Category Archives: Love and Marriage

The Siren Song of Time…Passing

Maria Popova did it again.

In her newsletter, Brainpickings, she introduced me to a woman, a memoir and a lyrical litany of life, love and loss, all backgrounded by time.

Dani Shapiro's memoir

Dani Shapiro’s memoir.

The book is Hourglass, Time, Memory, Marriage.

Once again, an author who I did not know rolls off the page written by Popova. Once again, I am moved to tears, moved to buy the book, moved to read the wonderful insights of Dani Shapiro as she puts pen to paper to write her memoir.

This well-known author already has a string of books to her name but this time, she is writing to her heart, her soul, her life as she watches time pick up speed, whirling all of us through constellations and galaxies and hurling us back onto ourselves.

It is time that she writes of and time that fascinates me – passing, spending, making, taking, and losing time. And Shapiro speaks of time through intimate knowledge.

time passing

“Years vanish. Months collapse. Time is like a tall building made of playing cards. It seems orderly until a strong gust of wind comes along and blows the whole thing skyward. Imagine it: an entire deck of cards soaring like a flock of birds.”

In one paragraph, she captures what I learned the very hard way. The little girl I was, the one I couldn’t see or feel in my overworked, over-stuffed, over-done world was still there, patiently waiting for me to whisper, “Patty, where are you?”

“Oh, child! Somewhere inside you, your future has already unfurled…, ” writes Shapiro. “The future you’re capable of imagining is already a thing of the past. Who did you think you would grow up to become? You could never have dreamt yourself up. Sit down. Let me tell you everything that’s happened. You can stop running now. You are alive in the woman who watches you as you vanish.”

Shapiro’s memoir is arresting, engaging, intriguing. It is also a call to all of us who want to write a memoir of our lives but haven’t picked up our pens, yet.

Shapiro reminds me that nothing is too late. It’s time. Pick up a pen and write.


Filed under arm wresting, Book Reviews, Gifts, Inspiring People, Life & Death, Love and Marriage

How To Grow A Great Relationship

Children becoming adults

Relationships start early.

She is writing about relationships with children, her children, our children. She is author, blogger, mom and philosopher, Katrina Kenison.

She is talking about parenting, one of our toughest jobs, a job where there are no guarantees.

Kenison asked her 24 year old son for parenting advice that she could share at a public speaking engagement. That took courage because their relationship had not been an easy one. But that conversation led to her post and I am grateful that it did.

She writes, “We are a nation of distracted, multi-tasking “do’ers” and driven, insatiable consumers – of social media, of stimulation, and of stuff. We are also addicted to our phones. But we are losing the art of connecting face to face, heart to heart, in the here and now.”

That loss is felt by parents and children, alike. So, Kenison offers wonderful, practical ideas for reconnecting:

  • Be curious.
  • Ask; don’t tell.
  • Seek connection, not control.
  • Work on yourself, not your child.
  • Give your child the gift of failure.
  • Value effort over achievement, process over results.
  • Take the long view; look for progress, not perfection.
  • Offer the gift of your attention.
  • Sit with discomfort.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Ask for help.
  • Choose love over fear.
  • Seize the joy.

As she wrote about our teenagers being gone before we know it, I was suddenly so aware of the fact that our lives will be gone before we know it, too.

But Kenison offers ideas for “…hanging out” that might help everyone reconnect, like walking the dog together, folding laundry, chopping vegetables or eating a late night bowl of cereal. Playing a board game. Working on a puzzle together.

Small moments make strong relationships.

Small moments make strong relationships.

These are such small things, inexpensive things but the very things that help to weave the fabric of a relationship tighter. Shared moments matter.

As I read yet another remarkable essay from Kenison, I realized very quickly that her advice for building relationships with teenagers is some of the best advice I have ever read for building relationships – full stop.

Sometimes we are so busy looking ahead — the next birthday, the big trip, our retirement — that we miss the life of our very lives, altogether.

Put down your cell phone. Turn off the television. Disconnect from the Internet.

Take a minute today to breathe, to really listen to your husband or wife or friend. Try not to tell; today, try asking.

Step outside, feel the sun.

Step outside and breathe.

Step outside. Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, the soft wind singing through the pine boughs, the birds calling out the arrival of another Spring.

Live. Now. Before it is too late.


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Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Inspiring People, Life & Death, Love and Marriage, World Changing Ideas

Mating in Captivity Isn’t Just About Sex

Therapist Esther Perel offers insights into some of our funny and often unworkable coping mechanisms for sex.

Perel has spent twenty years as a couples therapist; Mating in Captivity (subtitled Unlocking Erotic Intelligence) is the result. On its pages, Perel explores what interferes with intimacy and sexuality in a long term relationship and what it takes to keep one alive and healthy.

That alone would make this book worth reading for many people who love their significant others, love their relationships but miss the passion of the early days.

But this book offers so much more than insights into keeping a long term relationship healthy and exciting.  In the following excerpt, I found Perel as insightful in the area of parenting as any of the so-called parenting experts currently “selling” their ideas on rearing healthy and happy children.

Throughout our lives we grapple with this interplay between dependence and independence. How artfully we reconcile these needs as adults depends greatly on how our parents reacted to the stubborn duality (hold me-let me go) in our little selves. It is important to point out that our parents’ behavior, what they actually do, is only one part of the situation. Another part is our interpretation of their actions.

 Each child brings an individual resilience to the lottery of life. What might feel good to one will feel overwhelming to another. Some of us may wish our parents had been more involved, while others may cringe at memories of their parents’ scrutiny and intrusion.

 Every family has its preferred responses to dependency and autonomy – what’s rewarded and what’s thwarted.  In the give and take with our parents, we determine how much freedom we can safely experience and how much our connections will require the subjugation of our needs.

 In the end, we fashion a system of beliefs, fears and expectations, some conscious and many unconscious, about how relationships work.

Perhaps what Perel writes about  the “…interplay of dependence and independence” rang true for me because my ex son-in-law just ran head on into my beautiful and only granddaughter, she of the artistic, capricious and oh so creative spirit.

Exercising his usual style of parenting — a combination of bluster, volume and physical size (which he used on his sons, as well), he tried to force her to do what he wanted her to do.  The result was not to his liking and it certainly was not to hers.  Trying to bully a 16 year old girl (who is going on 30), resulted in an explosion that tore their relationship and his “second family” in half.

If he had read Mating in Captivity, he would have read how eloquently Perel captures how different each child is and how very different his daughter, my granddaughter is. Perhaps every parent should remember what it was like to be moving from child to adult and how our parents helped or hurt us.  Perel’s point is that the way this pivotal part of each of our lives is handled affects all of us in our adult relationships.

If you’re a parent, this is a golden insight.

BTW – Perel has delivered a number of very interesting and insightful TED talks which I have thoroughly enjoyed.


Filed under Gifts, Inspiring People, Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Uncategorized, World Changing Ideas

Love Knows No Bounds – from Upworthy

This morning, I share some wonderful moments of love, just love, love that is not bounded by race, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability.  This is a beautiful video.  Please enjoy it and know that this is the world I want to live in.


Filed under Inspiring People, Life & Death, Love and Marriage

Blunderkins© Is Coming To Town

Her name is Shirley Epstein, aka Blunderkins©.

She has a nose for bad news and an uncanny knack for diving into the middle of murder, mayhem and mystery.  Fair, fat, fertile and a bit over 40, Shirley is also pretty good at dragging her long time, ever patient, inventor husband, Bert, into the fray with her.

In Blunderkins© Saves The Baby, Shirley finds death and destruction right in her own back yard when her new and very rich neighbor starts dumping a liquid fertilizer into the pond he shares with the Espteins, something that turns the water red and his lawn an emerald green.

At the heart of this mystery is a stolen baby and a human trafficking ring. Shirley gets the facts but she also gets caught and is headed for the same fate as the other murder victims.

Bert saves the day (and his wife) with his techno-talon, a hidden, high-tech surveillance system and a GPS chip embedded in Shirley’s wedding band the day they got married.

The manuscript is in the final round of editing; the book will be on Amazon Kindle before you know it and Shirley and Bert have already embarked on their next murder mystery entitled Blunderkins© & The Bad Husband.

NOTE:  The word and character, Blunderkins©  are copyrighted and the exclusive property of Patricia and Pasquale Muccigrosso.  Copyright © 2013. All rights are reserved. This character and books named for this title character may not be reproduced or used in any manner, whatsoever.


Filed under Book Reviews, Copywriting, Freelance Writing, Love and Marriage, Mysteries, Publishing

About Hospitals…and Doctors…and Illness

We were back in the hospital last week.

I say “we” because when my husband goes in, I go in.

And once again, we experienced the “hospital” mentality that says they know best and we know nothing.

Once again, we were proven right but, once again, at the expense of my husband’s health and the cost of 3 days of our lives!

Here’s the deal.

My husband has been hospitalized 40 times since 2001.  The first 15 of those hospitalizations were for surgeries due to bladder cancer.  The rest of them have been the result of repeated infections resulting from his urostomy.  When he gets sick, his fever runs straight up the thermometer and we run straight for Chester County Hospital.

My husband goes septic not in days but in hours and sometimes in minutes.  But we both know the drill and so does our General Practitioner.  Visit the doctor; give a urine sample.  Get a prescription for an antibiotic.  Take one with two Tylenol and take the temp every 30 minutes.  When the temperature hits 101 degrees, head for the hospital.

At the hospital, the same one he has been admitted to over 20 times, the one with the au courant Electronic Medical Records (EMR), the one where they should know EXACTLY what to do, he is admitted, quickly, put on IV fluids and almost immediately, put on IV Zosyn – the antibiotic that is specifically designed to hit the bacteria that make him sick.

At least that’s the way it’s supposed to go.

Every once and awhile we get a doctor (or two or three) who maybe can’t read EMRs or have their hearing aids down and can’t hear me or my husband when we tell them what he needs.  We got “those doctors” this time.  And from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening, my husband was subjected to the wrong antibiotics — antibiotics that made him even more sick, antibiotics he had an allergic reaction to and antibiotics that made him vomit.

During this time, the two of us must have asked, pushed for and demanded Zosyn a dozen times.  Every time we were patronized, told they had to wait for the cultures and ignored.  On Wednesday, I bet the doctor $50 that the cultures would show enterococcus, klebsiella and/or ecoli.  He smiled, shook his head and said we had to wait and see.

Miracle!  Thursday!!

The cultures showed enterococcus and klebsiella.  Then and ONLY then did they hang Zosyn (actually Unisyn but the same drug).  Less than 24 hours later, my husband was back, feeling good, able to sit up, read, eat.  Which leads me to some questions for the medical team at Chester County Hospital.


Why do you know this man better than he does or I do?  Why can’t you LISTEN?  Why didn’t you do “Ctrl F, find and read instance after instance of hospitalization to learn that — duh — he cultures the same 3 bacteria every single time?  Why didn’t you believe he needed Zosyn?  Could this be why health care costs are so high in this country?

Are our doctors really deaf and dumb?  

Patients and their families can be troublesome.  They can be demanding and upset and blah, blah, blah.  I get it.  But NOBODY knows the patient or the patient’s history like the patient and the patient’s family.  Our input shouldn’t be ignored; it shouldn’t just “be considered.”  Our input should be factored in to all the other information now readily available via EMR to the medical staff and someone, anyone or how about just one of them, should listen to us.

A letter will be going to the new President of Chester County Hospital.  I love the changes he has brought, the energy and the warmth the staff now exhibit.  But they still have a few things to address….like involving the patient and his family in decisions regarding treatment.  This is a big problem that’s still open even though it is written as a policy in their patient handbook.

Maybe they should all read that before they start their shifts!



Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Healthcare, Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Medical Writing

Shaping Our Children’s Lives & Futures

The theory that children are shaped, for life, in the first 5 years of their small lives has been proven to be true.

The effect of how they are loved, taught, held, or hurt can be found in the hallways of our schools, every day.

This essay is one of the best I have seen on the power for good or evil that all adults but especially parents hold when it comes to their children.All adults have the power to kill a small child’s life before it ever begins.  Killing doesn’t mean murdering the body; it means murdering the soul, the spirit and the mind of the child before the child ever has a chance to live and love in our world.

This post clearly states the case for all of us to make the effort to make our children’s lives safe and happy places for them to live, learn and love.  Please read it.  Please share it.  Please try to think about it before you choose (and it is a choice, folks) to snap at your child, to slap your child with words or your hand, to do damage to your child that lives inside of them, forever.

My Dad used to tell me this when I started dating.  “Don’t listen to what they (boys) say; watch what they do.”  This same perspective is what your kids, our kids do every day.  They do NOT do what we say…they do what we do.

Please try to consider the fragility of these wonderful, bright shiny children who arrive so eager, so willing to learn and think about what you teach them.

Think What You Want.


Filed under Death & Dying, Education, Life & Death, Love and Marriage

No Death; No Fear – Thich Nhat Hanh Was Right

I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life
5 years ago.

I got some of it.  No, I got a lot of it.  But I just couldn’t get how I could face death and not be afraid.  Not my death but the deaths of my parents, the deaths of my brothers, Mike and Bob.

I mourned like everyone does.  Crying, missing them, wishing they hadn’t died, regretting the loss of time — time I should have spent with them when they were alive.  I beat myself up for lost opportunities to tell them how much they meant to me, how much I would miss them.  I’ve lived the last 35 years with regret.

I believed what Joseph Campbell wrote in one of his most widely known works, The Power of Myth.  “All life is loss, loss, loss.”

The loss of my parents and brothers was devastating at an almost cellular level.  But here, this morning, in the cool aftermath of violent thunderstorms, I felt something else, some small pull to another view of loss.

In that instant, everything changed. I learned how time works.

It always seemed to move too fast for me.  This morning I discovered that time is neither fast nor slow.  It’s almost opaque.  The word “linear” no longer applies.  It is as though we are wandering through it.  Past, present and future are all there, in the same moment, even when we don’t recognize them.

When I try to analyze this  new relationship with time (having it, losing it, wasting it), I get anxious.  If I just let go, everything I ever thought I knew about time dissolves.

Each moment feels rich, full, amazing.  Listening to crickets chirp now as they always have and always will.  Watching geese gathering now as they always have and always will.  Seeing the meteors of Perseid, Leonid and all the others falling in the late night sky as they always have and always will.  Loving my family — no matter where they are – as I always have and always will.

It is as though this Universe in which we live and die is gently sharing this tiny but profound thought; the ones who have gone ahead are still here, living within the engine of the universe that keeps rolling before, during and after they left this place we call Earth.

It’s funny because for almost half of my life,  I could not hear the Universe at all, could not understand why people so dear to me had to die. The same Universe that just 2 months ago had to hit me in the forehead with a 2” x 4” now whispers to me and I can hear her.  She offers me comfort.  She lifts a corner of the veil of the infinite – the place we came from, the place we will go and lets me peek underneath.  And I soar into it.

Listening to the roar and the sigh of this place, seeing light and dark in their purest forms, leaving this body, being everywhere and nowhere, all at once, knowing, feeling, being  joy.  My very essence, my soul or spirit, if you will,  joins the stream of all others who were and will be.  My body is no longer along for the ride. Aches, pains, cares, shed like my skin as I rise into the infinite.

I went where Jill Bolte Taylor traveled when she had her stroke – part of everything and everything is part of me.  This is what I saw on my brother Bob’s face at the moment of his death.  Ten years old, grinning, blond hair being ruffled in the wind as he turned to wave good-bye to me then walked over the hill behind our barn in Pine Grove.

I knew when I came back to my body, this chair, this room, this morning…I knew that this is the secret of the universe.

I still know.  This is death; this is life ever after.


Filed under Death & Dying, Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Mysteries

Buying or Selling A House? Listen Up

We were selling our house and buying someone else’s. And I was doing hand-to-hand combat with the universe…

We’ve tried selling our house before.  It’s been on the market (the really lousy, bottomed out housing market) 3 out of the last 4 years.  No one even came to see the house the first time.  The second time, two couples and one buyer who offered less money than we thought it was worth showed up.  Not a lot of activity which we put down to the slump in housing sales.

We were wrong.  Turns out that the first two times we put the house on the market, I wasn’t listening very well.  The universe kept whispering a single word, “…stay.”

This year, there were a lot of showings – a lot of cleaning, scrubbing, trimming, leaving to allow prospects to wander through our private paradise and figure out just how much less they could get it for.  This time, buyers, galore.

In the span of just 8 weeks I packed and unpacked our 4 bedroom, 2 office, 2 ½ bath home 3 times.  The only room not packed up was the kitchen.  I lost 12 pounds doing it – running up and down 2 flights of stairs with the accumulated detritus of our lives — clothing, books, photographs, artwork, memories and our lives in boxes of varying sizes.

We sold the house three times in 2 months, found a place to buy, three times in two months.  Packed up our lives, said good bye to the earth, the sky, the trees, the place that we love, three times.

Each time, just days before closing, something happened to the sale.  A buyer’s buyer lost her mortgage.  A buyer fell short of the funding needed to buy the house and wanted us to subsidize their move with a $15,000 seller’s assist.  This most recent sale collapsed 7 days before we were to move when the buyer’s home inspection team found significant issues and required remediation.

Septic, structure, radon…they said.  Shell out $30,000 or the deal is off…they said.

The universe wasn’t whispering anymore.  It was shouting. “Stay!”

This time, I was listening.  It is done.   We will not be moving.  This is where I will die.  The joy, the peace that come with that knowledge fills me up until small, slow tears slide down my cheeks.

I am home.

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Filed under Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Moving, Real Estate, realtor

Buying A House or Arm Wrestling

We are trying to buy a house.

We are willing to pay almost the full asking price — knowing the house:

  1. Needs a new roof.
  2. Is 1/2 the size of our current home but costs about the same.
  3. Is in the middle of nowhere.  (It’s so far out there there isn’t even a library in town.)

But so far, all we’ve gotten is an invitation to an ongoing wrestling match and a headache.

When did buying a house turn into as WWW WrestleMania event?

Okay, so the sellers have been left at the altar (settlement table) twice by buyers who couldn’t pony up the cash.  They are feeling a bit burned.  But we’re feeling really, really pissed off, snapping at each other like a couple of terriers because we can’t snap at the seller’s agent or the sellers, themselves.

Over the last couple of weeks, my husband and I have jumped through enough hoops for these people to qualify for a new act at Ringling Brothers circus!

The sellers’ agent has slowed the process down to the pace of a glacier (before global warming) and keeps adding or changing things to queer this deal including delaying paperwork, providing contract copies and financials that are illegible and tossing in new clauses faster than a short order cook flips burgers.

The deal breaker for us came after the owners of house accepted our bid, verbally.  About 90 minutes later, our agent called to tell us that the stipulation to acceptance was that, even if the purchase of our home fell through, we have to buy their house.  If we didn’t agree to that stipulation, they would continue to accept offers on their house right up to the day settlement.

I’ve never heard of such a stipulation and wonder why anyone – seller or the other realtor — would think we would put ourselves in such a position of risk.  I’m not sure of the ethics of the other realtor but I am real sure of the potential harm of this clause.  For us, it was  a lose-lose.

Our answer?  “No. Thank you.”

The next communication was that they would accept our proposal but we could not move anything into the garage early, as previously agreed to. We would have to wait until after settlement.

We are moving out of a house  we’ve lived in for 19 years.  This house has 4 bedrooms, two offices and a three car garage and we are expected to be out by mid-day on June 22nd, settle on the new house same afternoon and unload the truck that evening.

We couldn’t do that when we were in our 30’s.  Now, in our 60’s, that’s an order, too tall.

Our answer? “No. Thank you.”

The sellers’ agent said, “Okay, we can get early access to the garage, only.”  However, if the deal fell through for any reason, we would have to have all of our property out of the garage by midnight, June 22nd.  Really?  Another order, too tall.

So, here we are, 20 days away from having to vacate our current property and homeless.  And bloody tired of being jerked around by the sellers, their agent or both.

We really do need to find a house, now.

That said, this will be our last home…the one we leave, “…feet first” as my brother once said.  So, we will not be rushed.  We will store everything if we have to, including the classic cars and my motorheads’ garage full of stuff.  We will continue to look for that place where we will spend the last of our golden years, together.

Oh, and we will curse the name of the sellers, their realtor and their heirs and assignees to that special place in purgatory where they can see the house they want but they cannot buy it….no matter what deal they offer the devil.


Filed under Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Moving, Real Estate, realtor