Changed For Good

“Everyone comes in to your life for a reason.” How many times have you heard that saying?? 10… 20… 100 times or more? I believe I’m the person I am today because of the people I have brushed up against in life… if only for a split second. Everyone you meet and speak to impacts your life in one way or another. Every day… every contact.

At 16 I was hired by the local toy store, Tiny Tots as a part-time sales clerk after school and weekends. Back in those days slacks were not considered appropriate work attire… and therefore I had to wear a skirt and blouse, or dress under my company approved red and white circus striped smock. My job responsibilities were the same as they are in retail today… climbing ladders to stock shelves, un-loading boxes in the back room from pallets, and sweeping the floors. Can you imagine doing that all in a skirt?

My favorite days were working the doll department. Standing behind a glass counter I was in charge of unlocking the cases for a customer to inspect the Madame Alexander dolls (you might associate them with the American Girl dolls of today). I watched closely as mothers of every variety passed through the store.

From harried, stressed out moms yelling at their kids to behave… “Or the mean lady behind the counter will yell at you”, to others imploring their whining and crying children to “Just stop it!!!” At times like this I would do my best to catch the child’s attention, and behind their mother’s back I would cross my eyes and shake my head to make the child giggle.

One evening a mother came quietly up to the counter. Holding her daughter’s hand, both of them smiling, she asked if I would please let them see the Madame Alexander doll with the blonde hair. I unlocked the case and placed the doll into the mother’s hands. She bent down and gingerly handed the doll to her daughter… who lovingly caressed the doll.

“Remember, we are just looking today, not buying. If you decide you like this doll, then when we get home we will add it to the list for Santa. You never know, Santa might leave it under the tree for you on Christmas morning.”

No tears, no tantrums, no whining, kicking, or screaming. It was as simple as that!

The little girl handed me the doll to be placed safely back in the glass cabinet under lock and key… then left the store. That was the entire reason for coming into the store that night. Simply to touch and hold that doll.

I was only a 16-year-old teenager, but I learned that night that THAT was the kind of mom I wanted to be when I grew up. A mom who ‘tunes in’ to her children, a mom who takes the time to ‘be in the moment’.

Time moved on, and I never forgot that lesson. Eventually I became a mom to 3 crazy kids… and as luck would have it a Toys R Us toy store opened up just down the highway.

It was a few weeks before Christmas. My husband was out-of-town on a business trip… again. Looking for something to do with the kids during that awkward ‘dinner time’ I decided a trip to the toy store and dinner out would certainly kill some time. Remembering that sweet loving mother so many years ago… I grabbed some paper and pencils, packed the kids in the car and headed to the store. A new family tradition was born that night.

Driving to the store I explained WHY we were going… we were going to make a wish list for Santa. Each one would have their own list (of course I had to write the list for my littlest), they could put on anything at all. It doesn’t mean they would get it, and we weren’t buying anything at all that night… this was simply a ‘list making’ activity.

At first they didn’t quite ‘get it’. One daughter would write she wanted a specific board game, the other a ‘klacker’ (remember those annoying things?). They were timid, and frugal with their choices. I had to keep explaining there were no limits, their list could be as long as they wished, and the item as big as they wished. Anything goes!! “Put it on the list”, became our mantra for the night.

Eventually it sunk in. As we scoured each aisle, and wrote down the item of their desire, it was becoming more and more fun. They relaxed, they smiled, they wrote, they talked to each other… it was a fabulous family night.

We turned the corner to the bike aisle… and that’s when it really got fun! Battery operated jeeps were on display, with a whopping price tag over $200.00!!! You should have seen my kid’s eyes light up as they realized they could “Put it on the list”!!!

It was such a pleasure to be in a toy store with all three of my kids, and never having to utter the negative word, “No”… not even once. They were well-behaved, laughing, smiling, and most importantly dreaming and wishing… and getting along with each other. Other families looked at us with envy.

I continued the evening’s gaiety by suggesting we go out to dinner. Cheers were heard all around. We went across the street to Friday’s where I made the announcement they could order anything they wanted… even an ice cream sundae instead of a meal. Afterall… it was a magical night (and I figured one night of not eating healthy wouldn’t kill them).

So you see… this wonderful family tradition all became possible because of a 15 minute interaction with a woman and her daughter whom I have never seen again in my life, but never forgot the impression she made on me.

Through friends, family, and brief encounters I have learned…

To have tolerance of others

To live on my own

To drink from cups with my left hand

To eat at the hotel bar when traveling

To love

To cry

To enjoy good food

To not believe everything I hear

To enjoy Sunday drives as a passenger

To s-l-o-w d-o-w-n

To speak up

And oh so much more!!

However; it makes me wonder what people have learned from me? How have I impacted the lives of those I interact with each day?

I hope it’s all good.

Of course I couldn’t end this piece without mentioning the song from WICKED… ‘For Good’. Enjoy!




Mascara… AKA Black gooey stuff in a tube



Speak about choosing a topic I know absolutely NOTHING about!! Mascara!

I don’t leave the house without a swipe of the gooey black stuff on my lashes to make me seem a little more ‘alert’. I use it every blessed day… and yet I give no thought as to what kind I purchase, what color it is, will it make my lashes look longer, fuller, or both. Truth be told, I don’t care. I just don’t want my face to have that ‘washed out’ look… so I pull the magic wand out of the tube and poke at my lashes… and run out the door.

According to all safety warnings, you should toss your mascara in the trash every 6 months and by a fresh new one. By then the manufacturers have come up with a new ‘formula’ or design… and added a few dollars for this new revolutionary product… yeah, right… (Psstt… don’t tell any one, but I can get at least a year out of that sucker and I’ve never gotten any infections).

Panic set in last week when I realized the goo had dried up and I needed to replace it. Standing at a display for an hour perplexed at all my options is not an enjoyable way for me to spend my time. So…. I pulled my business attitude out of retirement, dusted it off, and headed to the nearest Sephora store. After all, in business when you are not familiar with a project what do you do??? You surround yourself with ‘experts’… right? Well… if the sales people in Sephora can’t help me decide what I need… then there is no hope for anyone!

My plan was to simply walk in the store, announce I needed new mascara, explain I like the black waterproof kind… then suggest they look at my lashes and decide for me if I required the lengthening or volumizing formula. Personally I didn’t care which. Oh… and I didn’t want one that ‘clumped’. I assumed I would be in and out of the store in 15 minutes… tops.

Uh… no.

The sales girl went into an explanation of the wands… and how the bristles on the brush is more important than the goop inside the tube. She made me stand there, look in a mirror, and apply mascara in the middle of the store using various brushes. She didn’t get the part of the conversation where I admitted I didn’t care. Personally I didn’t notice any difference between them.

After 20 torturous minutes of this nonsense… I looked her square in the eyes… from under my fluttering lashes and asked, “Which mascara is your top-selling brand that is black and waterproof?” She looked at me in disdain and handed over a purple metallic tube. THAT’s the one I purchased. Geesh! How hard should this have been?? Sometimes too much information isn’t a good thing.

I guess I really do have some kind of preference. I know the color and staying power I want, so that at least is something to go on. Next year when I need to replace that tube of gook I’ll simply run in to a discount store and look for those two qualities… and be done.

What about all you females out there? Do you think the brush is more important than the formula? Do you prefer waterproof over regular? Which color do you wear on a regular basis… black, brown, blue or some other color? How about lengthening over volumizing… or both? Do you curl your lashes before swiping on the mascara… or after? How often do you forget to remove your mascara before you go to bed?

And for you guys out there… Did you even have a CLUE there were so many decisions to be made about something you don’t even notice???

Just WAIT until I tackle the subject of eyeshadow and eyeliner. But first I need to recuperate from the stress of replacing my mascara!!

Snooze Alarm

This morning I did something I have NEVER done before… I hit the SNOOZE ALARM!! Seriously… never once in my life have I ever reached over and blindly searched the night stand and smacked the alarm clock begging for another 15 minutes of deep sleep.

I’m a morning person. When the alarm clock snarls at me, no matter how few hours of sleep I have had… I get up. In the days of 6am flights, necessitating a 4am wake up call… I still would bounce out of bed with a smile on my face. If it was REALLY important that I get up early… I would leave my bedside light on when I fell asleep as a reminder to un-glue my eyelids and slap water on my face because there was some place I HAD to be.

Now that I’m kind of ‘retired’… I only need to set an alarm on rare occasions. Mother Nature sheds a stream of sunlight in my eyes each morning telling me when it is time to rise and shine. No matter what the season, or the weather, I rise when the sun does. I’m guessing a set of curtains would help that problem… but I kind of like it this way.

This morning however I was headed to New York City with my daughter… on a work related buying trip. Before nodding off last night I asked SIRI to set my alarm for 7am. “OK Deborah, I have set an alarm for 7AM.” I awoke at 6:32… wide-eyed and ready to jump into my day.

Since the alarm hadn’t as yet blared at me, I decided to snuggle down and wait for it. 6:45, 6:46, 6:52, ugh, time was crawling by at a snail’s pace. 6:56, I hear the lifeguards rowing on the lake, 6:59… 7:00AM… FINALLY!!!! I grab my vibrating phone and begin to swipe the arrow that shuts it down, when I notice the ‘Tap Here To Snooze’ message. “Hmmmm… I’ve never hit the SNOOZE ALARM before.” I say to myself. “Today’s the day!” I tap the phone.

The phone face now turns into a countdown clock. How exciting!!! Beginning at 15 minutes… it counts time in REVERSE! I plump my pillows and adjust my bedding to settle in for another 15 minutes of ‘me’ time. I close my eyes. I can’t say I fell back to sleep, but I DID enjoy a few extra moments of lounging in a warm, snuggly bed.

7:15am… I finally turn off the alarm and start my day. I can safely cross another item off my bucket list… HIT THE SNOOZE ALARM.

In my world, if you aren’t 5 minutes early… then you’re late! It’s now 9:28am… and my daughter is LATE to arrive. I guess I could have hit that snooze button one more time… maybe two!

New Books vs Library Books

Having owned my own bookstores… it’s been quite a long time since I’ve borrowed a book from a local library. Oh… I have been in them, but mostly to read magazines and newspapers, or to borrow movies or music CDs… not books.

I have been spoiled for many years. Any book I desired was easily obtainable by a simple request to the publisher. Many times books I had no clue were published at all came flooding into my store with letters suggesting I read them… then sell them. I was never at a loss for something new and interesting to wrap my head around.

There is nothing better than a new book. Crisp white pages, un-cracked spine, the smell of paper and ink… ahhh… that wonderful ‘new book’ smell. Untouched by someone else carrying the promise of taking you on an adventure, if only for a few hours.

Now that I am ‘retired’ from the book biz… I have to satisfy my story cravings like everyone else and either purchase the book (horrors!), borrow it from a friend, check Amazon’s FREE book per month for Prime Members, or see if it’s available in the library.

Let me start this conversation by stating I prefer to read hardcover copies. I like the weight and feel in my hand. I like to physically turn the pages in anticipation of the next line. I’m old-fashioned that way. Paperbacks are my second preference. I still get to turn the page, they fit in my tote bag and if left unattended on a beach blanket while I take a quick dip in the water, there is no fear someone will steal it… like an e-reader or iPad.

That being said, I am not a book snob. I like a good story no matter how it is delivered. I listen to books on my iPod when walking, driving, knitting, or sewing. I read them on my iPad when traveling or in a waiting room, and upon occasion have been known to listen carefully when someone else is reading a story out loud. We live in a marvelous world with so many options available to us.

Having a unsatiable appetite for reading, and a limited budget for purchasing… I have become better acquainted with my library lately. The problems I am encountering however are maddening. The more popular books, like the New York Times Bestsellers seem to have a waiting list… a very l-o-n-g waiting list. There’s even a waiting list for the library e-reader copies… and books on tape! I’m not used to waiting… not only am I spoiled, but impatient as well. There are times the book I am interested in is so obscure, the library doesn’t even offer it. UGH!

Currently I am holding in my hands a hardcover library edtion of The Light Between Oceans written by M.L. Stedman. This book was recommended by a friend and I couldn’t wait to read it. The very first thing I noticed was the annoying crinkling sound of the protective plastic cover every time I shift the book in my hands or turn a page. Previous owners have bent the top corners down to save their place, but never un-bent them, and someone spilled a liquid on this particular copy so the warped pages add an extra texture I hadn’t expected… not to mention the few torn pages and masking tape holding the front cover on. The pages have softened with wear, the binding ‘broken in’ from much use… the book flops in my hands.

The story is still a good one… it’s totally entertaining, engaging, and well written… I just wish the book was in better condition… to enhance my experience. I sometimes fear there are icky germs lurking between the pages ready to jump out at me. Don’t laugh… I once found a worm crawling out of a library book. Ick!

Library Book

If this were a rare first edition copy of some classic, I wouldn’t be bothered by such a condition. I would hold the book gingerly as to not incur further damage and treat it with the reverence it deserves. However… this particular book was printed not quite two years ago and it is already in such deplorable condition that if it were mine, I would feel uncomfortable loaning it to a friend.

Sigh… such ‘First World Problems’… I know. As I said before… I’m spoiled… and I know it.

It could be worse… I’ve encountered books whose pages were stuck together by some unknown substance… ewwwwww!

Please be kind with any book you borrow from the library or friends. The future reader will thank you… especially if it’s me 🙂


Dementia… Family vs Stranger

You would think that as a person who watches over women with dementia on a daily basis, that I would be perfect with my own sister-in-law who has recently been diagnosed as such. Uh… no. Dealing with a family member is so much more difficult. Family history and emotions get jumbled and feelings get hurt.

With the women I watch… I came into their lives late in the game. They had already been diagnosed and routines had already been formed. I simply have to maintain the daily cadence. Each morning I arrive announcing myself, “Good Morning!!! It’s Debbie. How are you doing this beautiful day?” Knowing their short-term memory has flown the coop… I am not offended when they don’t know my name. To them I am ‘that girl’, or ‘the aide’, other times they stare at me blankly not knowing WHO I am or WHY I’m there. Yet that doesn’t bother me… not one bit.

These women seem comfortable with me, allowing me to search their house, assess their health and surroundings, open their mail, set their schedule for the day, set out their clothes, and make them lunch. They even willingly get into my car when I have to drive them to a doctor’s appointment. They may not know who I am, but I know they trust me… and things run smoothly.

It’s a totally different scenario with my sister-in-law. She has recently been diagnosed with dementia… a diagnosis the rest of the family has suspected for quite a while. A ‘professional’ made a declaration, and now the cloak of secrecy has been stripped away and has brought the disease out into the open. In a way… it’s a bit liberating for the family members. No more tip-toeing around the elephant in the room.

All throughout her life my sister-in-law has been a ‘in charge’, extremely independent, and capable person. Always there when you needed her, ready to lend a helping hand. Recently however, with her short-term memory short circuiting, she has begun to have difficulties. Remembering to eat, shower, clean, and pay bills has declined as she dips more and more into her own little world where one day melts into the next.

I bet if you ask her what year was stamped on the quarter the tooth fairy left under her pillow as a child, she would answer without hesitation. However, more recent events escape her memory. She has difficulty remembering her grandchildren’s names and birth dates… along with so much more information that should effortlessly be on the tip of her tongue.

Understanding this disease attacks the short-term memory didn’t prepare me for the jolt I got this weekend. While dining out with her sister and me Friday night, she looked me square in the face and politely asked where I lived. She was making small talk… as if I were a stranger!! She has known me for almost 40 years!! I calmly replied, “New Jersey” when she then proceeded to tell me she grew up there also… Exit 2 on the Turnpike. Oy!

I’ll admit, I was rattled. When asked who I was, or what my name was… she had no idea. She’s a smart lady and tried her best to dance around the question… but we all knew she couldn’t place me.

The next morning at the kitchen table, I again lost my ‘cool’ when she snapped at her sister and me for not keeping her ‘in the loop’… commenting on the large brown envelope in the middle of the table containing papers she herself filled out the day before, ready to be mailed to the lawyers. I jumped down her throat, tersely reminding her SHE filled out the papers and that WE were not doing anything she wasn’t already informed about. I admonished myself for my reaction. She can’t help it.

An important lesson I learned this weekend is… I need to check my emotions and frustrations at the door when I visit her. Just as I have no past history with the women I watch… I need to erase my past history with my sister-in-law when confronted with her accusations. I shouldn’t expect her to be who I know her to be.

I try to put myself in her situation. She is not taking her diagnosis lightly. Her mind is not completely with the fairies yet… and moments of clarity rise to the surface. Which in turn sets her on edge and makes her think her sister and I are interfering with her life. In reality, we are… because we have to… but she can’t remember that. I would have to imagine she is scared and confused a lot of the time.

She seems to be happiest and content in her home, watching TV, doing crossword puzzles, and talking to herself. My goal is to keep her in that ‘happy place’ as long and as safely as I can. Me living an 8 hour drive away makes that goal a bit harder to achieve, but I will certainly do my very best.

One Magic Moment

Imagine a giant genie, dressed in a blue turban, and draped in gaudy gold jewelry, who looks a lot like Robin Williams, popped up in front of you this morning and granted you the ability to re-live one moment in your life the second before you leave this world… which moment would you choose??

Since my children are the pride of my life and make me the happiest… I would love to choose the moment I became a mother. But I have three children, and the genie said I could only choose one moment. Since each birth was unique, I wouldn’t want to single out one over another.

My wedding day perhaps? I guess I could choose the moment I said, “I do”. Nah… Although that was a special time I’m sure I can come up with something that moved me more.

Running through my life in HD many magic moments come in to view. Holding my father’s hand when I was a little girl and looking up at him in adoration, mom and me spreading cream cheese on bread and using olive slices to make butterfly sandwiches for a catering job, sitting on a bench on the Allenhurst boardwalk enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of the surf, the day the sign went up on the building of my very first bookstore, the day I purchased my bungalow on the lake, are just an extremely small sample of viable choices.

My mind however keeps playing and rewinding one very special moment… a split second when my world stopped spinning. The day was sunny, with a slight chill in the air. After following a path of white, crushed shells around a body of water I stepped up onto a wooden deck. My boyfriend at the time wrapped me in his arms and gave me the most loving kiss. The kind of kiss that spreads a warm glow throughout your body, makes your knees buckle, and your ears ring. Yeah… that’s the moment. That’s the EXACT moment I want to re-live.

How about you?? What moment would you choose??

Rook Coffee Roasters… YUM!

My newest obsession is… ROOK COFFEE!!!


Apparently drinking a cup of coffee a day is supposed to alleviate a little health issue I am having. For years I have been a Dunkin Donuts girl… straying every so often to my local Starbucks for a change of taste. In the summer months I suck down Dunkin’s iced coffee like a Hoover (or should I say Dyson?).

Last week I had a conversation with a friend about a local brewery located up the street from me… Kane Brewing Company to be precise. I never knew it existed!!! I’m told they have some good beer and I should check it out some time. Googling (that’s a word… right?) Kane Brewing Company I read about a craft beer they named Morning Bell. Brewing it with a local coffee roasters’ full-bodied Sumatra bean… it has a slight coffee flavor.

Local coffee roasters?? I’m intrigued. I have seen the signs for ROOK COFFEE around town, but not being a coffee connoisseur… I paid no attention. Set in my coffee buying ways… it took months before finally… PING… the light bulb flipped on over my head. I remember making a pledge to myself to support small independently owned businesses as much as I could. Duh! I should check them out. Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks won’t miss my few dollars… I said to myself sheepishly.

So… I drove to the newest location in Town Center off West Park Ave… and walked in. Ahhh… the smell of fresh brewed coffee! Is there anything better to sniff on a cold, nasty, rainy day??? After a few questions… the girl behind the counter guided me to the Honduras Bean. I take cream and sugar in my coffee… I’m such a baby.

My first sip was pure heaven. Full bodied, smooth, and tasty hot coffee with a touch of sweet. It’s everything I ever wanted a good cup of coffee to be. You know how smooth a sip of silky hot chocolate goes down?? Well… this coffee slides down the same way.

Second sip? Just as smooth and wonderful.

I’ve gone back, and back, and back again. Every cup tasted the same. I’m so excited… my frequent buyer’s card should fill up with little ROOK stamps fast!

My taste buds have been educated. They now know what good coffee is supposed to taste like… and they won’t allow me to go back to the brown water francisers mistakenly call coffee.

I travel a lot and ROOK COFFEE ROASTERS is only local at the moment. They sell their beans, both in their retail locations and via the Internet… so I can brew the yummy elixir at home… but I can’t purchase a steaming hot cup on the road.

If I could change only ONE THING… I would ask that they re-think their choice of music in the retail location. Each time I visited the shop, I felt it was a bit jarring for someone who hasn’t had their first cup of coffee yet that morning 🙂

Shopping LOCAL takes a little more effort… and sleuthing… but is so WORTH it!!!  Give it a try in your own area.

Now that I have found the perfect cup of coffee… I will focus on finding the best mug of beer… starting at Kane Brewing Company.