the truth of our souls is often difficult.  Change is not comfortable for most people and you can’t know that you are missing tools in your spiritual toolbox, until you know they aren’t there –  you need to know that you need to change and you become AWARE that you something isn’t quite right.  The next Action step will be to find the willingness and the courage to take a deeper dive and discover what your mindset is all about and where to get the help…..

As a mom, I took on the responsibility that I needed to learn this for myself, so that I could live this legacy for my own daughter.  For as much as we like to think that our children listen to what we say, they really live what they see, and they model what we do, (and what we don’t do) versus what we tell them they should do.  Hypocracy is the worst kind of teacher. 

Being in the spotlight as a  Sunday School teacher, a Pioneer Girls Leader and as a Girl Scout Leader, I knew I had been granted the gift of teaching and took the role model position quite to heart.  I  realized I had both the opportunity and the responsibility to share this idea with those little souls surrounding me, to teach them to mirror this character trait and pass it on to their families and friends.   It is amazing how children keep us on course and remind us when we’ve gotten off of the road~

Many times along the way, I had to stop, take a closer look ‘inside’ and admit that I, too, was living once again in the basement, and I had to physically and emotionally, open up the metal ‘storm’ doors to MY basement and walk up a very treacherous flight of steps.  Each step was cluttered with all the fear, anxiety, dissapointments, loss, despair, misunderstandings, misgivings, and turn of events that had caused in me a desire to head down into the dark, damp, moldy and mildewy place of refuge that somehow becomes so comfortable. I had to be careful, it is so easy to slip and fall back down.  The climb up is hard – but what waits at the top, in the light of day, and it is so worth the challenge of picking your way through, pushing things aside and finding your way.   It’s not fun down there in the dark, and it’s really, really, really,  hard to ‘yell up’ as opposed to leaning over a balcony and shouting down.

The difference between the two is this:

Balcony People (as per Joyce Landorf Heatherley) are the kinda people who BELIEVE in YOU.  It’s the person who leans way, way over your balcony railing:  Waving their coat above their head, and yelling above the frightening noises of your world, “I love you!  I believe in you and your abilities:  You can do it!  Keep at it.  Keep on! 

*The WISEST of BALCONY PEOPLE people know that God chose you before He made the world, and they KNOW that God is here beside you, they KNOW without  doubt that:  HE IS, HE WAS and HE ALWAYS WILL BE –  He is right here, and He’s NOT SITTING DOWN!!!!!.  You are His child, He is your Father.  His coat is off too, and He is in the Balcony cheering you on with the others, together!”  isn’t that a great vision?

Basement People are the exact opposite – Joyces teaches us that these people participate in the noisy pandemonium of the ‘evil’ side of this world, who explode all around us like cannon volleys.  These types of souls are not capapble of hugging, they can’t rescue others and they don’t know what it means to be ‘safe.’  They hurry us through our life and frighten us.  They live in the noise of cancer, divorce, the lethal poison of rejection, discouragement, depression, lonliness and other terrible unnamed scenarios.  They pound loudly in our minds, our bodies and our souls, with their messages.  Their personal wall paper is ripping off of the wall and they don’t sing God’s song-  they are negative, they seek first to understand themselves before understanding you and most of all,  they don’t offer you (or themselves)  Grace.

The Healing antidote to all of this is Affirmation!

Balcony People affirm & respect human dignity and worth. It is said that when the bonding occurs between Christians – the process is utterly spectacular, because it is stronger, perhaps, than any other.  It is a marvelous experience indeed!   That is why believers gather amongst one another – it is life changing.

It is no secret that when others discern the good, the noble, the honorable and the just tenets of our character (no matter how miniscule they may be) and then tell us ‘HOW’ they admire those traits, WE FEEL VISIBLE!   We begin to ‘SEE’ ourselves and own our self worth.  We feel LOVED because we are nurtured and nourished.  Oh what a life lesson to SEEK to be fertilizer and enrich and quench the thirst of others rather than act as emotional vampires who suck the life out of one another.

THAT is what Nancy offered me on her front porch when she handed me the booklet. 

THAT is what I offer you in this blog today………………I am clapping for you right now from my heart……we can change the world with just one round of applause for another human being……………..

The constant judgment we pour on ourselves is not only from external sources, but from deep within ourselves and often that self-rejection is the severest kind of all.  Finding genuine love for ourselves and affirming ourselves is tricky and what I have learned, quite rare. 

To that end, we all need to deal with our own brokenness so we can unpack the Samsonite, stop lugging around the Steamer Trunk and MOVE out into the world, with maybe just a small purse and become AFFIRMERS.

So, I ask you?

……….are you living live from the Balcony?………or are you living in the Basement?

**For more information and to obtain a copy of the book:

or just call 1-800-777-7949

I have just learned that Joyce is 80 years old and not in good health,and she currently lives in Texas. The gentleman that I ordered the books from this morning told me she would love to hear of what this book has meant to me………and I plan on writing her a love letter this afternoon. 

Fleeing from being a ‘Freedom Hedger’

Fleeing to Freedom

The definition of a ‘hedge’ according to my handy dandy American Heritage dictionary is to ‘enclose or bound with’ – I was thinking today about boundaries and how Imperative Thinking has paralyzed me in many personal relationships.  I was pondering how to flee from my own inability to let go of control and realized (had an awareness) that the more meaningful something or someone is to me, that is the area where I am tempted most at hedging on freedom.  Pause for a moment and reflect upon that~

First and foremost on my mind, I thought of marriage.   I thought of my initial views and immature beliefs about getting married versus where I am at today, 18 years after saying ‘I Do’ – I definately started out with a Cinderella Complex and believed in the fairy-tale of falling in love, getting married, purchasing our first home and starting a family.    For me, it was ALL about the wedding and I soon learned that the wedding day was symbolic of a choice,  as I believe most of us do, and represented the ‘least amount of work’ versus being married and building upon a commitment.   Most people tend to get married with the unrealistic expectation that their union will be the core of their present felicitous life and a basis for their future happiness.  Most couples end up trying to force their partner into a pattern of choices that reflect selfish thoughts and needs.  Many husbands and wives make their spouse out to be their “Jesus” ~ expecting them to fill the voids, to be the answer to all of their questions, to be their other half, or as has been said in the movies….to complete them.  The freedom and success in a marriage comes when we aren’t fearful of losing our own happiness when we live out our own lives first, and then seek first to understand our partner,  before being understood ourselves.    When I look at the qualities of people in successful long-term relationships (marriages) that have stood the test of time, I  come to the insightful and precious realization that no one was controlling, and there were no hedges surrounding them.

Expectations are wonderful, but can be so unrealistic.   One of the best gifts ever given to me came from the result of being in a loving marriage- and that was the creation of  our child.   As I was taking my walk this evening, my thoughts turned to my 17 year old daughter.  I began to muse about the high expectations I set for her and questioned whether or not that had to do with the fact that I wanted to be deemed as a successful parent?? I asked myself  to consider if  the demands I have made on her surrounding very specific behaviors and attitudes since she was old enough to understand, had more to do with me, than with her?  I always believed that I have let her have choices, but when it comes right down to it, the choices were more to do with the plans I had for her, versus the plans she has for herself.  This realization in my thinking has brought me to the place where I can say my actions caused a lot of power struggles.  What must have been behind my fears was my overwhelming desire for her to succeed.  I took control and my imperative, controlling approach to this style of living has only served to make things worse.   But now I know better, and we cannot know, until we know.

Controlling breeds contempt and frustration.  Both have been alive and well in my spirit and in our home.  Sometimes our best intentions cause us to turn to coercion amongst our spouses and children, which demeans their human dignity.  I now understand why I have been so frustrated. 

In Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of freedom states:

1b.  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action;

1e.  the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken.

To be free from Imperative Thinking and to stop planting hedges around myself and others is to realize that liberation lies in the process of making choicesWe all have choices.   Choices, good and bad, have consequences.   I can choose to continue to be an Imperative Thinker, or I can choose to be liberated and flee from the boundaries that hold me back.  This freedom to enjoy my closest and personal relationships is worth it, because there is no greater gift than to evolve into a lovely, LOVING human being – not a lovely human doing.  Doing controlling behaviors surely repels us from one another.  It allows us to allow others to be who they are and we become accepting.  What a privilege it is to understand this for myself, and be able to offer it to others.

I have learned that freedom is not just for relationships between people – but is important for ME!  Inwardly generated freedom allows me to respond to people and circumstances appropriately, genuinely and openly.  This is MY choice.  And today, it is what I yearn to embrace, and submit to becoming better at. Submission – now, heck, there is a choice!   For, again, to reiterate,  there are always choices and consequences, but when I allow freedom to guide my thoughts for myself and for others, I will always have options.  Options are good and they provide us with an opportunity to be influential, rather than a Freedom Hedger.

So, today, is it possible that you, too,  need to trim your hedges?  Cut them back or dig them up? Or maybe prune them into a beautiful topiary that others can enjoy- who knows what your mind can conceive when you are fleeing control- The first step is to just become aware, then willing, and then find the courage to let go.  I would love to know ‘how’ your pruning goes……

The calm before the storm…and musings about peacefulness~

Growing up on a really big lake in Northern NJ, the summertime was filled with late afternoon thunderstorms, where the water would become almost still and turn greenish-brown, and there would suddenly be no current, no breeze…………..and the air became full of a thick humidity and the skies would deepen and darken to the point where it felt like night time was upon us.    We lived in a cove surrounded on one side by a mountain (behind our house) and across the lake were homes that mirrored ours.   Mom used to let my sisters and I stay out on the dock until the first sounds of thunder.   Then we had to come inside – to safety- My mom used to tell us (so we wouldn’t be scared – that when it thundered, the Angels were bowling)   

That rumbling sound in my mind is so memorable.   It was an altered state of time.  It was the calm before the storm that lulled me, and it was truly so peaceful.  I would wait with anticipation with my two little sisters for the big rain drops to begin to fall and for the wind to pick up and finally start blowing.  We’d notice that the leaves on the trees would turn backwards and their undersides where a lighter/paler shade of green, in response to the song of the storm.   As soon as the rain started and everything was eerily picking up the tempo of a good, late afternoon storm, mom would call us inside one more time, and we’d scurry to the third floor of our lake house to our parent’s bedroom and we’d pull back the sheers and push aside the curtains and sit  quietly in front of the big picture window and watch the show. 

Often the rain would come down hard and it would pour for what seemed like hours…..the first thing that happened was you got a big whiff of that fresh-rained-on-rock-smell (one of my favorite scents to this day) and you waited with anticipation for the thunder to roar and the lightening to clap.  Sometimes the rain moved in sheets and appeared to be coming down sideways. I loved to stare at the lake and watch the rain land upon it’s surface, thousands of ripples bumping into one another, the sound was unique and mesmerizing.  It was like meditation in motion.  You were soothed both visually and auditorily.

I am still amazed at, and love nothing better than to be woken up in the wee hours of the morning –  to the symphony of nature rumbling through our town, shaking our house, and still love to watch the lightening flood our home – to this day.

Mom also taught us that once you heard the thunder, you’d count 1-one thousand, 2-one thousand, 3-one thousand until you saw the lightening – and that was how many miles away the storm was.  Or was it the other way around?  You saw lightening and then counted until you heard the thunder – I can’t remember, but we had such fun figuring that out.

We would often put on our cotton baby doll pajamas in the early afternoon and mom would sprinkle us all with Johnson’s baby powder for in the late 60’s and early 70’s, we didn’t have air conditioning, we had old-fashioned window fans, and I shared a small 10×10 foot bedroom in this converted summer bungalow with 2 sisters, 3 twin beds and one closet. This house also had just one bathroom.  How did we do that? Somehow we did.  We took turns and were grateful for food on our table, clothes to wear, most of which mom sewed and to be a family.  We never went on vacations or to the ocean except for day trips because mom and dad said we didn’t need to go anywhere, we had a vacation every single day. 

The most beautiful part of the story is that we truly had all we needed.  We had a home, on the biggest lake in New Jersey, we had a sailboat, a row boat, canoes, paddleboats and a myriad of powerboats.  Most of these ‘toys’ were given to us, from people who paid by dad and  thanked him  for some favor or laborious side job he did and all were all fixer-uppers – it didn’t matter!  We were pretty much on vacation for most of childhoods.  I didn’t realized how wonderful it was and how simple it was to float on donated black rubber airplane inner tubes that dad brought home from work until I grew up and moved away.  The horse flies LOVED to attack us when we were in those tubes.  That is a memory I would like to forget, they stung!!

I miss the peace and like to muse about the quiet before a storm.  As children we had time to listen to nature, we didn’t miss the scents and the sights and we appreciated the simple gifts God gave us.  Time, nature, a mom and dad, siblings to play with, and summer friends who came from long island and the city to live in their cottages and play with us.  I miss the peace and solitude of the water lapping the rocks along the edge of the cove and the sound of the ducks quacking in the morning at sunrise.  I miss early morning swims when the air was chillier than the water and the mist rose from it’s surface as I sliced thru the current-less laps.  I miss the runs around the 3 mile cove, the sound of my own breathing as I was surrounded by nothing more than water, and a sense of peace.

Each day as we go through the storms of life, I pray we seek to find comfort in the quiet, and that we know the calm before the storm is given to us as a gift, to contemplate the strength, the majesty and the wonder of a world that exists for us to learn from and enjoy.  In that moment in time, before the heaven’s open and the rain pours down to cleanse and nourish the land, we, too, can be baptized in the richness and purity of a thunderstorm.

What storms are you encountering?  Can you find the calm?