Catching a Wave (A #Blogust Post)


Molly says Hi

It was a rushed moment during a tiring evening. My mother in law and I had spent an intense hour and a half at Verizon navigating the purchase of an iPhone for her. We dropped by Publix for some prescriptions she needed. I asked to stop right before entering the store to return a call to my husband. Our little party was standing there, her holding my elbow (she was blind and that is how I assisted with her mobility), clutching her new iPhone so it wouldn’t get stolen, me on my iPhone trying to explain to my husband that we were not at all done with our errands yet (he wanted food…..).

At some point a mom and her two kids walked by. One child was walking; the other was maybe 8 or 9 months old (?), sitting in a stroller. I smiled at both kids and their mom, and the baby waved at me. The mom was surprised and said to her infant, “it’s your first wave!!” She and I shared a quick silent “oh my gosh” moment — I couldn’t get off the phone and she had to concentrate on foot traffic but two moms were happy in that instant …. which all passed unceremoniously in a matter of seconds in front of Publix.

Even though I was a stranger to that child, I was still elated to witness some else’s child’s milestone and his mother’s happiness.

I am just as elated to know that children around the world can have the opportunity to hit their own milestones because of receiving access to immunizations. Although one child currently dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented from with a vaccine, Shot at Life can change that by helping children get vaccines to survive…and thrive.

Just by commenting on or sharing this post, you can help! It’s as easy as a wave …

Shot@Life-Logo_tagline lockup_vertical

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000). Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot ®” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Sisters She Never Had and More

— 1 —


I heard this sentiment expressed in a public radio interview featuring Lynne and Tom Martin, authors of Home Sweet Anywhere. (This interview with Lynne discusses the “postpone nothing” philosophy the couple adopted when they decided to sell their home, “disburse their belongings,” and see the world.)   It is a two-word phrase that says so much more. I concur. Utterly.

home sweet anywhere

— 2 —

When Just Getting To Know Your Massage Therapist …

Sunday, I had a lovely massage from Michelle Butler, LMT. We had mutual acquaintances, so we had a great chat during the massage and immediately Facebook friended each other afterwards. Fast forward to a few hours later when my husband texted “need scallions” to me right after I checked out at Publix and was loading the car. I wasn’t dying to return to the store. Too bad I sent my angry emoji to Michelle instead of to Wayne. OOOOOPSSSS!

Michelle Text

I quickly realized my mistake and corrected it (yes I did send Wayne the same emoji!) but that was embarrassing!


— 3 —

“Clear on the right.”


It is funny how things work out. When I first requested to be considered for Elizabeth Flora Ross’s “The Writer Revived” Summer Series, I had my choice of weeks. Once I had dragged my feet getting back to her, the only week left was the last week of summer. It turns out I needed a summer of driving my father-in-law around to have this piece in me. Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing it (the picture above is the three-way stop I refer to in the piece).

Please click here to read “The Ride” and to understand the reference to “clear on the right.”

— 4 —

When It’s Right to Lean Left

I competed in my Toastmaster Club’s “Evaluation” and “Humorous Speech” contests. It’s always a great experience (as well as slightly nervewracking) to compete. I came in second in both. My humorous speech was based on a true-life situation I encountered in El Salvador. I would love feedback about what works for you as a listener and what doesn’t!


— 5 —

All Those Tenleys!

We got the group photo in from our July 19 “Tenley Party.” I love it! (Tenley Albright is in the center (black dress, pink flowers). My Tenley is in the third row, seated in front of a young woman in red and white stripes.

Photo Credit: Ellen Rogers Photography

Photo Credit: Ellen Rogers Photography


— 6 —


When I got the text from my daughter that she had received a bid from the sorority she wanted, I was in a movie theater and had just glanced down at my phone to check the time. Therefore I couldn’t do anything except take in the information quickly ….. and tear up. She will be pledging the Delta Theta Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi at Valdosta State University. I have never had sisters and was not in a sorority. The prospect of her being part of a sisterhood, especially if it gives her the lifelong bond that my adult friends who were part of sororities still share, makes me exquisitely happy.

Having Sisters

Tenley (left) on bid day!

(AND for item 6.5, she declared a major … PUBLIC RELATIONS!)


— 7 —

This phrase, though.  

Any other language fans out there? I keep seeing this construction all over social media:

This [insert object], though. For example, a cute baby with gorgeous blue eyes might get “those eyes, though.” I get what the writer is intending. Where did it come from? A movie? A book? Clue me in!

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Bringing “Trailahassee” Alive: Summer Trail Series 2014

This summer, I participated in the Gulf Winds Track Club’s Summer Trail Race Series 2014. The series was first held in 2013, and I did not participate. I spent much of that summer seeing other runners’ posts about the trail races, a combination of victorious and “wow can’t believe I survived in that heat” sentiments and wishing I had been part of it. Since the series sells out early (like, in April) I made sure and secure my spot when the opportunity presented itself this year.

One of my regrets about the trail races is that it was utterly impossible to take pictures of the trails since I was so focused on survival. That’s why you’re getting pictures of me instead of nature’s beauty. But I do have this one on the Cadillac Trail that I took one day while on a training run:

Summer Trail Series

Cadillac Trail

Before I recap my memories of the trail series, a quick look at each race:


The first race, on June 21, was a 4.5 miler on Tallahassee’s RedBug Trail. It began at 6 p.m. I ran my Charity Miles that day for the Alzheimers Association in conjunction with the date of the annual Summer Solstice “the longest day.” (The connection with Alzheimer’s is also why I wore purple.) Finished 113/114 in 1:26:45.

swamp forest two

The second race, on July 12, was at the Swamp Forest Trail. It was a morning race, which meant cooler (relatively) weather. I was excited that this race included me crossing the 750 mile mark in my running for Gareth through I Run for Michael (my green shirt represents awareness of mitochondrial disorders (what Gareth has)). I ran for Feeding America via Charity Miles. Finished 108/109 in 1:04:42.


The third race, on July 26, was at the Magnolia Trail. One of the challenges of this race was the time (6 p.m. and HOT), the fact that I had been in New York City for the week prior, and my trip earlier that morning to my family reunion (and all that good southern family reunion chow!) I ran for Team RWB via Charity Miles in honor of Anna Runs America (Anna was running cross country in support of Team RWB as well as the Wounded Warrior Project). The “train” is my favorite memory of this race (the “train” is the small group of us who remained together for a significant portion of the race … toward the end I stepped aside and the others went ahead … but I loved the comments from everyone behind me about us being a train and “in this together.”). Finished 107/108 in 59:03.cadillac

The final race, on August 9, was on the Cadillac Trail (5.5 miles). I was so happy to be debuting my Idiots Running Club singlet. I was running for Team RWB (and Anna) again, also in memory of Murphy, one of our I Run for Michael children who had passed away (and for Gareth, as always…). Finished 86/88 in 1:40:31.


Choo Choo. As I mentioned in my recap of the Magnolia race, the little “train” of runners we created during the Magnolia race (and replicated to some extent during the Cadillac race) was so meaningful to me. The positive vibes from the runners behind me who liked the pace and were counting on me to keep it consistent made me feel so great. I have so often been last or next to last (which is fine!) but once in a while to feel like I am helping another runner hang in there is the best feeling.

HR Issues. During the two evening races, I came to a point in the race where I was struggling mightily with a very elevated heart rate. Far above my Zone 5 (and I rarely run at Zone 5 on purpose). After the RedBug race, I deactivated the beep that tells me I am above my max HR because it was disturbing to hear and I figured the other people on the trail with me didn’t want to hear the constant beeping either. I know (from conversations with other runners) that I am not the only one who struggled with HR issues during these races, but I found it frustrating (and worrisome).

Trail Beauty. I lost count of the times I thought “I wish I could take a picture of this to share” (mostly this was about beauty but other times I wanted people to see how darn technical and difficult some of these trails are because [wait for it.....] I AM NOT ACTUALLY A MOUNTAIN BIKE! (The races were on Mountain Bike trails.)) Pretty beats hard but these trails had plenty of both.

Trail Etiquette. One aspect of this race series that I loved (and that perplexed me at times) was the emphasis on trail etiquette.  I can’t find the original email, but the parts I remember were: no earbuds, respect the trail, don’t leave anything you don’t take out, and pass on the left. There were other etiquette tips, but those are the ones I recall. I appreciate how much care was taken to respect the natural balance of the trails (including capping the series at 150 participants so as not to overestress it). I must admit I was frustrated to see a runner with earbuds (maybe (s)he had missed the instruction). It was a different set of rules than I was used to and I appreciated the way it made me think about running in this environment.

Popsicles and MoonPies Rock. You won’t see me complaining about the post-race spread (and there were healthy options too). I didn’t miss an opportunity to wolf down a post race Moon Pie. Yum.

Working Harder Than Ever. With the exception of a few ill-advised mid-summer runs I took without adequate (i.e., ANY) hydration before I got a hydration belt, this series was the single hardest running endeavor I have ever undertaken. Of course, the fact that it was the hardest makes it the most valued!

Sponsors. We were so fortunate to have the support of some generous sponsors (and props to the Race Director Bobby York for securing all of these donations). Salomon Running came out to all of the races, and at several of them let runners use their shoes for the race. Other sponsors included: Gulf Winds Track Club, Trail & Ski, Trail Runner Magazine, Earth Fare, Power Bar, Smart Wool, Buff Headwear, CamelBak, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Road ID, MoonPie, Damn Good Bikes, and Reflekt.

Volunteers. We had the best volunteers for this series! It takes some dedicated people to work through the sweat and keep us a) from getting lost b) hydrated c) encouraged and d) happy. These volunteers did all of that and more. They were incredible! The diligence taken to make sure the course was well marked is much appreciated. Don’t think I will ever forget “flags on the right”! Those who planted the flags are much valued!

FRIENDS. Many of our Moms Run This Town Tallahassee members participated in this series. There’s nothing like sharing this experience with friends. Thanks, ladies!

mrtt cadillac

Moms Run This Town Tallahassee Cadillac Trail, August 9, 2014

FINALLY. To close things out, I have a few thoughts on the trail series that elude any type of categorization. I am so glad I did this (I think that shows in my words and pictures). The experience made me explore how I really feel about my perennial back of the pack status. The trail environment put me even farther back than a road race would. As much as I jokingly say to people (frequently!), “oh I can’t tell you the number of races I have finished last in, with the law enforcement saying into their walkie talkies ‘hey do you think she’s the last one?’” I don’t take finishing last lightly. I work hard at my running and there is a competitive fire beneath this relatively calm exterior. Am I glad I never finished last? YES. Would I still be happy if I had? YES. Do I find it amusing that the race director said as I headed out for the final race, “My mountain biker isn’t here so when you pass the aid station, let them know you’re it?” YES (And in fairness I had sent him a message the night before imploring him to proceed with the end-of-race awards even though I would probably still be slogging my way through the 5.5 miles (as long as someone noted my time because Lord knows I wanted it noted!)). There were so many times I asked the people behind me “do you want to pass?” Why did I ask them instead of waiting for them to tell me they needed to pass? It was like a microcosm of my southern-bred polite girl life. I think the trail isn’t the place for that! I am also pleased as punch that I never fell down! These trails were tremendously technical (remember, we were runners not mountain bikes!) and I came close to falling many many times. I am grateful I didn’t (but of course I would have gotten back up and persevered!).

Our Gulf Winds Track Club singlets have the word “Trailahassee” on them in small print.

That small print got magnified in the prism of my own sweat this summer.

I am glad we spent the summer together, TRAILAHASSEE.


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Nashville Comes to Carrabelle August 15 and 16, 2014!

Franklin County is in for a treat this weekend, when “Nashville Comes to Carrabelle” takes over Fathoms.  During this event, Fathoms is partnering with Dan Hodges, Music, LLC to present two evenings full of great music, performed by writers whose work has made it to the stage via some big names.

Country Music

The event is Free. It begins at 8:00 p.m. each night (Friday, August 15 and Saturday, August 16). There will be two sets each evening that will feature all artists performing original material. The third and final set will be all of the artists performing cover material while you dance!

The writers will be:

T.W. Hale Country Music

T.W. is a native of Fort Worth, TX. His songs have been recorded by Joe Diffie (A Night to Remember) and Reba McEntire (Why Haven’t I Heard From You) among many. Here is the video of A Night to Remember:

Quinn LogginsCountry Music

Quinn is a Nashvillian born and bred. In addition to his songwriting, Quinn has toured and played behind artists such as Little Big Town, Charlie Worsham, Payton Rae, and others. The highest charting top 40 hit he has written is “Want Me Too” for Charlie Worsham. Here is Katie Armiger performing Trail of Lies, one of the songs he wrote.

Joe CollinsCountry Music

Joe is a singer, songwriter, and musician. His songs have been recorded by Rascal Flatts, Lee Brice, Randy Travis, Billy Ray Cyrus, and other top names in country music.  (He also traveled the country and the world performing as a keyboard player with Tom T Hall, an institution in country music.) Canadian artist Dallas Smith’s recording of Joe’s song “Nothin’ But Summer” spent 16 weeks in the top 10 of the Canadian country charts last summer. Here it is:

Rick Glaze Country Music

Rick is a native Tennessean. Rick won “Best Song Award” and honorable mention from the West Coast Songwriters Association. His songs have been performed by Jared Porter (Good Side of Crazy) and Julie Myers (Your Eyes Are Telling on You). His song “Beach Down in the Islands” was featured on CMT’s “Cowboy U” reality program.

Trafton HarveyCountry Music

Trafton currently lives in North Florida, but has resided in Nashville and travels there frequently for his songwriting career. He has written with writers such as Dan Goodman, Jerry Foster, and other accomplished writers. In addition, he has opened for Tracy Lawrence, Marty Raybourn, and Colt Ford. In the clip below, Trafton performs “She Loves Me.”

Grant Peeples (Saturday Night Only) Grant Peeples

Grant has been called “a guitar-slinging poet” by Music News Nashville. Samples of Grant’s work can be seen in the clip below:

Great music, great food (and beverages of course!), in the most laid back and enjoyable of places. Nashville in Carrabelle … put it on your calendar!

fathoms view

 Fathoms is located at 201 St. James Avenue, Carrabelle, FL.

Phone:  (850) 697-9712

For directions, click here.

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Dancing Through Life, Defying Gravity

If you want a summer to fly by, make sure your college-bound freshman signs up for early move-in. It’s a guaranteed way to make June and July evaporate as quickly as you can say hot, hazy, and humid.

Tenley and I had several conversations over the last few weeks in which we discussed whether or not I am sad. I had so much fun in college, that I am mostly happy … for her embarking on her life as a young adult, for the memories she will build, for all of her tomorrows.

Am I sad? Yes, for the things that didn’t get done, for the things I wish in retrospect I had done differently, for times when worry, distraction, or misplaced priorities interfered with me giving my family the full attention they deserved.

Happy or sad, I know one thing. I am full of love and hope for a young woman who is deeply treasured.

cp boathouse

New York City, Central Park Boathouse July 2014

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Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers

The Blogoverse has a new citizen and that is a very good thing. Since March, Pam has been blogging at Pass The Honey. pass the honey Pam and I recently started a Facebook conversation about blogging and how to make the most out of a blog. As I started my response to her, I decided to share my thoughts as a blog post.  Pam does have some specific questions, but I am going to share some “basics” first with my top ten tips for new bloggers and save my answers to the specifics for a later post.

Make A Date With The Page

This is the single best piece of advice I have ever been given about blogging. All of the credit goes to Nametag Scott. He advised me to “pick a frequency and stick to it, whether you feel like writing or not.” I prefer a less ambitious frequency to a more ambitious. For example, I blog every Sunday and occasionally create a post on an additional day. If I felt pressure to post three times a week, however, it would be difficult for me to keep that up. “Perspicacity will post every Sunday” also helps readers know what to expect.

Choose A Platform

I began blogging on Blogger and eventually changed to WordPress. For me, the move has been for the better in several key areas. My spam problems (and “anonymous commenter” problems) have been virtually eliminated by the use of Akismet. My ability to use Google Analytics has been enhanced (maybe it’s just as easy with Blogger but I did not start using Google Analytics until I had switched to WordPress).  I find it easier to work with images in WordPress than Blogger.

Quality Writing Matters

No matter how you write (or how widely you distribute your blog), poor writing will hurt your blog and your audience’s receptiveness to future content. Do you want to read mediocre writing? (That said, the main reason I blog is to flex my writing muscle, so I know that some of my writing will be better than other pieces. As with anything else in life, take the time to pay attention to your content rather than posting just to post. (Conversely, I can paralyze myself with worrying about a piece of writing’s readiness. There are times we you just have to press “publish.”))

Think About Images

Different bloggers have different thoughts about images, but for me a post feels almost incomplete without at least one image. I know as a reader I prefer to have a visual to accompany the words. One source of visual content is (wait for it…) our own lives! Here is a post that presents some great tips for creating your own visual content for your blog. Sources of free photo content that does not require permission from the creator are plentiful. I like Morgue File and a WordPress Plugin called PhotoDropper which literally drops in a photo you choose from its collection and attaches the appropriate credit to the post (it is only available for WordPress, though).

A favorite image taken with my iPhone.

A favorite image taken with my iPhone.

Be Accurate

I suppose I worded this one pretty bluntly, but if you are going to write about facts, get them right. I once hosted a giveaway for Jason’s Deli on my blog and stated that there had been a “parade of short-lived establishments since Banjo’s Barbecue had vacated.” There had not been a “parade,” there had been one (not sure where my memory pulled the “parade” from) and a commenter called me on it. Unfortunately, that was when I was still on blogger and the commenter was anonymous (although I am pretty sure I know who it was). The frustration is I would like to have followed up with them personally but could not due to the anonymous comment. (I did make a correction to the post, however.)

Say Yes to Yoast

If you want your posts to be found, one component that is important is your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A fabulous tool for making your post more “findable” by search engines and the like is the WordPress SEO Plug-in from Yoast.  Among several useful features, Yoast helps the blogger create a “meta description” that is most attractive to potential readers. Let’s take my World Book Night 2014 post, for example. When I first published the post, the meta description was a mess (it appears in the “snippet preview”): WBN Yoast I went into Yoast and made some adjustments (the text in the “meta description” box): WBN Yoast Two

Get Permission

There are protocols that you should follow as a blogger. Certainly if you are going to use an image, give credit to the creator and obey all copyright laws. But “permission” extends to other areas of blogging too. If you are going to excerpt someone else’s writing, link to their original work or credit them prominently and (if it is an extensive excerpt) let them know in advance (or at a minimum send them the link afterwards).

Get The Word Out

I have read various estimates of how many blog posts are published in the world daily. Suffice it to say the number is high. There’s no way you could read them all. For that reason, it is important to make sure your blog gets in front of people.  This is an area where I could certainly make improvements, but for now here is what I do.

  • Make sure there is a place on my blog where people can subscribe by email
  • Participate in Triberr, which amplifies my reach by tweeting out my posts via other bloggers (and vice versa)
  • Participate in Linkups, where bloggers share their posts and agree to comment on others’ posts (a favorite linkup of mine is the SITS Girls Saturday Sharefest)

Talk Amongst Yourselves

Although I blog to flex my “writing muscle,” I would be lying if I didn’t say that comments rock my world. I love to know that people are reading, and I have had some great dialogues via my comments section (as well as heaps of support at various times in my life). “Comment to others” goes in the category of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Share generously on others’ blogs and hopefully many of them will do the same for you. Likewise, respond back when someone comments to you.  Creating a community around your blog (or at least a sense that you’re having an ongoing conversation) is, to me, an important piece of blogging success.

Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you understand how many people are visiting your blog as well as a host of other metrics related to your readership. While it’s easy to get unnecessarily wrapped up in these metrics, it is also helpful to know if anyone is reading (and how long they’re staying, how frequently they’re returning, etc.). I also need to be able to report my Google Analytics data when I am applying for various sponsored post opportunities.

Top 10 Tips


Enjoy it. There is hardly any mistake you could make that would be a fatal flaw. Writing block happens; typos happen. Life gets in the way of posting. Pam, you’re a year away from retirement and, to quote you, “I want an exciting life and I will try my best to have it.” Something tells me you’re going to succeed, and I for one can’t wait to read all about it on your blog!  Pam’s blog can be found at Pass the Honey (link here). Stop by and say hello!

(Lastly, Pam was Tenley’s (my daughter) English teacher last year. Thank you for making her senior year one in which the joy of words was alive and well!)

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#7QT – Blogging Beats Cleaning House

Although I don’t participate in #7QT every week, I am a sucker for doing it when I receive Christina’s weekly #7QT in my email, especially when I am procrastinating cleaning house, which is what I really need to be doing. This post is probably borne of rather self-centered motives (needing to procrastinate the housecleaning, needing to process some things) so thank you for reading anyway!

— 1 —

Housecleaning Avoidance. The aforementioned housecleaning issues. Call me very slow on the uptake or to come to the realization, my operating premise that if I just work hard enough, I can bring in enough income to have a housekeeper again is seriously flawed. After all, I left my job on May 2 and am not bringing in any income. Theoretically, that should free up lots of time for housecleaning but who has time to clean when there’s a #7QT to write? Right?

— 2 —

Elders Regressing. The parallels between raising a young child from infancy and taking care of an elderly relative as their health declines present themselves to me daily. With a baby, you are so excited about every new development, knowing that is going to lead (eventually) to their independence. With an elder, you are so saddened by every new regression, knowing that is going to lead (eventually) to their continued dependence and lack of autonomy.


— 3 —

Speaking of the caretaking, show me, I challenge you, one person consuming “Boost” or one of those other “nutrition enhancers” who matches the vitality on their commercials. In our case, my FIL needs the nutrition because he eats so poorly so we will gladly hand him almost anything with calories and nutrients. But I feel very dubious about the product’s ability to help him “Stay Strong, Stay Active.” I would go for strong and active enough to be able to open their funky packaging!


— 4 —

My and Tenley’s trip was such a fun time. We both love New York City and we both certainly loved getting to meet Tenley Albright, after whom she is named, in Boston. How fortunate we were to have that time in those places.

tenley fireworks

— 5 —

What should I guest post about? I will be guest posting on The Writer Revived later this month, and I am undecided re: the topic. I am pretty sure (based on the thoughts kicking around in my brain) that it will be related to the “elder care” issues we are currently experiencing but I am open to others!

— 6 —

It’s fun to cook! I love baking but have been doing less and less of it. When my Triberr tweeted out About A Mom’s recipe for Lemon Buttermilk Blueberry Pie, my local television station tweeted “make us one!” As it turns out, About A Mom is in Augusta, GA, so she can’t easily come down to Tallahassee but I have taken on the challenge. I love the measuring, the following directions, the final product. I can’t wait to deliver it to its intended recipients (I did mini phyllo versions since they are going to a television station and it seemed like minis would be easier to pass around).

blueberry tart

— 7 —

Flying high thanks to Anna.  Anna is running America ( to benefit Wounded Warrior Project and Team Red White and Blue. When she was given a skydiving excursion for her birthday, she chose to give it to a veteran (Robert Covington). Click this link to watch what happened! (I love the joy in his voice!)

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Grace, Tenacity, Humor (Meeting Tenley Albright)

On Friday, July 18, Tenley and I left for Tampa to fly up to Boston. In addition to Boston, the trip would take us to Connecticut to spend time with dear friends, then to New York City where we indulged our love of NYC and saw more friends. The reason for going to Boston deserves its own post, though.

The library was my sanctuary as a relatively bright yet awkward, athletically challenged, overweight elementary school kid at W.E. Cherry Elementary in Orange Park, Florida. Then (as now) I would pretty much read anything. I gravitated to a biography of champion figure skaters. I am not sure how many times I checked that book out over my elementary school years, but I have to have been one of its most frequent readers. That book was the first time I was introduced to the name “Tenley,” because it covered the career and eventual gold medal Olympic championship of Tenley Albright. I can’t say that at that moment I said “if I have a daughter someday I will name her Tenley” but the name was always on my short list.

My fascination with figure skating was a constant throughout my life. I got to attend the National Championships in Detroit in 1994 (yes, the year of “the Kerrigan/Harding incident) and in Providence, RI, in 1995.

1996 rolled around, with a due date in July for our daughter, and the naming process began in earnest. Wayne wanted to indulge his love of Russian history with “Anastasia.” Several options that would honor his recently deceased sister Ann Elizabeth were contenders: Eliza, Liza. I had a “J” category: Josie, Jocelyn. I wanted to honor my Aunt Grace, who was a favorite, but I have a superstition that naming a kid Grace dooms her to a lifetime of clutziness! The more we tossed around the “Tenley” idea, the more it stuck. That’s how Tenley Anastasia came to be.

And thus started 18 years of:

Is that a family name?

Tinsley, Tensley, Other Variations

And 18 years of me trying to convey to Tenley Albright, after whom our Tenley was named, how much her story had inspired me and that I wanted her to know how we had made the choice to name our daughter Tenley.

I wrote letters, sent emails, tried every way I possibly could to share this information with her. Selfishly, I felt like I was the only one with the brilliant idea to use this name but as it turns out I was most definitely not alone! In an October 2011 blog post, “get a response from Tenley Albright” was #1 on my list of “22 Things I Haven’t Done.”

Lo and behold, I eventually did get a response (her wonderful daughter Elee found my blog and communicated with me and facilitated a response) but that blog, and the power of social media, coalesced into this moment on July 19, 2014:

Tenley Albright

Meeting Tenley Albright at the Skating Club of Boston/”My Name is Tenley” Party

Eight days later, it is still difficult to talk about this evening without gushing. About how well organized the event was. About how gracious Tenley Albright and her daughters were (this picture was taken almost as soon as we walked in … she agreed to as many private pictures as we wanted to take, and a professional photographer took a picture of Tenley Albright with each of the 66 Tenleys present). About the relief for this prosopagnosic of everyone being named the same thing. About ice skating (yes these two Floridians laced up!).

ice skating

About the ice skating demonstration, including a young Tenley (Rutledge). About the video, the dinner, the testimonials almost every Tenley gave about living with the name (apparently I need to visit a certain well-named watering hole in DC next time I’m there!). About the utter classiness of the event (classy yet welcoming). (For the Boston Globe article about the event, click here.)

tenley photo session

(My shot from afar of the Albright/Kiger photo moment.)

Right before the picture of Tenley Albright and me was taken I tried to stumble through the “I read a book about you in 4th grade and that’s what inspired me to name my daughter after you” story. What my statement lacked in finesse, I know it made up for in sincere gratitude.

Tenley Albright is an individual with many accomplishments, including overcoming polio, winning an Olympic Silver Medal (1952), winning an Olympic Gold Medal (1956), becoming a physician, raising three daughters, and (currently) directing the MIT Collaborative Initiatives. All of those things are very, very big deals, and make me happy that I named my daughter after someone so successful.

But after spending an evening with her (and the 66 other Tenleys), there is something much more basic that speaks to me. As I wrote that evening before turning in for the night, she demonstrates grace, tenacity, and humor.

And she was real and kind.

Those are the kinds of attributes that blaze even brighter than the Olympic flame.

I am grateful.

Assembling all the Tenleys for a group photo (note each one has a flower in her hair!).

Assembling all the Tenleys for a group photo (note each one has a flower in her hair!).

This brief video provides a glimpse into Tenley Albright’s life:

***Lastly, this blog is about my experience. Ultimately this was intended to be for my Tenley. And although she shared with me many of her impressions, and the conversation she had with Tenley Albright during their private moment together, I can’t speak for her. Her story is hers to share if and when she wants to.

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Always Ripe (A #MandelaDay Post)


On Friday, July 18, people around the world shared their favorite Nelson Mandela quotes on the occasion of the sixth “Mandela Day” and the first since his death in December 2013. For more information about Mandela Day, please visit this link.

To see my quote, view the following brief video:

According to the Mandela Day website, Nelson Mandela followed three rules throughout his life:

  1. Free yourself.
  2. Free others.
  3. Serve every day.

July 18 is the “official” day. That leaves 364 others in which we can each “serve every day.” Is there a cause calling your name? Tapping at your conscience? Enticing you to contribute your energy?

The time is ripe to do right.  

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“Pronouns Matter” and Other Favorite Quotes

Mama’s Losin’ It
Since I was undecided regarding what to blog about today, I checked my “drafts” folder and decided to tackle one of the 23 “posts-to-be” that had never seen the light of day. The oldest one is the list of Mama Kat prompts for the week of April 11, 2013. One of the prompts is “list 6 of your favorite quotes.” Seems like a timeless one to me, so here goes.

 Six Favorite Quotes

Pronouns Matter. ~ Me

I have been a user of the #bringbackourgirls hashtag, signifying my strong belief that the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls should be returned immediately to their families. What I am having trouble reconciling, though, is the thought in my head that if the reaction (of some) to the current influx of Central American children across our borders were to have its own hashtag, it would be #sendbacktheirgirls. I know these are two very different situations. Each one is complex and presents components that are extremely difficult for outside governments to intervene in. As I said in Cindy Levin’s post:

“Although I like the hashtag #bringbackourgirls (and use it daily), I have to honestly ask if we would consider these girls “our” girls when it was the basic matter of helping them get access to education (and health care, and parity, among other things) were it not for this crisis? We can all do better, not just when there is an immediate crisis but when there is a long term smoldering one as well. And for every girl, everywhere.” 

It seems that with these Central American children we have found ourselves dealing with the effects of a long term smoldering crisis. I suspect part of the difference is that the Nigerian girls are an ocean away and the Central American girls (and boys…) are on our territory. I just don’t understand how the Nigerian girls can be “ours” while the Central American girls are “theirs.”

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A day I ran for “Saraya,” one of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls.

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~ Epictetus

So many inspiring quotes flow through my social media stream every day. Many of them give me a momentary spark of “yeah!” “so true!” “you only get one shot!” I have struggled, however, with the truth of those sentiments in the face of the reality of my obligations and choices I made decades ago which made it harder to truly “follow my bliss.” I guess the part of this that sticks the most is “say to yourself what you would be.” Without clarity about the eventual goal (what you would be), it’s possible you’ll waste a lot of time along the way expending your energies for things that don’t matter.

Only 3% of people have written goals; the other 97% work for them (paraphrase) ~ Brian Tracy

Hmm…. the value of including this favorite quote was being honest with myself about the fact that I have not listed my goals for this year. Problem solved. The “sub 30 5K” goal is a perennial. I am not giving up.

2014 goals

2014 Goals

The map is not the territory. ~ Alfred Korzybski

I love this one, and it is in the same family of concepts (to me) as the Epictetus quote. This quote seemed relevant to my work as an administrator at a program subject to many different agency rule sets, some state, some federal. You may have a single-spaced 40-page technical guidance document holding you to what font size to use, what match rate to apply, what literacy level to write your materials to, but are you doing the task you set out to do? (which in our case was insuring uninsured children). It also applies in a more broad context to life; are we so busy ticking off mile markers that we don’t realize that the town we originally set out to visit is now deserted?

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. ~ Rumi

A wise therapist gave me an assignment once to “check out whatever instantly appeals to you at the library and go away for a weekend and immerse yourself.” The only books I remember checking out were a childbirth book and a family relationships book. I wonder what I would check out on a similar assignment now, decades later. I know I love social media, and I know people I trust in the industry have advised me not to do it for a living. The appeal of social media (and the beauty of it) is the ability to write and communicate visually, along with “connecting the dots” of people who would not otherwise come into each others’ lives.

“Every problem has a solution.”

This quote is from the movie Philadelphia. Besides the obvious truth of the quote (even though solutions often seem elusive), the movie holds special meaning for me. Wayne and I saw it shortly after his sister Ann died, and it seemed to tap into some deep emotional crevasse that had already been pried open.

Ultimately, “every problem has a solution” ties into my #1 (“pronouns matter”). Some problems in our world seem to only have solutions riddle with imperfections that take those solutions out of contention. I think, however, we must not give up trying, for “our” girls, “their” girls …. for all girls.

What is one of your favorite quotes?


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