May it be so…

Some days just absolutely knock me to the ground in stunned despair. On a good day for most of us, it is often a challenge being a parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend, educator (we are all teachers and learners even if not formally trained), care-giver and kind human being. Navigating an aging parent with Alzheimer’s, maintaining a company from a home office, keeping living beings alive, finding time for self-care (what does that actually look like?), cooking meals, running errands, doing homework, helping friends, assisting neighbors, writing, working on causes, making calls to politicians, sanitizing a house in a lingering pandemic…daily meanderings I take for granted. But as this next week starts, so many have no daily meanderings to take for granted.

I don’t know about you but I’m still numb, sore, bruised, and bleeding from last week. Challenging dental work aside last Tuesday, the devastating news in our country unfolding as I sat in the dental parking lot listening to NPR polarized me. My thought processes were numb from failed comprehension of who/what/why/how again and again and again. My eyes and nose were sore from ugly snot-sobbing. My soul was bruised from so many losses in a repeated way. My heart bled uncontrollably for grieving communities. As an educator, a former school principal, and one repeatedly trained in school crisis response, I quickly filled to my brim with shards of overwhelming anger, profound sadness, and raw fear. If you are as well, I am so sorry. I see and feel your sharp edges of pain.

There is much to say, yet no words to say it. There is much pontificated, yet no action for change. There is much promised, yet only broken promises remain. We just keep coming back to the same insanity and expecting different outcomes while innocent lives are lost over and over and over and over again. Quite frankly, there will never be enough time or energy for more marching, donating, phone-banking, or card-writing to make this better. Period.

How is it we still keep showing up at this same unbelievable place and we still do nothing to change the pace or place for the better? Why should our children and future generations believe us? Who actually feels safe in their own home knowing assault weapons may be loaded and ready for use by your next-door neighbor? Instead of always pointing fingers (remember, three are always pointing back to you anyway), when do we finally take reasonable action to mitigate further opportunities? Few demand total gun control; we have a Constitutional Amendment to ensure this right. What is advocated is reasonable gun safety, gun responsibility, and gun “common sense” for our country. Leave the military weapons and weapons of mass destruction to “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”

In addition to the indescribable pain from ongoing tragedies of these past few weeks, there is additional pain triggered for all who have previously lost a loved one to prior violence in our schools, markets, theaters, places of worship, streets, homes, gathering spaces, and more. These places, in theory, should be safe, yet why is it so many in our country can never put the shattered pieces of their hearts, souls, and lives back together because they were unsafe due to repeated mass shootings? There are more guns than people in the US. We’ve had over 200 mass shootings and 27 school shootings so far in 2022. Pause a moment to acknowledge this gut-wrenching fact as it sinks deeply into your soul. Everything is on the line at this moment of our collective history. We are the only country in the world with these staggering statistics. And the world is watching and taking notes. We, the United States of America, “one nation under God,” are a nation in trouble at every level and in every way. No one, no one is safe.

Tomorrow on Memorial Day as we do each May, we officially honor and pay tribute to those who sacrificed all for the good of their beloved country. We remember those who lost their very lives giving each of us the opportunity to live our lives in a country of so much possibility. Accepting this current status quo, this cycle of social brokenness, this complete denial of repeated issues is unacceptable. We must move forward. We must reverse denial. We must show up, pay attention, seek to speak truth, and allow the real work of change to occur. We know better and must do better; in this very moment. Compromise and partisanship on the part of ALL elected officials and ALL political leaders is the start of this change. Americans (especially children) deserve to be placed first before any political careers or agendas (new campaign reform and term limits would also assist in this requisite). Nothing else is acceptable moving forward. Those who previously fought and gave their lives for these American freedoms are owed the same dignity, strength, and courage in this moment of our country’s history as they did in their final moment sacrificing their life.

As I work to pick up the emotional pieces, lament the evil and sin, and search for Divine Mercy, hope emerges slowly. Hope, Faith, and Love, especially UNconditional Love, gently nudge me to realize overwhelming good exists when we allow for the common good. I affirm I am a strong, loving, committed soul who is willing to say out loud it must change. Change is now. We cannot and should not continue on the current path; a new path on this journey is possible, and most frankly, expected moving forward. And as a dear friend reminds me, “There is so much work to do…families to comfort, children to reassure, and political leaders to remind…we’ll march, donate, call, write, and show up; yes, we will.” Yes; I will continue to do all these too-familiar things. And gratefully, as my daddy always notes, “Hope springs eternal.” May we each find our own deep well of dignity, strength, and courage to make it so this time. Yes; may it be so THIS time; may it be so…

Personal note: Emotions run high when our sensibilities are challenged. Writing is one way I process my anxiety. I have other coping mechanisms and cling to the Divine along with my beloved family / friends for hope in the sorrows and joys of life. While I also remain grateful for the freedoms we have according to our Constitution; it is time to update the law. I choose to support two combined organizations close to this hot topic: http://www.everytown.org and http://www.momsdemandaction.org Most importantly, I vote. Whatever your choice, please make your own voice heard and make a voting plan to have your voice and vote counted. Every election matters because you, your voice, and your vote matter.

Goose Sense

As spring continues to blossom, the geese are flying back, laying nests, and leaving their mark in our neighborhood pond area these days. Their presence is firmly and clearly evident as they announce their return, thus I always reflect fondly once again upon one of my mom’s favorite life lessons. Something simple yet profound, she reminded us each spring and autumn of this story because, perhaps, we needed occasional reminders to tap into our inner goose-sense. Today is one of those days…

Everything in nature happens for a reason and scientists have discovered why geese fly in the “V” formation.  As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following.  By flying this way, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.  Truth #1:  If we share a common direction and sense of community, we can get where we’re going quicker and easier because we travel on the power of one another.  Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.  Truth #2:  It’s important to stay in formation with those who are headed in the same direction we are going.  When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back into the formation and another goose flies point.  Truth #3:  It pays to take turns doing the hard work–with people or with geese flying.  Geese honk from behind to encourage one another and the others up front to keep up their speed.  Truth #4:  We need to be careful what we honk when we honk from behind! 🙂  Finally, when a goose gets sick or wounded and falls out of formation, two geese fall out to follow her down to help and protect.  They stay with her until she is able to fly or goes to the great sky beyond, then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up to their group.  Final truth:  If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other no matter what. 

Here’s hoping our collective goose-sense and these basic truths find new and better ways to prevail! Please take care of yourself as you care for others and may you be a blessing as you bless others. HONK! 🙂

Iconic Legend

This world lost a treasured soul yesterday. This one is for you, LaRue Miller…may you rest softly in eternal Love, grace, peace, and learning, beautiful sainted one.

We often attempt to live our lives backwards…wanting more things, more education, more money, more order, more control, all in an attempt to do more of what makes us happy in this life.  The way it actually works is the reverse.

“You must first be who you really are and then do what you need to do in order to have what you need and want in life. The smiles and trials will come and go but your true self should always shine the brightest.”  ~ LaRue Miller

Mrs. Miller chose to embrace and actively live this particular pearl of wisdom with her signature grace and unconditional love. Gratefully, her personal philosophy will live on in the generations of lives she touched throughout her teaching career of 55+ years as well as her volunteer work in the very town and home where she grew up, raised her own family, and gave back everyday of her fruitful life. To hear her voice a thought was to participate in a master class of communication and collaboration from deep within her soul. Her obvious passion for learning and teaching, her quiet strength, and her pearls of wisdom were discreetly dropped into any conversation. To read her personal story was inspiring. To hear and witness firsthand how she led with her story and shared it everyday of her life was a modern miracle. Her determined ability to see and draw out the personal best in each soul was legendary. These were just a few of the touch-points in the powerful legacy of LaRue Miller.  And while she would never admit it, she was and will forever remain the most insightful part of something profoundly extraordinary because she, LaRue Miller, was the catalyst.

Mrs. Miller would often share how she was humbled and honored to have her legacy carried forth in the classrooms of the school bearing her name.  One of her proudest moments was the morning our superintendent called to inform her of the decision. Even today, when you visit or volunteer at the campus bearing her name, you will find telltale signs of her subtle influence:  a picture or book here, a quote there…all reminders of her majestic influence and continued inspiration.  She deeply loved her community, her namesake school, her church, her former students and their families, her beloved friends, and most especially, her own impressive family. 

As the first principal of her namesake school for the last eight years of my educational career, I remain forever grateful for her wisdom, enthusiasm, stories (especially those when she taught with my mom), collaborations, and hugs; she was so generous with those hugs!  🙂  She knew her story, she communicated her story so incredibly well, and she always led with her story every single day!

There is a beautiful book in every classroom on her campus called The LaRue Miller Legacy, written by students and staff about her incredible story the first year her campus opened. It is heartwarming and comforting to know her legacy book project will continue to assist young learners and leaders in practicing the speaking skills and story-telling Mrs. Miller herself modeled throughout her lifetime. She believed strongly young students needed positive role models as they developed language and communication skills through shared conversations. During my tenure on her campus, she modeled this weekly in small groups, during parent nights, at campus-wide family functions, and so much more. She also encouraged students and their families to document their life stories and lessons for future generations. It is our responsibility and honor now to take up her story for her so the exceptional life and legacy as the school’s namesake will never be forgotten.

Thank you, Mrs. Miller, for honoring us with your legacy. Thank you for being the approachable, personable, smiling living legend we needed with much grace and unconditional love.  Thank you for blessing my family and countless other families in a million, brilliant ways. Thank you for small talks, short walks, laughter, storytelling, remembrances, books, smiles, hugs, and all those spaces in between where cream gravy soaks in and grace shines through them. Thank you for knowing and sharing the secret to a well-lived life is in giving…giving your support, encouragement, respect, presence, talents, gifts, service, time, and love. Thank you for believing in and actively living the sacredness of The Golden Rule throughout your long and fruitful life. Thank you for being a deep and special part of those you served and those who served with you. Thank you for actively living, sharing, and always reminding all of us, “the goal is simple…to help you achieve yours!” 

To the Miller Family (her school family and her personal family): May great love and precious memories wrap each of you in comfort and strength to help soften the edges of her physical absence as you face each new tomorrow…bva

Open the book…

In just a matter of hours, it is time once again to start anew…to set our sights on new possibilities, to trust new opportunities, to nurture new hopes and dreams as we begin Chapter One of 2022. What?!? In some ways this year has flown by, while in other ways, it’s a lingering reminder of all things 2020. Regardless, there is hopefulness and opportunity in coming out of 2021 and potentially on the other side of this pandemic. Will 2022 possibly bring this to fruition? Who knows? While the history of each of us has always been in our stories, if nothing else, 2021 continues to give all of us unique ways of crafting and sharing our stories, at least for a few more hours. We will sing the song, make the toasts, and hope for the best when in reality, who really knows. But even as we continue to create our stories and synthesize this collective human experience, we crave a look ahead.

The Scottish phrase “auld lang syne” literally means “old long since” or for “old time’s sake.”  After continued reflection and pondering during 2021 “for old time’s sake,” this past year has been personally transformative, pushing me to create better situations while quietly finding ways to assist others. In reality, this mindful practice has kept me more focused on what I consider important. Likewise, the new year ahead offers more sacred opportunities to take the wisdom and experiences of this past year forward “for old time’s sake” in order to build on these foundational lessons. The changes, growth, triumphs, missteps, JOYs, and sorrows of each experience bring fresh and clearer perspective to do better, to do more, to give more, and to love more.

So…as I do each year, I offer this abundant challenge to us all as we open the book of 2022 to:

BE in the moment.

Breathe deep and fortifying breaths.

Encourage one another.

Forgive with grace.

Keep promises.

Forgo grudges.

Apologize.

Share softer answers.

Work to understanding.

Walk more.

Seek adventure.

Smile at strangers(even through your mask).

Examine personal demands.

Think first of others.

Be gentle and kind.

Laugh more.

Help carry burdens.

Cherish inner dreams.

Learn a new skill.

Be bendable and not breakable.

Observe the beauty and wonder of the world.

Ask questions.

Explore options.

Express thanks.

Welcome others.

Speak your love over and over and over again and again and again! 

The spiritual gift of actively living this challenge with grace and gratitude fills the soul with hope as time marches onward. Hope, and new beginnings in particular, constantly and gratefully prevail in all our daily humanness. We are truly more resilient than we often think. The most challenging paths and trails often lead to the most beautiful places. Learning never ends. So, yes, it’s time to open this new book of 2022 and start chapter one in faith, hope, and love as we craft our stories in the coming year. May the new year bring to you and yours bountiful blessings filled to overflowing and may you be a blessing to others as you are being blessed, my friends.  Happy New Year! 🙂

Do you hear what I hear?

Ahhh…’tis the season for marvelous music my friends!  Even in the midst of more pandemic, this time of year is gratefully filled with beloved sounds, carols, voices, instruments, and glorious music ushering in the message and season of celebration.

While talking and laughing with my sis yesterday, she was sharing her intense prep work with her singers–several at the Met, vocal students doing juries, recitals, performances, and more. I reminded her of her very first singing experience (see the picture) at age 3 as a member in The Cherub Choir at Kessler Park United Methodist Church.  Mom literally coaxed her (tears and all) to “boldly and courageously march in the cherub line, stand still, open your mouth, and proudly sing for all to hear!”  Gratefully, she accepted mom’s initial challenge that first time and successfully continues to do so beautifully on a much grander scale for many decades…

We both share a deep and abiding love for all types of music, including Christmas music, and especially carols. When pressed for specifics, two personal favorites come to mind. The first choice is one our grandmother sang often, a French carol called The Holly and the Ivy:

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown;
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing of the choir…

The second carol is one we sing frequently in church (and often on a hiking trail).  Gustav Holst composed the music in 1906, set to Christina Rossetti’s beautiful 1872 poem, In The Bleak Midwinter:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow;
In the bleak midwinter, long ago… (there are two more verses and this final one)

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him; give Him my heart.

Both of these pieces hold deep and personal meaning, but are only two of a long list of favorites. What are your personal favorite Christmas carols/songs to hear, play, and sing during the season? Here’s hoping you experience many extraordinarily beautiful seasonal sounds however you celebrate this time. As you prep and celebrate, please find gentle ways to care for yourself as you care for others, my friends…

Staying vertical

When asked, “How’s it going in your world today, Daddy?” His answer is likely, “Any day I’m vertical is a good day.” If asked about how he’s feeling, the answer will be, “Great!” because in saying so, he somehow makes it so in his unique world.

For example, I picked him up one day last week to ride around with me, running errands and gathering supplies. We even stopped to have some brunch outside a favorite local spot–no doctor appointments or vaccines or bad news, just a familiar daily experience of “noodling” around town. It was amazing to watch him simply savor riding in the car, looking at the colorful trees and leaves floating on the breeze, feeling the cool wind on his face, and interacting with others during our time together. At one point, we walked into a downtown bank to drop off some company materials for M and dad left with a lollipop and four new acquaintances who knew little about him other than he’s a witty, personable guy.

While Dad never sweats the small stuff (“preventative worry” was my mom’s job according to him), he embraces the small everyday pleasures with the greatest of ease. He rarely allows his unknown setting or situation to get in the way of being a decent human being. His brain may not hold names, dates, or many memories, but deep inside his heart and soul, kindness and decency prevails. He waves and greets, smiles behind his mask, compliments, thanks, and even holds the door for others. He finds purposeful, meaningful ways to interact and showcase his gratefulness for remaining vertical. As a former private pilot, dad often attributes life’s events and experiences to the weather–the various storms, winds, and pressures come and go whether he can fly in them or not. He simply chooses to be grateful for all of them because each season of life brings it own unique opportunities and blessings anyway. And oh how I marvel with the way he keeps moving forward vertically and in gratefulness for as long as he has voice in this world.

So today: When challenges attempt to prevail in your life, what purposeful ways bring fresh perspective and possibility for gratefulness anyway?

Stay vertical y’all, and as always, be blessed and be a blessing as you care for yourself and others. 🙂

For all the Saints

All Saints’ Day…All Souls’ Day…All Hallows’ Day…Sabbath Soul…Dia de Muertos. From my perspective, this particular day has always provoked an emotional reaction.  Within our worship service, this first Sunday in November is marked as a day of special remembrance for those who have gone before, not just this year. The service is sprinkled with responsive readings, special hymns, remembrances, lit candles, the presentation of a white rose to a surviving family member, and clergy reading aloud the names of those saints from the congregation who have passed in the past year. Most disheartening, the list was long this morning; the alter lit with too many candles. As my Granny B. often observed, All Saints is the time “to open and honor the ‘thin space’ where all the saints meet.”

Thanksgiving, 1996.  My mom holding kitchen court while preparing the family feast. As expected, she is dressed in holiday attire, festive jewelry, coiffed hair, spotless makeup with her beautiful eyes sparkling intelligence and southern sass. I would quietly sneak up to her with my camera; she NEVER liked having her picture made (though she always took the most stunning pictures). She passed in 2016 and I miss her every single day, but especially on certain remembrances like today.

Ironically, I find myself deeply nostalgic and profoundly grateful every year on this day. Grateful for all who came before me, whose shoulders I continue to stand upon. Grateful for the treasured stories, the powerful memories, and the lasting legacies of these saints. Grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the transformational stages of my own life journey. Grateful for each new day and the chance to clear away the broken parts while exploring new paths to grow in grace and hope. 

So today, take a moment to reflect on the saints in your life.  Who are you particularly grateful for and why?

Here’s hoping we never lose sight of the gifts gratefully given to us by those who come and go before us…for when one is missing, the whole is somehow less. “For all the saints who from their labors rest…” May you be blessed and be a blessing as you care for yourself and others, my friends!

Simple Gifts

This one’s for you, Floramay Holliday… “‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free. ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be; and when we find ourselves in the place just right, ’twill be in the valley of love and delight. (Chorus:) When true simplicity is gain’d, to bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d, to turn, turn will be our delight; till by turning, turning we come ’round right.”

You’re humming it now, aren’t you?  Penned by Elder Joseph Brackett (1848) while he lived in the Shaker community of Alfred, Maine, these original lyrics were a one-verse song with chorus.  Multiple versions, from Sydney Carter’s hymn entitled “Lord of the Dance” in 1963 (also used in Michael Flatley’s dance musical of the same name) to Aaron Copeland’s adaption of the melody in the music for the ballet Appalachian Spring, have popularized the tune and lyrics through generations.  Many songwriters, recording artists, instrumentalists, and poets share versions and interpretations.  In fact, did you know there are two additional non-Shaker verses in existence?

‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return, ’tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn; and when we expect of others what we try to live each day, then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say… ‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be; ’tis the gift to think of others not to only think of me. And when we hear what others really think and feel, then we’ll all live together with a love that’s real.  ‘Tis the gift to be loving, ’tis the best gift of all.  Like a quiet rain it blesses where it falls; and with it we will truly come to believe, ’tis better to give than it is to receive.”

In my opinion, the most powerful message of the poetry speaks to the simple gift of practicing gratefulness daily. Simple gifts help to grow our soul so we become more loving, kind, fearless, peaceful, gracious, and hopeful.  Even in the midst of heartbreak, despair, sadness, or profound grief, our burdens may ease some when we take a moment to gratefully notice a simple gift each day. It may be the sun coming out on a clear morning or the fresh smell of pine trees after a night of rain. It may be the cardinal in the bird feeder watching you pour that first cup of coffee or colorful chrysanthemums fluttering in the autumn breeze. Choosing to live with an open heart in that moment helps create space for gratefulness, a simple gift by itself.

Like the song says, simple, but not always easy each day. Brain research shares how gratefulness creates positive feelings and emotions. Gratitude showcases the positive around and within us. Negativity cannot occur in the brain at the same time as gratitude; it melts away without effort. Our brains naturally work to track success. We notice what is good when the brain focuses on gratefulness. The simple, sweet, little things we do for ourselves and others each day softly seep inside us where possibilities arise, where the light shines brightest, and where serenity calms the soul.

So here’s your challenge on Day #2:  What is one simple way you can cultivate your own gratefulness today? 

May we continue to help each other seek simple, real, meaningful inspiration in the practice of living from a grateful heart. Just know you’re not alone on this journey; I’m walking right beside you. May you be blessed and be a blessing as you take care of yourself while caring for others.

And by the way, Floramay, I’m still wearing the smile you gave me on a Sunday morning when we talked about you doing an album of hymns…this one might need your consideration as well. 🙂

November enters…

There are everyday blessings; no need to look far

To know at a glance just how special they are.

A leaf falling slowly to a littered forest ground

A squirrel scampering a tree trunk all the way down.

The geese honking above on their trek south

With a frog croaking response from its mouth.

The quick gust caressing softly a freckled cheek

The sun’s rays warming aged bones that often creak.

As we look to autumn shifting with the cooling northern breeze

Our time for grateful reflection starts this first November eve…

Day One of Gratefulness: What did you observe in your daily life today, just one thing, that made you grateful? Take a moment to say THANK YOU for this one thing. Today, I’m grateful for outside observations on my walk and the words to share them with you.

As we move through this time of reflective gratefulness once again, may you take a moment each day to breathe deeply, show up, pay attention, speak your truth, and let go to the possibilities. Be a blessing and be blessed, and remember to care for yourself as you care for others, my friends.

What would Jane say?

As quirky as this may sound, the pandemic has provided unusual opportunities during the past several months for helping me cope with my anxiety in a variety of ways, a key one being my reading choices. Jane Austen and her body of work resurfaced in my world. While some consider her novels simple romantic escapism at the core, each novel, in fact, has much to say about perseverance and empathy. Reading them again at this point in my life surrounded in current events, experiences, sorrows, JOYs, and more to draw upon, her writing offers unexpected consolations. Looking beyond the preoccupation with love and romance (my 15-year-old self), and a layer of steel with a second layer of resilience is formed in her stories…and reading each novel again inspired me onward this past year.

Why should Jane’s novels be suited to our pandemic era? On one level, they seem to offer the perfect romantic escapism (similar to Bridgerton without the steam scenes). Dig deeper in her writing and you find she offers unexpected consolations. Her own life was a lesson in forbearance. She published six novels in a seven-year span and died at the age of 41 with unpublished pieces. Jane understood firsthand and lived most of her life with constant financial insecurity. As a woman with limited choices during England’s Regency time period, she felt trapped and surrounded by family friction and the constant overcrowding of psychological stress, even though she and her characters continued to “crack on” as expected. Austen showed families as imperfect, just like hers and ours. Her works spotlighted the reality behind the closed front doors of daily life.

Jane’s journey to actual publication was its own lesson in resilience and grit. With multiple rejections and fake promises, she carried forth. Her novel heroines reflected Jane’s own stoic perseverance and strength of character; self pity was not an option. Her characters emotionally grew during their challenging journeys, thus inspiring us during this time of uncertainty as we continue to re-evaluate what really matters. Characters adapted with a growth mindset, something our society in general must continue to pursue if we hope to survive. Life was, and still is, a constant process of change, of adapting to challenges, and accepting, while hopefully learning, from mistakes. Failure brought success…may it be so for us!

Personally, I think of Jane as a friend. She has been a part of my life well over a half century. Her particular kind of narration allows an intimate reading experience where I relax and find comfort in each of her novels. In fact, her works provide such emotional solace, I better understand why my father-in-law (who fought in WWII) read Jane on the front lines to his fellow soldiers. He told me, “If it was calming for the trench fighters in WWI and Prime Minister Churchill, it’s better for me.” My Granny B first introduced me to Jane. She claimed Austen’s works were read orally to her by her grandmother during the Pandemic of 1918.

As Lady Russell notes in Persuasion, “Time will explain.” We may not have all the answers or even the questions as this pandemic lingers, but there is hope. There is also a restorative power and slow-down effect in the rhythm of Jane’s words. The core of her writing for me is how she effortlessly comforts as she challenges us onward. She is poignant with her mixture of social satire and epiphanies. She embraces the dark and lonely aspects of life with lightness, gentle humor, and her signature touch. I cannot help by wonder if Jane were sitting next to me drinking a cup of tea what she would share about society and our families today. What, indeed, would Jane say?

Special note: A former professor of mine recently reached out to visit. This is lovingly dedicated to her in gratitude for her continuous wisdom, inspiration, and the challenge to what would Jane say…