Category Archives: advice

When you need to crowdsource mothering

In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, I’ve noticed some people had written lovely tributes to their moms, while others state that they will be staying away from reading such things because their own memories are different or painful.

Today, Mother’s Day 2015, I would like to take a moment to thank those women who taught me important things about being a woman, who let me sit in their kitchens, stay with them, and talk their ears off while they offered me the unconditional love and acceptance I so desperately craved. These women modeled patience, good humor, wisdom, perspective, grooming tips, and confidence– and I am eternally grateful to them for showing me grace, beauty and kindness.

  • My aunt Rockie: I’ve stayed up way too late talking to her for as long as I can remember. She is still my go-to grownup for advice, perspective, and sharing a good laugh at ourselves.
  • My aunt Ruth: She taught me how to put on lipstick, how to have fun shopping, and how to survive during tough times. I started wearing an anklet (and still do) because she did and it was the coolest thing ever. She also modeled social consciousness and how even if you were home raising kids, you could still try to change the world.
  •  Barbara Rice: She didn’t have kids of her own, but knew how to make a couple of little girls feel special and pampered. She also took my early sewing mistakes and fixed them with a positive attitude, as though everyone ignored the nap in the fabric and cut it out the wrong way. She made the best sandwiches and Shirley Temples–my first “cocktail.”
  • Mrs. Overbeck: I spent hours in her kitchen, listening to her musical laugh and basking in the love she so generously shared when I was a tormented teenager. A beautiful woman who always knew just the right thing to say.
  • Mrs. Greenberg: She was an elegant example of womanhood, who taught me that it was perfectly fine to dim the lights and put ice cream on slices of your lopsided cake before serving. She modeled grace and efficiency, shared her best beauty tips,and winked at me.
  • Annie Blewitt: Once a student of my dad’s and our occasional babysitter, I wanted to grow up to be her–glamorous, funny, and spirited. She and her husband gave me a lemon-yellow peignoir set for my Bat Mitzvah. That kind of says it all.
  • Mrs. Brown: She was my teacher for three years in elementary school. She was strict, but fair, and let me get away with blurting out things in class without raising my hand. She liked my writing.
  • Mrs. Lindstrom: My best friend’s mother who grew lavender roses and made me feel like an honored guest in her house. I’ve loved lavender roses ever since.



Thanks to those women everywhere who take the time to offer love, support, laughs, and grooming tips to the awkward and struggling ducklings in their lives who need to be tucked under a mother’s wing.


Things I Wish I’d Known Sooner

A slightly revised and updated version of this list, which was originally posted in August, 2011.  Inspired by Nora Ephron, who did it first and better. A few things I’ve learned along the way: Curly hair will always be curly, no matter what. Using sunscreen on your face every day is critical. Money does notContinue Reading

What it Takes: College Edition

For over fifteen years, I worked in high schools as a college counselor.  I read applications at UC Berkeley for about ten years.In that time, I’ve worked with scores of kids and have read thousands of essays. While there are no set formulas for getting into the most selective colleges, here are some ways studentsContinue Reading

A true friend, a good choice

I’m participating in a blog hop today. The subject is “The best advice you ever received from a friend.”   A little background first. I met Carol when our kids were in kindergarten. Her daughter and my son shared the same classroom, and we met on a day when the parents had been assigned toContinue Reading

Three new reads: For empty nesters, college grads, or seekers of grace

I think it’s time to shine a light on some of my writer friends! It’s been quite a productive few weeks for these talented writers. So I’d like to brag a little on their behalf and share the fruits of their efforts. Each book has a broad appeal: college graduates, young adults, parents, empty nesters–Continue Reading

Uplifting Lessons from Mom

Probably the most important lesson I learned from my mother took place in a fitting room in Macy’s lingerie department. She believed in my having the proper support from the very beginning. Once we started to develop, my sister and I got whisked off downtown to Macy’s.  When it was my turn, my mother andContinue Reading

Reprise: Aging Gracefully, with Leather

Someone posed the question: “What does aging gracefully mean to you?” I wonder if the time to think about this sort of thing is before it’s staring you in the face. However, here are my thoughts.  When I first considered this question, I immediately had several thoughts: One cannot age gracefully if one has notContinue Reading

Free advice! The Wisdom of Many Mothers

    “Guess what, Mom?”  My daughter was calling with exciting news: she and her husband were expecting! Naturally, I was eager to give her the benefit of my child-rearing expertise, based on my years of experience as a mother.  Not that she asked.   But then I got a better idea. Instead of just my twoContinue Reading