The Make-up Lesson

“What?” I asked, embarrassed that she caught me off guard.

“If you let the color blend, here,” she said, pointing to her cheekbone.

I smiled and nodded. Truthfully, she didn’t need color to her skin, nor to her eyes and lips, she is as beautiful as ever. But I listen as she instructs me on how to properly put on makeup. The brush flows across her soft unmarked skin while her voice dances as she speaks.

Oh, I know what you are thinking, and yes, I know how to put make-up on. For crying out loud, I taught her how to put it on. But today I was learning how models27748215_10155637177763702_8512188670164212363_o and movie stars acquire their youthful looks. Now THAT, I could use, and so I was listening earnestly to my makeup lesson..well, I was trying at least.

My daughter loves fashion, she loves books, she loves adventure, she is everything great about being young. She also is everything her generation exudes and more. She is strong headed, quick witted, and can muster up the best sailor’s mouth this side of the world. She loves passionately, angers quickly, and forgives honestly. And yet, as I watch her instruct me on the finer points of makeup artistry, I can only see the little girl I once helped dress in my old prom dresses.  Eyes sparkling, laughter coming from her lip-sticked mouth, stumbling across the floor in my high heels, oh how that seemed like only yesterday. She was then an easy-going child with a smile a mile wide. She loved to giggle and pretend she was a princess….

But now I know there is much more to this woman in front of me. This woman is just that, a woman. She has a career, a condo, a dog, friends… a life that exists separate from me. She is not just beautiful on the outside, but is beautiful within. She has managed to achieve all the goals she set out to conquer… and yet, she still remains my baby girl.

21752113_1879940408689232_7374921124103098115_n“Are you watching?” she asks, through her smiling lips.

“Yessss!” I respond, not mentioning that I had been watching for twenty-four years.

“Now you try,” she instructed, handing me the brush.

I smile, taking the blusher from her hands.

“You know,” I begin, “Those movie stars and models have nothing on you.”12006632_1202621093087837_7564901254465078082_o


She rolls her eyes and shakes her head and laughs. “Well, I don’t know about that, mom. But I’m sure going to give them a run for their money!”

And I know she will…because she is smarter, more talented and of course, has the best make-up ever!!


nativity scene spanishThe Christmas lights shine across the room, reminding me that this is the season to rejoice in the birth of a savior named Jesus. I remember as a child I would sit in church staring up at Him, wondering what made him so special. It never occurred to me that in all the churches we attended throughout the world, that He always looked the same. His long brown mane flowed past his strong lean shoulders, his arms stretching out about his flowing robes as if welcoming others to join Him.

Over the years I would see images of Jesus as a baby in his mother’s arms, or as a child fishing or working with wood. He always had the same sun-kissed brown hair. His eyes were never a color that I recollect, but piercing, as if judging me as I judged Him. But He was always pale, the color of a soft sea shell with a hue of pink.

Then one day I was walking along at a flea market and there before my eyes was a black Jesus. Iangel holding a black Jesus stopped and looked at him for only a moment and moved on. But my mind was racing as I walked. It had never dawned on me that Jesus might be black. Why couldn’t He be black? Why couldn’t He be of yellow tones, or be of a different ethnicity than my own? After all, our world is made of of many different people of color and race!

It wasn’t until much later in my life did my thoughts arise again about the skin color of Jesus. I was standing in a small boutique when my eyes caught the carvings of a Mexican nativity. I gently picked up one of the kings and studied his face. His moustache dipped down past his chin while his bushy eyebrows seemed to come alive on his brown wooden painted face. His robe of bright yellow seemed odd with its dashes of orange that marbled his attire. He was quite festive looking. He made me smile. Jesus lay in his crib nearby, round and chubby with the same brown paint for his skin. Could Jesus be olive skinned and not pale like I once thought?

Mongolian nativity


Then, a few years ago, I discovered the most amazing and wonderful thing as I was at my neighbor’s home. There, in almost every room of her home sat the most incredible nativity sets I had ever seen. Chinese, Haitian, Philippines, Myramar, Mongolian, Cambodian, and Italian among others. I stood in front of each of them, marveling at the details that shaped the faces; the slant of eyes, and yes, the color of skin. For those carved of wood, I looked to see if the same gentle face stared up at me from the manger…it did. The face may have been round, pointed, hallow, but still the eyes stared up onto me, studying me as if wondering why I looked different than I had when I was young. I set about taking pictures of each nativity, waiting for the perfect time to share them with others.

Philippines nativity


Mongolia nativity


Thailand nativity








  Haitian Nativity    african nativity                   And then, as I made my way across the United States on a trip, stopping in Santa Fe, New Mexico, imagine my surprise to see an American Indian nativity. Each piece shaped in the image of Native Indians. It was lovely. I began to think again… could there be Irish nativities, Russian or ones from South America? After that, I began to search the nativities out… finding them everywhere, all unique in their own way. And then I understood.



For Jesus is all colors, all ethnicities, everything we are. For God gave His son to us in the image we would understand and learn to love.


And so, when Christmas comes around, I gently place my Italian nativity on my curio shelf and smile. For looking up at me is that innocent face of Jesus. He seems to know that although my face has aged and weathered since I was a child, I have not changed my love for him… regardless of his many colors. For He is all things to all people, but mostly, He is love.



Author’s Note: Feast of Epiphany or Three Kings Day is celebrated around the world by Christians on January 6th of each year. It represents the day the Three Kings appeared to Jesus in a manger bearing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh. Each gift representing the acknowledgement of Jesus as the King of Jews. For more information click here

Thank you to Ingrid & Mark Gillette for sharing your many nativities with the world.


Leaders Among Us

CollageItThere are times in all of our lives that we stop and reflect on our purpose, our families, and our accomplishments. We wonder why we are who we are? How did we get to this point in our lives?

It’s three in the morning, and I am silently listening to the man I married breathe heavily in an exhaustive sleep. The bed does not move, but his raspy breathing is strong and tells a story that only he and I know. Perhaps I do not sleep because his breathing is deafening in this otherwise quiet room. I do not move to adjust the blankets like I sometimes do to quiet him, nor do I punch my pillow a few times, hoping to make him roll over. I realize at this very moment that he deserves this sleep in his own bed, with his own special pillow next to his loving wife. So I stare at the wall and think about him… not my husband, but the leader he has become.

In this world today, news tends to revolve around the leaders of nations far and wide. We watch as each leader is dissected, re-dissected and left out for vultures to do with, as they will. It’s a sad time, to say the least. But the truth is, that each of these leaders are people, just like you and I. They love, they cry, they celebrate, and yes, get their feelings hurt. It is the nature of all mankind to feel emotion; no matter how it rears it’s head. For me, I understand why their sleep is hard, troublesome, and short. Oh, I’m not saying my husband is a world leader… but he is not just the leader of the PTA or neighborhood HOA either. He is a high profile leader of young people destined to change the world… our world.

When I met my husband thirty-six years ago, he was young and ambitious. Well, as ambitious as you can be, as a fresh boot out of basic training. I suppose what I fell in love with, was his humor and his deep blue eyes. He was fun! We were nineteen. When he asked me to marry him, I could not have been happier. In my mind, all we needed to be successful was love. Silly, I know. But it did get us through the first four years of our lives on a tiny remote island in Alaska. We had nothing, no money, hand-me down furniture, and each other.

As the years went on, we both held each other up, supporting our dreams and goals, while planning our future as best we could. We started a family and found that our two beautiful children were, and always will be, the center of our lives. We were just like you, your neighbor… the leaders among us. And then things began to change. For my husband, his jobs got busier, more demanding. He worked his way up the “so called ladder” with me by his side. I did not have to give up my life for his, I would have, but no, he wouldn’t want that. So we became a team, boosting each other up each rung until one day he made it to the top. It was actually a surprise to be at the top. Our lives changed overnight, like a budding pop star that is suddenly thrust into the foreign world of stardom. We were excited but cautious. All eyes were on us, and our every move.

It’s a funny thing being in a fishbowl where everyone is watching and listening. I found that it didn’t matter what was said, what the intention was, our audience gathered their own impressions and views of us, my husband in particular. Much like the press today, those around us seem to think our lives as people no longer mattered. But the truth is, we are people. You know, the ones that laugh, cry, celebrate and yes, get their feelings hurt? Oh, we’ve been lucky so far; our audience has been kind for the most part. But here’s the thing, we are NOT the only couple in the world living in the fishbowl. Look around you and think of all the leaders you know. How do you see them? Are you looking to find a flaws in them? Are you looking to see if they have what it takes to gain your approval? Are you more critical of them, because for the simple reason, you are jealous of his/her life? Stop.

Now look at that leader as a person. What qualities can you find that are positive? Do you know how they got to that leadership position? Have you actually LOOKED at their face, their body, stature? What do you see? If you haven’t truly taken the time to understand and know the leaders around you, then perhaps you should. Perhaps you will find that they are on the PTA Board, the HOA Board, The Trustees Board for theIMG_6068 Betterment of Man, the church hospitality team, and a mentor to a child at school. Perhaps you will find that they attend all their children’s sporting and theatrical events, that they make their own breakfast each morning at 4:30 because they don’t want to put anyone out, or that they travel three-in-a- half weeks out of the month. And then stop once more and think about this, why would this leader put themselves through the ringer to do the job they are in, if it was not to better our world?

Oh, I can hear the naysayers, right now. They look at our President and say, he’s in it for his own ego. Perhaps… but when you truly look at these people as a person, you just have to come to the realization that they honestly believe they can make a positive change. They try to do what is right, WHICH, brings us back to the man now snoring in my ear. He did not take his position because he wanted the fame or glory. He did not take it because he had a higher agenda, or that he wanted more money, on the contrary. He took this job because he thinks he can make positive changes in an already amazing organization made up of young people… our future leaders. And because he has committed himself to lead them in a positive direction, he sleeps four hours a night, he answers two phones, his daily calendars (scheduled for him) are full with meetings and events that have him bouncing in and out of our home like a man on a pogo stick. He would not change his life if you asked him, for he knows that this is his calling…

So, I will not wake him to roll him over. I will not whine that I only saw him for thirty minutes today, nor will I let anyone defame his character because they think it’s cool to do such a thing. No, I will tell him I love him, I will tell him to keep up the good fight, I will remind him of our humble beginnings, and I will tell him I’m proud of him. For if we cannot do this for our leaders, what does that say about us? What does that say about our nation and our future? It’s time to acknowledge the leaders among us in a positive light, so that they as a person, can remind themselves of their purpose and bring forth a brighter future for us all.

photo of author and her husband  The author and her husband.

Photos courtesy of nbcnews, Time, Alchetron, PolitiFact, R. Shimpo, HyperActivz, V. Smith












From whence this rain cometh?


The gray skies hover about, crowding the skies above me. It’s not that I don’t like rain, or the chance of rain… because sometimes rain is good and needed. It’s just that I’ve noticed lately that it keeps following me around. There’s no symbolism here, so put that out of your mind. I’m as happy as a jaybird on a sunny day, but when the clouds start rolling in, I get annoyed. The thing is, I like the sunshine. People are happy when it’s sunny. They smile more, laugh heartier, and do activities that encourage friendships… like going to sporting events or picnics. 

When I was living in Hawaii the first time, it was sunny all day until around 4 pm. It was great! Then, right on time, it would shower for fifteen minutes and be gone. It was refreshing and made the flowers seem even more beautiful. But on my third trip living there, it was as if someone forgot to turn off the shower. Days on end it would rain without mercy. My bones began to ache, my head throbbed and I sat at the window like the kids in The Cat in the Hat, just waiting for it to end. I did not get depressed, but I must admit I was a bit grumpy. There’d be no hiking, paddle boarding or golf that day!

I often wonder what people see in the rain in places like Oregon and Washington. Oh, I get that the forests are gorgeous and the rivers and lakes are always full, but to have a black cloud looming overhead most of the day would get old. I imagine hiking and playing in those lovely rivers and lakes on a sunny day must be like heaven… but oh, the rain!! I’d be as fat as a cow if I lived where it rained all day. I’d feel like I needed to bake. Oh no, that would be disastrous!

Its the first day of summer and I must admit, I awoke aching and annoyed! How could it possibly rain on the first day of summer, for Pete sakes? This morning was the third straight day of rain in my Southeast corner of Virginia. Hasn’t someone told the big guy up there that it’s summer?? I slipped on my flip flops and reminded myself that I would have to change shoes if I was to go out later. What a way to start the day… and then, as I fiddled in the kitchen and stretched out my aching bones, a ray of sun slipped through a cloud. It danced upon my face for just a moment before is hid behind a light gray cloud moving across the sky. I smiled. Could it be that sunshine was in my future? 

You betcha!… Suddenly I’m as happy as a frog on a log singing his favorite song! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and even my favorite squirrel is out collecting nuts. No time for writing now, the sun is calling my name and I’m out the door. Isn’t it great when the rain disappears? Gotta love rainbows!

A Change in Landscape: A Tribute To Military Members

I thought this was the perfect time to re-share this for Memorial Day.


ocean view from Ford Island at Sunset, Oahu, Hawaii

Sun beat down upon the decaying pavement as I padded towards the water’s edge. The air was clear and the skies moved about with the changing island breeze. I had walked this way many times before, and today, with music filling my ears of piano and violins, I slipped away from my busy world. My arms found their way in a swinging motion, like snow-skiing across the vast concrete before me. I was out to replace my previous walking time, and my steps became urgent with purpose. But the truth was, I was distracted by a sudden change in landscape. I tried to push the thought of the island’s transformation out of my head, and raced on past the military patrol boats in the harbor and the once vibrant military buildings that now looked all but forgotten.

Out in the distance the clouds rolled in over the mountains and rain…

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I Did It All

Vikki on a tour busThe ray of sun beat down through the car window as I moved across the pavement in my hurried state. I wasn’t going anywhere, but the feel of the car beneath me felt better as the peddle pushed further to the floor. I smiled, and knew I should behave and drive as a fifty-something year old and not a twenty-something year old. But what the hell, I felt like twenty, so why not act like it? Today the tunes rocked the small leathered compartment of my new wheels, life was good.

Around me, I looked at fellow drivers as they went by, old and young, going about their business as if no one noticed. But I noticed. I looked to see their smiles, their frowns, their flapping mouths as they droned on to an uninterested listener, and children even, singing in the backseat of a car at the top of their lungs. Watching people and knowing people is what life is all about, and there is no better place to witness life than speeding down the highway. Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But boy, the stories I could write about the people I see in cars!

The truth is, it wasn’t the people in the cars that made me smile today, it was the song playing on the radio. The beat grabbed me the moment it came over the speakers, and before I could stop myself, my thumbs turned into drumsticks. Then the lyrics entered, and I realized One Republic was singing about my life. How could this be when I have never met any of the band members, especially Ryan Tedder the writer of the song? But yet, with every word, they sang a song I would have penned for myself if I had songwriting abilities, “I Lived.”

Oh, I know I’m not anyone special, and probably have minor life experience compared to most, but living is not about how many unusual experiences one has, but how one lives! For me, life is finding the positive things around you and learning to experience everything life has to offer.

Part of being successful at living life to the fullest is having confidence in yourself to try something new. I don’t believe that being a person high on life is something you are born with. I’m pretty sure I was a timid little girly-girl when I was young and growing up with four brothers.

But as I grew, and my confidence began to grow, I found that experiencing life was exciting.  I could meet new people without feeling uncomfortable. I sought out strangers on trips and tried to get to know and learn from them. I would travel, and not just to famous destinations, but to out of the way little places like Wall, South Dakota or Artesia, New Mexico to see what was there… just for the heck of it. If there was an adventure park, museum or monument, I stopped and checked them out too. I even stopped once at a strange rock formation in the middle of the desert. Trust me, it was worth the stop. Isn’t that living?

As I got much older, I found more courage than I have ever had before. I began to 10400128_10153299641386671_4670492881694448979_n.jpghike and do sports that I always wanted to try. I even snorkeled in Hawaii’s waters without drowning myself! I’ve climbed lighthouses, traveled Europe, hosted dignitaries at my home, and sat quietly on my porch as birds filled my head with music. Isn’t that living?

I’ve held a new born baby in my arms, comforted a grieving friend, rejoiced at weddings and sang in the shower (even when I knew someone could hear me.) I’ve laughed so hard that my laughter turned to tears, cried till I had no more tears to shed, and marveled at the beauty of a sunset on a cool fall evening. Isn’t that living?

I think “doing it all” is a subjective statement to many, but to me… it’s living every moment, in the moment, with purpose and feeling. It’s taking a chance in learning something out about yourself that you never knew before and embracing the idea that until one’s death, you have the chance to change and grow and live life in ways that you never imagined. For this, I’ve lived.

I’ve lived each day, loved by my family, encouraged by my peers and am now eager to see what is waiting out there for me to explore. For when I pass from this world, those who surround my casket will not mourn me but celebrate and say, “she lived.”

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

I, I did it all
I, I did it all

My Mother’s Hair


daughter and mom smiling at camera

Her wavy silver hair flipped up at the ends as she ran her hand through the top of her hair.

“How’s that?” she asked me before we took another selfie.

“Better,” I replied with a smile.

Her hair had always been an issue for her, and finally she was figuring it out after 77 years. I remember telling her on more than one occasion not to cut it so short, but then I would see her and she had cut it down to the quick. Oh, for crying out loud, I would think. She had amazing hair and she was always chopping it off! Until now, she finally convinced a beautician to just trim the ends.

I can still recall my mother when she was young, and how her jet-black hair fell across her shoulders. There were no barrettes to hold it out of her eyes, just maybe a headband occasionally. Thick as a down-filled coat, her heavy curls pulled down upon her back. I loved the smell of it and her.

When we lived in Spain, in the sixties, she had it made up by a hairdresser who came to our house. I couldn’t imagine how so much hair could stay piled up on top of her head. It was brushed and sectioned, teased and bobby-pinned. There must have been ten pounds of hairspray holding it all in place. But gosh, was she beautiful. At night, she wrapped it in layers of toilet paper, like the wrapping of an ancient queen upon her death. Then she would sleep half-sitting up trying to keep herself from crushing it. In the morning, I was always amazed as she unwound the crushed tissue, and there without a hair out of place was my mother’s beautiful hairdo.

As I grew older, so did she. Her hair took on a special accent of its own that always intrigued my friends. From her temple, a stripe of silver began to grow. I often wondered how she felt about that stripe that mimicked the tail of a skunk. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, but she was only in her twenties when it appeared. She never said anything about it. But ironically, it became her and would represent the dynamic person she would become over the years.

I’m not sure when it happened, which came first, but she dyed and cut her hair all off. It was a shock. I suppose she didn’t want that gray strip spreading since she was only in her thirties. She had always had young looking skin, and to have a head of silver would clearly age her beyond her years. So rightly so, she dyed her hair. But to cut it? Oh heavens! Her beautiful curly hair was butchered, leaving her with a type of pixie that was easier to manage for a mother of five. By then I was a teenager and having my mom cut her hair was just something that happened.

I suppose her short hair fit her. With a thin face, hazel eyes and thin bones, she had more energy than six moms combined. She was the ultimate mother, running here and there for every child and every event. I never saw her worry about her hair, it IMG_7831was as if it was just there like her eyebrows or mouth. But still when she kissed me good night, she smelled like my mom.

Then it happened. I was departing the plane in Hawaii, coming home from college for Christmas, when I saw my mother. With arms stretched out and a smile on her face, she ran to greet me. But I had to stop a second to take her in. She had a whole head of silver hair! How could this be? Wasn’t it only six months since I left? I tried to smile, but I was confused. Her soft loving arms wrapped around me and she whispered how she had missed me. Submitting to her, I could smell the sweet scent of home upon her skin and I knew it didn’t matter what color her hair was. She was my mom.

When I got married, my mother was not even forty-five years old. Unlike her, I wore my hair long, determined never to cut it. So, when years had gone by and my mother aged gracefully with time, she grew into her grandmotherly silver hair. And, oh boy, did she have beautiful silver hair. My children loved it along with strangers who marveled at its brilliance. But still, she wore it shorter than she needed to.

Then one year she decided she needed a change. She let it grow like she had never before. She struggled to tame her curls that now had a life of their own. She plastered barrettes above her ears to hold down the heavy strands that threatened to    

lady with long silver curly hairblind her while she cooked or read. And when she arrived at her granddaughter’s wedding, her long beautiful locks were the talk of the town. How lovely her hair looked against her matching top of silver and blue.

But it wasn’t long before she was letting some crazy beautician chop it all off! I wasn’t happy. It was so gorgeous and free.

To me, her long hair was everything she was as a woman. She was wild and funny, soft and edgy, creative and opinionated, everything I loved about her. Oh, it didn’t say how smart she was or how loyal, but it did say she was a lioness amongst her pride.

And then I realized, after the initial shock, that again, her hair did not make her. She would remain the vivacious woman everyone has known her to be. She is going to continue to be the out-going, full of life person her children and grandchildren know her to be no matter how short she cuts her hair. She’s still going to love her husband. She’s still going to love her children. She’s still going to bebop around town, piddle in her kitchen and babysit grand-dogs. And she is still going to smell like my mom… even when she is putting the peace sign above my head in a perfectly great selfie shot. Because she is and always will be the best mom a girl could ever have…. Hair or no hair.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom…. I love you!