Living With Gusto

Strength: You’ve Got It

“You never know how strong you are until being strong

is the only choice you have.”

Bob Marley

Most of us have been through things that have shown us—beyond our imaginings—what we are capable of. As we think back on those horrible days we are in awe of our perseverance and accomplishment, wondering how we ever survived. But we are strong, and we rise to meet need as the warriors we are.

I have a close friend who has walked through some of the most difficult things life has to offer. A particularly bad season was when she was making the drive to Detroit several times a week to take her infant son to Children’s Hospital. This went on for several months. She barely saw her husband and other infant son and was physically and emotionally worn out—the kind of worn out that trying to sleep in the hospital and fighting for your baby’s life will bring. The kind of exhaustion that causes you to nod off at the red light. When I exclaimed that I didn’t know how she’d done it, her response was, “What option did I have?”

And she was correct. Sometimes we just don’t have a choice and have to keep putting one foot in front of another.  And somehow the strength comes when needed.

One of the most grueling seasons in my life was during the time my mom lived with us while battling cancer. That was difficult enough, but my husband also had two back surgeries which put him out-of-commission on pain meds (so I was basically single-parenting), I was managing my mom’s in-home caregivers, both she and my husband were making frequent trips to the hospital, my two special needs 4 year olds were not sleeping, or if they were my daughter’s feeding pump would jam—sometimes two and three times a night, and I was rising at 4:30 each morning to get everyone ready so I could go teach my second graders—on very little sleep. Oh, and did I mention I was older—fifty-two, but who was counting? Let me tell you, I’m not sure how I ever survived those months!

mimis tea bag


So how do we find the strength to make it through these times? Looking back it seems impossible, but somehow I found the strength to do everything that was needed. I know that I prayed a lot! My prayer was often only, “Oh God! Oh God!”.  (Good thing He can read between the lines.) And I talked with my close friend, who gave me amazing support.

Some women turn to yoga, meditating, or exercise to calm and restore. Some attend support groups, community functions, or read. Sometimes just talking to a friend will help us see perspective and cause us to realize how strong we are and how far we have come.

Talking out loud can help us process our next steps, or just receive the support from another that gives us strength. Never discount how powerful helping to bear someone’s burden can be!

It’s important for women to gather, share, and support each other. Women are social creatures and amazing things happen when they gather and hang out together.

Don’t be afraid to tell your “warrior” stories to others. You may well inspire someone and help them gain strength in their journey. Yes, we may wish we’d done some things differently or better, but in the long run we did the best we could at the time. And most likely we were amazing! And look how strong we have become!

Hang in there Warrior Woman. And share your story.

Much love, Mimi

This post was originally an article written for Women2Women Magazine, of which I’m the editor. You may view our digital magazine online to read other great articles.


Christmas Reflections, Mimi's Messages

All They Want For Christmas Is YOU!

Christmas gift 12.17.18 logo

We pressure ourselves to get the best Christmas gifts for our children. We just want them to be excited and happy. Well, guess what? This teacher tells us that what has mattered most to her students is spending time with their parents. And as a retired teacher, I can vouch for her.

christmas words from a teacher

Kids want US! They want our attention. They want us to do fun things with them, simple things. Spending time. Cuddling while watching silly Christmas movies. Popping corn. Sledding. Going for a walk. Reading together. Just being together is so special. Without the phone and laptop between us!!

Make traditions of baking, reading special stories each year, playing board games, telling about their yearly ornaments, helping those in need as a family, remembering favorite happenings during the year, attending seasonal concerts, church services, dinners…. there are many ways to be with your children. If you are completely worn out from shopping, and cranky about spending too much money, you won’t even feel like spending time with them. And to our children, spending time together matters. And it doesn’t cost a thing.

Here’s to a Christmas season FULL of making memories and spending time together, connecting with each other, not the internet.

Lots of hugs and Merry Christmas!



Living With Gusto

“This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Fiction.”

“Humans love a good story!” Yes! Enter Passionista At Large.

I love stories. I love to tell stories. I love to read stories. I’m a voracious reader. And I seriously struggle with non-fiction unless it’s written in a storyteller-like way.

When I was teaching elementary school I turned everything I could into a story. I knew that it was the best way I learned, and figured my students could benefit too. Now there is research to prove it. This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Fiction. Yay! Right on Mrs. Matthews!

I remember a particularly difficult year (a very long time ago–like 1990?) that I taught a 5/6 split. Whew, I thought I was gonna split! My fifth grade class was learning American history–hiSTORY, get it? So, I turned it all into a story, putting in way more details and facts than the textbook did. Now that was a fun way to teach, and my kids learned it much better than memorizing dates and places. And I didn’t feel like snoozing as one more kid “read out loud” from the book! (I put my own “spin” on it, so I’d classify my stories then as Historical Fiction. What do you think?)

It makes me feel really good to know that all my guilty-pleasure-reading (fiction, honey!!) is serving a major purpose keeping my brain active and healthy. YAY!! Grow those dendrites!!

My only difficulty is that once I start a good book I struggle to put it down. When I know there are a lot of things I need to do, I hesitate to pick one up….because the dishes stay dirty and pile up, kids forage for their own food, my desk keeps piling higher with mail, bills, to dos, and all the things I remove from the kitchen so we have room to eat. Mysteries and forensic novels intrigue me. If it’s well-written, I usually don’t figure out “whodunnit”, and my brain keeps trying to. I really, really want to read the ending so I can just relax, for Pete’s sake! That reader’s anxiety is tough! But I can usually control myself–unless it’s so well-written that I need a Xanax, and have to put myself out of my misery!

And by the way, I doubt I will have an electronic reading device any time soon. Yep, I’m a sensory person. I like the feel of holding a book, turning the page, the smell of books, and the progress of the bookmark. AND seeing how much is left until I know how it ends!

old books

Ok, well this has been your Public Service Announcement on this Friday in the frigid north, where in the last 24 hours we have had snow, rain, sunshine, freezing, and no school (for the umpteenth time). Sounds like a really good day to stay inside and READ! Oh Sanity, where art thou?

Y’all stay warm and have a great day. If your brain is feeling foggy, mushy, and in need of new dendrites, take a trip to the library, where books are free. There is a wealth of them. And you can touch, smell, hold, and flip pages as much as your heart desires.

Let me know if you are reading anything of interest right now. I have six novels on my bookshelf calling my name! So, you may not hear from me for a while. 🙂

Love and hugs,

Passionista Mimi

OH, and hey, if you like what you read, why not share the love and click, pin, like, etc.? I’d give you an extra big hug. Thanks!