November 5th, 2010

Storytelling this Holiday Season

I love storytelling.  Really love it.  I used to think that storytelling was a frivolous thing.  A way to pass the time, pure entertainment.  Like a jester in the medieval faire.   He would always recite stories but be the fool doing so.

Now, I think differently.  I realize that storytelling is really the communication of our lives.  I hear and tell stories every day.  My daughter tells me what school is like, a story.  My guys tell me about their classes and auditions, a story, and my husband tells me about his work, a story. I hear stories about my parent’s lives, and my beautiful nieces.  Our everyday life is made up of stories both good and bad.

My dad just called.  He is in Lake Placid, New York, watching our amazing nieces in their school play. It was a great story.  He told about how our oldest niece really shines when she is performing and the younger one was the best dog on stage! He also said that it is hard to be there in Lake Placid.  That everywhere he goes he thinks of my youngest brother Kevin, who passed. (See my past blog The Gift of Giving Can Be Given in Many Ways)  Lake Placid is a beautiful little town and nothing is far.  He told me how hard it is to drive by Kevin’s school where he taught, and the hockey rink, where he coached.  They were all places in Kevin’s story.  Even as short as Kevin’s story was it is so very important to us and others. Even though I miss Kevin terribly, I feel blessed to be a part of his short story here on earth. I know that I am much more blessed to have his short story intertwine with mine then not at all.  Kevin’s short story truly is a gift.

As I look back I think I have always thought of “stories” as made up.  But now I know that our everyday life is a story.  What we do, who we love, those actions are all part of our life stories.  I am sure you even have stories about doing laundry, cooking, cleaning if you think about it.  Going to work and doing chores are stories too.  Ones we want to make less of  in our overall story, but stories none the less.  Life becomes somewhat magical when you think about it that way, doesn’t it?  When I think I am making the bed, ok boring.  But when I think, I am making the bed as part of the story, it feels better.  It makes the chore so much more of a pause in bigger things to come.

This Christmas season is a time to make lots of new stories for you and your family.  When your child asks, Is Santa Real, think about how blessed you are to answer that question with the true story of Santa Claus.  I wish I could write what the book The Santa Club says.  (There is a fine line with answering the question, Is Santa Real, on the internet and smart children who are looking on the internet.)  I really believe that a parent or a special person in the child’s life should answer the question. For those of you who have asked, that is why the book must be read with a parent, grandparent or guardian.  Stories that we have together bond us. The moment when your child asks Is Santa Real, is a story in the making.

Part of talking about my book, is telling about that moment when my oldest Jonathan asked, Is Santa Real.  It is a great story. Now we have stories to tell from that point on with him, Jameson, and our daughter Alena just because of that moment.  Enjoy this Christmas Season; make great stories with your family, friends and new friends you meet.  Even the short stories, like Kevin’s are amazing and should be cherished.  Remember, you are very much a part of the story of life and this holiday season is great stories in the making.  Have a great Santa Club Day.


November 3rd, 2010


Since this blog is about everyday life then I wouldn’t be “keeping it real” if I did not talk about the historic vote last night.  First when I say historic, I mean just that…historic.  No emotion of whoo hoo or ooohhh, just exactly what it means, historic.  What was done last night has not been done in so very long, I think I heard 1943.  As I get older, I love watching history in action.  It is a humbling experience to think what we see firsthand, others will be studying for years to come.

So, what about the vote and how could this ever tie into Christmas and The Santa Club.  Well, I think it is the very essence of The Santa Club. I am sure you think I am stretching, but really let’s think about it.  The Gift of Giving and the story of Christmas are at the heart of Santa Claus.  I would like to think that most politicians are working to support our country, in the best way they are capable of, and that is giving.  They give their time, and they give of their energy.  Just like Santa…

I have been on many boards and know that working together when people have such different opinions is very hard.  We have also lived all over the country and know that because this country is so big, what is important to those in California, is not the same as Ohio.  Outside of the big issues the little issues run into play and we should never want to agree on everything because Santa Monica is not Cleveland and vice versa.  Think of it this way.  We lived in Santa Monica, CA, wonderful place, wonderful people. Santa Monica has a huge homeless population, really big.  Socially that is a big issue for them.  We have also lived in Parma, Ohio, great place, wonderful people there too.  Homelessness is not as much a social issue in Parma.

Homeless families and individuals should be all of our concerns, however, in Santa Monica it affects their budget, in Parma homelessness really isn’t a part of their budget…get the picture.  So, why can’t we see the differences at the National level and accept we are different?  If people voted because they are frustrated with the bickering in Washington, and I sure am, then really what people are saying is, give a little.  Give to each other.  Give kindness, give concern, and make your words Gifts of Giving.  Giving doesn’t have to be expensive and everyone who voted pretty much said, stop spending!

One of my favorite passages is Galatians 5:22-NIV- But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

That is what I think the vote is about and that is what The Santa Club is about.  Giving is as simple as a cheerful smile but real giving or loving others is following that passage.  No it is not easy and thank goodness I have loving family members who live this way every day and remind me to follow those words.

Now if only we could get all the politicians of every party to follow those words.  That is what I think people voted for, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control out of Washington. The love, joy, and faithfulness are also a part of it, but hey let’s start with the above and the rest will come.   Remember, this is not about a religion, it is the golden rules, it is what every mom teaches their child, and it is the essence in giving and the essence of The Santa Club. You can still be passionate, and still be strong. Please do not think the passage Galatians 5:22 waters strength and passion down.  It is just that self-control oversees the passion and strength.   “He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty.” Lao Tzu

So today is a new day.  As every day goes by I have a chance to conquer myself.  I can conquer the P-90X video, the eight glasses of water goal, the healthy eating goal (don’t like that one), living the Fruit of The Spirit passage, and The Gift of Giving goals I have for today. Our country is amazing.  After living overseas and spending time in Central Asia I know that for a fact.  I am blessed to be a citizen of this great land and to watch history take place.  God Bless America and all of our elected officials.  May every one of them and you have a great Santa Club Day.


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November 3rd, 2010

Amazing Last Few Days

These past few days have been such a blessing.  Last Friday, or so…days flow together so fast, I talked to Sister Joan from the Bureau of Exceptional Adults and Children in Holyoke, MA.  Sister Joan is running an amazing program, locally called Jericho, which supports Exceptional Adults, Children and their families.  When we lived in Simsbury, CT we attended mass at Jericho making the 45 minute drive so our kids could be part of something very special.  This was 19 years ago and during that time kids were not usually a big player in everyday Sunday service.  We would see kids sing in the chorus, or every so often have a kid’s service or mass but generally speaking kids were usually seen but hopefully not heard.

Father Wagner, who ran Jericho at the time, believed that every person should be an integral part of Sunday worship and not only included children but also adjusted his service to make it “user” friendly so to speak to challenges other may have.  Our boys would sit at desks, the makeshift altar, with kids of all ages and differences in learning.  A child with Down’s Syndrome, or Autism, sat next to other kids and diversity was truly a blessing.  Not only did they sit right next to where Father Wagner said mass but they were asked questions during the homily and actively brought Father the gifts when needed.  It was an amazing time for our guys.  They learned so much about God, Jesus, and loving others in a truly unconditional place where judgment of others was thrown out the door.  We can never thank Father Wagner or Sister Joan enough for that. God was there in that mass, you could feel his presence.  Once you feel that, then things are never the same.

After living in Simsbury, we had to move, first to Ohio and then to Alpharetta, Georgia.  With every move we felt the desire to find a home church that God was working thru like Jericho.  We ended up at Northpoint Community Church where Andy Stanley is the pastor. Again we found a place that not only preached God’s love but actually lived it as a community.  A place where you could “feel” God’s presence.  A place where giving is truly a gift, not a hardship.

When I wrote The Santa Club Book, it was in the middle of the night, about 2 am to be exact.  I ended up writing until 5 am and at one point Joe came downstairs and said, “What are you doing”?  When I write I get hyper focused and literally said I was writing a book and went back to writing, not missing a beat.  I believe that the book was divine intervention.  It was during those hours, when I was” in the zone” everything clicked.  Athletes know what I mean about the Zone. So does anyone who has a passion and has those moments of true almost perfection.  That is how the book began in written form.  Bertie, Joe’s mom, actually started it in oral form and I knew that what she said was a gift.  With a bit of divine tweaking the book now is exactly what we hoped for.  A true parenting gift, a way to answer the question is Santa Real truthfully and with a bit of magic.  Magic we hope that is like Jericho and Northpoint Community Church. Something bigger is going on.  There is more than just truth; there is a feeling of unconditional love in this little story.  It is not about a church or a religion; it is about the story that most of us spent time with at Christmas, the Story of Jesus, and the true meaning of Santa Claus, The Gift of Giving.

 Back to an amazing few days, Sister Joan would like to sell the books in her bookstore.  She loves the book and I couldn’t be thankful. We also are working with Karla Olson, a truly gifted book Consultant in finding a distributor who would like to support us with the book. Our first distributor meeting was today. Amy from New Shelves Distribution was so supportive and honest in what it takes to let people know about this book.  She also sees how special this little book is. Thanks Amy.  No matter where we go with distribution, to have a great meeting with someone like Amy was a blessing.  So big things are happening and thru this all of our family wants you to know that we are very thankful to be given such a gift in this wonderful little book.  We believe in the story of Christmas and believe in love God, love others.  We pray that this book will bring forth a way to start new traditions for your new “Members” at Christmas.  As most of us know getting gifts is wonderful, but actually giving them is way better. Have a great Santa Club Day.


October 28th, 2010

“THINK” Before You Speak

Christmas is a very special time.  It is a time of family, traditions, great food, and getting gifts. Who doesn’t love getting gifts?  There is time off from work, seeing old friends, beautiful decorations and something we all take for granted….giving gifts.  Who doesn’t love to give gifts?  When I was little we always attended church on Christmas Eve.  I remember this was a big deal because we got to stay up late, wear really cool clothes and see all our friends.  The church was warm inside as it was usually freezing outside and we would all sit in awe listening to  the story of Jesus being born. I remember how everyone smiled.  Christmas is a time of kindness.  It is a time when bah humbug is not considered a good thing.  The season starts with Thanksgiving and being thankful and runs straight through to that magically time of Christmas. Kindness and helping others is just cool.  Why can’t that happen every day?

As I woke up this morning I heard the story about Maura Kelly a blogger from Marie Claire. Her blog was Should “Fatties” Get a Room (Even on TV).  The TV stations had heard about this blog and as content has a way of moving thru time and space (twilight zone music cue) it was all that was being talked about.  Her blog was scathing against people that were heavy.  It was pretty brutal and honestly it frustrated me very much.  Not because she had written it, but because she felt she could.  She felt it was OK to write such harsh words.  Who knows why someone does the things that they do.  I am a pretty simple girl, don’t judge others. Again as I have said before, I am not perfect.  But, since I like to follow Jesus, I figure he said, Do not judge others, or you too will be judged…Matt7:1NIV so I do my best to repeat that when needed.  As I struggle with not judging Maura Kelly (say the verse), I was reminded about THINK.  Jud Whilhite, a pastor at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas once said, before you say anything THINK. THINK is a way to test if what you say is worth being said at all…  Remember THINK…. is what I am about to say Truthful, Helpful, Inspirational, Needed, and Kind….THINK. Read the rest of this entry »

October 27th, 2010

The Gift of Giving Can Be Given In Many Ways

The Gift of Giving can be given in many ways.  We all have stories that show giving in small ways, like a smile or kind word, to giving in big ways, like a doctor who spends all their time helping cancer patients.  I am sure we all have stories…this one is mine.

My youngest brother was always the calm, fairly quiet, sweet brother of the family.  Not that all my brother’s are not sweet, but Kevin’s demeanor and affectuous smile completed his kindness.  He was a teacher and a coach, both giving professions as well as the type of guy who always stopped to make sure you were OK, even if he was not feeling well or busy. Read the rest of this entry »

October 7th, 2010

The Beginning

The question of Santa, Is he real, is a very tough question for most parents. Do you tell your amazing son or daughter the “truth” or do you fudge a little to keep the tradition? My husband Joe and I had this dilemma, just like every parent out there. How do you explain Santa without disappointing the child you love??? On top of that, we didn’t want to take away from the real story of Christmas, the birth of Jesus. To make matters worse, we had a son who was very inquisitive. Jonathan, our oldest had already started questioning things no six year old should be asking. Joe and I knew it was a matter of time before he asked, Is Santa Real? Read the rest of this entry »