A Lip-Smacking Tradition Passes To The Next Generation

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“It was something I learned by watching my mother,” she told me. “I imagine her mother taught her.”

I watched my mother put on her makeup, sitting before an elegant dresser with a special triple mirror and tiny drawers hidden behind latticed doors. It had been made for my mother by a craftsman for the Emperor of Japan’s relative. He made a copy for Mother when she was newly married and lived in Occupied Japan right after the Second World War.

Mother carefully drew a thick red line across her lips, her stroke quick and sure, as if she had…

How We Made Frenemies, Our First Day in the Neighborhood

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Obedience is something we learn (or learn to rebel against) as children. It’s drilled into us in kindergarten or first grade: “line up, no talking, hands at your sides, don’t touch that.”

I was reminded of this when we moved into our new house and I met the neighbors. Turns out the wife teaches first grade. I guessed she was a teacher when we met, though. She had that “do as I say,” attitude.

The first words out of her mouth weren’t “hello, nice to meet you,” but —

“Oh good, you can take care of our dog. He runs…

You find the strength to let go

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Years ago, I worked as a nursing assistant in a long-term care facility, a job I loved. Every night, I had 28 residents to feed, bathe, and get to bed. A few of them would wake up during the night, usually about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.

I’d ask a question or two, and listen to their stories.

My husband and I had just separated. He came up on weekends to see the children. He didn’t want to spend money on a hotel, so I prepped meals and worked double shifts all weekend. He refused to give up his girlfriend, and…

When family isn’t the one you married into, but the one you created yourself.

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We started off the marriage with good intentions.

We wanted a house with a yard, to raise our 1.5 children (a three year old and one on the way), but couldn’t afford anything close to Manhattan. We decided to adapt, and expand our search. I’d freelance from home, and my husband would handle a longer commute.

We looked for months. Finally, I found a house we could afford. “But it’s two hours away,” I worried.

My husband decided he’d stay with his parents during the week and come up on weekends. Remembering how his mother had bragged about breaking up…

And We Saw What Really Mattered: Family, Friends, Faith

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My husband and I were in Las Vegas, where my sister-in-law was dying of lung cancer. We’d responded to an anguished phone call from her daughter, asking for help. Hopefully, my sister-in-law might have a couple of months yet. We booked a one-way ticket to Nevada, planning to be there for the duration.

With that in mind, I’d arranged for my other children to keep an eye on their nonverbal younger brother, in his Westchester County group home. He had a busy life, between Day Hab, volunteer jobs, trips to the gym, regular swimming classes and community events. …

Think You Can Stop Parents From Advocating For Their Children? Unlikely.

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Let’s speak out against injustice, while we still can, loudly and often. Because there are bullies in state legislatures, and in Congress, trying to take that right away from us.

It’s a civil right, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, which still stands, for now. I use it pretty frequently. Mostly, because I have an adult child with developmental disabilities residing in a New York State group home.

Like other parents, I learned long ago that those who can’t speak, like my son Joe, need advocates to speak for them…

When Kind Friends Set Us On The Path To Healing, And Something More

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Khesed, as explained by Jon Collins and Tim Mackie in the Bible Project, is basically a generous and loving person who keeps his (or her) promises. That definition is one our limited human understanding can grasp. Someone who’s kind, keeps their word.

But khesed is so much more, and mostly, it’s not about us at all. Once we realize that, it takes a lot of the pressure off.

For the past twenty-three years, I’ve been listening to the Lord and writing down what I hear. I was…

Courageous, Revealing Relationship Profiles That Actually Worked for Me

Photo by Анна Хазова on Unsplash

I’d usually sign up for another stab at online dating as Valentine’s Day approached. I tried ignoring the day, but advertisers were relentless. I’d stop by the drugstore on the 15th and pick up some 50% off chocolates. Still-fresh, and half the price? That was something to celebrate.

The first few times I ventured into online dating, I tried writing what I thought guys wanted to hear. Rookie mistake, on any dating site. Fibbing can certainly land you some interesting dates, but it’s not likely to generate a deep, lasting relationship. …

And A Host Of Angels Drove Me Home

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Sleep deprivation can do funny things. Recently, I learned, it leaves you open to divine intervention. According to my own personal theory, exhaustion removes the barriers we put up against the unknown.

I was a single mom, working full-time and raising five children, with a long commute between work and home. My narcissist husband and I were separated and going through a nasty divorce. A good night’s sleep was something I longed for but seldom achieved.

Climbing into my car every night, I felt isolated from the world. It was easy to…

Down-To-Earth, Practical Tips For Rebuilding Your Self Image, And Your Life

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I’ve written about surviving a miserable childhood: bullying, gaslighting, scapegoating. Whatever you want to call it, it wasn’t pretty. It took me a really long time to regain a sense of self and even respond with love to those people. To understand why they acted that way.

I wasn’t trying to excuse their behavior, just to gain perspective. So I could get on with my life instead of constantly ruminating on the past.

Being a slow learner, I made some costly mistakes along the way.

My first husband turned…

Barbara Carson Todd

Writer, editor, coach, occasional organist/cantor. You can find me at barbaracarsontodd.com or email barbara@barbaracarsontodd.com for infrequent updates.

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