Category Archives: Events

Read about fascinating Matera

One of the gifts of being over sixty (actually, well past 60) is the freedom to enjoy learning about other people who inhabit our beautiful planet.

Recently I visited Sicily and Southern Italy. One of the most eye-opening visits was to the ancient urban structure of the Sassi dwellings in Matera in the Basilicata region of Sicily. Known as the Sassi, the inhabitants lived in caves carved out of the side of the mountain. If you enlarge the photo (click to enlarge), you can see how the dwellings and churches seem to be stacked on each other as well as the lava draped over some of the buildings.

photo of Matera Sassi dwellings

Matera Ancient Cave Dwellings – Click on photo

Used by international film directors as a setting for biblical movies, the area looks like an ancient Jerusalem. You may see this background in Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of The Christ.”

The idea that people lived in caves as late as the mid-20th Century is mind -boggling. Conditions were such that these people kept their livestock in the caves with them, sometimes for warmth in the winter. They had no running water and often they had only enough food for one meal and that meal went to the worker in the family.

With the most valuable possession being the donkey that could carry the worker to a farm in hope of finding a day’s work, it slept inside the cave with the family. To say that sanitary conditions were the worst possible is an understatement. Poor health was a trademark for the Sassi.

Needless to say, illness and starvation played a large part in their everyday lives.

Ironically, these deplorable living conditions took place midst the lush, bountiful farms that surround the area. Driving outside the area you can see verdant valleys bursting with grapes, figs, apples, pistachios, kiwi, wheat, and many other crops.

How could this happen? Were the Sassi afraid of change and kept to themselves?

The government ignored the conditions until an Italian writer, Carlo Levi wrote about it in the novel “Cristo si e Fermato a Eboli” (the Shame of Italy). Levi was an Italian writer and anti-fascist activist who was exiled to the Basilicata region where he encountered these people. In the late 50’s, the government forcibly evicted the Sassi because the conditions were becoming too public.

Going through this area I felt a sense of awe, incredulity, and gratitude that I live where I do. It also made me feel somewhat helpless knowing that there are probably many people in the world living under similar conditions. Always underneath such horror is fear…fear of change, of being killed and the worst to me is fear of God.

Exploration of this part of Italian history was a bit daunting; however, modern day Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. If you would like to view some of the wonder and beauty of Italy, I’ve posted some photos on Facebook. This link opens the album without your having to sign in to Facebook. When there, click on each photo to enlarge and the narratives will be on the right-hand column just below the photo of me. That way you can take a mini-trip with me.

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Celebrating Women

Today is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to honor women and the amazing creatures we are.  It’s also a day of inspiration and a time to thank those women who have made it possible for today’s women to be who she is meant to be.

Here are three of my favorite women who have made a difference in women’s lives. Anthony for her fight to secure women’s vote, Roosevelt who fought for civil rights, and Keller who became an inspiration for people with a handicap. Each one had a special gift to give, was passionate about it and set out to reach her dreams in service to others. Here are some of my favorite quotes from them:


“The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball-the further I am rolled,The more I gain.”  

Susan B. Anthony Talks to Voters from the Grave

Susan B. Anthony Talks to Voters from the Grave (Photo credit: Occupy* Posters)

 Susan B. Anthony

 A courageous woman and Women’s Rights leader, Anthony played a pivotal role in the 19th century women’s rights movement to introduce women’s suffrage into the United States. We have her and the women who joined her to thank for the privilege we have to vote. Could we be like the snowball?

Eleanor Roosevelt: political activist, First L...

Eleanor Roosevelt: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The future belongs to those who believe in the

Beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

The First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, Eleanor Rossevelt assumed a role as an advocate for civil rights. We owe her thanks for advancing the Civil Rights Movement. How beautiful are our dreams?


 The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched …

 They must be felt in the heart” 

Helen Adams Keller

Helen Keller

Helen Keller (Photo credit: Arabani)

American author, political activist and lecturer, Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

We can thank her for showing us that handicapped people are as capable and brilliant as those of us who have not been afflicted with such obstacles. What obstacles are we facing? What beauty is in our souls?


As you read through this article, you can ask yourself, “What gift do I have to give the world?” Start with your special talent, your passion, your love of something. It could be photography, art, music, a love of nature, a memoir, or simply the joy of laughter. Share your love, talents, passions to honor all the women you know and love (and even this article if it moves you).

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Happy Thanksgiving and a couple of easy recipes

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo of Thanksgiving Birthday Cake

A memorable Thanksgiving birthday cake


About every five years my birthday falls on Thanksgiving so my birthday candles have appeared in pies, puddings, seldom in a birthday cake. This year, I’ve decided to combine the cake and pumpkin pie. It’s from Paula Dean’s recipe for “Gooey Pumpkin Squares.”

When I read about the different menus and ideas, I find that the most debated item on the Thanksgiving table is the stuffing. In or out of the turkey? Sausage or no sausage? Giblets or raisins or nuts? Everyone seems to favor one kind or another. My mom put chili and raisins in hers. It was not my favorite. You can download My Favorite Stuffing for Turkey if you prefer a lighter stuffing with mostly vegetables you probably already have.

Preparing the Thanksgiving meal is a big deal and everyone has their favorite way to celebrate. For some it’s about the turkey, for some it’s about the pies and for many, it’s about the football games.

Regardless of the bounty on the table for many of us, Thanksgiving really is about setting aside a day for being with friends and family or finding ways to serve those who need help.

I’m grateful for the support of family and friends and especially for you, dear reader. May your day be full of appreciation and blessings in abundance.


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Urban Legends

The rumor mill is exploding! Of course it is, given the growth of the internet and an election year to boot!

A helpful (true) email is the most recent one about a malware virus possibly infecting your computer starting July 9. By now you’ve probably received this from someone in your email list. Even if I trust the sender, I always check it out for myself. This one is true but may not affect your computer. Being that it was sent to me by two people I trust, I decided tto see if it was true. I went to a site that makes it easy to check out whether warnings and urban legends are true or false. Here’s the direct link (including the response from the FBI regarding the malware and why July 9 is the date in the warning.

An example of a warning pamphlet/poster associ...

An example of a warning pamphlet/poster associated with the Mickey Mouse acid urban myth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes funny and sometimes annoying, are the emails that say that money will “flow” to you if you forward it or something wonderful will happen when you send it to at least 20 friends. Others threaten dire consequences if it isn’t sent immediately. If there’s something that touches my heart, I’m willing to pass it on but only to people I think would appreciate it. As for chain letters, I don’t participate and usually delete them.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center has, among its many discussions, a site that discusses chain letters, political rumors and other rumors. Here’s the direct  link to the chain letter discussion. This site is also an eye-opening place to explore.

Other rumors:
Right now, we’re inundated with political ads on television, social media and postal mail. How many are created by agencies or the media in order to spread a rumor for political gain? I wonder about that and worry about the popular trend of destroying a reputation as a way to make sensational headlines.
Tempting though some are to believe, especially for diehard party voters, checking for the truth can be very useful in that it’s easier to make informed decisions about who we want in office.

Want to check out how political ads are manipulated on both sides? Check out these short series of videos  at Flackcheck in the “Patterns of Deception” menu. Flackcheck is an initiative of the Annenberg Foundation, by the way. Interesting stuff!

Sorry about the late computer virus warning, but I just now heard about it.

One last tip: If you receive or are compelled to send a warning, such as the computer virus warning, PLEASE include the link to the source. If it’s an important warning, it’s hard to believe something that can’t be verified.

Good luck!

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How To Prepare for an Extreme Dream

Here’s a video of a woman over 60 who’s an inspiration and great example of courage and determination. I hope you will be as impressed as I am with Diana Nyad’s talk about her goal to swim from Cuba to Florida. It’s worth the 17 minutes of your time. Enjoy!

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What we can learn from the Academy Awards

Did you watch the Academy Awards last night?

Because I’m a single woman I like to invite other single women for a night of snacks and fashion gossip. It’s a fun way to view the Oscar night fashions and ooooh and aaaah over their impossibly perfect figures mostly clad in almost painted-on gorgeous gowns. Mostly the gowns were beautifully simple with only a couple of them bordering on indecent exposure.

This was the first time, though, that I felt inspired at the richness and depth of the older actors who respect their craft and continue to perfect it. It gives me hope that as a society, we’ll someday get to the point where becoming older (and who isn’t!) is respected and admired as much as it is in other countries.

Best Actress Academy Award

Best Actress Academy Award (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Just shows that doing what you love, continuing to learn, and taking a few risks is what makes for an award-winning life.

In my last article I wrote about all the things I noticed about aging as Meryl Streep played Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Whether or not you’re a Streep fan, there’s no doubt that she’s a sensational woman who takes on roles that expand her talents. The makeup that transformed Streep into the young Thatcher and old Thatcher, Oscar also went to her makeup artists, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland. Well deserved for the job they did. I also noted that many who received awards said it was a life dream come true.

Here are some thoughts I got from last night’s performance.

  • If you have a dream, do what you can to make it come true. It will take work, mostly pushing away those gremlins whose only job is to create fear in your mind… to protect you, of course! You may need to confront or push them away daily, maybe even hourly! The idea is to take some action to make your dream a reality. It’s also evident that it’s important not to become too attached to the outcome but to steadily move yourself in the direction of what you want. An example of this is in Streep’s acceptance speech (see link below). Why? When we become attached to the way we want things to be in the end, we close off some of the other blessings that may come our way. Also, we can become discouraged, while moving toward your dream and taking action will bring more inspiration through daily victories.
  • Do what you love and keep doing more of it. This can be a struggle for some as we love to do too many things. Sadly, too many of us don’t do what we love and feel we’re stuck in a no-win situation. The truth is that the only person who can “unstick” us is ourselves. When we invest our time on things that truly matter, the outcome will always be rewarding. spending time on things that don’t matter in the long run, can trigger a bout of procrastination, something I can personally vouch for.
  • Work a bit harder to create the healthiest body we can. Trying for a perfect shape is not as important as it to try for perfect health. We only have one body and it’s ours, like it of not. If it was somewhat abused over the holidays and it’s still gasping for air, hoping to be rescued, right now is the perfect time to take care of it. For me, it means getting off my butt, moving out of my comfortable chair, stretching and walking. It doesn’t have to be excessive, it just has to happen.

Do you love what you do and do you have a dream? If you want to share it with us, we’d love to hear about it.



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Happy Holidays!

It’s also a time when there’s a lot of creativity in making others feel in a holiday mood. Here in Alameda, CA, although it’s a small town, Christmas Tree Lane is always popular and fun to walk up and down. My favorite is the parents trying to answer the endless questions the little ones have. Click on either photo and it will take you to another version where if you click again, you can see a larger photo.








I was so impressed with the following creative Christmas lights display found on UTube, in case you haven’t seen this.

From what I understand, the creator of this display is a computer genius as well as a fabulous designer. Open the link and see if you agree:

Best Christmas Lights Display

Then there’s the husband who is in a hurry to play golf and is definitely not a designer (yes, honey..I did hang the lights)…

A wad of Xmas lights hanging from roof

That's one item off my Honey-Do list!

One of the highlights of this season is the shopping trip with my grandsons (twins 14 and their little brother 10). While shopping for their dad, they really thought I should have this piece of furniture. (It’s bigger than my living room).

Three boys after shopping for Dad

This is an awesome piece of furniture

Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, I hope you will savor each moment of the rest of the year and that the coming year will filled with joy, love and abundance.

With love and good wishes,


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Don’t Let the Holidays Add Clutter: Here’s How

Photo of attic clutter

Gift Clutter

Seems that clutter is an inevitable part of simply being alive. It’s that part that nags at you in the background as “Should do”, ” Hate to think about it”, and “Why am I feeling like I’m always running behind?”

As we prepare for the holiday season, (yikes…it’s here again), we know what that means: lots of celebrations, too much food, lots of gift-giving and gift-getting and the ever-constant, “What shall I wear?”

Now that it’s all ahead of you, it’s time to start planning. Who hasn’t realized, after it’s all over, that many of the “gifts” are a waste of money, time and effort. And you also know that shopping, looking in store windows, listening to the holiday music will propel you into the spirit of it all (especially for the merchants) disguised as joy.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to have a package or two to open during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other celebratory days. Now, the other side of the coin is a depleted bank balance, exhaustion, worry about what to buy, confusion, and, of course, where do we store these newly acquired items.

It’s interesting that all of these traditional celebrations started with honoring a spiritual or religious event but now have become so commercialized that the endless holiday music and “buy, buy, buy” commercials start even before Halloween.

But, getting back to gifts, shopping, etc.

Truth be told, many of us are downsizing and are trying hard to eliminate the clutter in our homes. How to celebrate without going broke is a major concern for  many who have no jobs or are on a limited income.

In thinking about how to prepare and celebrate the holidays, here are some ideas that can help eliminate clutter and allow celebration and fun in the coming months.

  • Give yourself the gift of clearing clutter from closets, cupboards and bathroom cubbyholes and cabinets (making room for what may come);
  • Gift others with items you no longer want or need by donating them to a local charity;
  • Start your gift-thinking now. What do your loved ones truly enjoy?
  • Purchase a pre-loaded credit card with what you’ve budgeted to spend. When the card runs out, so do the purchased gifts. Bonus: No extra bills to pay.
  • Keep your eye on the future: One friend has given her grandchildren savings bonds for every birthday and holiday, not the most popular thing with them when they were younger, but now that they’re heading off to college, they are extremely grateful. Truth be told, most children receive so many things they may play with for a few days and then lose interest.
  • Last year my grandson lit up when I suggested we buy some chickens for a farmer so that the farmer could start a poultry business. There are many places where help is needed and children seem to gravitate toward anything having to do with animals and people who don’t have enough to eat.One of my favorite charities is World Vision Gifts, where I can give the gift of an animal. There are others:, Gifts for Life,  Samaritan’s Purse, for example.
  • Small gift ideas for friends: Your favorite recipe attached to a box or jar of the ingredients (my favorites are a yummy hot fudge sauce and homemade granola); A framed photograph of something that includes that friend; a beautiful journal; a gift certificate to a favorite coffee house; homemade jam; etc. Nothing has to be grandiose, just thoughtful. One of my friends picks up small things throughout the year then packs four or five of them in a beautiful gift bag. None are expensive but opening each one is delightful (a refrigerator magnet like a miniature violin, a bag of raw almonds, jar of honey from her friend’s hive, a bookmark).

The hardest for me is shopping for someone who has or can buy anything they want. The most appreciated gift for the men in my life (sons and best friend), is a gift card from me offering to fix their favorite dinner at a time of their choosing.

There’s something about planning ahead that adds to the enjoyment of the season. The idea is to keep the list small, keep it fun, use your creativity and the holidays can truly be a celebration.

Have any great tips? Please share.

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You Are What You Leave Behind

Have you ever thought about how you might be remembered? I sometimes wonder if I will be remembered!

Recently I attended a memorial service for a dear friend. As always, there’s a sadness at a memorial service, despite the full church, the beautiful tributes, the outstanding reception…all things he would have loved. All were a tribute to him, only he wasn’t physically there. Yet I could see that his legacy of openness, warmth and his welcoming spirit were very much there, reflected in his family. He left behind a beautiful, loving family and a legacy of trust, generosity and kindness, which were part of what he was.

What struck me once again is how important family is, how fragile life is, and how strong love is.

It brought home many thoughts about life in general and left me wondering who would remember me. And were I to be remembered, what about me would they remember? What we leave behind is something most of us don’t like to think about, me included, but it’s not too late to do something about we want to leave behind. It’s important and has an impact on how we live our lives today.

As I looked around, I thought, “Look at what he left behind.” In the recesses of my mind I remembered a quote I had once read…I believe it was by the famous psychologist, Eric Ericson, that said, “You are what you leave behind.”

I’m sure you all have lost someone you loved or cared about at some time in your life. No doubt their passing left a vacant spot in your heart, a spot that now can only be filled with memories.

Although they’re no longer physically available, interesting things can happen with memories. If you extract the lessons learned from that person through your memories you will find gifts that are yours for the taking.

I’ll give you a couple of examples:

Photo of young woman

Mom in 1930

My Mom would have been 100 years old this month. Mothers are our first teachers. They help form our personalities and the way we are to a great extent. In the end, she left behind who she was…the mother of five children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren…all the results of the 92 years of her life. Her legacy? A sense of fun and a great sense of humor. All five of us took that as our special gift.

My Best Friend for many years. I still think about her every time I go to one of the many neighborhoods where we lived in San Francisco as young, single 20-year olds. I don’t think I ever heard her criticize anyone in all the time I knew her. I always smile when I think of her and her down-to-earth way of seeing the best in people. I’m still working on that and sometimes ask myself, “Now what would she have done?”

I invite you to think about three persons you have lost, what your memories are about that person, and write down what gifts they left behind for you? When I did this, I felt a sense of gratitude and wondered what I would leave behind for my sons and grandchildren. What kind of an example or impact will I have in their lives? What lessons and gifts will I leave behind?

Usually we’re not aware of the impact we have on others, whether it’s positive or negative. The great news is that with understanding that who you are is what you leave behind, there’s time to make sure that what you leave behind is a rich legacy filled with love.

Sociologist Anthony Campolo tells about a study in which 50 people over the age of 95 were asked one question:  “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?”  Three things consistently emerged:
• Reflect more
• Risk more
• Do more things that would live on after I am dead.

If you want to create an intentional legacy, you need to rethink your priorities.”

And we can start today!



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A Call to Fearlessness: Discover Your Leadership Voice..

I haven’t forgotten you. I think about you more often than you would believe.

I’ve been working on a very special event that will take place in Oakland, CA on October 22, 2011. We will host Margaret Wheatley, author, speaker, thinker, in an exciting one-day event. Joining us will be community leaders, human resource managers and coaches…maybe you?

photo of Margaret Wheatley

Margaret Wheatley

In preparation for what to expect from this dynamic speaker, I picked up two of Margaret (Meg) Wheatley’s books, Walk Out Walk On, co-authored by Deborah Frieze, and Perseverance.

Walk Out Walk On takes us on a journey with people who have decided to walk out of one way of living and walk on to a life with a greater purpose. Perseverance is one of those small books you can dip in and out of when you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed. I find it to be a positive way to start the day with an inspirational or fresh insight before life gets in the way of all I have planned for the day..

Meg has written six books, including Leadership and the New Science. This last book was on loan to me by a friend who told me it was required reading during her doctoral program. As I read the book, I came to understand why it was required reading. Her views and examples of leadership in communities shows her as one of the most paradigm-changing, thought-provoking leaders of our time.

Picture of McAfee singing

Barbara McAfee

Barbara McAfee, who will accompany Meg, is an organizational singer, musician and voice coach. She contributes an element of fun and high energy as she brings home Meg’s messages through song and voice. She was recently  interviewed about what she does on a webcast. In a highly interactive call, she gave us “voice lessons” as she demonstrates the different voices people can use to communicate more effectively.

After hearing her on the call, I can understand why she also is in great demand at conventions and other large events.

To request a link to her free webcast, go here and scroll down to about the middle of the page to the “request a link” button. To learn more about the event, go to this link which will take you to the details. On the website, you can explore the opportunities available for the event.

If you can’t attend in person, a simulcast you can watch in the comfort of your own home is available that day and for four weeks following the event.

Will you be there? If you are, make sure you tap me on the shoulder and let me know you’re Sixty and Sensational!

Use this special code and receive a 10% discount: SIXTYTEN

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