The Love of a Parade



dreamstime_s_3136270Have you ever been to Sicily?  If not, consider putting it on your bucket list.  I spent two weeks there learning the history and absorbing the culture.  Sicily is  both  beautiful and fascinating.

Aside from the scheduled incredible lectures and mini tours of special places well documented in the Tauck Tour promo pieces, this trip provided a number of surprises  as well– lunch with the Baron in Saracusa, a puppet show prepared solely for our tour group, and while touring the ancient Opera House, a 45 minute performance  of  the Barber of Seville!!!  Not to mention the totally unplanned snowfall that occurred as we were climbing Mt Etna!!!!

But on the last day, the best unplanned surprise of all happened.  On the last day of our journey we were in Taormina staying in what had once been a monastery–just fabulous with beautiful gardens and views everywhere.   Just a slight walk up the cobblestone street we found fun shops and restaurants and somehow spent the rest of the day there, chatting with local people  over cappuccino and brushetta.    Shopping in one of my favorite little shops was interrupted as along the very narrow windy street came a marching band with all the energy as one marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!!!!!  A full marching band is the last thing one would expect to find in this tiny community with its narrow streets with occasional steep narrow steps leading to a quaint coffee spot.     Apparently there was a band competition with several area bands doing their best to win the coveted prize.

I suspended all shopping plans as I didn’t want to  miss this musical celebration that seemingly came out of nowhere–I was truly taken back, feeling ever so  grateful I was there at that very moment.   What an opportunity!

I am often talking with my students about the value of seeing opportunities and responding to them quickly to get the full benefit.  I believe every day has opportunities to feel joy and yet too often we decide to keep doing whatever we are doing, and “take a pass.”  No way was I going to take a pass  on the parade, reminding me of something Robert Brau once noted,

Opportunity is a parade. Even as one chance passes, the next is a fife and drum echoing in the distance. 

And wasn’t my experience in Taormina just that!—band dressed in red and black called me out of the shops and to the cobblestone street,  and right around the windy street, another band dressed in green and black, followed by still another in blue, and another, and another. “Opportunity is a parade…”

I suppose those who ignored the parade are none the worse for their decision, I just know  I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!!!

And so it is.  There may not be a parade of marching bands happening on your street today but there are opportunities happening every moment….chances to meet one person, to positively impact another, or maybe a chance to reinforce how fortunate you are!

Don’t miss the opportunities!




I was talking to a friend about my first childhood sweetheart, Randy, when my friend said, “So what’s he doing now?”  I didn’t know as I had not seen him since grammar school.  I did not go with my graduating class to the local high school but went off to a Private Girls school instead.   I don’t even know what made me think of him; he just seemed to pop into my head.  My friend immediately said, “”Let’s Google him.” She immediately found him  and lots of photos.  By Googling we were able to get his current status, a quick summary of  his work history, and a notation about an article he had published.  I had no recollection of his writing ability. As I reviewed the photos, I couldn’t even recognize a bit of the Randy from seventh grade. My friend was thrilled with herself for Googling and finding Randy.  Yet I was left with an entirely different reaction.

“Google me”, I said.  “Huh?” she asked screwing up her face like my request was really the dumbest thing I ever said.  “Google me!” I repeated. And she did. And in an instant a number of things popped up: my linked in profile, my Successtrogen site, an article about me that appeared  in our Local Observer recently when I saw Pope Francis in Philadelphia.  “Wow”, she said, you are all over the place.”

“Hmmm”, I thought. “Interesting…” I mumbled and then got lost in my thoughts.  When you Google someone you get a list of things the person has done, or where you can find her on social media, or the summary of newspaper coverage article, but Googling someone cannot give you a look inside the person. Googling cannot give the essence of a person, and when I connect with people I need to know the essence, not just what they have done professionally.  My first love, Randy, has published an article, has a Linked In Profile, and is divorced, but I have no idea who he is today.  What does he value?  What has he learned about life and how has that changed his behavior over the years? Why does Randy exist, what is his WHY?

Google is helpful to me when I am looking to define a word, find out some general information about the use of cocoanut oil, or research about the history of Sicily before my trip on Wednesday. But if I want to know someone, really know someone, then I have to find out their why and the best way to do that is to meet them, observe their consistent behavior, and see how they behavior aligns with their reported value set.  That information is critical to me and will be the deciding factor in whether or not I wish to open up  my life and share it with someone. No wonder it has taken me this long to find someone special!

Just as a secret between you and me,  I just signed up again for as I do every so often.  But writing tonight reminds me why internet dating doesn’t work well for me, I need the essence. I don’t get much from the profile that is partial truths, outdate photos, and lots of promises about being high energy and honest. I need to know someone’s WHY and I can only get a glimpse of that by asking them.  And I can only get a full, true picture by  observing them over time to see their consistent behavior.

Oh dear, this search may take a while!

By the way, have you thought about your WHY?


Admit One

ycog8R7cEI was recently awarded a free popcorn along with my theater ticket indicating either recognition as a valued customer, or perhaps the popcorn machine had run amok.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed my free treat.  Oddly enough just a few weeks ago I found myself at Chuck E. Cheese with my grandchildren.  They played a variety of games and accumulated  tickets with each success.  At the end of the day, they exchanged their hundreds of tickets for what appeared to me to be a meaningless prize –a box of Nerds candy!!  But if you were to ask any of the 7 children with me, each one would have said the box of Nerds was a great prize, well worth the effort.   Nerds!!  I could have taken them directlly to the candy store, but of course, that wasn’t the point at all. The kids wanted to win the right to choose and choose they did. Nerds!

Those two ticket-related occurences made me think about all the tickets that touch my hands and the joy they bring me. My “Admit One” ticket to the Sarasota Orchestra’s  outdoor performance at Ed Smith Stadium endeared me to the romantic side of orchestra music forever. My ticket to a lecture by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who continues to put her life on the line for her beliefs that women should be educated and treated equally, re-energized my faith in the power of women.  And my ticket to a roller coaster ride at Disney with Shannon and TJ provided me with the heart stopping thrill of having survived the ride!

More important than the tickets we purchase, I feel as though we are also given a ticket to experience life.  Everyone gets her own ticket at birth.  Unlike the theater ticket that we purchase and submit upon entry to the performance,  the ticket to life is free and we keep using it as it offers us entry into many experiences  as we journey through life.

Our ticket to life  validates my belief that we are each responsible for our own lives, and we get one chance to live it. We  become keenly aware that there are tickets for finding joy and happiness, tickets that feed our curiosity, and tickets for challenges that result in our personal growth. There are tickets for those who believe to see evidences of their faith, and there are tickets for those who care about others to do any number of kind things to make the world a bit kinder.   Martin Fisher wrote,

“Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth.”

I agree with his words, but we must remember that we have to choose to attend the show,  fully participate in it, sometimes alone, and sometimes with the help of others.  To reach our full potential, we can not just stand by and observe the greatest show on earth, we need to be an active participant in it, helping to create it.

I handed in my tickets to the Orchestra, the lecture, and the roller coaster, fairly sure of what I was getting myself into.  But sometimes, when an opportunity presents itself, I am unsure of what to expect, I am apprehensive, perhaps even fearful of the unknown. Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN view life as the greatest show on earth and take full advantage of what it has to offer them. They do not fear the unknown but rather have a “bring it on” mentality.  Their diverse backgrounds and myriad of experiences demonstrate that they have fully participated in life, “the greatest show on earth.”

Have you been using your ticket to life lately?


Birds who Sing

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I was recently in the gym working out to Bob Marley’s, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, one of my favorite work out tunes.  That was followed by Danielle Bradbury’s rendition of “Grandpa”.  When I work out, I sing…loudly I might add. I love to work out and somehow I love to sing and the two go hand in hand for me. Problem:  I do not sing well.  Most of my “gym rat” buddies encourage me to sing and even request one of my usual happy tunes, but one friend finds my singing annoying. Now don’t be too harsh on him, he really is right in that I do not sing well and I often sing the same song over and over. So when he is in the gym, I do not sing out loud. I don’t enjoy my workout as much, but I do not like to be the source of others pissiness. Consequently, when he is not in the gym, I sing like there is no tomorrow!

My friend Leah is not a gym user and I have not discussed my loud singing problem with her but last week I invited her to join me for dinner.  She came in the door with a gift bag in which was a sparkly picture frame with a quote inside. She said she knew I would like it and she was spot on.

I read it out loud, “The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sing best.”

I know Leah wasn’t talking about my singing because she was not privy to it. But what the message she wanted to convey to me was “do what you do because if we wait for someone who can do it better, we may wait too long, and frankly they may choose not to.

So the broader message is…If there is something you enjoy doing and you don’t engage in it because you are not good at it, go do it anyway. Take a lesson, or ask for help to get started, or just plain go out on a limb..but don’t miss out, do it. Do what you enjoy, and taking from a previous blog, “learn by doing.”

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN put themselves out there, even if they “don’t sing the best”. It is not about who is the best, but rather who has the passion to do something, for surely that drive and motivation will be far more valuable in the accomplishment of the task than being the best at it.  Sometimes when one has achieved “best in class”, the passion has waned…sort of a “been there, done that” kind of emotion. When the passion is there, the time is right!

If you have the desire, the passion, go and do, whether you are the best or not, go and do!

Find Your Sunshine


I am at my best when I have a busy day in front of me.  Right after my meditation, I check to see what is on the calendar for the day.  When the day is packed I am a happy women, usually work out and then begin to take on the day. On the slower days, I notice that I take a little longer to get to the gym and frankly I  don’t seem to workout quite as vigorously as I do when there is a full day ahead.  Yesterday was one of those days.

As a result, I decided to take a quick trip over to St Armand’s Circle and browse in some of my favorite shops.   While passing by the new fashions displayed in the windows usually lures me inside,  today I didn’t see one thing in any window that encouraged me to step inside.  All of a sudden,  as I passed a store I rarely shop in, large letters adhered to the outside of the window glared at me and stopped me in my tracks.

“Find your sunshine”, the words commanded. I entered that store immediately! I simply had to congratulate someone on the very important reminder they were sending to the community.

Find your sunshine!

The sign reminds all of us to find our happy in the event that we  have misplaced it for one reason or another.  I have my sunshine with me almost always and  so do you! That’s why we smile a lot and generally see the positive side of life. Occasionally, however, we seem to forget to let  our sunshine out, hiding the infectious smile.  The sign reminds us that it is not enough to keep our happy inside, we need to display it, to share it as a reminder to others to find their sunshine as well.  When we smile, others smile. When we smile, others feel better.

Women with High SUCCESSTROGEN smile easily, displaying their sunshine and warming others around them. Happy is a major part of who they are.

If my smile isn’t coming easily on a given day,  I take a moment and review my mental list of things for which I am grateful.  I recall something  funny, a time when I laughed out loud, and my smile reappears quickly. My go-to tool is to recall a recent funny late conversation with  Helen and Leah. Some of those memories actually make me laugh out loud, and more important, smile again!

What is it that brings out your smile? What is it that helps you “find your sunshine?

Learn by Doing


I enjoyed another delightful weekend  in Rumson, NJ, with twin seven-year olds, Harry John and  Mae.  After playing hours upon hours of “Dr Scarlet, the Horse Vet”, I declared that all my horses  were now healed and we should play another game.  Next  we painted race cars and  set up our own Nascar-esq event.  Hours later, while Harry and Mae were still going strong, my back began to tell me I had raced enough cars and I found my way to the couch.

Sitting on the couch to many of you means watching TV or perhaps even taking a little nap.  Sitting on the couch to Harry and Mae means its  iPad games time! We always start with my word games but when Yenga, the game designers, refuse to accept Harry and Mae’s made up words, Harry and Mae opt out and find a game of their own to teach me.

The game of the day was  “Jump Car”.  Mae  downloaded it and was giggling while playing, often uttering, “You guys have to play “Jump Car”! It is so much fun!”  Harry quickly downloaded the game on his iPad.  I was just closing my eyes, (just for a moment mind you), trying to rest. In true twin unison, they both exclaimed: “Gram, you have to download “Jump Car”!  I was not as skilled at “Jump Car” as I am at Words with Friends.  When I asked the kids a fourth time to show me how to skip over the bars and avoid hitting the other cars,  I saw Mae look at Harry and simply raise her eyebrows as if to say, “Oh Brother, Gram just doesn’t get it!.”

That’s when Harry put his hands on my shoulders, looked me square in the eyes and said ever so slowly,  “Just – keep – trying – it, Gram. You – learn- as – you – go !”

“… learn as you go.”

How wise Harry was!  The only way to learn something is to actually do it.  You can listen to the explanation of an expert, watch a UTube, or enter an online chat to learn about almost something. But at the end of the day, you really learn most things by doing,  “as you go.”

Life is a “learn as you go” series of events, with no instructor’s guide.  No one taught us how to be a mom, a lover, a business woman, or an entrepreneur.  We learned by doing.  I could have used a rule book when all five of my children were teenagers way back when! When my marriage ended, no one taught me how to pick up and move on with strength and confidence. No one taught me how to forgive a wrongdoing, but I learned by forgiving.

I have come to believe that if we women were all identical, there would be a rule book on how to be a woman,mom, entrepreneurs, spouse or partner.  Moms would read a list of what to do when and it would all work out perfectly.  Relationships would last forever because we would all follow the rules.  Entrepreneurs would know how their product would get to market when they followed the carefully scripted plan.  But we are not all the same, not even close! As a result, there are no rule books, only a few guidelines, and we have to learn by doing, every step of the way.  We continue moving when things are working, and we alter what we are doing when it is not working.  It’s called “learn by doing”.

High SUCCESSTROGEN women enjoy the freedom to learn by doing, not being controlled by boundaries telling them what, when, where and how. They rely on their confidence and their innate abilities to move through life in a way that is enjoyable, challenging, productive., and rewarding.

Some women have put their lives on hold a bit, unsure or unwilling to fail. Perhaps they are still waiting for the “how to”book. There will never be a rule book on how to become YOU. You have to learn who you are by doing, by taking chances, and using your best judgement.  You learn by doing, observing, and listening, and yes, by failing occasionally along the way.

If you have put your next steps on hold, because you are unsure how to move forward or away, you might start with downloading the “Jump Car” app and learn by playing. And after that, take charge of your life. Go and do, and learn by doing.  Enjoy the freedom to move from where you are and create your life according to you.

It’s Not About the Shoes




I agreed to meet  friends  last night for a quick “Hello, What’s Up?”.  I walked up the street and paused on the corner to make sure the approaching driver was aware I was about to cross.  A women stepped alongside of me. “Great shoes!” she said as she pointed to my feet. I looked down to remind myself which pair I had selected and smiled. I was wearing my  favorite bright red, patent leather, strappy shoes.   I responded, “Thanks. Nordstrom.”   My comments were short and to the point, after all I was about to cross the street, and I knew she didn’t saddle up to me to chat about the 2016 Presidential Election.   She just wanted to know where she could get the same shoes. She actually took a photo of them and I suspect by now she has a pair of her own.

When I arrived at the restaurant, my favorite waitress greeted me whispering,  “I want those shoes!” I hugged her and then hugged my two friends already settled in a booth with a glass of wine.   “Love your shoes, Mary Ann!”  they said almost in unison. Again, I noted “Nordstrom”.  I could see they both made a mental note of it and now there would be at least four pair of these same shoes in town.

I like it when others notice my shoes, new hair style, or dress. We all like compliments. But I remember well  when compliments on what I was wearing were meaningless to me.   When I was studying for my doctoral degree, I spent two weeks every summer in Atlanta with my cohort working on our research projects. I worked hard.  I received too many compliments from both the students and my professors about the dress I was wearing or the shoes that “brought the whole look together.”   Here I was at 62 years old struggling to get through this difficult program, especially learning how to conduct research. I would have welcomed recognition of my contributions in class, my writing capability, or how well I facilitated  a team  project.  The compliments about my wardrobe fell way short of what was important to me. Finally  one professor used my written work as an example of good academic writing, and that one compliment gave me the incentive to continue the academic challenge ahead of me.

If I could choose the  compliments coming my way today. they  would not be about my appearance. It isn’t how we look that defines us as women with high SUCCESSTROGEN.  It is about what we do , how we make the world a little better. I like the wise words from one of the greatest athletes of our time,

“It’s not about the shoes, it’s what you do in them”. (Michael Jordan)

Shoes….in their simplest form, they are a nice alternative to the hazards of walking in bare feet. But the impact you have on the world  is a direct result of your decision to help others everyday in those shoes.

What do you do to serve and help others?  How do you make others feel? Why is the world a better place with you in it?

Gotta go, I’ve got a meeting to attend.  I will probably notice what the other women are wearing, and surely check out their shoes, but  if I offer a compliment, I am going to focus on their behavior, what they do. This is perhaps another way I can make a difference.  Care to join me?