How Don Henley, Bain de Soleil and Agree Shampoo Saved My Summer


We made it through the summer and the first week of school…pretty proud of all of us as there was minimal mayhem. Wanted to share this old post, it makes me want to roll down the windows and turn the music up a bit ….

Originally posted on Violet Heels:


The past few months I’ve thought a lot about the summers before I headed off to college. I didn’t have a care in the world as I sat on the beach at the water’s edge, allowing the cool ocean to run over my perfectly painted toes. Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” played in the background, making me dream of summer romances and moonlit nights.

It’s funny how a song or a smell can take you back to a moment in time that occurred so long ago. Don Henley, Bain de Sole, and Agree shampoo all bring me back to my summers by the shore. Lazy summer days and nights filled with parties under a gleaming moon, the popping sounds of cold beers being opened and the hopes of meeting a summer crush loomed in the air. The waves, crashing on the shore, provided the perfect background sound for those…

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A Duffer, A Christian and a Bird walked into a Bar….


Now, to be totally honest, I had not a single clue what a Duffer was. I knew (from the photo’s) that it was a group of guys I went to Elon with and, quite frankly, thought that they came up with the name…The Duffers…after a few rounds of golf and many more rounds of drinks.

Come to find out that a Duffer is:

  1. A person inexperienced at something, especially at playing golf
  2. Invisible dwarves in the Chronicles of Narnia

So we know that, though majestic, Elon was not Narnia… A- Would be the appropriate choice.

These Duffers, though initially inexperienced, became bolder and more empowered over the years…just as we all do.

So, in fact, maybe a Duffer is how we all started… Inexperienced at something, many things. Always learning and growing and figuring it all out.

So to start at the beginning, a long time ago, I was a part of a magical place…surrounded by Oaks and fountains and green grass and to this day (I am sure) there is nothing like it. I know that to be true. Time stopped for a moment, long enough for me to find family outside of anyone or anything I had ever known.

And I met a group of boys, boys who I would see at a bar. Boys who always smiled at me. Boys who I knew were good, and true and crazy fun. And there was one with a smile that would rival the sun. It was infectious and you could pick him out in every photo because his zest for life shone in his eyes. And, like the Cheshire cat- he had a wonderful and mischievous grin. He was always there through time and space and as we rolled along I thought of him as Gatsby, like the green light… His smile was like Gatsby’s, pure and driven by all that was good.

“He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.” –The Great Gatsby-

We learn and love and lose and fall and get up again- no one escapes failure and defeat, it is an inevitable part of life. When you fall, those that soften the blow are the most important cushion, and that for most, for the Duffers has been Elon. The common bond, the Numen Lumen-what we used to laugh about over several beers repeating it again and again…not really knowing the true meaning. But now (thanks to Wikipedia) we know that these words are about love and light and God’s space. It’s where we began and, in a way, where we all end…in the hands of each other. No matter the name or the symbol—we belong to each other. Phoenix, Fighting Christians, Sorority, Fraternity…we are each other’s love and light…Numen Lumen.

God Speed Mark Foley-you are our green light.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.



How to Stay Friends for 30 Years

This wonderful post was written by Amy Byrnes (who I believe is a kindred spirit due to her past love of Forenza sweaters and Busch light). She has a wonderful blog in which she details her life as a  “Mom. Sandwich maker. Counter wiper. Dream killer. Blogger,” in  ‘A’ My Name is Amy. Her stories will make you laugh, cry and yearn for the days when life’s biggest decision was what you were going to wear out that night. Because, let’s face it, life is hard and messy and, as the years go by, gets harder.

How to Stay Friends for 30 Years will take you back to when you met your best girl friends and the roads that you traveled together (and separately). And makes your re-realize what you already know…that you couldn’t live without them.

768b919fa22206ad0360afc9e99e9a8eThirty years ago this fall, I moved into a tiny single room in an all-girls dorm at the University of Delaware with another girl I’d never laid eyes on before who lived in a city I’d never even thought much about before at a school I’d never even visited before. And it all clicked.

Long after we’d become good friends – after spending months lying on our bunk beds and talking late into the night – she’d confided that based on my fancy-sounding street address she figured I was some New Jersey princess and given that she hailed from Baltimore, I assumed she lived in the projects. But our preconceived notions were quickly dismissed after we met and bonded our first night at school trying to haul a case of Busch beer, which we had talked someone into buying us, about a mile back to our dorm room concealed in a duffel bag. It turned out that when it came to underage drinking, we were both resourceful and well matched.

It was dumb luck that landed the two of us together and that we happened to get along so well. In 1984, decades before incoming freshmen hand-picked their college roommates on Facebook to coordinate color themes and bedding, you just showed up and hoped for the best.

The first indication that we belonged together was that we both ended up squished together in a dorm room meant for one person after we failed to submit our housing forms in a timely fashion. We were both pretty slovenly and liked to drink beer. I was introduced to George Thorogood and NRBQ and she tolerated my infatuation with Prince and the poster I hung of him on our wall. She brought with her a two-foot-tall red ashtray, one of those industrial type receptacles where you stub the butt out and then press a button to release it into the can. And because our tiny room became the hub for all of our new friends to come and smoke cigarettes and watch General Hospital most weekday afternoons, the can quickly filled up — which excited us to no end.

We both also brought our good friends from high school to college with us and they became our core group of pals at first. Over time, our gang expanded to include another girl in our dorm and a few more who we met through the sorority I rushed sophomore year. We were kind of a mismatched crew. Some of us would never have ended up friends with others were it not for the group as a whole. But beer and boys were a common denominator with a big dose of bossy thrown in. Somehow when we were all together – despite everybody wanting to be in charge – it just worked.

By the time we graduated in the spring of 1988, the eight of us had been through a lot – failed romances, missed periods and more than a few drunken nights. A few days before graduation we gathered in a tiny side room of the sorority house and passed around a bottle of champagne for each of us to sign and vowed to save it to drink when the last of our crew got married. We finally drank it in September 2000, when the final one of our crew got hitched and right before I celebrated my own tenth wedding anniversary.

How could we have known then, as we passed the cheap, fizzy wine around for each of us to sip, what the following ten years would hold? That three of our marriages would collapse and that the union we celebrated that night, dancing under the stars far out on the east end of Long Island, would be so short-lived? That in less than a year the groom would go to work on a bright September morning at the top of the World Trade Center and never come home?

Maybe in the end it’s the loss that all of us in the group has experienced in one form or another that has brought us even closer than those days when we piled on a couch to watch Moonlighting or borrowed each other’s Benetton sweaters for tailgates. Going off and living our lives became the glue that held our friendship together.

We’ve become so much more than the one-dimensional girls who met 30 years ago. All that loss – of spouses, parents and dreams of the perfect lives we thought awaited us – has let us connect with each other in a much more real way. We tease and joke and boss but there’s a softness to it now.

Inherently, we’re still the same girls we were 30 years ago – The Boss and Study Buddy, The Spy, The Nice One, the Senator (aka Honeypot) the fabulous Jet Setter and the GDI (Goddamn Independent). And I’m always good for laughs. We just have a lot more layers now. So much has happened since we signed that bottle of champagne all those years ago.

The eight of us gathered last weekend for a few days of eating, drinking and laughing as we have almost every year over the last decade. It’s an easy friendship, the kind where even though we don’t keep in touch the way we should and only half of the group is on social media, we can pick right up where we left off.

We’ve long since given up on the notion that we’re actually going to do something when we get together. We usually muster a walk along the beach or through a park under the bright autumn leaves, but mostly, we sit around and talk. And while we probably logged about 100 hours of conversation between the eight of us – on the couch over early morning cappuccinos or curled up together on a bed late at night after one-to-many glasses of red wine – I honestly cannot share any of the discussions with you because they were either too honest or too raunchy.

Most every conversation ended with someone turning to me and saying, “Do NOT blog about that.”

I was describing the group to another friend when I got home, and she laughed and said, “Sounds like it’s the family you get to pick.”

And maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, because even though I’m not sure if we would have picked each other 30 years ago – like in what world would you even think a nice conservative Visitation girl from D.C. would pal around with a Jersey Girl with big, permed hair? – somehow it all works.

But, much like family, over time you don’t love people despite their differences but often because of them. So maybe the secret to staying such good friends over 30 years is learning to appreciate people for who they are or maybe, just like ending up in a tiny room with some girl from Baltimore, it’s just dumb luck.

8 friends + 19 kids + 9 weddings + 3 ex-husbands + 2 boyfriends = 30 years of friendship.

Amy’s Girls

Go take a look at what else Amy has to say… A my name is Amy

Look Up

Look up photo


You can tell that summer is coming to a close. The evenings are now filled with a golden autumn light that encourages all to take advantage of these last, carefree moments. Leaves have begun to drift down, carried to yards of green on soft winds. Parents are smiling a bit brighter, ready for a reprieve from the mayhem of three months of “togetherness” that is beginning to take its toll.

Yes, summer is waving goodbye and I must say this year I’m not as excited as I usually am. There were some things that wanted to do over those lazy, hazy days that I never got around to. Some trips I wish we’d taken but I think that happens every year, you get so busy and pre-occupied with what has to be done that you forget what you wanted to do.

A good friend reminded me of that the other day. She had dropped her children off for their first day of school and decided to take a walk instead of head right into the office. It was something that she had wanted to do for a while, just take a moment and breathe. Many times, she recalled, her walks were focused, determined to complete them in record time in order to get to the “to do” list that waited anxiously. But today, instead of barreling down the road, eyes down, mind filled with pressing thoughts, she looked up.

The sky was a beautiful Carolina blue and the sun shared its golden rays, warming her face and touching her soul. It was the first time that she had allowed herself to walk this way, to take in what was there in that moment. Peace.

In that moment she knew that God was speaking to her in His soft subtle way, telling her to look to Him for all things. To lay her fears and burdens and anxieties and worries at His feet.

No burdens to carry, no worries to ponder what would she do without those things? What do we do without them?

Revel in the majesty of a sunset and let our children’s laughter fill our ears and delight our hearts. Call an old friend and laugh about the past. Realize that all we can do is live in the present, relish each moment we are given and release our future to Him. The One who knows all. The One who creates beautiful golden sunsets, brilliant blue skies and vibrant rainbows to remind us of His love for us.

Look up from your cell phone and your computer and your iPad. Put the pressing list of projects to the side for just a moment and look, really look at the sky and the trees and feel the breeze on your face.

Look at what is real and true.

It only takes a moment.

Look up.


You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’

Maya Angelou

 God Bless you Maya Angelou. Thank you for making us laugh and cry and think…and for teaching us that we really are all in this together.



Not Broken Just Bent-My Messy Beautiful

Bent flower


This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


I sometimes imagine myself on a panel, you know, on a stage where they line up tall chairs for the speakers to awkwardly climb into and talk and be questioned about things or subjects they are experts on. But this panel is different, it is compromised of women, most who have been to hell and back, and they are telling their story of pain and loss and grief. How they survived and overcame and are dealing with breast cancer, infidelity, domestic violence or (unimaginably) the loss of a child. They are there, telling their story, sharing their hell. And then its my turn, my throat is dry and my heart is pounding, I know that my voice will crack or shake or do both if I attempt to speak. I wring my hands to stop them from shaking and I close my eyes and then open them and look down at the line of brave warriors that had gone before me and quietly say ” I got nothing.” Continue reading

In Search of Numen Lumen – In Celebration of Elon University’s 125th Birthday

Elon University







At forty I still feel young, especially when I’m with my college girlfriends. Age and time seem to fade and it’s just like when we were back under the oaks, listening to the Indigo Girls and drinking cold beer under a Carolina blue sky. I long for those days again, when life was simple and major decisions had nothing to do with houses and children and 401K’s. When the biggest crisis was who you were asking to the grab-a-date or finding where you left your bike the night before. It was a time when it was ok and almost expected to be a bit foggy at 11am and when everyone who depended on you was always a bit foggy too.

But time passes and life throws curves and rocks at you, you fall in and out of love and you find what matters most, all while amassing an adult life that you thought that you were supposed to have and aren’t sure that you really want. And with that brings problems and crisis and you find that your family and friends are real people with real problems, not the fairytale figures you created them to be in your youth.

People disappoint you and surprise you and horrify you and you realize that you are grown up and have to be strong because being weak is not an option. Yes, you may have moments of weakness but they can’t last because you have others who depend on your strength so that they may live their own lives and figure out this cycle for themselves. You see people who cannot be strong so you try to give them your strength to get them through and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Continue reading

As Tall As Jesus


I was in my late twenties, sitting in a church pew, clutching my (then) new husband’s hand, tears streaming down my face, I listened to my Mother and Uncles eulogize my Grandfather.

A story was told of a time when they had asked my Grandfather if he wished he was taller. This was a question that caught me off guard as I never thought of my Grandfather as short; he always seemed larger than life to me. When they asked him how tall he wished he was, his response, “As tall as Jesus.”

Gasps were audible throughout the church. The magnitude of the statement just uttered caused spontaneous inhalations of incensed church air. We Catholic’s are good at acting astonished.

My uncles, being the inquisitive bunch that they were (and still are), tried to determine the true height of Jesus through research and general “asking around” but never found a definitive answer. Finally, they went back, feeling discouraged and explained that they weren’t able to figure it out and looked to my Grandfather to solve the puzzle. He laughed a little and said that he didn’t know either but that was the point. Jesus was as tall as he needed to be. Continue reading