family

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Thirteen



A quarter of the way through this year-long project. The focus is still on ‘the other house.’ But what a lot of work has been done in just a few weeks’ time! Seven rooms, an attic, a basement, and a garage. Donations and discarding. Discarding isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.

Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists posted this (excerpt): “Initially, I didn’t want to let go of anything. If you’ve ever lost a parent, a loved one, or been through a similarly emotional time, then you understand exactly how hard it was for me to let go of any of those possessions. So instead of letting go, I wanted to cram every trinket, figurine, and piece of oversized furniture into that storage locker in Ohio, floor to ceiling. That way I knew that Mom’s stuff was there if I ever wanted it, if I ever needed access to it for some incomprehensible reason. I even planned to put a few pieces of Mom’s furniture in my home as subtle reminders of her.”

We felt the same way – Jim had the emotional ties, I was being practical (don’t toss it if it can be used). But the clothes, the coats, the hangers, the photographs, the curios, each item held a small memory for my husband. The memories would remain, even without all the stuff.

We are not defined by what we own. Not by the car we drive, or the square footage of our house or apartment. We’re not measured by our possessions. There is joy in knowing some things will be put to use by others.

In California, some folks have literally minutes to evacuate their homes. Minutes! What do you grab? (My external hard drive – it holds my books and my wannabe books).

As Joshua noted, he didn’t need his mom’s stuff to remind him of her. We don’t need Ray’s houseful of stuff to fuel our memories. 

I began this project by tackling little things – a couple of drawers in the bathroom, the kitchen. I donated some books, some clothes. Larger projects await me in my own house (the garage, my writing space), but I’m ready.

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The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twelve



Collectibles.  Are you a collector? Perhaps it’s a generational thing. Young people, more mobile, tend not to collect things. Folks our age inherited our mothers’ (or grandmothers’) china, tea sets, cake plates, etc. I know, we have a china cabinet full of these things. Nobody wants them. I’m not sure what to do with them. I cannot throw them out. 

I am not a collector.  This is the extent of my collection, and these little pieces were gifts from my husband in the early years of our marriage.
They’re tiny, and they’re housed in a little display case. It’s enough!

The work continues at my father-in-law’s house. It’s okay – our condo is in great shape, comparatively speaking. But a house occupied by the same person since 1972 had a whole lotta stuff in it.


This is on a wall in the basement! Jim’s dad and my father would have gotten along well.

We’ve dropped off clothes, lugged furniture and mattresses to the curb, hauled countless broken and non-working items to the dumpster. We’ll bring the electronics to the recycling place. We’re getting there. And balancing the arduous work with moments of gratitude. We grieve, we cry, we curse the collectibles! We smile, we laugh. We’re okay. 💚💚💚

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Eleven


The focus shifted, rightfully, away from us this week. We honored my husband’s father (above) with the military funeral he deserved, and I know that he’s now at peace, after years of living with a cruel disease.

Apart from the viewing, the Mass, and the burial, there was work to do at his house. And that work continues. He clung to his independence, living alone in the same house he’d lived in since 1972. There were memories in that house. And lots of stuff.

Look, it happens. It would have upset him more if we’d started cleaning out the excess while he was still alive. So we have our work cut out for us. Clothes, shoes, blankets, linens. Books, DVDs, CDs. Food. Furniture. And so many photos. Donate, keep, or discard. I’m mindful that there’s a lot of emotion right now, so if my husband insists on carting a few things back into our house, I’m keeping my mouth shut. ❤️

Thoughts from the Cliff’s Edge



I wrote my first blog post on my birthday five years ago (and maybe ten friends read it). Here I am, entering my sixtieth year, and I have something to say:

  • Don’t tell me it’s just a number. I know the number. It’s 59, dammit. 😉 And yes, I’m very aware that I’ve just entered my sixtieth year.
  • I talk to myself a lot these days, especially in the supermarket when I’ve forgotten my list.
  • I still make mistakes, but I laugh about them. Mostly. 
  • I used to pull all-nighters. Not so much anymore, unless insomnia taunts me until sunrise.
  • Kids know so much more then we did, and we thought we knew everything. They’re way too grown up, though, which is a little sad. Kids shouldn’t have to worry until they’re sixteen and driving. Then everybody worries.
  • I rarely wear makeup anymore, unless I go out. And if I go out without makeup, I’ll definitely run into someone I don’t want to see.
  • I don’t wear perfume, either. Deodorant, yes. Sunscreen, definitely.
  • I wish I’d worn a lot more sunscreen in my younger days.
  • I don’t miss full-time work at all.
  • I have never made a “bucket list,” and I never will. There are places I’ll never get to see, things I may not get to do, and it’s okay. I’ve traveled a lot. I’m not done traveling, either, or learning. But no lists.
  • Well, maybe one. Today begins the Year of Living Minimally. Throughout the coming months, I’ll be posting about this journey. 
  • There were a few Mr. Wrongs in my twenties and thirties, but at 35, I met the man who could not have been more right. I’m very grateful for that, and for him, and for the hands of my father and his mother who guided us to each other. However long we have together is a gift, something to be cherished. 
  • And speaking of gratitude, I’m thankful for coffee in the morning, a good bed at night, and air conditioning in the summer. And for you, the reader of this blog post!
  • By the way, I was just kidding about that title. Really.

Tell me something good today. Or make me smile. After all, I only turn 59 once. 🎉🎂🎶🎈🙌

Our Day of Remembrance


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I wasn’t sure what to title this annual tribute. My previous posts about December 13 are listed here, if you want to revisit them:

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2012/12/12/ten-young-women/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2013/12/13/bring-all-the-priests/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2014/12/12/what-december-13th-means-to-us/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2015/12/12/the-memory-of-sense/

We were all affected by the Aquinas fire in 1977, whether we slept through the event (as I did) or witnessed it first-hand and survived. 39 years later, that memory is as sharp as it was then.

My classmate Michelle Dumont Vezina ’80 writes, “I experienced December 13th somewhat as an outsider looking in. We stayed up late that night studying for finals. We must have been in a deep sleep when everything was happening.

“I remember calling my parents to tell them. They had heard that morning that the largest dorm at Providence College was on fire. They assumed McVinney was the largest because of its height and thought I had been in the fire. They were relieved when I called.

“My mother picked me up that morning for what became the beginning of Christmas break. The campus was quiet, eerily so. I remember looking at Aquinas Chapel from my dorm room window, thinking about the girls who died.

“At that time, I had never experienced death of anyone close to me.  I didn’t really understand the feeling. No one really understands until they lose someone close to them.”

*****

A survivor, Kim Fasolo Martin ’80 writes, “December 13, 1977 changed every part of me down to my soul. For many years, I tried to figure out a specific event in my life that I was saved for, such as my marriage or the birth of my child. It took me decades to realize that I was saved for many reasons. I try to give the lessons that I learned from that terrible night to anyone who will listen. These are some of these lessons that I live by:

“Be kind to people. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you and how much you love them every chance you get. Never go to bed mad at anyone. Cherish your friends. Do not judge people for how they act until you know what has happened in their life.

“There are so many more lessons that I learned and am still learning.

“All the women who suffered this tragedy on December 13, 1977 share a bond that cannot be broken even if we have not spoken to each other.

“Sometimes, out of tragedies, there is good and when this happens,  we have to share this good to anyone who will listen.”
*****

The Aquinas fire claimed the lives of ten women living on the north end of Aquinas Hall’s fourth floor on Dec. 13, 1977. Katie Andresakes ’80, Jackie Botelho ’79, Barbara Feeney ’81, Donna Galligan ’81, Sallyann Garvey ’81, Gretchen Ludwig ’81, Cathy Repucci ’81, Laura Ryan ’81, Debbie Smith ’78, and Dotty Widman ’81.

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! The Pie Sisters by Leigh Brown and Victoria Corliss


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Bonded by blood, sisters Shelby, Yeardley, and Lily Lane are three uniquely different young women. Shelby, the eldest, is a born leader and self-appointed caretaker of the people in her life. Smart and decisive, she thinks she can do it all. Middle child Yeardley is a ship without an anchor, unsure of where she’s going or where she belongs. Lily, as the pampered baby of the family, has never had to do anything for herself. But that’s about to change. At their Aunt Nola’s lake cottage where they spent their childhood summers, the girls return to a special place and time filled with familiar faces and favorite traditions. It’s a walk down memory lane that may help define their uncertain futures, as well. Set in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes region, The Pie Sisters is a timeless tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.

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Writers Victoria (Vikki) Corliss (on the left) and Leigh Brown are friends who became co-authors in 2009. Soon after, they published their first novel, Second Chances, followed by The Pie Sisters in 2015. Creators of women’s fiction, Brown /Corliss novels feature universal themes and literary elements that resonate and connect with most female readers. They are often asked: 1) Are they sisters, and 2) How do they write novels together? In fact, they are sisters in spirit only. To learn more about how their collaboration works, visit their website at www.Browncorlissbooks.com.

The Pie Sisters is available from Amazon, and select bookstores and gift shops in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. Both women live with their families in Rhode Island where they are currently working on their third novel, due out next year.

Sorry, there is NO book giveaway but……….you can still WIN a $5 Amazon gift card (use it to purchase the book!) by commenting below. One winner will be chosen at random and notified by me. Contest ends one week after publication.

 

 

 

 

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! A Girl from the Hill by Patricia Mitchell


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I remember feeling very proud at age four-and-a-half. Practically ready for kindergarten, I knew my ABC’s, the days of the week, and that on Sunday nights at eight, I could see my TV pals Dan and Dick and those girls who danced with paint all over their bodies. In 1968 my parents allowed me to watch Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, a show full of sexual innuendo and political satire.

I am the youngest of five, also known as ‘the baby.’ My parents referred to me as ‘the baby’ until middle school, maybe even high school. In my family, being ‘the baby’ held significant meaning: I was not allowed to hear bad news, witness any kind of family strife, or be disappointed. This meant that I played only a minor role in the actual family dynamics. Reality and I would not meet until many years later.

For me, the best part of being ‘the baby’ were those early years where I spent every day with my Mom. While the others schlepped off to school or work, I stayed home with the nicest person I knew, who totally got how babies should be treated. While she drank coffee by the potful and picked up after everyone else’s mess, I plopped myself on the sofa with my coffee milk to watch Captain Kangaroo. While she made the beds, I helped shake out the sheets. When she hung the clothes out to dry, I ran around the backyard jumping off my favorite rock, pretending to fly. In the afternoons, we’d watch our ‘stories,’ like Search for Tomorrow and The Guiding Light. I ignored the mature plots and drifted off to nap while my mom rubbed my back. The perfect life for the perfect baby.

What I didn’t understand until I wrote my mother’s memoir, A Girl from the Hill, was that my mom was a survivor. She also grew up as ‘the baby,’ with siblings and parents who shielded her, too. Like me, she loved being pampered and the center of attention. But before she got a chance to graduate high school, my mother lost her mother forever, forcing her older siblings to inherit an impossible task – shielding ‘the baby’ from death.

On Federal Hill in 1941, wakes were held in homes. Watching her father sit and stroke her dead mother’s hair dealt my mother a harsh blow that changed her forever.

I didn’t appreciate her journey until I stopped being a baby and listened to her story, a story of strength and determination, sprinkled always with a bit of laughter to endure reality.

Sure, I may have resented my over-protective family growing up. But I’m over it. My mother understood how important it was to let me be ‘the baby’ for as long as possible.

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Patricia Mitchell’s lifelong love of writing and desire to capture the story of her mother’s life prompted her to embark on her first professional writing project – A Girl from the Hill. She holds degrees in mass media and communication, English literature and creative writing. This work expresses her interest in Italian-American culture as well as the relationship between mothers and daughters.

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! Daughters of Divorce by Terry Gaspard


daughters-of-divorce

Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Their Parents’ Divorce

Today, more than 40 percent of all Americans between the ages of eighteen and forty are children of divorce. For years, researchers have identified the damage divorce inflicts on the lives of children. In recent decades, many studies have examined the negative impact of parental divorce on children into adulthood.

In fact, daughters of divorce are more than twice as likely to divorce themselves when compared to their counterparts from intact families. However, few books have offered concrete strategies for women who desire happy, long-lasting intimate relationships.

Grounded in research and thirty years of clinical practice, Daughters of Divorce is filled with poignant real-life stories and offers a clear road-map to help women increase their self-awareness and to develop better relationship skills so they can heal the wounds of the past and build the healthy, happy relationships that they deserve.

During over 300 in-depth interviews, I identified seven key emotional challenges faced by daughters of divorce that are nearly universal:

  • Trouble trusting romantic partners
    • Damaged self-esteem
    • Issues with intimacy and commitment
    • Extreme self-reliance
    • Pessimism about the stability of relationships
    • A father-daughter wound

With greater awareness, women can learn to recognize the forces that shape them and build healthier relationships for themselves. It can no longer be about her parents’ attitude or behavior. It’s time for her to create change in her life and move forward. She will discover she can change self-defeating patterns in her relationships and build ones based on love, trust, and intimacy.

terry-gaspard

Terry’s new book Daughters of Divorce: Overcoming the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-lasting Relationship offers a powerful look at the impact of parental divorce and provides concrete ways women can improve their relationships. Follow Terry at movingpastdivorce.com, Facebook, and Twitter.  

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and thew author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Winding Stream


a-winding-stream-cover

I’m in the habit of doing ‘soft’ releases – minimal fanfare and proclamations. Nevertheless, I’m incredibly proud to announce the publication of this new book, and the first in my portfolio that’s non-fiction.

A Winding Stream chronicles the two-week canoe and camping trip that my maternal grandfather, Earl R. Handy, made with his friend, John B. Hudson, in 1924. 1924!  Five years before the Great Depression, seventeen years before Pearl Harbor. In June of 1924, the Snyder Act granted US citizenship to all American Indians. George Mallory and A.C. Irvine died attempting to climb Mount Everest. And on the last day of June in 1924, the Democratic National Convention adjourned at midnight with William Gibbs McAdoo and Al Smith deadlocked in balloting.

This little book (54 pages) may be of interest (outside my family!) to those interested in the region, canoeing and camping, the environment, local history, or to anyone wanting to take a quiet journey back ninety-two years. Paddle down the rivers with Earl and John for fourteen days. And if you think you might like to re-create this adventure, please let me know!

Pick up your copy at Amazon and come see me in December at one of my book events!

Thursday, December 1 (6:00pm) – Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville, RI

Saturday, December 3 (11:00-5:00) – RI Authors Expo at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI

Focus on the Positive


“Find every opening to reinforce the value of returning to right and reason in your own life.”

~ Deepak Chopra

I thought I’d post this one line instead of Chopra’s entire article (which you can read here if you’re so inclined). I didn’t want to turn it into a political post – haven’t we all had enough of this exhaustive ugliness anyway? It’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little bit lazy, so here are some pictures to brighten your day. Focus on the positive when you can – all this negativity does you no good.

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All photoS by M. Reynolds

Gandria, Switzerland

Gandria, Switzerland

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Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI

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Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI