Who Makes You Feel Special?

I recently liked and shared a Facebook post that was a fun idea for kids for Valentine’s Day.  Starting on February 1st, tape a different colored paper heart to your child’s bedroom door every day for 14 days.  On each heart, write something you love about your child.  By Valentine’s Day on February 14th, your child will have a door full of hearts and of love.

Obviously, this same idea could be adapted for a spouse, a sibling, a grandparent, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend, a roommate, or whomever you want to feel loved.  You can’t underestimate what that kind of effort does for another’s soul.

Any totally selfless act with the goal and purpose of simply making another person feel special is a wonderful thing.  And, this kind of endeavor doesn’t have to be saved just for the holidays.

This past week I received a lovely card from the mother of my friend, Karen.  Karen and I were best friends from middle school through high school and sadly, she passed from a heart condition four years ago.  I’ve kept in touch with her parents and see them whenever I visit my home state of Indiana.

I had written a note in their Christmas card and Karen’s mom was writing back to say she was thinking of me and to tell me how wonderful it is that I am a grandmother now.  It was so nice to receive her note out of the blue in the middle of January for no reason other than because she cares about me.

I have a loving and rather mischievous son who as a small boy began leaving sweet love notes on my pillow for me to find at night.   He would draw a heart and write “I love you mama” inside the lines.  It would warm my heart to find those notes right before I went to sleep.

As he grew into a young teenager, those notes became rubber snakes or insects left under my pillow or little alligators in my shower.  To this day, I hate having alligators in my shower!

Sometimes I would open the refrigerator or the microwave and find a cluster of rubber frogs.  One morning, a rubber lizard was on my coffee pot.  I could only imagine the fun my son had plotting ways to make his mama scream.

One memorable day when he was in high school, I went outside to get into my car and found the interior of it covered in rubber lobsters…on my seat, on the steering wheel, in the back window, in the center section, seat belted in the passenger seat, in the glove box…

Image result for rubber lobsters

Once my startled screaming stopped, I would smile and know that he was just showing his love in a teenage boy kind of way.

After he left for college, I didn’t scream as often, but I sure did miss those fun moments that he brought to my life.  One day, I opened the mailbox and found a padded envelope he had sent from his college in another state.  Yep, you guessed it…along with a note thanking me for all I did for him, was a cluster of rubber monsters to let me know the fun wasn’t over yet!

Not everyone shows their love with rubber critters.  My husband knows that I have a knack for getting knots in my jewelry.  Recently, he took the knots out of my favorite necklace without my knowledge and left it beside my sink in the shape of a heart.  Not only did it make me happy that I could wear my necklace again, but he made me feel special too!

Our efforts to make other people feel special don’t have to cost money.  They can be a “hello and how are you today” to a neighbor or a co-worker,  a text letting a family member or friend know you are thinking of them, or a phone call telling someone you just needed to hear their voice.

The good connections we have with others are often what make a positive difference in our days…and in theirs.  So, who makes you feel special and what are you going to do to make someone else feel special this week?



Change Is In The Air

Our country will undergo a major change this week.  The 58th United States Presidential Inauguration on Friday, January 20th, will see our 45th president, Donald Trump, sworn into office.

The word inauguration means “beginning” or “a ceremony to mark the beginning of something” or “the formal admission of someone to office.” I found it interesting that the word inauguration comes from the word, “augury” which is the ancient practice of predicting the future.  If only we could.

January 20th became our official Inauguration Day in 1933 with passage of the 20th Amendment. While Inauguration Day is a federal holiday, it is not a public holiday.  This means that only government employees in Washington D.C. observe it.  In years where January 20th falls on a Sunday, the Presidential Inauguration is held on Monday, January 21st.

The very first presidential inauguration for George Washington was held on April 30, 1789 in New York City, which was serving as the capital of the United States at that time. The city of Philadelphia was also a temporary inauguration site for Presidents Adams and Jefferson, but from the year 1801 until now, our presidential inaugurations have been held in Washington D.C.  beside the United States Capital Building.

The only event required by the U.S. Constitution on Inauguration Day, is the swearing in of the new president at noon.  After the recitation of the Oath of Office, the president-elect becomes the president and the day marks the start of his or her term in office.

The actual Oath of Office is usually administered to the incoming president by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Our current Chief Justice, the Honorable John Roberts, will lead President-elect Trump with the Oath of Office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

So far, all presidents except Franklin Pierce, our 14th U.S. President, have chosen to “swear” rather than “affirm” the Oath of Office.

In our United States history, only one man has served both as President and as U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  William Howard Taft served as President from 1909 to 1913, then as the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930, until he resigned because of poor health.  He administered the Oath of Office to Calvin Coolidge for Coolidge’s second term as president in 1925.  This was the first presidential inauguration to be broadcast nationally on the radio.

Before the Oath of Office will be administered to President-elect Donald Trump, it will first be administered to Vice President-elect Michael R. Pence by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas.  Justice Thomas (who has served on the Supreme Court for 25 years) will become the first African American Supreme Court Justice ever to administer the Oath of Office to a United States President-elect or Vice President-elect.

While it is not required by the U.S. Constitution, presidents usually take the Oath of Office with their left hand on a Bible.  Some presidents have taken the Oath of Office on a closed Bible, some have opened the Bible to a random page, and yet others took their Oaths of Office with the Bible opened to a verse that was personally significant to them.

Franklin Pierce and John Quincy Adams didn’t use a Bible but swore their oaths on law books.  Lyndon Johnson swore his oath on a Catholic Missal that was found on Air Force One after President John Kennedy’s assassination.

Theodore Roosevelt used no book at all, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H. W. Bush, and Barack Obama used two Bibles.  It has been reported that President-elect Trump who is Presbyterian, will also use two Bibles…the Lincoln Bible from the Library of Congress and the Bible given to him by his mother in 1955.

After the Oaths of Office are taken, it’s traditional for the new president to give an inaugural address. George Washington’s second inaugural address was 135 words long, and was the shortest one in United States history.

In 1841, William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural address of any new president.  It was 8000 words and lasted for an hour and 45 minutes.  He then shook hands with the public for three hours.  After being out in the cold for so long, President Harrison came down with pneumonia and died a month after taking office.

Once the inaugural ceremony is over, the celebrations usually include a luncheon, a parade and inaugural balls.  The first official Inaugural Ball took place in 1809 after the inauguration of James Madison. First Lady Dolley Madison was the hostess, and tickets cost just $4.  The only president to not have an inaugural ball was Woodrow Wilson.  President Wilson didn’t like to dance, so his inauguration had no ball.

For the new President Trump, there will be a parade with 8000 participants down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House on Friday afternoon, then three official inaugural balls that evening.  There will be two hours of live television coverage of two of the balls, the “Liberty Ball” and the “Freedom Ball.”

The third ball is “The Salute To Our Armed Services Ball” and is by invitation only for military personnel and families.  The new President-elect and Mrs. Trump and Vice President-elect and Mrs. Pence plan to attend all three inaugural balls.

If you plan to watch the swearing in ceremony, it will be held at noon Eastern Standard Time.  It’s also customary for Americans to fly their flags on Inauguration Day and we will be flying ours proudly in support of this great country!


Everyone Has A Story

I’ve had stories bouncing around in my head this week…lots of stories.  As a writer, I love to watch, hear and read stories, especially when they are true stories about real people.

As Vicki and I work to finish our third book together, “The Day the Turkey Came to School” that story has been prominent in my mind.  Like our other books, it’s based on a true story about something that really happened.


What’s different about this one is that it happened one ordinary day in November when I was taking my ten year old daughter to school.  Sometimes, the stories that happen when we least expect them turn out to be the most fun!

Working at the pharmacy two days a week, I have the privilege of hearing other people’s stories on a regular basis.  Sometimes the stories develop over time as I get to know customers.  Other times, someone will share a story so personal and heartbreaking that I can’t get it out of my head and I add that person to my prayers.

That happened the day a young woman came in who had been beaten by her live-in boyfriend.  She said, “I moved in with him against my parents’ wishes because I thought he truly loved me.”  She had a blackened eye and a broken nose and a concussion as well as cuts and abrasions.

She said she was going to stay with her pastor and his wife.  I offered her water and sat with her while she waited for her medication to be ready.  She wanted to talk about what had happened…because sometimes people just want someone to listen to their stories.

Another story I have recently had the privilege of reading, is “The Polygamist’s Daughter” by Anna LeBaron with Leslie Wilson.  I was asked to read an advance copy of the book which is coming out in March of 2017 and to write an honest review for the Goodreads Website.

Anna LeBaron’s story of growing up as the daughter of a polygamist cult leader is another one that has stayed with me.  The first line in her book hooked me:

“At age nine, I had forty-nine siblings.”

Most of us have had a fairly normal childhood.  Not Anna’s…hers was anything but normal with the regular, quick moves to different homes to stay a step ahead of the authorities, selling painted rocks and slices of cake door to door as a child in Mexico, going to school then working into the night to help the “family” business, getting food and clothing from dumpsters, and not having the normal childhood experiences or things that most of us took for granted.

If you are looking for a very good read in 2017, I hope you will consider “The Polygamist’s Daughter.”


Finally, the last story on my mind this week is that of Katherine Johnson.  Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2015, Katherine was a mathematician and physicist who began working for NASA in 1953 doing math calculations.

While temporarily assigned to help the all-male flight research team at NASA, Katherine’s intelligence and knowledge of analytic geometry quickly impressed the higher ups.  She had to deal with sexism and racism and having to use the “colored” restroom and coffee pot, but ultimately her work for NASA was so impressive that John Glenn wanted her to check the accuracy of the flight number information before he flew.

Katherine worked for NASA for decades as an aerospace technologist calculating trajectories, launch windows and emergency back-up paths for many space flights from Project Mercury all the way to the Space Shuttle Program.

Katherine’s story is told along with that of her friends, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan in the movie, “Hidden Figures” which is in theaters now.  My husband and I saw “Hidden Figures” on Monday night and we were both on the edge of our seats watching the entire movie.  At the end, the audience applauded.

There are so many interesting stories all around us.  We simply have to listen for them.  What stories are happening around you?

Welcome January 2017!

One topic of conversation at work yesterday was whether or not we all had eaten black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.  Just about everyone had and one of my co-workers said that along with the peas, her family also eats cabbage for money and pork for prosperity in the New Year.

Eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day was a tradition I wasn’t aware of until I lived in the south.  One year, I waited until the last minute on New Year’s Eve to buy my peas, and my local grocery store was sold out.  People are serious about wanting good luck in the New Year!

As we turn our calendars from December to January, I think most of us look upon the New Year as a clean slate where we get a fresh new start.  We may reflect upon what we’ve learned from the past year and make resolutions and/or set goals for positive changes in the New Year.  Many of us are excited about looking ahead and making plans for the future.

January is named after the Roman god Janus, the Latin word for “door.”  Janus had two faces which allowed him to look backward into the old year and forward into the new one at the same time.  He was the god of beginnings, gates, time, transitions, doorways, passages, and endings.

In Roman times, January 1st was consecrated to Janus since it was the first day of the New Year and of the month.  Since Romans believed the beginning of anything was an omen for the whole, it was customary to exchange cheerful words and good wishes on New Year’s Day.

As I sit here today with a whole New Year stretching before me, I can’t wait to see how 2017 will play out.  I’m looking forward to the publication of my third book and I’m hoping to finish writing my fourth one in this New Year.  I’m also looking forward to watching my new grandson, Graham, grow…and to spending more time with family and friends.

I bet you have many plans and goals for the New Year too.  Here’s wishing us all a happy and prosperous New Year filled with lots of good luck.  After all, we did eat our black eyed peas!

Happy New Year!

Author’s note:  January 28, 2017 begins the Chinese New Year of the Rooster.  This might be the year you want to buy my book, “Which Came First?”  It’s a story about a girl, a grandmother, a lot of chickens, and one rooster named “Pretty Boy.”