“Wow, just wow.”

Some of you may know I work in a local pharmacy two days a week.  The work is a challenge for me and that’s exactly what I like about it.  It gets me out of my comfort zone both mentally and physically, and provides me the opportunity to be fully present with other people in a very busy and fast-paced environment.  Many times I find inspiration for my writing during my time at work.


I am an introvert by nature.  Most writers are.  Over the years, I’ve learned to extend myself and I’m pretty good at the art of small talk.  But it takes a toll.  Someone once explained it to me this way…introverts are drained by their interactions with others while extroverts are energized by them.  

I don’t know if this is true but I’m normally very drained by the time I get home after a day at the pharmacy.  Yesterday was different.  Something happened that touched all of us who were there.   I just have to share this story because I’m still thinking about it today:


It was a very busy day at the pharmacy.  The phones were ringing constantly.  They rang so much, that even the pharmacists were answering them.  The drive through window was dinging steadily.  There was a continual stream of people coming into the store to shop in the gift shop and to pick up prescriptions.  Folks were coming in for flu shots because it’s October, the official beginning of flu season.


At one point in the afternoon, a mother with three small children came in to get flu shots.  She had two little boys and a daughter in a stroller who couldn’t have been more than one-year-old.  As she filled out the paperwork for all of their shots, I enjoyed watching her children and thought back to the days when I was a young mother with two little boys and a daughter in a stroller.


The mother patiently shopped in the gift shop while all of their flu shots were being prepared.  The little boys were extremely cute and well behaved.  The baby daughter was smiling and waving at me from her stroller.  I know children aren’t that happy and well behaved by accident.  I was impressed.


Shortly after that, another young woman came in to get a flu shot.  As I gave her the paperwork to fill out, she said she had a health condition that made it important for her to have a flu shot every year.  After I collected her paperwork and insurance information, she sat in one of our chairs to wait her turn.


A few minutes later, one of our technicians went out to tell the young woman that her insurance wouldn’t cover her flu shot and it would be $40.  When she heard this news, she said she didn’t have any money and put her head in her hands and began to cry.  The technician told her she would try and call the insurance company to see if there was anything they would do.

The mother with the three children had overheard the conversation with the young woman.  She walked up to one of the cash registers and very quietly told one of my co-workers that she would like to pay for the young woman’s flu shot.

And she did.  Just like that.

About the same time, the pharmacist called the mother and her children into the room to get their shots.  My co-worker told the young woman that another customer had paid for her flu shot.  She began to cry again.

There was no direct interaction between the two women.  Their lives intersected for a brief time and one person’s small act of kindness had a huge impact on another.


Just like that.  No fanfare, no accolades, just compassion followed by an act of kindness.

This is not the first time I’ve seen acts of kindness like this at the pharmacy.  Another day not long ago, one of our pharmacists paid for a needed drug that a customer couldn’t afford.  She walked up with her credit card and asked us to put it on her card and let the customer know it was all paid when she came in.

I see these little things that people do for others because they want to help, and it reinforces my belief in the goodness and pure decency of people.


And yesterday, after the two women left, I wrote a thank you note to the mother with signatures from everyone who was working.  I told her how her act of kindness had inspired us all.

As another one of my co-workers said yesterday when he heard the story, “Wow, just wow.”



What Color Is Your Pumpkin?

When my children were small, we made our annual visit to the pumpkin patch so they could pick their Halloween pumpkins right off the vine.  This year, our new little grandson, Graham, made his first visit to the pumpkin patch with his mom and dad.  He’s only a month old, and apparently, he slept through it, but the tradition continues!


We don’t go to the pumpkin patch anymore, but we do buy our pumpkins from a local church that sells them as a fundraiser every year.  We bought our pumpkin about a week ago and I’ve been thinking about pumpkins ever since. 

Birthday and the pumpkin patch 015

While looking on the internet for pumpkin carving and decorating ideas, I happened upon an article on the Teal Pumpkin Project.  Have you seen teal colored pumpkins on porches in your neighborhood during the past couple of years?

Teal is the color chosen to represent “allergy awareness” and the Teal Pumpkin Project’s goal is to educate the public about the dangers of allergens while also making Halloween fun for children with food allergies. 

Image result for teal the color of allergy awareness

Historically, children with food allergies either didn’t trick-or-treat on Halloween, or wouldn’t be able to keep many of the treats they received.  But now, when homes have a teal pumpkin set out on Halloween, it signals that non-food goodies are available there.

The project was started in 2012 in Tennessee by Becky Basalone, the mother of two children with food allergies.  Because one of her sons had such severe food allergies that he couldn’t have many of the candies passed out on Halloween, she decided to promote both fun and allergy awareness by giving out small toys instead of candy.  Along with the small toys, she passed out fliers with information about food allergies.

Many families were very appreciative of the idea and in 2014 FARE (Food Allergy Research Education) took the program nationwide.  Social media has helped to spread the word and today, you can open a United States map on the website and find registered Teal Pumpkin Project homes in each city for your children to visit on Halloween.


Image result for teal the color of allergy awareness

In 2015, all 50 states in this country had households that participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project on Halloween.  The goal for 2016, is to have at least one teal pumpkin house on every street.  It isn’t that the project organizers want to do away with candy on Halloween.  Rather, they want to make sure that all kids can enjoy the holiday and trick-or-treat for fun treats that are safe for them.

An added benefit of the program has been that children with diabetes and celiac disease have been able to trick-or-treat for non-candy goodies and toys as well.  The website offers a suggested list of allergy-free candies and foods, and small toy ideas for program participants.

After reading about the project, I wanted our house to be a teal pumpkin house this year too.  We had already gotten our pumpkin, so we went back and bought a second one as well as a can of teal spray paint.


Our house is registered on the map, and we will be giving out the traditional candy treats in addition to small toys for anyone who happens to have food allergies.  We went to the store and found fun Halloween flashlights and pencils and glow in the dark jewelry and star wands.  I’m excited to be able to offer something for everyone!


You can register your home too.  If you don’t feel like painting a pumpkin, stores such as Target, JoAnn’s and Michael’s are carrying artificial teal pumpkins that you can use year after year.  Shouldn’t all kids have fun on Halloween?



Lost and Found and Found and Found

I’ve been losing a lot of things lately.  I kept telling myself that they would turn up but some of the items I’ve lost are ones I use regularly.  I’m normally an organized person so the situation was becoming a bit of a crisis for me.

At first, I wondered if my age had something to do with it.  Was I getting old and forgetful and putting items in places I wouldn’t normally put them?

Then, I considered that perhaps we just have too much stuff.  Most people do.  When we married three years ago, we combined two full houses into one.  We both got rid of stuff, and we’ve struggled ever since to thin out and find places for all the things we both wanted to keep.

Finally, this morning, I decided we have just been too busy working and traveling for the past few months and that’s why I keep losing things.  We’ve been on the go so often that we are not restoring order at home before we pick up and go again.

It became my mission today to find all of our missing items.  I began by creating a missing in action list:

*Our oval box containing small keys to various locks

*A spare house key

*My debit card

*The new book I received for my birthday

*An olive green tank top I hadn’t seen since our trip to the Midwest

*A white, plastic spider skeleton I bought in August to put on our Halloween web

*My husband’s pocket knife

Next, I said a prayer to St. Anthony who is the patron saint of lost things.  Years ago, a friend taught me the prayer:

Saint Anthony, please look around.  There’s something lost that must be found.

I’ve actually said that prayer many times over the years and then found what was lost.

After that, I started at one end of the house and moved from room to room searching and organizing.  I picked up stacks of papers from countertops and tables, emptied out drawers, went through old purses and bags, and looked in our car gloveboxes.  I went through coat pockets and even checked underneath chair and sofa cushions.

Of course, picking up sofa cushions meant finding places that hadn’t been cleaned for a while…which led to some vacuuming and spot cleaning of upholstery.  One thing truly does lead to another!


At one point, I Google searched “tips for finding lost items.”  I found that according to a recent survey, Americans spend an average of two hours each week looking for lost items in their homes.  So I am not alone.  In this fast-paced world of busy people, it’s easy to misplace things.

A couple of the tips I read, were to check all the places you might normally place your lost item, and to sit quietly and think about all the places you’ve been since you last saw or used your missing possession.

The same article suggested that an established routine where things are put in the same place every time will help to minimize the number of lost items.

I also learned that there are products on the market which allow you to tag items you lose frequently such as keys, wallets, purses, backpacks and even your phone.  When you need to find something, the signal from your phone to the tag triggers a sound to help you locate your item.

Then of course, there’s the “find my iPhone” app.  My husband actually used that app successfully one day when he left his iPhone in the grocery cart in the parking lot at our local Kroger.  When he returned to the store, there it was tucked inside his grocery list in the cart in the cart corral!


All in all, the search day was fairly successful.  Not only did I find all but one (I didn’t find the pocket knife) of the missing items, but I left our home better organized and I found some things I had forgotten about…including my last two cell phones and a Kohl’s bill!


My phones are getting bigger!

The additional “treasures” I found were a glasses case, a gift certificate to Massage Envy, a rebate form for my recent contact lens purchase, some Christmas gifts I bought over the summer, a nail file, a Polaroid picture of me from 1991 (with permed hair), spare change, and a recipe for a soothing bath…which I will share with you.


All the “found” stuff today

Perhaps I needed this day of finding things and organizing and regrouping.  Don’t we all from time to time?  Now, to find that pocket knife…

Soothing Bath Recipe:

A handful of Epsom salt

10 drops of lavender oil

½ cup baking soda




Pass It On

Two weeks ago, I experienced one of the most poignant and special moments of my life.  I met and held my first grandchild.  His name is Graham Michael and he was born on September 17th.

Image result for September 17

Before traveling to Indiana to meet Graham, I went through the old trunk (that once belonged to my Swedish great-grandmother) where I keep a stash of items I’m saving for my future grandchildren.  In it, I found a blanket that my son, (Graham’s dad) had used as a baby.  It was still in great condition and made of a soft, light blue flannel.


I was delighted that my son and daughter-in-law liked it and immediately began using it with Graham.  Score one for the new grandma!


Picture by Paige Sever, Noblesville, Indiana

While trying to figure out my new “grandmother” role, I recently came across a website at www.grandparents.com with all kinds of tips about how to be good, loving, and supportive grandparents.  One of the articles that sparked my interest was “8 Things you should Save for Your Grandkids” by writer Ellen Breslau.

While money for college and a special piece of jewelry were pretty obvious things to save for grandchildren, the other items on the list were rather intriguing:

*Newspapers from the day each of your grandchildren were born.  (I actually did this for each of my children.)

*Old documents from your life such as report cards, military records, marriage licenses, college papers.

*Family recipes.

*A picture of you holding your grandbaby.

*A trendy article of clothing from when you were young.

*Your written family history with a family tree and pictures.

*Something especially meaningful to you such as a concert ticket or your favorite album of all time, a program from a Broadway show, or a special award you received.

*Your favorite book as a child. (Or perhaps your own books if you are a writer.)

Both books 022

I have some treasured items from both of my grandmothers.  My paternal grandmother died when I was just 11.  From her I have some pictures and the Chantilly Cologne that was on her dressing table in her bedroom.  It still has some liquid in it 44 years after her death…and I open it sometimes when I am thinking of her.  I also have her birthday angel and some pretty ceramic items she made for my mother.


Harriet's tree

From my maternal grandmother who was part of my life until I was 40-something, I have the ring she always wore that had been given to her by my grandfather, and the Mason Jars she used for canning.  I have fond memories of using the same Mason Jars to help her can tomatoes when I was a girl.  Those of you who read my blog regularly probably read about them in my post, “Not Your Grandmother’s Mason Jars.”



Not everyone has grandparents in their lives when they are growing up.  My husband didn’t know any of his grandparents, so I know how fortunate I was to know and spend time with all of mine.

My two grandmothers were the most important and influential people in my young life, and I hope I can come even close to that with Graham and any other grandchildren who join our family in the future.  But for now, I need to go see what else I’ve saved to send to little Graham!


Picture by Jeff Hull, Corinth, Texas

Author’s note:  What do you have from your grandparents?  What are you saving for your own grandchildren?