The Art of Living Lost: Skiing as a Metaphor for Life

Today I decided to try cross-country skiing with a friend.


Look at those legs; I’m healthy, confident, and poised for action. I wasn’t moving, but I look good, right? Besides, how hard could cross-country skiing be? You shush under your own steam, there aren’t black diamond hills to navigate, and it’s not about speed or competition; it’s about relaxation, nature, and fresh air. This is my kind of sport!

As my buddy and I set out on our skiing adventure, we were told the trails were recently groomed and ready to go. Map in hand, we walked over to the benches at the trail-head, put boots to bindings, and started our trek. Now, I’ll say the trails were “groomed” a bit like a January bikini wax, great in most areas, a bit questionable in others. As we plodded through stubbly snow, I commented on how quickly we wound up in the weeds. Realizing this would be an excellent topic for the BLOG, I paid close attention to my experiences, and yes, I found several nuggets of wisdom on the ski trail that parallel lessons I’ve learned in my life.

So here goes,

  1. You’re not born knowing everything; astuteness takes time.
  2. Always research things with which you are unfamiliar—skiing, skis, and bindings. Check.
  3. When you fall, pick yourself up and try again. NOTE: It’s never as easy as it looks.
  4. Recognize your mistakes before you try again. See item 2.
  5. Get out of your way! You can’t right your skis when you’re sitting on them.
  6. Use ALL the tools at your disposal. Two poles are always better than one.
  7. Face downhill while attempting the two-pole roll. Unless you have functioning abs, then crunch away.
  8. Surround yourself with people who are happy to help. Read this line two times!
  9. Expect the same people to laugh until they pee watching you attempt the two-pole roll.
  10. Be confident! Wear your “Hanky Pankys,” knowing they may have to cut your jeans off by the end of the day!


My pal also mentioned that she didn’t think cross-country skiing would be a good first date.

Meh, who’s to say?

Have a great week!

The Art of Living Lost: Stages of Grief as Defined by MOI!

feetThe five stages of grief defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ros are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

The TEN stages of grief, as defined by MOI, are shock, energizer bunny, fat, doormat, fatter, cheese-stands-alone, exercise, pissed-off, lost, and, my favorite, JOY. I’ll skip shock to protect the innocent; let’s say that death is shocking no matter how ready you are.

Energizer bunny was one of my favorite stages; I whirled and twirled to get services for the kids and settle Chris’ estate. Fat was a bit of a blessed low point. To everyone who’s reading this BLOG and sent food, THANK YOU! We loved the chicken cutlets, lasagna, brownies, and the brisket. The chocolate-covered strawberries were a work of art, and the letters we received were miraculous! Adults, children, friends, and almost strangers — everyone extended condolences. And sent food. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I struggled the most during doormat. Can we agree to leave the doormat – at the door? It’s a stage in the process; how could you possibly get fatter without doormat? Enough said.

Fatter, a real low point, this is when all you eat is chocolate and fried chicken. The kids were thrilled with our chocolate covered, drumstick shaped food strategy; I developed a gut. A GUT, I say!

The wine-and-cheese, I mean the cheese-stands-alone stage? Great times! For the first time in a very long time, I was alone, truly alone with myself. In between building my career, birthing babies, and burying my husband, I lost myself. Before Chris died, I worked 60 hours a week. I was also the class mom, the library mom, and the autism mom. I didn’t fry bacon in a pan, but I sautéed escarole and beans, and we loved it!

When Chris died, I had a colossal do-over. That’s not to say I would change my life with Chris, I wouldn’t. It’s just now I had the opportunity – to – do – anything. So I stood alone, looked to the future, and I decide to exercise off the gut. Okay, the butt and bat wings needed to go too. The exercise was my savior until it wasn’t.

Pissed off. Okay, I almost punched a lady in Home Goods; for no reason other than she was standing there in her black spandex pants, all glossy haired and plucked. It pissed me off. What was worse? I was ALSO standing there in black spandex pants, glossy hair, and plucked. Grief stinks because there is no explanation, it just comes, and it goes.

Lost is where you found me. Lost, yet finding JOY in almost everything I do!
Wednesday marked the third anniversary of my husbands’ death. If you knew him and loved him, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Then laugh your way through my steps.

Chris, you were the love of my life; I’m currently dating wine and cheese, but I didn’t think you’d mind.

Have a great week,

The Art of Living Lost: Linked Together

“The more we are restricted within ourselves, the more unhappy we become. We were always meant to explore and go beyond, to have more experiences, to learn more, to enrich our world. It’s our soul’s purpose to explore and enhance who we are.” — Dr. Mary Ann Pellegrino EdD, The InnerTouch School.

It’s the quote above that led me on my latest adventure. About six weeks ago, I was interviewed on WebTalkRadio. Intending to get a better idea of what to expect from the host Connie Whitman, I listened to past interviews. I was inspired by the episode titled Science or Mystical Information. In the interview, Dr. Mary Ann Pellegrino elaborates on the opening quote by saying that “she meets people who look back on their lives and they say what have I done for the last ten years?” “If they don’t feel like they’ve accomplished what they’ve expected, they are unhappy.” And while I’m far from unhappy with my life, how Connie responded moved me; she said, “good is the enemy of great, when things are good we settle in and we stay comfortable — become complacent. When things go bad that things shake up and we have to change, we are forced to make changes. You have to break out and challenge your comfort zone. This is where the learning begins. Where the growth begins.”

Realizing that my journey through The Art of Living Lost is my path to change and, believing my soul was meant to explore and enhance who I am, I called Dr. Pellegrino and scheduled a sit-down.

Mary Ann and I met in scenic Ybor City, a neighborhood in Tampa that’s home to the oldest restaurant in Florida called Columbia Restaurant. While dining on yummy food, we discussed family and friends and contemplated business strategies. Mary Ann shared stories of her educational and travel experiences, and I gushed over the coffee. It was a lovely conversation. Dr. Pellegrino truly bridges the gap between scientific and mystical teachings. If you understand quantum mechanics and the relationship between waves and particles, most of our conversation made sense; our common frequencies linked Mary Anne and me together.

This led me to my one official interview question, “Has there been a time in your life where you have felt lost and yet found joy?” Her reply is intriguing “I found love for myself, which became joy within and the feeling of lost was no more.” Very elegantly stated. Love. Joy. Lost. All words that have become part of my daily vocabulary. This was indeed an enlightening adventure!

Have a great week,


The Art of Living Lost: Architect of Change

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New Year — New Format! I thought I’d mix it up a bit and add recorded media to my BLOG.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to be a guest on WebTalkRadio. The show is called Architect of Change, hosted by Connie Whitman of Whitman and Associates. We recorded the show on December 29th, and it was the perfect end to a fantastic year. I was nervous, happy, confident, and sad all during the same 30-minute conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I hope you find the discussion entertaining.

Now stop trying to click the photo at the header of the BLOG and checkout WEB TALK RADIO: Architect of Change. 

Have a great week,

The Art of Living Lost: My Life in Ornaments


You don’t have to go far to get lost in the joy of Christmas!

Some of my most extraordinary adventures are memorialized on my Christmas tree. Our first Christmas together and baby’s, baby’s, baby’s first Christmas. I have ornaments that were gifts from friends and family and souvenirs I’ve collected from cities far and wide. There are ornaments from past roommates, old boyfriends, and favorite clients.

Over the years, I’ve added homemade treasures that include school photos, painted shells, crystal snowflakes, and glittered pine cones. I have a peanut wise man who my grandfather made when he was eight and a beer can cut and decorated to look like a holiday wreath. These are the ornaments I value the most!

You can tell a lot about a family by how their Christmas tree is decorated. Our tree shouts family and friends, pets, movies, love, and loss. Which I guess pretty much describes us?

Today is my 23rd wedding anniversary; the traditional gift is silver, which symbolizes beauty. Grab a glass of wine and look at the beauty that is reflected in your Christmas tree — what adventures do you remember? Please send me a note.

You don’t have a tree? Call me; I’m happy to share!

Have a great week,


The Art of Living Lost: Holy Cow!

CowLet me start by saying I have a varied set of interests, and when I heard a local farm had a newborn calf in residence, I knew I had to get in on the action!

Now cows are not the most active animals on the farm, but mere words cannot explain the excitement I felt when I crossed the farm and stepped into the barn.

My first introduction was to Gus and Ada, and I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if they were horses or big cows. Don’t judge. Comparatively speaking, it’s easier to tell the difference when you get a closer look.

Horses. Yes, they were horses.

Next, I met Blossom (heifer no babies), Daisy (cow named after the flower), Lilly (cow and my new BFF), and Dazey (cow named after the butter churn). Next to Dazey was her beautiful yet to be named calf, who is lovingly pictured above. His tangle of legs, snugly brown color, and big soulful eyes had me wondering — could I live and work on a farm full-time?

I mentioned this to my guide, and she replied, “After reading your BLOG, you could probably do anything,” and that’s the point, I CAN do anything. I can take an hour off and witness the beauty that is a cow. So while it wasn’t a far-flung adventure, it did offer a great sense of accomplishment and joy.

What did I do, you might ask? I milked Lilly, but that’s a story for another time.

Have a great week!

The Art of Living Lost: Oh Good Grief!


November 19th is National Children’s Grief Awareness Day. In honor of the people who lovingly dedicate their time to support our grieving children, I’m re-posting a BLOG I wrote describing our personal grief experience. 

So, is there such a thing as good grief? Good food? Yes. Good wine? Absolutely! But Good grief, who knew? As parents of triplets, Chris and I were a team, disciplined and organized. Three babies, two parents? No problem. Changing, feeding, dressing, reading, math, history; somehow, we got it done. After Chris died, I wondered how I would adjust to raising kids, managing a home, and running a business. When it came to grief, we just ambled along. I asked the kids questions from the age-appropriate checklists. Are you angry? Are you depressed? Do you understand that Dad is never coming back? No, no, and yes. We were fine. Life went on. So what if I cried in the car every day and I took five-hour naps? We still got up, got dressed, and did homework.

We. Were. Fine.

Wait, back up, if I cried and wanted to sleep for hours on end, what were the kids thinking or feeling? On this matter, I appealed to a higher source: Aunt M, who delicately suggested we try grief counseling. She did the research and provided the contact information; all I needed to do was make the call and schedule an appointment. So, what’s a mom to do? I made the call and scheduled an appointment. A week later, we made the trek to Good Grief. Yes, that’s the name of our grief group – Good Grief. Upon arrival, I noticed the meeting rooms were decorated with loving notes from kids to parents and siblings. Pictures of beautiful mothers, strong fathers, and smiling children lined the walls. My children spoke excitedly about which photo we would add of Chris; I gulped back tears at the overwhelming sense of loss. Even though I was a grieving widow, it was easy and natural to feel Grief for every soul lovingly posted to the wall of remembrance. So while I slyly wiped away tears, my kids fell in love with Good Grief.

A week later, we were cautiously optimistic when we arrived for our first night of support. My kids were assigned to an appropriate age group and shuttled off to hang out or chat about themselves or the person who died. They also had the opportunity to participate in a group activity geared towards encouraging open and safe dialog. And, that’s pretty much all I can say; that’s all I know. You see, there is a significant rule at Good Grief, and that is – what’s said at Good Grief stays at Good Grief. Participation is always optional, and the kids are amazingly kind, understanding, and compassionate.

Maybe there is more to the story – who knows? I can say this; my children always leave Good Grief joyous and happy. They speak excitedly about video games and laugh about music and books. Is it possible that discussing day-to-day things in an environment engineered to discuss peer-grief is therapeutic? Again, who knows? I’m just happy my kids are happy. I read once, “Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love. – Author Unknown”.

For my beautiful kids, Grief is good. It’s a reminder that they can love and that they are very well-loved and, for this, we are grateful.

Have a wonderful week,


The Art of Living Lost: P.S. I Love You!


Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand. – Patti Smith

Last year this quote added a bit of a tail to the drifting kite that was my life as the author of The Art of Living Lost. At the time, I didn’t know who Patti Smith was, but I made a vow to personally thank her for the light she brought into my life. Fast-forward, I’ve repeated the quote many times, and when I sat to research Patti, I realized the full genesis of her quote and immediately fell in love.

For those of you who don’t understand the difference between Patty Smyth, Patti Scialfa, and Patti Smith, let me explain; Patty Smyth is the artist who’s famous for the songs The Warrior and Goodbye to You. Patti Scialfa is the stunning red-head that was the first permanent female member of the E-Street Band. Patti Smith, who initially voiced the prophetic quote at the beginning of this BLOG, is a true Renaissance woman. She’s a painter, a poet, an author, and a singer. She’s a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. In 1978 she released Because the Night, a song she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen. Bruce would re-release the song in 1986, followed by a rendition released by 10,000 Maniacs in 1993. Ironically, Patti’s resume as a musician doesn’t come close to describing the genius of the person I met on Saturday at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Now, let me back up about 300 miles to New Jersey. I knew I wanted to shake Patti’s hand, but first, I had to find her. Discovering, she was on tour promoting her new book titled M Train, which she describes as a road map to her life. M Train wasn’t Patti’s first book of prose; in 2010, she earned a National Book Award for Just Kids, a memoir chronicling her life and the fascinating relationship she had with late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. I’ve read both books, and they are full of remarkable stories of a life well-lived. Jersey girl aside, she’s my alter ego; hip, adventurous, and funky in a way only a truly courageous woman can be.

I was ready to meet her!

Now, I’d never been to Portsmouth, but I’ve also never met a seaside city I didn’t love! It’s with this good intention that I ventured into town to start my evening. I walked to the theater arriving early to see if I could meet Patti. I’d written an introduction letter and included a copy of my BLOG for her reference. I bravely pleaded my case to the theater staff and was informed that, unfortunately, she was sick with bronchitis. The show wasn’t canceled, but the chance of an introduction was VERY slim. With this in mind, I slunk to my seat.

Fortunately, my disappointment wouldn’t last long – once I was inside the theater, my imagination came alive. The venue was ornate yet comfortable; each seat offered a cozy view of the stage, which was set with two chairs and a podium. Patti would read select passages from M Train with a vague lilt to her voice that was probably only recognizable to folks from south Jersey. She’d joked about wearing the same white t-shirt for an Amtrak cover photo while reading the article on an Amtrak train. She mused that it was probably the same shirt she had on at that moment, too; the audience laughed. In the middle of her reading, an alarm on her phone went off mildly, disrupting her flow; she joked that NOW she understood why it hadn’t gone off that morning. More laughter! She ended her reading by singing (bronchitis and all) a song titled Wing that she wrote for her daughter after the death of her father, Patti’s husband. It was, as she said, her gift to the audience.

A gal from New Hampshire Public Radio would step onto the stage and interview Patti — highlighting her influence — and thanking her for making “different” acceptable. Questions from audience members were read, and Patti would answer with honest, comedic timing. Where would you live if you could live anywhere? “Philadelphia, she answered. Most Jersey girls go to New York via Philly, she said. Since I couldn’t get work in Philly, I went to New York instead.”

I sat riveted to the edge of my seat.

When she was asked what gave her the greatest sense of joy? She excitedly replied MY KIDS! I was amazed; here was a girl from South Jersey who had followed her dreams. Her courage, strength, and imagination led her on a brave and fantastic journey. Yes, she’d endured her share of loss, but she also gallantly transformed these experiences into inspiration. Success! She’s inspired me to pay it forward. I’ve spent the last year working with people who have also suffered a loss. Frequent hugs and kind words fuel my daily activities. My children embody the generous spirit they’ve inherited from their father. Yes, Patti, you’re right; those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand. Thank you.

So did I get to shake Patti’s hand and thank her for her wisdom? Nope. I left the theater high as a tiny-tailed-kite and enjoyed a cup of green tea with a new friend. It was as it should be. Have a great week!

Want to learn more about Patti Smith? Check out Terry Gross’ 2015 interview for NPR titled Patti Smith Looks Back On Life Before She Became The Godmother Of Punk