RIP Mrs. Barbara Bush, Lover of Literacy

I am so saddened to learn about the passing of Barbara Bush. She has been a personal inspiration to me for two very specific reasons that I’d like to share here that were encapsulated in this one excerpt:

In 1980, George ran for president. There were endless receptions, luncheons, dinners and fundraisers. For the campaign, Barbara had to choose an official cause. She picked literacy, which became a lifelong passion. “I realized everything I worried about” – teen pregnancy, hunger, homelessness, drug use, crime – “would be better if more people could read, write and comprehend,” she later recalled. She was also pressured to change her image, with some family members urging her to “color my hair, change my style of dressing and, I suspect, get me to lose some weight,” she later recalled, driving her to tears. Jane Pauley of NBC opened a television interview by asking her: “People say your husband is a man of the ’80s and you are a woman of the ’40s. What do you say to that?” Barbara, though stung, declined to alter her matronly image, which instead helped her become one of her husband’s most powerful political assets. A critic, Andrew Sullivan of The New Republic magazine, called her “America’s queen mother” whose “mastery of frumpy do-goodery is, of course, modeled on the Windsors.”

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Reflections: Why I Love Going to Church

Wayne and I are missing church this morning due to a “winter weather advisory” which includes icy rain and slick roads. Then we’re getting some snow! I’ll miss going this morning because weather and wellness permitting, during the fall, winter and spring, Wayne and I go to our Episcopal church in Cape Elizabeth* every Sunday. We prefer the early morning quiet and “contemplative” service which means there are no hymns, choir nor an organ being played. Unlike the later service there is a relatively small attendance of regulars. Here are some things I really love about our ritual:

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Spiritual Guideposts: Advice from Maine Football Coach John Wolfgram

“It’s not whether we win or lose; it’s who we help along the way.”

Retired Maine football coach John Wolfgram has won ten state championships and more than 300 games during four decades as a head coach at four schools. John is also a champion at ushering at the 8:00 a.m. service at our church, St. Albans in Cape Elizabeth. When he asked if Wayne and I could fill in for one of his slots, I told him we’d trade in exchange for a blog interview! He cheerfully and graciously agreed. I’m so happy and honored that he volunteered to share his inspiring approach to “winning” with you here on Serene New England.

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Create Something New: Turn the Tables with Grace

There’s some turmoil happening in my town of Scarborough right now as things have begun to unravel. Hundreds if not thousands of people are going to be signing petitions over the next twenty days to have school board members recalled. From the article: “The ‘Road to Renewal’ Facebook group says its main objective is to force the resignation of the superintendent and the reinstatement of the high school principal.” Wayne and I will be among those signing the petitions. If you’d like to learn more about why, you can see my Facebook post here.

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Our Valentine’s Day 2018

It started out as a frugal and practical Valentine’s Day which doesn’t have to be incompatible with romance, especially when we’re budgeting for a wedding later this year! Whole Foods mailed me an old-fashioned paper marketing piece–maybe they do snail mail for the 50 and over demographic–advertising a special Valentine’s Day promotion for Amazon Prime members.  For only $19.95 they are offering two dozen fair trade certified long stem roses! I told Wayne I thought that was a smart idea. Additionally, I pointed out that we could buy them on Monday, his day off, and enjoy them right away, not just Valentine’s Day. Flowers in February do much for the soul. He agreed. However, we (he) veered off the path a bit…

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The Blinders Are Off: L.L.Bean, Labor & Lent

I feel ashamed. It wasn’t until L.L.Bean withdrew their legendary Satisfaction Guarantee that I took off my blinders. I knew they were making the majority of their products overseas; I knew the quality had declined; I knew prices hadn’t gone down to reflect that. I even knew that labor and environmental practices in China are notoriously terrible. Somehow I conned myself into assuming that L.L.Bean vendors were paid almost as well as their US employees; the “golden rule” they promised to follow wouldn’t allow it otherwise. Maybe it was more convenient for me to focus on pretty plaids vs shoddy treatment via wages to the people making them. I never did look into it until now. Here’s what I discovered:

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Visit to St. Anthony Franciscan Monastery and Shrines, Kennebunk, Maine

One year ago today Wayne and I visited St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery despite the frigid temps. It’s open to the public year-round. Here are some of the beautiful sights:

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