I Know Like I Know 2015

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Wisdom comes from anything that has ever healed in your life. The intensity and number of those things varies throughout your life. I’ve often quoted Zora Neale Hurston’s view of some years ask the questions and some years answer them. With the years that answer comes the healing and the wisdom. With what could have become a downward spiral came the answers this year.


We lost our Lina to a nasty cancer that moved quickly and thoroughly allowing only enough time for us to realize that this little girl who suffered so terribly from anxiety her whole life could indeed be brave. Her sister showed us how to heal in the most basic way, forget yourself and give your love to someone else, her Gramma. This is the love affair that saved us all.

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I had the pleasure of being a part of two very different stories this year. Spending time with Ida and learning how to make ravioli in her company along with her family will stay with me forever. Food traditions are a recurring theme on this blog, and so important to the development of individual and family legacies. Documenting them is becoming more and more imperative so they are not lost.

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Along those lines I had the privilege of reading and sharing a wonderful story about my friend Bill’s father. He had documented his feelings about the world and his place in it when Bill was just a year old. In retrospect he set about embracing and living up to his story in big and small ways. What a treasure to preserve for generations to come.

Story preservation kept ringing in my ears, these lessons taught unwittingly with integrity and honesty are invaluable. From the tiniest gestures, to the unique talents, to the surprises and family folklore and secrets our elders are an untapped resource that I fear will be lost. And so the Elder Beauty Project started to take shape. This coming year I hope you’ll give some thought to highlighting someone in your life and contact this story preservationist to assist.

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Through some serendipitous clicking around the internet my sister and I found ourselves on a mountain in Ludlow VT. More than once after our return we’ve found ourselves saying it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. Green Mountain at Fox Run provided hope among the birch with lessons on Food, Movement and Mindfulness. Most importantly they provided a very safe place to make it your intention to let go of something that no longer serves you. And that we did.

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For me it was letting go of my story. The one I’ve been carrying around for decades, the one that wasn’t mine to carry around, and the one that I feared would become my legacy. The most courageous thing that I have done to date is write my story, and the story of ordinary legacy, and submit it to Women for One for consideration as one of their Truthtellers. Happily, gratefully, humbly they accepted and published my story, I am now a Truthteller. That my story may somehow help someone else in a similar situation is of great comfort to me but the healing has been of even greater solace. With healing comes the wisdom.

Blogger Recognition Award 2015

I was also nominated for a blogger recognition award. I don’t know if there is an actual award or if someone simply thought highly enough of my work to give it recognition through sharing but I am grateful to Maria Baird of Manifesting Me none the less.

This is the first year in many decades that I’ve had my picture taken and shared so often. Frankly I’ve had my picture taken more this year than in the last ten years. I’ve spent an eternity behind the camera but never in front. It became clear to me through all this good work that if your intention is to leave a legacy they may as well know what you look like, no? Now I’d love to find someone who can really capture who I really am on film, stay tuned.

The year was filled with friends, old, new and new/old. Retirement (41)


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Not least among them was Wanda. She shared her beautiful Cape home, her sorrows and her joys with me as if we’d just hung up from each other last week. It is a wonderful gift to connect with someone so quickly with complete trust. I look forward to sharing all that is the story of us in the coming years.


I finally found Instagram. Seriously, I started a 365 in November and am enjoying the hell out of it. You can find me on Instagram @ordinarylegacy or you can follow the hashtag #lifeonstowelane. I know you’re shocked by both of those. There is that moment when you realize that a hashtag of your own is cool but other common hashtags can connect you to others and some very funny or poignant stories and oh yeah it can connect people to you…#wetdog is a favorite as is #fromwhereistand. Took me awhile but this old dog learned a new trick, just sayin.

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And so this was the year of wisdom through healing. Watching my mother, aka Gramma, with Toti Nonna has made me realize all we ever really need is a loving connection. Watching my sister let go of the grief that no longer serves her has brought laughter and ease and renewal. Watching others heal through my words has brought gratitude and responsibility. Healing has brought me wisdom. I look forward, like never before, to the coming year, the coming decade and the continued wisdom it will bring. I hope you will continue to honor me with your presence on Ordinary Legacy and join me in preserving even more stories through the Elder Beauty Project.  Stay tuned to find out what’s happening on Stowe Lane…





The Little Red Hen

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Who will help me…bake? Who will help me…decorate? Who will help me…sort and wrap? Not I said everyone. But if I said, Who will help me be remembered? What then?

It’s not that I need the help, its therapeutic work for me, and nostalgic. I have rituals that surround the cookie making and I get lost in the music I’m playing the smells I’m smelling, and the memories of those in whose steps I’m following. My mother says it’s all in the hands that makes the food taste the way so and so made it. I get that, sometimes I actually see that when I watch my hands and they don’t look or move like mine.

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I’m not sure if people even really enjoy these cookies each year. We’ve become a society of gift cards and obligation rather than traditions and giving from the heart. I’m saddened sometimes that there isn’t anyone I can teach these recipes to or pass along the little book of secret ingredients. Although my dear Dina and Daniel give me hope each summer when we make “Mommy’s favorite cookies”. That’s about as close as I come to sharing and teaching and laughing and seeing the end result light up their faces.

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I know some of my nearest and dearest appreciate the work and the love that goes into this gift each year. Those of you that have swooned over the first bite of a pignoli nut cookie, or squirreled away the Italian cookies in the freezer to be pulled out one at a time when needed, or dipped an anisette cookie in your coffee at three in the afternoon, or tasted one of each as soon as you got them know that these aren’t just cookies. You know this is my gift to you from generations past and my contribution to their legacy.

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There would be no greater gift than to have someone join me in the kitchen as I choreograph several trays into and out of the oven, mixing bowls and cooling racks all the while listening to Andre Boccelli assure me that my busy hands are honoring those who came before me and that somehow these cookies won’t disappear when I do.

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And so while the little red head was trying to teach a lesson on the virtues of a good work ethic and personal initiative I’m trying, as always, to teach a lesson in legacy. Hoping that someone will want to hold tight to holiday food traditions, my holiday food traditions, before they need to be recreated later on…much later on. Anybody?


The Rules of Serendipity

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How the hell can something like serendipity have rules? A fortunate happenstance or a pleasant surprise just shows up, right? Yes and No, and Maybe Not. Still enjoying the events of Thanksgiving week and all its serendipity made me wonder how that all came along?

First and foremost you must be open to the possibilities. If you’re always looking for something but never recognizing the other thing that comes along you won’t notice serendipity. Consider Alexander Flemings’ accidental discovery of penicillin or the invention of the Post-It note by Spencer Silver. Nobel Prize laureate Paul Flory suggests that significant inventions are not mere accidents but people paying attention. Many outstanding researchers recognize and appreciate the unexpected and new hypotheses emerge from contrary data.

Be willing to drop everything. In a not so lofty happening as research or significant inventions I got a great text from some dear friends that found themselves in a peach of a situation at our favorite restaurant. We just recently had lunch there and I didn’t expect to see them until well into the month of December. But because they texted a can-you-believe that I took as an invitation there we were. Without any hesitation I dropped everything and just went. It was delightfully unexpected and incredibly fun to spend time with David and Jan in the week of Thanksgiving.

Take a chance. Saying “what the hell” out loud, in retrospect, has produced a good share of serendipitous events. For instance, I had an offhanded conversation with a colleague about whether he knew anyone who was renting a house on the Cape. I wound up with a darling rental close to friends and the beach and my wonderful new friend, Wanda. A wonderful new “old friend” who I had the most heartwarming conversation with on Thanksgiving evening and who I don’t see moving out of my life any time soon all because I said what the hell, let me ask.

Expect serendipity. If you search for synonyms of serendipity you’ll find: chance, fate, destiny, karma, providence, luck, fortune, coincidence. There are those who beg to differ like the New Oxford Dictionary. Their definition defines serendipity as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a satisfactory or beneficial way, understanding the chance as any event that takes place in the absence of any obvious project, which is not relevant to any present need, or in which the cause is unknown. Whew.  You weren’t looking for something but got something fabulous. But the individuals that made those discoveries “were able to see bridges where others saw holes”. They further define chance as an event, serendipity as a capacity. I love that.

Give it thanks. I have been blessed in the biggest of ways and the tiniest of ways. After everyone left on Thanksgiving and I chatted with my friend Wanda, I was exhausted. There was so much food, so much wine, so much laughter, and so much ease to the day. The next morning I was keenly aware of all of the “so much” and wondered if I was going to make it to the gym. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a little (little???) hangover get in the way.

My text to my nearest and dearest went like this: That moment when your trainer cancels and even you think to yourself “of course he did” because you were definitely over-served and couldn’t even begin to think about working out but damn it you were going…my universe is incredibly kind…just saying.

I gave that bit of serendipity big thanks. HUGE