“On the Road to Making Memories,” column for Nov. 25, 2014

Somewhere on the road between our home in Las Vegas, and the coast of California, where we planned to spend Thanksgiving week with our family, we stopped to eat.

The restaurant was filled with old photos and antiques, not quite a Cracker Barrel, but close. Waiting to be seated, I saw something that made me smile. [Read more…]

“Looking for My Nearly Lost Mind,” column for Nov. 18, 2014

When you think of growing old, what’s your greatest fear? Do you worry about having enough income to live on?

I worry about that sometimes. But I think, hey, I’ve been poor before, there are worse things that could happen. I don’t know what those things are, but I’m sure there are lots of them. [Read more…]

“Say What You Need to Say,” column for Nov. 11, 2014

Why do we wait so long to tell someone what they mean to us? What makes us quick to criticize and slow to offer praise? Why are the most important words often the hardest to say?

People like to tell me stuff. Not just friends, but strangers, too. It’s not unusual to find myself leaning on the sink in a public restroom listening to someone I just met as she walked out of a stall, pour out her heart. I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse. [Read more…]

“What Do You Do When You Get Lonely?” column for Nov. 4, 2014

What do you do when you get lonely? Is there some secret magic trick to make it go away?

October is history, and if you’re like me, you might be trying to remember which end of a turkey to stuff. But before moving on to other holidays, I want to talk about what I did on Halloween.

What did you do? I hope it was fun. Me? Take a wild guess. Did I (a) host a party for neighbors and friends; (b) dress up like Dolly Parton and try to sell autographs; or (c) make cookies for trick or treaters and eat the whole batch myself? [Read more…]

“Watch Words for Being a Mother,” column for Oct. 28, 2014

It wasn’t the first word I ever spoke. (My mother swore that was “go.”) But the first word I learned to heed was “watch.”
“Watch what you’re doing.”
“Watch where you’re going.”
“Watch your manners.”
“Watch your mouth.”
“Watch your brothers.”
“Watch this, y’all.” [Read more…]

“A Halloween to Remember,” column for Oct. 22, 2014

What’s your happiest Halloween memory? I hope it’s a lot better than mine. When I was 10, I grew weary of hearing schoolmates brag about their Halloween plans. So I informed my mother, for the first time ever, I planned to trick or treat in our neighborhood.

We lived outside of town. Our nearest neighbors weren’t near. She rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she said, “take your brothers.” [Read more…]

“Things I Wish I’d Known and Still Hope to Learn,” column for Oct. 14, 2014

My daughter has a birthday coming soon. As birthdays go, it’s a pretty big one. At least, it was for me when I was her age a lifetime ago.

We will celebrate the day with joy and thanksgiving and a little party and a lot of cake, as if it were the only birthday in the history of the world.

Lucky for me, I won’t have to do much. She’s been planning her own birthday parties since she was 3. Basically, all I’ve ever had to do was light the candles and clean up the mess. Now she has a 3 year old who plans his own parties, too. [Read more…]

“Life Is Messy,” column for Oct. 7, 2014

Today _ certainly not for the first time and probably not the last_ I was reminded of the epitaph I want engraved on my headstone: “Here lies Sharon. God bless her, she meant well.” [Read more…]

“Reading, Writing and Life,” column for Sept. 30, 2014

Recently I had the great, if somewhat terrifying, pleasure to stand before an assembly at Hope Elementary in Hope, Indiana, and speak to the students in grades 2-6 about “Reading, Writing and Life.”

It was a lot to cover in 30 minutes. I’ve been doing those things (reading, writing and being alive) for a pretty long time and can talk about them until the cows come home. But given the risk of cutting into recess, I tried to keep it short.

I started with “Life.” There are three keys in life, I said, that help to open all sorts of doors: [Read more…]

“Just Us,” column for Sept. 23, 2014

Life gives us moments for doing things. Being young, for example. We don’t get to do that forever. Except maybe at heart. There are moments for laughing, moments for grieving, moments for watching a child grow up.

Childhood may seem to last for years, but really, it passes in bits and pieces that come flaming out of nowhere like shooting stars and slip quietly out of sight. Either you see them, or you don’t. [Read more…]