“Memories of Spring,” March 19, 2019

(NOTE: I’m taking off this week to pack and move! The following column is from March, 2015.)

A week isn’t much, my mother would say, but it’s something. Long ago, after college, I left the small Southern town where I grew up, to marry, raise three children and live my life in California of all places.

For years, I thought it was all one word, Californiaofallplaces. [Read more…]

“Pride Before and After a Fall,” March 12, 2019

What do you do for someone who seems weary? I do three things: I tell them to get some rest; ask them how I can help; and pray that they’ll feel better.

I like to think it helps. But for some reason, when I get weary, I ignore my own advice. Instead of resting, I keep going; instead of getting help, I get by on my own; and instead of praying to get better, I get cranky. [Read more…]

“The Power of Being Seen and Heard,” March 5, 2019

It happens to most of us at one time or another. We want to say something important. But no one seems to be listening.

Children need someone to talk to, someone to look into their eyes and listen to their stories, nodding and smiling in all the right places. But parents can be busy with jobs or chores or cell phones. And teachers have a classroom full of kids waving hands, begging to be heard. [Read more…]

“Memories with Butter and Jam,” Feb. 26, 2019

Memory likes to play tricks on us, taking us places we once loved, but haven’t seen in years. It was early morning, first light, drizzling rain and cold. Something woke me, a distant thump. Maybe the wind?

I was drifting back to sleep when I heard it again, clearer this time: Two little feet clomping down the stairs. I knew that clomp well. It was the sound my 7-year-old daughter would make heading down to the kitchen to “cook breakfast” for her brothers. [Read more…]

A Fundraiser for Fire Victims, March 7, 2019

Sharon will present “A Breath of Fresh Air,” a benefit for the Carr Fire Fund and other outreach ministries of First United Methodist Church, on Thursday, March 7 at 7 p.m., at the Cascade Theatre in Redding, Calif. Tickets are available at the box office or online at cascadetheatre.org.

“Four Mile Stretches,” Feb. 19, 2019

(NOTE: I’m taking off this week for the holiday. The following column was written in 1997, shortly before my first husband lost a lengthy battle with cancer. It was also reprinted in the October 2001 issue of “Reader’s Digest.”)

From my home on California’s Monterey Peninsula, there is no easy way to get anywhere. To go north, for instance, to San Francisco, you take Hwy. 1, also known as the Old Coast Highway, and proceed to 101, also known as the Freeway to Make You Lose Your Religion. [Read more…]

“The Roads of Life and Marriage,” Feb. 12, 2019

It’s a strange thing, an act of foolishness or faith, to put your life in someone else’s hands. We were heading south on a freeway in heavy traffic in a downpour that made the three-hour drive feel like three days.

We had driven north the day before to visit my husband’s son and his family in Sonoma. But the roads then were dry. What a difference a day can make.

My husband was driving. His hands gripped the wheel, his eyes were glued to the road. I sat beside him, reclining in the passenger seat, pretending I was not the least concerned that at any moment, I might die. [Read more…]

“Acts of Kindness,” Feb. 5, 2019

What are some kindnesses that have been done for you? Have you ever listed them? I did that once, years ago, on a late night flight from my home in California, to my hometown in South Carolina. It was the week before Christmas.

My sister had called that morning to tell me our mother’s battle with lung cancer was nearing the end and if I wanted to say goodbye, I needed to get there fast. She ended the call with, “Love you, Sissy. Hurry.’’ [Read more…]

“Reading, Writing, Speaking and Life,” Jan. 29, 2019

Life is full of surprises. Take, for instance, my job. For almost 30 years, I’ve written a weekly column for newspapers around the country.

I also do public speaking for fundraisers that benefit libraries and schools and community programs that help the needy.

It’s a good job. I’m thankful to have it. I can’t imagine how different my life would be without it. But I never dreamed I’d earn my living this way. It never even occurred to me.

Instead, I wanted to be a wife and a mother. I had no idea how incredibly difficult and exhausting marriage and motherhood could be. It didn’t take long to find out. When I realized what I’d gotten myself into, I still wanted to do it. The things we do for love. [Read more…]

“Family Birthdays,” Jan. 22, 2019

There was a time in my life when I knew the birthdays of everyone in my family. Unlike my grandmother — who had 12 children and 22 grandchildren and could barely remember their names, let alone their birthdays — my immediate family was fairly small: My mother, my dad, my stepdad, my sister, two brothers and me. [Read more…]