Thursday, December 30, 2010

28 Days to New York Writers' Conference!

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. Henry Ford

Only 28 days till I fly to New York for the International Children's Writers and Illustrators conference! My intention is to find an agent and a publisher for the first of the six book series. Today I worked about four hours on the story (the kids are at the farm with the grandparents in Iowa) and redesigned my business card to hand out. Wishing each of us enormous luck and perseverance during the month of January on whatever journey we're on. Happy almost New Years;-).

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve 2010!

Happy Holidays! Feeling blessed for all the good in life and working to just be in the moment throughout the next few days. Wishing everyone joy and happiness. Eileen

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moments verses Milestones.....

It was a really nice weekend. Greg and I had date night on Saturday and enjoyed Social Network, about Facebook and its founders. Then today we snuggled in on a bitter WI winter day and never ventured outside, napping, playing board games and reading stories - along with probably too much t.v. watching for the kids.

Tonight Kirk and I read a picture book about JFK. I'd picked it up at a thrift store because Kirk loves to quote the line, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." It was an interesting story, and as we read it, he asked a lot of good questions, and I was thinking how knowledgeable he's getting about U.S. history. Later we were reading a story about feudal times and the adventures of Jeanne de Montfort during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) between England and France, which I didn't even know happened;-). As we read, I was again thinking how much further ahead Kirk is than I was at his age, that he's reaching certain milestones quite early.

This morning, I watched Kai trying to sound out the word cat and jet and was thinking within a year, he'll be reading too. What an exciting milestone that will be.

As I work on my books, I think about the January trip to NYC and the hopes of meeting an agent and think, what an exciting milestone that will be.
And so on. Then tonight I flipped my little motivational calendar to the next page and saw the quote "Life isn't a matter of milestones but of moments. Rose Kennedy"

How timely a reminder! It is so ironic that we were just reading about her son - his life's milestones wrapped up in about twenty pages. Also ironic that I was thinking earlier today how fun it would be if I could be 25 again, with my whole life stretched out in front of me, and still feel uber young and full of possibilities, but somehow know I'd marry Greg and we'd have these wonderful kids. I found myself thinking how much less angst I would have had, and how much I would have enjoyed my twenties. But life doesn't work that way. The season of contentment doesn't tend to come in one's twenties along with that smooth skin and flat stomach;-)...

And the milestones are pretty few and far between. Should I get an agent, I would be over the moon and we would toast the evening and celebrate. But even assuming a five hour celebration with friends - itself a long party when we don't tend to be the party type, that celebration of the milestone, would be the culmination of probably 400 hours of writing. So surely, "life" was more a matter of those moments typing away at my laptop at Panera and not the short milestone of the accomplishment.

It's not a new idea, but enjoying the journey is a lesson I seem to need to keep reminding myself of. And with the kids, I need to remember not to be always looking for the next milestone - Kirk's front teeth to grow in, his Christmas play at church, Kai learning to read or turning four. Instead I want to enjoy all the minutes in between, which wiggle out of my grasp and dissipate into the air if I'm not present and watching and aware (thank you Eckhart Tolle for lots of good advice on this).

So that is a rather long winded way of saying, "seize the journey" and not just the milestones along the way since the time you spend traveling along the road is a lot longer than the exciting moment of arrival at your destination;-). Good wishes to each of you on your journeys.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Phones and friends and family....

In an effort to live more in a state of gratitude, I've been trying to be more conscious of all the things I'm grateful for. Tonight I had a lovely long chat with a friend in San Diego and earlier in the week a good talk with another dear friend in Santa Fe. In between, I try to call my mom in IL every few days to update her on Christmas shopping or little stories about the kids that I know she'll enjoy. I think how lucky we are to be able to "reach out and touch someone" with such ease. The minute something happens I can feel connected to the people I care about most, even hundreds of miles away, something that throughout history wouldn't have been possible. So thanks Alexander Graham Bell and even Charter Communications;-).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bloody feet and waterproof boots....

It has been bitterly cold here in Wisconsin, so much so that I don't even do my nightly walk with my neighbor and our dogs. I've been reading up quite a bit on the Battle of Trenton, otherwise known as the crossing of the Delaware, and reading about how many of those soldiers went on that long night march with no shoes and just wrapped rags around their feet. Imagine if you will, marching through snow, in a bitter storm, with no waterproof boots, with your feet cracked and bleeding, and of course, your life on the line. I don't think we can really ever completely appreciate the sacrifices that built the country we live in. So signing off with lots of appreciation for current warmth and past dedications. Puts "bad traffic" and "bad roads" in perspective...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Character building;-)

I'm really enjoying the learning process involved in writing. My work today was to further develop my characters - with help from writing exercises. A Google search revealed 45 questions I should be able to answer about my characters - type of clothing they wear - cherished items in their rooms - music they prefer. It's really reaching to create someone from scratch - but then it's all about building character - for both the book and the authoress;-). Good wishes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Painting the pictures of our lives....brush stroke by brush stroke....

Oh the metaphors just flow when I'm in my writing mode;-). I spent four hours today on the story and it was a good day's work. Afterward, I treated myself to a thrift store outing (I decided to give up that goal of not shopping till January 1 - noble, but life is short and thrift stores really do bring enormous fun to me - whether the fun of a new blouse for $2 or a great Newberry award winning kids' book for 50 cents that I can take apart and highlight the heck out of for tips on good writing). Today I found a lovely painting for $6. The colors and subject matter made me smile. On my bucket list is to someday do my own original paintings of flowers - to bring my summer garden hobby year round and even richer.

I am making good progress on my paint by number (2 hours during Kai's nap on Sunday) and it occurred to me that painting this picture, and watching it evolve bit by bit, is sort of like this new life I am creating - and it's fun to watch it take shape and see how much even a bit of time can move things forward. So here's to hoping each of us works to paint a lovely painting, stroke, by stroke, of our own best life (as Oprah would say).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Believe in yourself.

Today was a fun stay in and avoid the 6 inches of snow outside kind of Sunday. I worked on only thinking about the positive all day and when I felt myself slipping, would instantly remind myself "Think of 10 things I love" or "Think of 10 things I am grateful for" and it worked quite well.

Attached is a video clip from Tracy Porter's website. She is also based in WI and has grown a successful business of gorgeous home products and now clothing too. If you get a chance to watch the video, it's inspiring. She repeats more than once that you just have to choose to believe in yourself, a message for all of us most of the time;-).

For some reason the link won't show. You can go to and see video of their interview.
Good wishes! Eileen

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life is a highway....

Yesterday I had breakfast with what I call my CEO club - two other women also starting companies with high hopes and nascent business skills. Ironically, the one most worried is the only one with actual sales for her product - not enough to break even yet, but actual shipments going out and checks coming in. She is deathly afraid of failing, but the other woman and I kept reminding her over our tea, she'd already succeeded.

She had been a stay at home mom of three for 16 years, living on a shoestring budget and had a dream of creating a product to help children. Her husband said "Go for it, just don't spend any money," because times were tight. She used the university system here to design her idea a place called Fab Lab (open to all inventors). Her daughter spoke some Chinese so she placed the actual calls to factories using her daughter's basic vocabulary and found one to make her product. Then she waded through her own trademark registration, customs laws, etc.

I look at that and think she can't fail because she's already succeeded. She really is a different woman than she was when she started two years ago, more confident, more knowledgeable, more willing to take on risks. I have enormous, enormous respect for her.

She has told me she has many, many other business ideas and I am sure that even if this product doesn't have the market success she hopes for (and I actually think it will), another idea she develops will. She will be starting from a new, stronger position.

Even if she never chose to do another business, she still has the strength of character she gained from this endeavor. We go out of this world with no more of the outer trappings than we came into it with. But, hopefully, we depart with a spirit that has evolved to a higher self. My friend has traveled down the road of risk and challenge and hardship and persevered, so she has evolved in this lifetime and become more of the woman she wants to be. Surely that defines success!

I share that story because I see so few women who realize how amazing and successful they are. Any time you are trying to become a better you, whether by learning to meditate, trying to laugh more each day, reading a self-help book or taking a class, you are going further down the highway of the journey of self-development, you are evolving and thus you are succeeding. Good wishes! Happy December.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Edit is finally here! A big step!

Tonight the editor emailed the revised clean copy along with the bloodied one to show his revisions. This is so exciting! He says it's in good enough shape to send out and cautioned me against too many changes (I have 20 pages of changes based on additional research that I've been working on while I was awaiting his comments). He also cautioned me against adding too much historic detail which he thinks will drag down the story, but the pages I want to add have a lot of the battle included, which Kirk thought was really interesting, so I guess I'll have to make a final call on that. But still, all in all, I'm excited to meet this milestone! Happy evening to all. Eileen
p.s. Should any of you be working on something similar, a professional edit cost $300.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Battle for My Mind;-).

I had a tough day Monday, learning that the second IVF cycle had failed. The day before I learned the editor who is doing the line edit had taken on another project, putting mine on hold. During this time, I have been listening to The Power by Rhonda Bryne, author of The Secret. In her book, she stresses again and again that your thoughts determine your world. And I absolutely believe that.

What can be disconcerting then, is how often I find negative thoughts streaming through my mind. I have started my flower painting (paint by number kit) which I love. It allows me to be completely still and focused. And yet at that time in particular, I hear fear thoughts come streaming through (what if the baby dream never works out) irritation thoughts (I can't believe that neighbor keeps letting her dog bark) sadness (mom looked quite a bit older the last time I saw her and I wish she would take better care of herself).

I myself am shocked at how much negative energy/ideas there are floating around in my head, when I generally think of myself as a positive person. What is all that muck? Why am I not sitting with my paintbrush in hand thinking how lucky I am to be married to a man who not only loves me and the kids, but has a kind heart, is a phenomenal provider and thinks I'm quite pretty. Why am I not overwhelmed at how lucky I am to have two healthy, smart, funny boys who love me and Greg and our families. Why don't I think more about how blessed I am to have wonderful parents, in-laws, financial stability, a new career start writing fiction, good health and to top it all off, happen to live in the free est country in the world?

In her book, The Power, Bryne suggests you train your mind, not unlike training your body, to focus on what you love, what you're grateful for, what makes you happy. I took out a new notepad a few days ago that I entitled Gratitude and Serendipity journal and am now making a nightly habit to remind myself of all the good I already have and to remind myself daily to appreciate all this wealth.

If any of you have little tricks that help you come out of the dole drums and focus on the awesomeness of life, I'd love to hear them. Good wishes! Eileen

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Science Fairs and dirty dishes;-)

Kirk was really proud of his science fair experiment today - tornado in a jar. All the kids got medals and it was a good experience all around. I'm absolutely sure the time that was spent on this was more important than cleaning the kitchen, but the result was a mess of dishes still waiting to be done at 10 p.m. I'm finding myself a bit stretched as time goes on and deciding that I'm just going to have to be okay with dirty dishes more often. Greg has been a trooper taking up some of the slack - he just offered to do the big weekly grocery shopping, but there is just not time for everything and I've decided to try and be okay with the house not like I'd like it to be. Well that or just a whole lot less stuff at the house. Kirk and I were just reading a little blurb about the Greeks tonight, and the closing paragraph was timely.
"The story of Greek life is the story of both moderation and simplicity. Our material possessions, such as houses, furniture, books, and cars take up a great deal of the owner's time and attention. They have to be polished, brushed, painted, mended, and guarded. The Greeks would probably feel that we are not so much the owners of property as the slaves to our possessions. The Greeks wanted to be free in both body and mind. So that they could keep their liberty and be truly free in spirit, they reduced their daily needs to the lowest possible point."

But what to toss? What is excess? Tonight we watched a video called Science Rock from Schoolhouse Rock, we played a game called Marketplace before dinner and did two puzzles after dinner. All these things, purchased from thrift stores, do add to our lives in education and enjoyment, but admittely, all those things take time to organize, sort, find lost pieces, etc. I don't have a really good criteria list for what to keep/what to toss. Any thoughts? Good wishes! Eileen

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Making some progress on those November goals

...if you want something very badly, you can achieve it. It may take patience, very hard work, a real struggle, and a long time; but it can be done. That much faith is the prerequisite of any undertaking, artistic or otherwise. Margo Jones (1913-1955)

November goals are coming along quite well, and as silly perhaps as it sounds, the star chart is helping. I see it every time I go to the refrigerator and it reminds me both how much I've accomplished this month and what areas could use a bit of work in the ten or twenty odd minutes of free time before I need to head out the door or while I wait for the school bus to arrive. There's never any doubt how to focus my time in those bits and pieces.

The credit for the idea goes to the author of the Happiness Challenge - Gretchen Rubin. I posted about her book earlier. I LOVE it!!! It is a concrete way to live more happily and after my run-in with the crazy political guy, I think we all should do all we can to live each day in a happy frame of mind. The author is quite impressive too; she clerked for the Supreme Court and her research skills and analytical thinking are clearly evident throughout. It's both a thoughtful and thought provoking book.

I finally ordered a paint by number kit and have started painting my floral masterpiece, a goal I swear I've had five years but never got around to. But now it was on my November list and there was no way I was going to not get a star;-).

Hope all your dreams and hopes and plans are coming along well. Good wishes. Eileen
P.S. Should you be interested, the author also has a website

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Got cussed out today - road rage goes political;-).

You can transcend all negativity when you realize that the only power it has over you is your belief in it. As you experience this truth about yourself you are set free. Eileen Caddy
I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence but it comes from within. It was there all the time. Anna Freud (1895-1982)
I helped out at a friend's campaign today and held signs near a polling place - staying the legal distance away. A guy in a suit stopped his black BMW and his face mottled purple with rage, began ranting, "You're F#$(ing breaking the law." I assured him I was over 100 yards away, the legal limit. He then broke into, "I'm F*(#_ing calling the cops. And you're f#(&ing supporting an idiot." Lots of rage there. Other than thinking the guy might want to try some meditation exercises;-),
the experience really made me conscious of the sacrifices that people made during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's and women's efforts to get the vote in the 1920's (and before). To be on the receiving end of all that hate, merely for holding a sign, was eye opening. I can't imagine doing a sit in at a lunch counter with rabid police dogs waiting on the street outside or speaking up for women's rights while an audience of men yelled derogatory remarks and threw things - those were some tough people and we owe them a lot!

On happier news, I kept my goals for writing three hours today. And I met a wonderful children's librarian who graciously told me about some of the ins and outs of good kids' books.

Happy election day to all - be glad we live where we can all express our viewpoints! Eileen

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween 2010!

Happy Halloween 2010!! Greg is taking the kids around this year and I have some time to blog as we have only gotten three trick-or-treaters so far. One of the wonderful things about having a blog is it's a sort of journal as well and I was able to look back to this exact time last year and see how far I've come with hopes and dreams and also how I've "detoured" a few times;-).

I just finished posting my Nov. goals on the refrigerator along with our Nov. family good deeds chart so I'm hoping to check this next year, Oct. 31, 2011 and have made amazing progress in each goal area.

Today I signed up for an online dialogue writing course here at the University and also applied for an author mentor program also local, so I'm hoping to continue to learn and become a much better writer.
Good wishes to all of you! Kai was not in the mood for pictures tonight, so here's Kirk with his fiercest looking Jedi Knight pose. Eileen

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Organized people rule the world and I'm not one of them;-)

Tonight I went on a cooking spree, with two crock pots on the counter top, 24 muffins and a casserole just finishing up in the oven. As a result of all this, I shouldn't have to cook for a week and will be unlikely to have a $20 lunch for two (Kai and I) because nothing was handy at home. I have told myself before, if I could just get into a routine of cooking one day a week and freezing/refrigerating the leftovers, we'd eat healthier and save a ton on food. But there is no set date and just getting a grocery list together before I leave to shop can be a hassle - but again I fantasize having a succinct, cost approved list, to shop on say Fridays, followed by Saturday cook-a-thon for a few hours, all dishes done and put away, and be eating healthy, cheap, and organized for life;-).

Then I did about three loads of laundry, and dumped them all on the floor to join about three other baskets full for a fold-a-thon while Kai watched Curious George and again thought if I could get us down to about seven sets of clothes each and be disciplined about doing it every Saturday morning, folding it, getting it put away and not even thinking about laundry until the following week, we'd have fewer clothes all over the kids' rooms floors and my closet and the hall and the bathrooms. We'd no longer have stuffed closets and drawers, and we'd dress well, cleanly, and cheaply for life;-)

I imagine having the mowing and basement cleanout on a schedule, knowing exactly where the "Mom where's my" items are at, and getting thank yous out the day it occurs to me one is due.

I admire folks like that and if you're one of those people, feel free to pass on some advice. I realize having systems and schedules make life easier and more rewarding and need to learn to be better about putting them in place.

There's something comforting also about living within self-imposed limits. Quite often the last few months I been to busy to focus on staying within budgeted amounts for food, etc. I am just glad to find the time to get to the store, but that sort of ad-hoc living doesn't sit well. In some weird way I can't quite define, I like knowing I "can't" run to the store and have to make do and find being creative and living within a budget often more comforting somehow (despite the fact we are doing fine financially). Similarly, when I stick to a certain routine for eating healthy or exercising, there are two rewards: the results of those choices, but also the good feeling from being self-disciplined enough to stick to process to achieve the goal. Too much anything, food, spending, clutter, behindness(if there is such a word), all feels yuck! (Not the best adjective for an aspiring author but you get the gist;-).

Aside from needing to learn organization, Kai and I had a fun day. We played some games, took Brandi to the vet, went out to that $20 lunch, went to the zoo and a playground. At three, I always notice his behavior is so much better when he has my full attention; he really thrives on it and I need to be more "present" with him daily. Good wishes!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Getting behind, feeling a bit low...

It's interesting how you can know so much what's good for you, but it can be so hard to do it! My house is getting too messy again. I went to a thrift store today, again, breaking my vow, and got some wonderful books and educational games, but it is more stuff coming in, when my goal is to reduce clutter and own less stuff. I know this as I pull into the parking lot, but it's a bit of an addiction. Second, I know full well I CANNOT stay out of candy and sweets in the house, but got two big bags of candy for trick or treators and ate about 17 mini-candy bars yesterday - YUCK!! I haven't gotten anything done on book two, haven't exercised in several days, and feel that bad feeling of not making progress in any area. So that's my whine for the evening. Otherwise, life is good. Kirk is home from school for teacher conferences to we went to the children's museum, then Greg's work had a Halloween party for the kids so we went. Kids are high on sugar as I type and cranky as all get out. Ooops, I said I was done with the whining. Will sign off. Good wishes. Eileen

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Manuscript sent off this morning for line edit! And Nov. goals - Want to join me??

I met a big milestone today and sent off the manuscript for the first book for a final line edit to the book doctor in Milwaukee. He said it will take about two weeks for a complete edit, then it's on finding an agent and publisher. I'm thrilled to be at this point!!!

At one point, due to a computer glitch, I lost about a week's worth of work - very discouraging, but I eventually made it up.

Today I'm planning to make a list of November goals - how to be a better person by the end of 30 days, straight off the How to Think Big book cassette tape I got free in a box of stuff at the side of the road after an auction.

Goals: Spend one hour each day for 20 days of the month thinking - pen in hand - and listing ideas. I've done that to good success in the past and just fallen off the wagon.

Do 20 minutes of yoga for 20 days this month (nameste yoga that we tape on the fitness channel)and lose two pounds by the end of the month through cutting way back on sugar to 30 grams a day (too many hours worked at Panera with yummy apple danishes for a reward not good) to be 135.7(ish;-).

Have the second book ready for its first edit by Nov. 30 (that's stretching it quite a bit, but would be wonderful - I'm up to page 20 and it will be around 80 pages).

Reread the book on Sibling rivalry or take parenting class on 123 Magic to help deal both with the kids fighting and with Kai's occasional temper tantrums.

Post four times on the company website to share learning ideas - Kirk at six can now do some fourth grade math and is the top of his class for reading and loves school - so it's nice to see the rewards of our educational games and books and posters, etc.

Do 20 good deeds and post a family good deed chart to focus more on kind acts and not so much on stuff.

Zero, zip, zilch trips to thrift stores, clothing stores, etc. for November. In a weak moment yesterday, I went to a thrift store I hadn't been to in months and bought $40 in kids books (50 cents each) and kids games ($1) each - the checkout woman asked me if I was a teacher;-). I also got a great pair of Kenneth Cole boots ($16). So my cravings should be sated for a bit??

Do one oil painting of a flower - my new hobby I've long wanted to do and been reading about, but never taken a paintbrush to hand.

Joy and good wishes to each of you on your journeys. Maybe someone will join me for November goals??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A month of life lessons;-)

I can't believe a month has gone by since I last posted. It had been my dear hope that when I posted again I would open with the words that a new baby was on the way, but such is not the case. I also felt a bit hypocritical posting about frugality as we went through the very expensive IVF process. We are blessed that we can afford this route, in part due to years of being frugal, though, so maybe it's all connected and we are not giving up hope yet on that much longed for third child.

In other areas, life could not be better. I am LOVING the writing process, and will have the second draft ready for a line edit within about two weeks now. The phrase writing is rewriting is the truth!!! Writing/revising really is a skill, so I expect I will have to work very hard to finally get it right, but when I'm working, the hours just flow by, so I know there's something very good in that.

My pact with Greg to spend nothing except on food and necessities till January 1, 2011, has been broken about eight times, mostly on garden items. But that is still a lot less than it otherwise would have been, with far fewer trips to the thrift stores and garage sales. I've tried to use the extra time to declutter and have probably brought over 600 items to donate in the past few months, clothes, toys, books, household stuff, decorations, magazines, etc. I've done with several closets, which was a great feeling. Part of me is appalled at all the time I had to have spent buying those 600 items, not to mention the costs. I read recently about a movement among some parents to limit the number of toys their kids own to twenty. When I think how much tidier my house/closets/basement would be with just twenty toys, it has real appeal. But I also know that I wouldn't be satisfied with 20 plants in the garden, so can I impose that sort of retriction on the kids?

Greg turned 42 on Sunday, and we had a little celebration. I realized I had shared almost two decades of birthdays with him, and how blessed I am to go through life with such a wonderful person.

I finished reading the Happiness Project, which I loved, loved, loved. The author took a year to see if she could make her already good life even happier and brought her impressive research skills (she'd clerked for the Supreme Court) to the subject and found a myriad of ways to do so. I must have tabbed fifty pages before I got an overdue notice from the library.

Good wishes to a happy day! Eileen

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Checking back in;-).

Pics of Kirk in front of a wonderful old church we went to, built in 1882, and he and Kai walking my mom's dog, and the wonderful Weber House and garden I toured, including a child's playhouse that had been built in 1941.

Just drove in from a weekend with the kids at my parents. We had a lovely time. I got to visit an AMAZING garden called the Weber House. The man who has created this acre and a half paradise has done so on a shoestring over the past 30 years and created a true masterpiece. It was transporting almost, to be there. Came home with many new ideas and dreams.

Greg and I celebrated our 15th Wedding Anniversary earlier this month and I still think he's the greatest guy I've ever met (with stiff competition from my dad and brother;-).

The kids are doing great - Kirk is enjoying first grade and all the little bits of reading and math through the summer really paid off.

The book is going through its edit, and the second is about halfway done. I will submit it for a line edit by mid-October at the latest. Then go about trying to find an agent and publisher - how fun!

My pact not to buy anything other than groceries/necessities, has gone well, broken four times so far, all for garden items (all small amounts). I can't believe how much more time I have now that I don't stop by my favorite thrift stores and zoom on by garage sale signs. That is not to say I don't miss the thrill of the hunt, but have appreciated the extra time to work on the book and other projects. And visiting my mom and seeing 40 years accumulation of thrift store buying (she admits to be a borderline hoarder), is sobering;-). It really does zap a lot of her energy to just have SO much stuff. I convinced her to get rid of a few boxes of Christmas decorations and we boxed up a few other things, so it was a tiny drop of progress. It's hard to see how "stuff" can bring so much fun in one way (shopping is her only real hobby), yet add so much unhappiness with the overwhelming task of trying to keep it all organized.

I'm reading a really interesting book called "The Story of Stuff" and it is a sobering look also at the environmental costs off all this stuff. The author, Annie Leonard, notes study after study shows "materialism" which also includes a desire to have people like how you look, to impress others socially, etc. invariably do not lead to happiness, but family, friends, spirituality, and a sense of contributing to community or the world, are the keys - good reminders.

I still need to unpack all the stuff mom sent home. My dad was thrilled to see any of it moved out;-). Good wishes. Happy trails on each of your paths to happiness.