Identifying and Thanking Our Collaborators








As I was laughing at my own jokes recently, I realized that my ability to write sick quips and funny dialog had come from my family; not always in the best of circumstances, my mother, sisters, and brothers contributed to my proclivity for absurdity (along with a steady diet of Mad Magazine).

Each of us owe much to people who have helped us identify our gifts…however painful the process. Along with using our unique gifts, showing them appreciation is the right thing to do.

Today, I write in memory of my mother’s whacky life, my sister, Angela, the master jokester, and for my brother, Ronnie, who bought me my first MAD Magazine.

It’s too late to thank them any other way.

(originally posted 2012)

Help Will Come When You Need It

Faced with the necessity of caring for my mother with Alzheimer’s, I was completely distraught: This will never work! How am I going to take care of her? Why can’t my siblings do it? I have no time and no money for this!

Then, these words came to my mind: “Do you want your mother to be cared for?” “Of course I do,” I answered. “Then, accept the responsibility, do it with joy, and don’t worry about the “how.”

I did, and contrary to my fears, everything did work out, and with unexpected gifts along the way.

I now know that playing the martyr, despairing, or arguing with reality is a waste of time; when I do the right thing, help will come.

Image result for do the right thing quotes

Minions, Opinions, and Illusions

Some of the biggest falls I have taken in my life have been associated with ignoring the following important facts:

  • What I think people think about me and what people actually think about me are generally two different things.
  • What people say to me is not usually what people say about me (especially when I am their boss, family member, or competitor).
  • Who I think really agrees with me and who really agrees with me are far from the same.

To avoid a rude slap in the face from reality, I must…

  • find my security from within vs. from without
  • remember that we humans, in order to avoid conflict, often say and do what is expedient vs. what is completely honest
  • work daily on an inner life (based on awareness vs. illusion)
  • solicit, accept, and reward honest feedback from peers, employees, and family


This Is Us

The Thanksgiving episode of This Is Us is a good example why the new US television series has been successful. This Is Us is us, down to the stinking sibling rivalry, parenting screw-ups, and the long-term effects of home-bred insecurities (unsavory stuff that most of us deny or cover up until home-for-the-holidays becomes a full-scale excavation site).

Image result for this is us

The episode reminded me of arriving at the in-laws one year and turning to ask the kids to be on their best behavior.

Hoping they would remember that their grandfather had been recently ill, I asked, “Why do you think being on your best behavior would be important?” My son responded quickly, “Because Mamma and Grandad won’t like us if they know who we really are.”

An honest response that revealed the deeper, and darker, state of things.

Image result for we are all screwed up

Taking Entitlement Out of Thanksgiving

Entitlement is so obnoxious when someone else struts it around, wearing their sense of importance like a cape.

But, sometimes I fail to recognize my own entitlement with subtle opinions such as “I earned or deserved this,” or “I did this all by myself.”

The haunting words from a recent dream, “Pam, you can never do enough to be entitled, because you owe so much” came to me this morning as I stepped out of the shower I didn’t invent or design, reached for a towel I didn’t weave, stepped onto the floor I didn’t construct, with feet I didn’t create, to prepare for a day that might never have come.

It put Thanksgiving in a whole new light.

Image result for interdependence quotes

Okay, Who’s Peeing on the Floor?

My friend was in a difficult position. She would have to bring up toilet-hygiene to her older brother who was a temporary houseguest. Day after day, she and her husband had been frustrated by the small puddles left in front of the toilet. It certainly wasn’t her, or her clean-freak husband. There was no other explanation.

Until, she caught the baby possums in the act.

Living behind the dryer in her laundry room, stowaway possums were apparently making trips to the bathroom and, inadvertently, framing her brother.

At times, even rationality must bow to absurdity!

Innocent until proven guilty, right?

Image result for the benefit of a doubt

Innocents and incidents (as these) remind us

Mystery and irony can still surprise us

Image result for slow to judge

Where Did It Go?

Right before my sister’s body convulsed in the terrible grip of death, I received a gift from her learning-challenged son. He had been with me at her hospice bedside saying goodbye. After asking his mother to say hello to Elvis for him in heaven (which even garnered a wisp of a smile from her solemn, sedated face), he gave me his mother’s hand and said, “She’s gone. God took her with Him. Couldn’t you feel God here in the room?”

His confidence that she was no longer in that body has saved me from reliving the strange savagery of her end…over and over again.

I was reminded of this mystery of our souls’ departure by Temple Grandin’s story of Autism and her sensitivity to the death of animals. When the body of a euthanized horse collapsed, limp and empty, she asked about the spirit, “Where did it go?” 

Also in Elizabeth J. Church’s words about the heroin’s father’s death in The Atomic Weight of Love: “Where did all of that energy go? What happened to the bounty of his being, his love for us, for me?”

It’s an important observance and question. Those who see a bit differently often see more than the rest of us.



temple grandin quotes about animals


Dangerous Unsaid Things

An emotionally distraught teenager told me that she was afraid her sister was going to kill herself. When I asked if her sister knew how much she loved her, she said, “Our family doesn’t say things like that to each other.”

I suggested she tell her sister what she told me with the following qualifier (to help her ease into unknown territory): “We don’t usually say these things to each other, and it is scary for me to do so, but I really want you to know…” 

Frequently we don’t say, and are afraid to say, what we need to say.

As I have mentioned recently, telling people why it is difficult to say something is a gentle way to start…

can·dor ˈkandər/ noun the quality of being open and honest in expression; frankness.
1.”a person of refreshing candor”


Cure for Stubborn

I don’t like to be told what to do…ever. So, if you want me to do something, help me understand the “why” and the “what’s-in-it-for-me” first. Then, I’ll be much more cooperative and supportive.

Understanding why and wiifm comes easier if you…

  • Bring me into the idea-generation, solution-finding, and planning process (even though it might take a little longer).
  • Make me feel as if it was my idea (because it will make me feel important).
  • Instead of having to listen to you, let me be the champion and advocate for an idea (because I enjoy using my brains and skills).

plan the fight

They Won’t Do What I Need Them to Do

Law enforcement statistics show that if you are murdered, it will most likely be by someone who knows you.

Disappointment with others’ choices is often the root cause behind estranged families.

Psychological breakdowns, addiction issues, violence, and other unproductive behaviors are often triggered by disappointment with the people we have counted upon.

I spent years being depressed about what my kids, spouse, siblings, friends, bosses, and/or associates were not doing right. Because of them, I felt _______________ (crazy, frustrated, anxious, trapped, indignant, upset, sad, angry, powerless over my own life and happiness).

Because of them, nothing had turned out as I had planned.

I complained, fretted, and played the martyr.

I worried, prayed, and cried my heart out.

But, nothing changed until I…

Quit trying to change them and instead, forgave them for being human and began to appreciate their uniqueness with no strings attached.


  • they are delightful
  • I am happier
  • life is simpler
  • I have hope
  • they enjoy being around me