The Challenges of Parenting Teenagers

web.ae_.racetonowhere.picA_There’s probably not a day that goes by that I wonder if I’m doing the “right” things in raising my children. Am I too laid back? Am I too permissive? Do I not push hard enough?  Do I push too hard?  Do I not set the right expectations?

Last week I went to see the new documentary “Race to Nowhere.”  It is a documentary by a mom turned film maker about the heightened pressures on today’s youth (placed upon them by the school AND parents), and the resulting ill effects – stress disorders, depression, and ultimately suicide.  From the moment they enter high school (and for many kids this pressure has started years earlier), they are grooming themselves to be accepted by “the right” college.  They need to get straight As, they need to excel at a sport, which many times means year-round and multi-hour daily commitment.  They have to be involved in all the right extra-curricular activities, and hopefully have a leadership position.  They have to put in their community service hours every week, and at the same time figure out just what is unique about them that will capture an admissions officer’s attention.  A pretty tall order, even for the most motivated and accomplished kids.  Is there any downtime in these kids’ lives anymore?  Not much. Well, maybe their meals.

Everyone seems to be playing this game.  Unfortunately the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act several years ago has removed much of the creative oriented and problem solving curriculum from the schools.  Teachers have been forced to teach to the test, and in doing so need to forego styles and practices of teaching which would most likely be so much more beneficial.   A professor from a medical school was interviewed in Race to Nowhere.  She stated that the transition in the types of students coming in to school over the past 10 years is dramatic.  These students want to be told exactly what is going to be on the test.  They don’t know how to problem solve or apply critical thinking.  ”What’s going to happen with our future doctors when a patient walks in with obscure symptoms?”, she asks.  These students won’t know what to do.  That’s pretty scary stuff.

High Schools are in a race to offer more AP classes, and encourage kids to participate in more of these demanding courses. What once was an opportunity for seniors – (I remember taking 2 AP classes my senior year) – is now being pedaled to sophomores, and is dominating a good part of the Juniors and Seniors’ schedules. Now it’s a race to see how many AP classes you can have on your schedule or resume.  My children’s high school has a local business funded grant that pays for performance on AP exams.  Score a 4 or 5, and earn $100.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  My head and heart tell me it is a bad thing, but I know there are many that disagree.

Colleges too are playing the numbers game.  With the common application, annual applications are increasing by the double digits year after year, allowing the colleges to promote their lower yields.  This makes the importance of achieving high (near perfect) GPAs and SAT scores all the more critical, as these two measures serve as a sorting mechanism in the application process.

Another output of this “perfect storm” of pressure is that cheating is at an all time high.  In our school system, which is a completely integrated system, you see kids of all types.  There are children arriving at school who have horrific home lives – perhaps living in a shelter with one parent, while the other parent is in jail.  It’s hard to imagine how these kids can hold their lives together – and if anyone cheats, you would imagine it’s those that get no support outside of the school, and may lack any direction or motivation within the school.  But no, the cheating is happening at the other end of the spectrum.  And it’s rampant.  Kids passing along cheat sheets during an AP US History exam…. or someone pulling out their iPhone to google a question.  This drive to succeed, when there is little time to breathe, is backfiring.

Homework is another culprit.  I know parents who have pulled their children out of the public school system in elementary school because they weren’t receiving enough homework.  They would almost boast , on the sides of the Little League field, of the 3 to 4 hours of homework their 4th or 5th grader would get in the private school.  Homework, to some, serves as a marker for success.  However, research shows there is no correlation between homework and success.  In fact, studies show that homework can hinder success.   An AP Biology teacher  interviewed in the movie decided to reduce the amount of homework he was giving by 50%.  The result? More success on the AP exams.  As is true everywhere, homework dominates the nightly dynamic at home – kids sitting in their rooms, trying to get through pages upon pages of monotonous, dry text.  The time is being logged, but is anything sinking in to this exhausted mind and body at 10PM?  At least in college you don’t have to be up by 6, and put in a full day of class and athletics, which typically gets you home by 6 or 7, at which time you need to sit down for another 6 hours to slog through all the homework.

It’s interesting that this movie is hitting us at the same time we’re learning about the practices of the “Tiger Mom” – the lawyer from New Haven, Connecticut who didn’t allow her two daughters to have play dates or sleep overs, who demanded straight As, who would force a child to sit at a piano for hours until a piece was perfected (even foregoing dinner to do so).  What is the result?  Well, she has two very accomplished daughters, who have earned straight As all through school and are extremely talented musicians.  Yes, they most likely will be admitted to “the college” their parents have in mind for them.  But are they happy?  Were the sacrifices of having a normal, balanced childhood worth it?  It’s ripe for debate.

Contrast the Tiger Mom ‘s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to another book that was just recommended – The Blessing of the B- by Wendy Mogul.  More interesting to me is the fact that this recommended book was offered up in a quick by chance exchange and not preceded by any of the foregoing discussion.  This whole dilemma is obviously front and center in so many of our minds.

It’s a baffling volleyball of emotions with no clear way to navigate.  So… do we push for the A, or settle for the B-?  Do we ask for their personal best, and be satisfied with the result, no matter what it is?  I don’t know what the answer is – and it’s a topic that takes up some share of mind on a daily basis.  I do know that it is worthwhile to keep a pulse on our children’s well being, help them keep all the craziness in perspective and find some downtime.

Brett Favre and The Art of a Graceful Exit

retiring-the-cleatsVikings Quarterback Brett Favre is the poster child of how NOT to make a graceful exit.

In the past few years, the 41-year old football player created an unbearable media circus by announcing his retirement at the end of two different seasons, only to change his mind and come back both times. After a phenomenal 2009 season, Favre’s 2010 has been a downward spiral marred by inconsistent play, bruising injuries, missed games, and, to top it all off, public humiliation from sexting allegations. The consensus is that Favre will finally don his ”retirement watch” at the end of this season.

Brett, Brett, Brett … I bet you wish you could hit the rewind button and end your career on a higher note. It seems he was simple unable/unwilling to walk away from his beloved career (and the limelight and money) before things sadly slid south.  

While Favre gives a very public (and embarrassing) example of overstaying your welcome, all of us have had difficulty exiting a situation at some point in our lives. We’ve stayed on a vacation or been a houseguest a day or two too long. We’ve stuck it out in a job we knew wasn’t a good fit until we were miserable enough to leave. Hey – we even do it when we remain at the dinner table for that one extra serving, only to be uncomfortably full afterward.

Why is it so hard to know when it’s time to leave when no one (or nothing) else is pushing us out the door?

All this leads me to share some upcoming changes to Wise Women Coffee Chat … After this month, I will stop writing posts for the blog. Anne will fly solo and serve as primary Wise Blogger.

Why am I exiting now? It’s hard to explain, and I can’t point to any concrete reason. Just a growing realization that it’s time to move on (although I don’t have a next stop in mind). I’ve so loved launching the blog, collaborating with Anne, sharing myself with you and having you be part of the Wise Women community, maybe I just don’t want to tarnish the experience by leaving too late. 

I will write a few more posts in January and then visit the blog and weigh in with comments in the future. This online community of wise, insightful and humorous women is a touch point for my day/week. I definitely want to keep the connection, even though I’m hanging up my cleats as a regular contributor.

If only Brett Favre had been as wise …

Let’s All Be Coffee in the New Year

3083584491_92429932ea1Happy New Year to everyone! Hope all had a peaceful and relaxing holiday, and while I know most can acknowledge a wonderful few days with family and friends, I’m sure there are a few exhausted souls out there.  I’ve been secretly waiting for this first week in January to arrive, a week that signifies new beginnings. And like many people I’ve talked to, there’s a good feeling about the year 2011.

I haven’t quite figured out what my goals are for this year.  Like everyone, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to establish a regular work out routine.  But I almost don’t want to mention it – seems a bit boring and trite… and since this is on my list every year, I obviously haven’t mastered this one.

I caught a snippet of the Today Show this morning.  Ann Curry’s resolution is to wake up every morning and be thankful for all that she has been blessed with.  Matt Lauer’s resolution is to become more involved with his children’s school work.  If any of you have anything to share, please do, as I continue to create my own list.

In the meantime, I came across this passage about Carrots, Eggs and Coffee.  I thought this provided a nice foundation of inspiration to kick the year off right.  For those of us who have faced and struggled with adversity this past year, take these words to heart.  It may get your 2011 off to a great start.


A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee….You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen.. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word…

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘ Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardboiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.  The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.


And onward we march into 2011…



When you need that extra Push…

212_degree_1209441860097I just wanted to share a quote that I saw last week that has really stuck with me.  I’ve shared it with my children, and it can provide inspiration when you feel like you’re about at the end of your rope.  Maybe that one last extra push is more than worthwhile….

At 211 degrees, water is hot.

At 212 degrees, water boils.

And with boiling water, comes steam.

And with steam, you can power a train.

One extra degree makes all the difference.

Now, go out and conquer.  Wouldn’t you rather power a locomotive than just be extremely hot and sweaty?!

Wooosh went the Wind, and Out went the Lights….

mediaManagerLast Saturday a soggy, windy day was predicted…but I think what hit us nobody was quite prepared for.  Last weekend’s storm that hit Southern New England resulted in more damage than our city has seen in decades.  We lost power last Saturday afternoon, which for us was restored on Tuesday.  We were the lucky ones. There are still homes, almost one week later, without power.  And of course like so many of us in these woodsy parts of Connecticut, when the lights go, so does the running water and the ability to flush the toilet.

At first, it’s a little campy and fun.  The candles come out, the fire gets lit, the grill gets fired up for dinner.  Games and toys that have been buried for months suddenly surface.  Best of all, we go to bed early!  We wake up the next day to still no power, and a flooded basement with no way to pump it out.  I drive out to the local Duncan Donuts – where the line is going out the door.  The trip, there, however is unbelievable.  Wires are down everywhere.  Poles knocked over, huge trees down on houses – literally rooms demolished under their weight.  Making detours are a matter of course.  We make trips down the street to a neighbor’s house with a generator who has generously made room for some of my freezer food.  I pick up some ice and load up the coolers with the rest of the refrigerator food.  By the end of the day, my smart and desperate husband is able to steal a generator from work, AND get an electrician over on a Sunday to hook it up. (This is of course after he has built a second coop out back for the six chickens that have been housed in our now flooded basement for the past 2.5 months – more on that at another time…). Back in light and with running water, we’re able to start pumping out the basement; a lovely smell of farm and mustiness wafts up the basement stairs into the kitchen.

School ends up being cancelled on Monday.  It’s still drizzling and gray.  Many primary roads are still blocked with downed trees and wires.  One golf course in fact is a disaster – over 100 trees lost.  Our governor has declared our area a state of emergency.  I’m at home (with lights thanks to the generator) but with no TV, internet, phone line or cell coverage. It’s a strange thing to be totally without a means to communicate with anyone.

Luckily, especially for those still without power, the days following the storm have been beautiful.  The schools are unbelievably still closed through today, one week of school missed. That may be the end of our April school break.  Every street you pass, there is an electric crew at work.  Power companies from as far away as Canada and Ohio are in town to lend a hand.

We are the lucky ones, escaping with relatively little damage and no insurmountable inconveniences.  But I must say, to sit in a brightly lit room is a luxury, to flush the toilet without having to pour a bottle of water in the bowl is heaven, to turn the faucet on and fill a glass of water and to run a load of laundry just makes me happy.  My mind quickly flashes to places like Haiti – places that can’t get over their “disaster” in a matter of days and return to mostly normalcy.  Yes, we are indeed lucky.

A Woman’s Secret to Longevity? Friendship.

make_female_friendsI was recently forwarded a landmark study conducted at UCLA about the magic of friendships among women and the amazing ability these friendships have on our ability to deal with stress.  While most studies on stress have focused on males, a handful of scientists through observation decided that women’s relationship with stress and how to deal with it is far different from that of the typical male – which led them into an in-depth study focused on women.  This study purports that women respond to stress with brain chemicals that propel us to make and/or maintain relationships with other women.  It’s a study that turns decades of stress related research upside down.

“Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible,” explains Laura Cousino Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Bio-behavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study’s authors.  In women, the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the normal reaction to stress, which buffers the “fight or flight” response and instead encourages women to seek out other women or exert a greater focus on their children.  When these actions are undertaken, more oxytocin is released, which counters stress and produces a calming effect.

Interestingly enough, this same calming response does not occur in men.  As Dr. Klein says “testosterone, which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress, seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin.  Estrogen seems to enhance it.”  The discovery that women respond differently to stress started by a simple observation:  a woman under stress tends to seek out others, go have a cup of coffee, and discuss the problem.  Men, on the other hand, tend to go off on their own, and hole up behind a closed door.

Study after study shows that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart disease and cholesterol.  ”There’s no doubt,” says Dr. Klein, “that friends are helping us live.”  A well known Nurse’s Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends a woman had, the less likely she was to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be living a joyful life.  The results were so significant in fact that the researchers concluded that not having close friends was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight.

Our primary watch-out?  When our lives seem crazy, when we’re busy with life, work and tending to our families, it’s our friendships that get put on the back burner.  As one researcher states:  ”That’s really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other.  We nurture one another.  And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they’re with other women.  It’s a very healing experience.”

So if anything, be cognizant of the power of our dear friendships with other women, and continue to find the time and space to connect with those who are dear to you.  It’s a proven life saver!

High School – Now vs. Then

the_lodger_1-731699I received this email the other day about the differences between how we handle situations in high school today vs. the 1950′s, and found it thought provoking. Many of the comparisons ring quite true in my mind – although some are exaggerated for effect. It makes me wonder what the true cornerstones of this societal shift have been over the years – that have made us arrive at such a different style of parenting and administering to our kids.  It’s hard to imagine that as a whole, kids are that significantly different now vs. then, although I do agree that the elements that our kids are exposed to (via music, reality television and internet) puts them in a much different domain than kids of the fifties and sixties.

I think this certainly plays into the now established norms of helicoptering parenting as well.  Any ideas on what has driven this major societal shift?

HIGH SCHOOL — 1959 vs. 2009

Scenario  1:

Jack  goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school  parking lot with his shotgun in his truck’s gun rack.

1959  -
Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2009  -
School  goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.




Scenario  2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1959  -
Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2009  -
Police called and SWAT team arrives — they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.




Scenario  3:

Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

1959  -
Jeffrey sent to the Principal’s office and given a good paddling by the  Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again..
2009  -
Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The school gets extra money from the state because Jeffrey has a disability.


Scenario  4:

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1959  -
Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.
2009  -
Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.  Billy’s mom has an affair with the psychologist.




Scenario  5:

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1959
- Mark  shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking  dock.
2009
- The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.



Scenario  6:
Pedro fails high school English.
1959
- Pedro  goes to summer school, passes English and goes to  college.
2009
- Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro’s English teacher.  English is then banned from  core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak  English..


Scenario  7:
Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed..

1959  -
Ants die.
2009 -
ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents  – and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny’s dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.


Scenario  8:
Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort  him.

1959  -
In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing..
2009  -
Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison.  Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.


And Up Goes the Tree

bah-humbugSeasons Greetings! Based on my quick temper this past weekend, I know holiday stress must be catching up with me.  I told my husband a couple of weeks ago that I had no desire to do any Christmas shopping this year.  And after coming downstairs last night after spending 1.5 hours putting the boys to bed, I barked out at the other half of my family because they had the audacity to sit on the couch and watch TV with big boxes of yet to be hung Christmas ornaments and decorations sitting in front of them. “Can’t you at least decorate while you watch TV?” I asked, as I stomped over to the boxes and started ripping them open. My husband replied, “I thought we’d let Jack and Sam do the rest.”  I replied, “I just want to get it done.”  And his response:  ”Well, don’t do it if you don’t enjoy it.”  And I replied, “Well I don’t enjoy it.”  Growl.

Take a deep breath.  I actually do enjoy decorating the tree, but for whatever reason I feel the huge tidal wave of holiday preparations looming over my head more than ever this year.  This HUGE new list of things to do, when I’m barely getting through my normal daily life “to do list.”

There’s that perfect image that I’m sure many of us have in our heads of how the tree gets decorated.  You get up early, go out in the snow and cut down your tree.  Just before you left the house, that last batch of Christmas cookies came out of the oven.  After hauling the tree back home, the house still smells of cinnamon and chocolate chips, the fire is roaring, the Christmas carols are piping through the stereo (I mean ipod), frothy mugs of hot chocolate are in abundance, and  everyone in the family is laughing and helping (not just the ones under 6 – which of course causes another layer of stress).

If the rising of your Christmas tree was close to this image, please share, and I applaud you all the extra effort that went into making it so.

OK. Enough of the unloading.  I feel better.  Any wonderful tips from you wise women?!

Coffee Chat with a 1,000 Wise Women

imagesAs Elaine and I were sitting on the beach in Rhode Island Labor Day weekend, Elaine absorbed in a magazine, myself trying to keep up with the antics of the little guys, Elaine stopped and pointed.  Her finger rested on an ad in More Magazine, which was promoting their 3rd annual “Reinvention Convention” taking place in New York City on October 5th.

Elaine and I attended the first Reinvention Convention two years ago – not unsimilar to this Labor Day weekend, we were sitting on the beach and she noticed this ad, and we decided right then and there that we would go.

We both immensely enjoyed it.  It was a day of meeting interesting women, sharing stories, talking about careers (changing, starting, and or jumpstarting), finances, health, beauty and fashion.  This year’s key note speaker is former First Lady Laura Bush.  Other notables include:  Jean Chatzkey, Financial Editor, Dr. Pam Peeke, author of Body for Life for Women, Dr. Gail Saltz (Psychiatrist and Today Contributor), and Mica Brzezinski from Morning Joe, to name a few.  Both Elaine and I were refreshed from spending a day away from our normal routine, which gave us new perspectives, got the wheels in our head cranking in a little bit of a different way, and bottomline, inspired us.  After leaving this conference, Elaine and I contacted each other the next day … and our Wise Women idea was born.

So for any of you that are in the New York area, or not so far away, you should consider attending.  You never know when the inspiration might hit to take you in a new direction.

Mr. Obama Goes To Washington

obamaShortly before 9 pm last night, I felt my heart thumping, skin tingling and my throat swallowing hard. Channeling Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,*” President Obama was finishing up his speech on healthcare reform and challenged his legislative audience to reject partisan bickering and unite in action:

“We did not come to fear the future.  We came here to shape it.  I still believe we can act even when it’s hard.  I still believe — I still believe that we can act when it’s hard.  I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress.  I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.**

At this point, I looked over at Wise Hubby and said, “THIS is a great speech!” And, Wise Hubby, usually a bit ambivalent about Obama’s rhetoric, agreed.

Today’s post-mortem analysis of the speech focuses largely on the speech’s passion and idealism. There is also great discussion about Republican’s jaw-dropping incivility during the president’s remarks. (I cringed at the oubursts, yet chuckled at how Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s head kept swiveling back and forth in shock.)

While such observations may ignite invigorating debate, they should not be allowed to obscure the substance of healthcare reform. For legislation to be enacted, we must remember the reason behind the rhetoric – the millions of people who suffer due to a broken healthcare system – and persevere during the pain-staking process of working out the details.

Otherwise, all last night was a passionate jolt of energy for both sides of the aisle. If we don’t move forward, we risk falling into a soul-less black hole, as President Obama eloquently described:

And they [our predecessors] knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter — that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges.  We lose something essential about ourselves.

This may sound corny – President Obama’s words make me want to be a better American.

*Credit for this apt analogy belongs to Tom Shales in today’s Washington Post.

** Read the full text of the President’s healthcare remarks.

The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.
Pearl S. Buck

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