Charm Sisters

I once had a charm sister.

Her name was Patty.

(I also have a sister named Patty but this story isn’t about her.)

She showed up at an open house I was having with her young daughter in tow and I immediately liked her.

She drove up in a common-sense Mercedes diesel, not-too-old and not-too-new – and was dressed simply but expensively and wore tasteful jewelry.

Her eye contact was excellent; her manner was respectful and her interest seemed very real.

After an hour or so lingering on the premises (this is a long time for someone looking during an open house!) she said she was interested in making an offer on the condo and would I call her the following week?

We exchanged information and she went on her way and I mine.

I called her and she invited me to lunch. I met her and she had her small daughter in tow (again).

Not thinking much of this beyond how difficult it was to conduct business with a wriggling four-year-old sitting next to you I shared with her that I had two daughters on either side of her daughter’s age.

I recall paying for that lunch.

We arranged a play-date for our children.

They got along as children do and we got along as mothers of children do.

Our relationship began to transform into an everyday call kind of thing.

I began to miss our talks the days we didn’t connect.

It began to feel like something was missing.

I began to feel an emotional connection to her that almost seemed to veer on a physical dependency.

I know that sounds nuts but I think now I was falling in love with her.

She courted me and after a time, I realize, I courted her back.

She had the most interesting stories to tell!

I soon learned that she was in the middle of a bankruptcy and was losing her home.

Of course it was all-so-unfair and she had been the victim of a large-money-investment-gone-south and was being persecuted for it but once the courts saw the light of day she’d be reimbursed and all the world would once again be her oyster.

She was also on disability.

But even with all that she was so much fun!

Her derring-do was irresistible!

Her mystery was alluring. She told stories of witchcraft and second-sight and fortune telling.

She called herself clairvoyant.

Undeterred (and mostly unknown to me at this point), she had set her sights on the condominium I was representing for sale.

I managed to work a deal out for her to purchase the condo that included me leaving my $7,000 commission in the sale, to be paid back at a later time, for a down payment.

We were friends.

I never saw a dime of it.

I learned that her expensive tastes extended to everything even though she was broke.

She believed in buying nothing but the best and it always seemed like she was selling expensive stuff that she had accumulated in the past to finance her present lifestyle.

I learned that her relationship with her mother was strained; it seemed she had been placed as an executor to her maternal grandmother’s estate and had burned through that money in less than three years at the expense of her other family members.

Of course that’s not how it was presented to me at the time but after a bit I figured things out.

Two and two doesn’t make five, Patty, as much as you would have liked me to believe your story.

Her collection (and knowledge) of gems and precious metals was enviable. She guided me in purchasing some of the best jewelry I own today.

She counseled me that wearing modest but expensive jewelry was necessary -especially for a woman in business.

I wore simple pearl or gold earrings up until that point in my life.

Occasionally I wore a watch but not often.

Suddenly I had rings with stones so large and deep in color their value would only increase over time (she was right).

I began purchasing 18-carat gold bracelets and a necklace here and there.

It was the 80s.

I purchased a Chanel suit that wore like iron into the nineties. I wore it two to three times a week!

It cost me $800 back then.

If you’ve ever worn a Chanel suit you’ll know how the cut of that skirt makes you feel.

She liked to travel.

The two of us traveled to China together. She ran out of money the beginning of the second week. I loaned her mine. About a thousand dollars as I now recall.

I never saw a dime of that either.

I was young and I was gullible and I made several other mistakes with her that translated into me losing hard-earned money but I’m not going to go into those now except to say there’s eminent wisdom in Shakespeare’s words:

“Neither a borrower not a lender be.”

Suffice it to say that once her promises to repay me became unsustainable she found cause not to like me anymore.

Looking back at it today it all seems rather comical but there were some lessons that emerged from the two-year long relationship that have served me (and mine) well ever since.

When I hear someone begin to talk of a new friend they have that just happens to be in reduced circumstances my “Patty” goes up.

When I hear tell of monies being exchanged in situations like these I’ll usually say:

“She’s doin’ a Patty on you.”

They’ll look at me quizzically and I’ll tell them of my life experience.

Sometimes it helps in warding off the evil hex and sometimes it doesn’t.

Charm sisters like Patty can be of either sex. Their common trait is that they weave themselves into your existence and before you know it you’re reaching into your pocket to help them.

I see many who I suspect are charm sisters operating today in our troubled times.

Do you?

P.S. One of my daughters saw her a few years back at a high-end shopping mall here in Cincinnati. She was parking her Mercedes…

P.S.S. I’ve gone back to wearing very simple jewelry, if any at all on a daily basis. Most of what I accumulated back when I have given to my daughters or it lies in wait for them.

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One of my relatives died recently of a drug overdose.

They found her behind the locked door of the room she was living in at a women’s home in downtown Cincinnati.

She hadn’t been answering calls all day so one of the counselors unlocked her door.

She was a young woman in her late twenties.


Her mother and father loved her.

Her brothers and sisters loved her.

There she was, dead, half-naked on the floor.

My daughter loved her and struggles with the same demons that killed our cousin.  The two of them are near the same age and played together as children growing up.

Sometimes they struggled together.

Sometimes they used together.

Sometimes they laughed together.

Sometimes they cried.

My daughter is left with the grief and guilt of feeling like she was part of the problem.

Of course she was.

More to the point, we all are the longer we go on ignoring this epidemic or, at the very least, pretending it’s not the problem it is.

It is destroying our youth.

It is tearing the fabric of our society.

It is a disease infecting us all; insidiously weaving its way through our society’s consciousness.

If you want to see evil’s soul, look into the eyes of a heroin addict.

The person is gone and the devil stares back at you.

My daughter is bereft.

I hold my breath waiting to see if this event might kill her, too.

I’m always holding my breath.

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If by Rudyard Kipling

If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

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Does belief in the afterlife affect our behavior?

I asked the question over on Linkedin.

There are some interesting answers coming in pretty quickly.

You might want to check them out.

Or we could have this discussion here.

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The Social Network Abyss

I feel trapped.

Ping, ping, ping goes my ‘puter.

Ding, ding, dong goes my head.

QuoraBranchOutLinkedInFacebookMySpace (‘member that one?) – YouTube –  TwitterFlickrFoursquareXingNing – Ping – the barrage of the social networks goes on and on and on each and every day.

Every week there’s a new social network popping up.

Oy vey,” as my Recruiting Animal friend would say.

I’m a member of many of them. 

I’m beginning to feel dirty.

I think their popularity has to do with that childhood fear we had of not wanting to be left uninvited to the party or, at least not left for last chosen to join a team.

Remember that?

Is she going to invite me?

Is he going to choose me?

Will they like me?

Will they accept me?

Will they let me sit at their table?

It has something to do, I suspect, with not feeling worthy.

Not feeling pretty.

Not feeling smart.

Not feeling a lot of things.

The Fifth Sign of an ancient Hopi legend holds that before the beginning of a “New World“:

“The land shall be crisscrossed by a giant spider’s web.”

Social networking allows us to suddenly “feel” something.

But isn’t there still something “missing”?

Could it be that we’re entering a new era – a new world – of self-realization?

Of understanding?

Will it include throwing off the crisscrossing bands of social networking that are making some of us feel ensnared? 

What do you think is coming?

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Fearless Hope

The eleventh anniversary of my mother’s death approaches.

I can hardly believe it.

We were fortunate; we were (my brothers and sisters) all able to huddle around her at her final hour.

At the point where it became clear she had only hours left a doctor came in to remind her (and us) that there were other treatments she could receive that might prolong her year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

My mother, ever-so-sensible, looked at all of us and said:

“I’ve had a wonderful life. Now I’m having a wonderful death.”

She was ready to go.

These words – some of her last words – have stayed with me over the ensuing years and stand out to me as one of the finest gifts – if not the finest gift – she ever gave me us.

We could stop our huddling and stand by her. 

I can only pray that I have – and am able to give to my children – the same fearless hope my mother had when my end comes.

I often wonder where that hope sprang from.

I think it had its grounding in her strong faith (and devotion) to God.

My mother’s work was finished here on Earth and she was content to travel on.

Maybe it was a brave front she was putting on but I don’t think so.

You would have had to have been there.

And if you had been there you would have seen the lonely and cold corridors of the cancer ward my mother died in.

It’s odd how a hospital’s corridors seem impersonal and sterile until you pass through the door of your loved one’s. 

Suddenly you’re conveyed into the warmth and loving welcome of someone who’s glad to see you.

At least for a few minutes.

But my point is there are many people in hospitals right this very minute who are approaching death’s door and they’re alone.

They’re alone and some of them are unconscious and some of them are actually tied to their beds so they don’t fall out.

But some of them are conscious and frightened and lonely.

And it’s all very sad. 

A friend of mine tweeted at me this morning:

“number 1 disease in the world is loneliness

He then called me to elaborate.

“People will tell you they have cancer but they won’t tell you they’re lonely.”

Some of them can’t.

How can we change that?

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Congressional Reform Act of 2011

Does it have any chance of succeeding (even if it is real)?

If only it did.   It sounds like good, common sense.

Oh, wasn’t there a book by that name?

Oh, yeah.  It was an early pamphlet.

It’s time to take the profit out of government.

(All the above my remarks.)

I received the following in email this morning (opinions/call to action included):

This has been kicked around for a while but it still has merit. 

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!  Why?  Simple!  The people demanded it.  That was in 1971…before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc. 

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure. 

I’m asking you to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on your address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. 

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message.  This is one idea that really should be passed around. 

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. Term Limits.

12 years only, one of the possible options below.

  A. Two Six-year Senate terms

  B. Six Two-year House terms

  C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2.  No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office. 

3.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/11. 

The American people did not make the current contract with members of Congress.  Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message.  




Whatever you think about this – the ideas here warrant  discussion.  I hope you will contribute some and I also hope you’ll also consider signing the petition:

Petition for Congressional Reform Act of 2011

I was Signer #13

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