Category Archives: Inspiration

A Peony For My Mother

There are things that you’ll remember in the oddest of times; remarkably some extremely trivial, after someone close to you has gone on.
Time pulls your heartstrings out of it and untangles the ribbons that once held your heart so interwoven with another.

Finally, you can breathe again and be filled up with just the simple memories. You now can look at a photo and see that your loved one was smiling and enjoying some momentary happiness. This doesn’t lessen the longing or the missing, just maybe the tears.

I choose to retell a time in the summer of 1980, it’s hot and early June, I came to visit my mom. I moved out in 1979 because I thought that this was some kind of requirement as I wasn’t in college. In this era, if you weren’t backward thinking, you weren’t thinking. It was fun visiting my mom back then, we always had a very rich engaging conversation and I loved our visits.

Looking out onto the “screen porch”, which is what we called our four season room that my father single-handedly built, and don’t you forget it, the table was set with a jug of sun tea, glasses, and a small cake. I smiled as I looked down on it seeing the old chewed on Tupperware glasses, grandma Nona “Banna” old plates, the old flocked tablecloth that had been washed so many times the print was coming off in some places! Last but not least, was the ashtray overflowing with spent butts and perhaps a nighttime deck soiree.

There it is, I think now, a true snapshot of times ago.

Anyway, I called out for my mom, she responded that she was outback. I found her on her knees weeding her flower beds. She and my father were extremely prideful on how manicured their home was. They had a glorious garden reaping with a bountiful harvest as well as these prizewinning favorite flowers; pink peonies, and yellow roses.
I joined my mother sitting in the grass and began plucking weeds by hand, following her lead. We talked about the nice weather and then on to the flowers. She began to tell me how the bees were attracted to the beautiful show the flowers were putting on. She went on to say that her observation of the bees was that even they would compete to land on the flower. We began to get sunburned as we chatted about the flowers, we decided to go get our tea.

Mom began tea with a freshly lit cigarette and of course, I smoked then too. We went on at least another hour with jokes and conversation.

On my way home in the car, I realized that my mother was talking about me the entire time. So I broke up with my boyfriend and put on a bra! I planted a pink peony bush in my yard to honor her because nothing has ever been the same since.

A true snapshot of times ago for me means a peony for my mother and memories that just maybe provoke more smiles than tears.

Happy Mother’s Day.2018-05-14 13.00.16


Of Faces and Places In the Heart

My favorite past time of all is people watching. I have always been intrigued by people and their facial reactions, how they walk and talk and carry themselves.  I simply enjoy watching people.

Everyone, I mean everyone, has attributes that are lovely.  I find them. Sometimes, it’s their beautiful hair, their smile, it may be their whole package; how they are wrapped before us, the world, as they pass by us in a single millisecond of time.

There are times and places that we find along our travels where things rest peacefully in our hearts, simply waiting for that someday when they’ll jump right out of our chests and into the world for all to see. To be then on the witnessing end firsthand is to be graced by something I think very special.

Here then standing at an arrival gate in an international airport, I find such special things. Here, people watchers such as myself, rejoice. So much to see, there are so many lives walking by intersecting, touching, not physically; perhaps metaphysically. There are so many differences that they become the same or similar and at least commonalities.

Here, right here in this airport are many hearts slowly leaking, seeping, jumping and leaping out of their chests! We are unlike faces, we are unlike languages but we are alike in smiles and heartfelt touches of humanity.

Hearts that are seen leaping happen in the recognition of one’s family, distant relatives, and long -time friends. Each person filing off flights with hugs awaiting them burst as happiness fills their faces. It is uncanny how suddenly all of those unlike faces become more alike than ever and how this is so immediate. Eyes finding eyes and smiles finding smiles, filling full the faces of the tired and weary, the young and tiny, the ensconced elder in the wheelchair, the saddened, even if just briefly, smiling with their hearts leaping!

Some will receive balloons, flowers, and hugs. There are the lovelorn whose hugs are tight and lips are locked, with tears of joy leaping with their hearts. Those full-kisses have the power of missed weeks, months or even years to be immediately wiped away with new lives started or restarted and love rekindled or just started.

Let it be known, that in this place I stand, all those attributes we all have that I have witnessed firsthand, that they meld into each other and that the lovely I found before still exists only now as my own daughter comes out the arrival door and we see each other’s eyes, I can only hope that someone just witnessed a millisecond of my life as my heart leaps from my chest!

Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a ConversationalTone!

Merry-Go-Round Memories

Merry-Go-Round Memories


Memories; lifetimes should be filled with them. Memories should make us giggle with delight

like when recalling your 12 year old self at the carnival. Do you rememeber the pure

enchantment you felt as you now spot the carnival in the distance? You see the lights and your

heart leapt!

Giddiness begins to happen, as you approach closer still, and now the music is softly sounds,

there are thrill screams from rickety roller coasters, and throngs of people sounds closer, closer

still and then there’s whistle of the man directing you to a pay booth with policeman’s flashlight

that causes us to jump and giggle again, as your parents follow the car packed with as many

children as will fit in it, in front of you while my two brothers and I sit quietly and smile feeling

extremely lucky to have arrived at this wonderland. My mom and dad share passing smiles

together that they were happy of their surprise vacation choice. We enter and the world warps

into a fantasy. The smells of a carnival are fabulous, the lights off the noisy rides and then there

are elephant ears dusted with white sugar, cotton candy a mile high, and corn dogs on a stick.

There were ropes of licorice in red and black….oh I want one of everything I see! There, I want

to ride the merry-go-round, I want to jump on a unicorn horse; but no I take the brown one with

the tongue sticking out weirdly. My brother is two ahead of me smiling with glee he is on a black

stallion, my younger brother is beside me and he is on a tiny white pony with blue eyes and he is


My parents station themselves standing between us children, my dad a hand on my brother and

my mom between myself and my little brother, her hand on each horse. We begin, the music is

bellowing, the operator gives us a few rules, now spinning quite quickly, my sweaty hair is

in the breeze. My brother ahead of me thinks we are racing; he is slapping the red strap like

a rein and is smiling and laughing gratuitously. I glance at my baby brother next to me and my

mom is now holding him entirely as the pony pumps up and down. I look above me and I now

realize that my horse is just a stationary one. Just a horse on a pole and now I no longer am

smiling somehow I feel I’m having a less than experience. I want to get off of that goofy horse

anyway! I am dizzy, my baby brother is crying and my other brother is smiling crazily asking to

do it again when we exit the merry-go-round. Secretly, I hated it. But, do you remember how

much you wanted that damned stuff bear? It was deemed the top prize on the runway that year.

Every time I looked up some adorable little girl was sweetly hugging one, except I knew I was

not ever going to be one of them. (father thought games were a waste of money)


That night continued, and our little family trudged forward into Never NeverLand, finding a fun

house with fabulous goofy mirrors and hard to walk up floors (they were tilted), but I got scared

because of the freaky clown standing next to the funhouse; he looked directly at me and asked,

“did you have fun little girl?” ugh really? Dad bought us cotton candy and I forgot that freak for

second. We rode all the tiny rides because of my little brother and my parents

hated rollercoasters; that made me happy though. I love a little train and I rode a car that looked

like a ladybug! Back then no one cared if you were 12, they saw you were having fun, they left it

alone. Well, it was getting late and we were getting ready to go home, we were getting crabbie.

By the time we got to the car, my little brother was already asleep on my dad’s shoulder. Both

my other brother and myself were asleep before we left that parking lot.

That night our merry-go-round dreams turned into magical memories, stuffed bear or no; I thank

you mom and dad.

Remembering September 11th!

No matter what you do today, remember 9/11. Why? To keep this date on our minds and in our hearts. We can see a million ceremonies on TV today, but it will not touch you more than your personal family erecting a large American Flag in front of your house, or taking part in a small observance of silence, or perhaps bringing a plate of cookies,cupcakes, or brownies to your local firehouse.

Teaching our next generation about the mindset of hate and changing that. Teaching children that things like this do exist in other nations, but deflecting it and having the children experience honor and respect for others is paramount. And finally let the world know that we care for the next guy, that this country can/and has pulled together as a unit to encourage time for reflection and honor.

So like the old song says “Teach your children well”; show them the importance of remembering and end that cycle of hate and hopefully our vigilance will cause change to happen-even if it has to go far into the mountain caves of Afghanistan or just the streets of hometown USA!

Remembering September 11th! Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a conversationaltone.

Mary Caliendo

Usain Again!

 Twenty-three year old Usain Bolt does it again!  He sets yet another record! Yesterday a jet passed through on the track in Berlin atthe 200 meter finals at the World Championships! Usain is running insanely! Bolt is not only setting the records, he also crushing them!  He ran that 200 meter in 19.19 seconds! He is .11 seconds faster than his own record that he set in Beijing only one short year ago!

There has not been a person around in 88 years that has lowered the 100 meter mark like Usain Bolt has done. And no one in in the past 11 World Championships has ever won the 200 meters with a .33 margin with the exception of Michael Johnson.

Usain is a tall man, and speculators contend that perhaps the young man’s stride length is why he is running like the wind! Our American Tyson Gay was out with a groin pull and did not race the 200 meter, following as closely behind the wind was Our American Wallace Spearmon with a great time of 19.85!

Usain is confident that he will be running for years, he is proud and strong and believes that he will be knighted in his country of Jamaica. He stated in an interview that of late the steroid question has popped up. He contends that while others are testing positive, he is not. He says he is not offended he will show  them all as he continues to run and to win.

Usain trains hard and for his effort he will also now be paid quite well as he proudly represents his country and the sport of Track & Field.

Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a conversationalTone.

Mary Caliendo

Usain Bolt of Lightening!

Well who said that lightening doesn’t continue to strike in the same spots, in Usain’s case was crazy!  Running like the wind, well that’s crazy too! And Usain Bolt and his now famous lightening bolt pose, broke yet another record!  This past Sunday at the World Track & Field Championships in Berlin the 22 year old Usain Bolt ran the 100 meter (100 yd. dash) final to the time of  9.58 seconds!

Not in at least nine decades or so has anyone ever ran off .11 seconds of time from one year to the other! Usain’s time in the 2008 Olympic gold medal race was a winning time of 9.69 seconds, and now the  The Jamacian  has taken the sport of Track & Field to another level! A level of unbelievable! He is a large statured man standing at 6 feet 5 inches and when you watch the tape it takes him a long time to get straight up, and that may just be the factor. The longer he is down has helped him to overcome the fact that his is tall for a sprinter. Whatever the reason is that makes Usain Bolt run like his heels are on fire, it is an amazing feat!  As he runs he appears relaxed and almost unchallenged as he sprints round the worlds finest of stadium. His antics as he gets in the blocks may soothe him, and make him more relaxed. Perhaps playing with the psyche of those next to him on the starting line.

But finally I would be remiss if I did not mention the second place finisher, Tyson Gay who is astronomical in his own way as well. His performance was fabulous as he ran the race of a lifetime as well with his finish of 9.71!  Riding in the tail-wind of a lightening bolt, the American created a twister of his own running a fine race!

Kudos to the fastest alive!

Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a conversationalTone.

Mary Caliendo

Michelle Obama’s Up-do!

I thought it was much ado about nothing!   Er..and Uh I was right!  It was all the rage for a couple of days;Michelle Obama’s new hair-do!  When first lady Obama appeared at the country music event at the White House and sported what many dubbed “The Obama Bob”, it was all the rage!

It was said that people were running in to their beauticians and asking for a bob that resembled that of the first lady’s! Could it be? Yes. But too bad for many when they found out days later that it was just an up-do of Michelle Obama’s current hair-do some were disappointed!  Why?

Probably because behind this hair-do could have meant dollars to some. If it were true and caught on, beauty shops would make more more money and their would be a spur of trickle-down effects that may or may have not taken place. All because of a hair-do. It goes to show you the power behind the woman.

Is this part of a bigger problem? Possibly. Being so invested in an individual could be disastrous for some. Although it is a harmless thing to want to just look like someone for example, Jennifer Aniston hair, or Farrah Fawcett hair. Or perhaps just purchase an outfit from J Crew like Michelle Obama’s. These all seem harmless, but to the young women coming up, it would behoove us to ask them to aspire to be educated like them. To tell young women it is more than great to have the mind of a chemist, love and write the greatest of literature, or to solve the world’s health problems and you will have something! We need to tell young women you go ahead and study everything and and anything that will take you to a higher educational place, all while telling them if you want Michelle Obama arms that is okay too!

Promote your daughter,your granddaughter, friend, niece, neighbor in every thing that they may encompass, but make sure you tell them to be a well-rounded individual!  Pursue music, education, and sport and build self-esteem! Then you’ll have something!

Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a conversationalTone.

Mary Caliendo

Lance Armstrong-A True Athlete!

Lance  Armstrong is a man driven. He appears to thrive on competition itself. He’s out there and is in the race, he and his teammate, Alberto Contador remain in second and third for the third day in a row at this years’  Tour De France.

Lance Armstrong is quoted as saying that he even has his thoughts turning to next year already. Armstrong is out there racing sans salary this year! Alot of things can be said about Lance Armstrong, but athlete should be mentioned at the top of the list!

He is a seven-time champion, who after a three year retirement is back on the bike and is still a viable and a controlling presence. What can one say? What type of person can come back from that, not to mention having cancer? Lance Armstrong is a very resilient person who continues to stun and amaze us with his true god-given ability. These type of athletes only come along once in awhile. The Sugar-Ray’s, the Michael Phelps’s, and the Tiger Wood’s , along with Lance Armstrong of sports have something we all do not. The drive, the ambition,and the discipline that is required to not just reach the end of a race or game, but to conquer it. To create the next game and to improve that game for the next group of athletes.

So all that this writer can do is to add that Lance Armstrong at this writing is only eight seconds back and he looks comfortable, and the next hurdle is the win and the yellow shirt he will wear as he crosses the finish line only to enhance and improve his game. The game of cycling in which he created the stage on which he alone stands; an accomplished athlete.

Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a conversationalTone.

Mary Caliendo

Michael Jackson Farewell

The crowds are beginning to gather at the Staples Center where later today a large memorial service will be held. They are signing their names  along with messages to pay homage to the pop star. Michael Jackson is known the world-over, and is loved the world-over. CNN is just breaking the news that Jackson’s body will be lying in state at the Staples Center!

Whether you personally love him or hate him, one has to admit that he was extremely talented. He paved the way for ground-breaking dance and creative ways to continue to re-invent or re-invigorate being  just a singer.

But that is the point, he was more than just a singer; while he has been accused of some nasty things (with children none the less), he has never been convicted of them. He has broke contracts and hinged upon some copyright infringements, but some people cannot get past the accusations regarding the kids! In many an interview the very soft spoken Michael Jackson states that he is often misunderstood. He claims that most likely because of his loss of childhood, he wanted to be “Peter Pan”.  In other words, he wanted to reclaim all that he thought was child-like.  People do not have to succumb to having been beat, or be a high profile star/singer as a child to want the right to reclaim childhood!  As we all age, don’t we all wish we could go back?  Don’t we all wish that we could be innocent again?

As my excelled child hops on to the Internet each day, do I proclaim, “don’t be sorry if you miss great things in your childhood!” Perhaps it would be great if the children all got on their play clothes, gathered sticks, large rocks, and built a fort to play army in! But that was my generation. My culture asked us to use our minds to invent things to play, or pass down marble championships, yo-yo tricks, and jump rope expertise! 

Now this up and coming generation will make us feel small at the amount of intelligence that they actually have. Their level of learning has far exceeded the things that we were taught at the elementary level. Their culture will ask them to create new applications for the computer, and pass down viral videos, and be part of a generation that tries to be “green”.

So don’t blame Michael Jackson as he saw things that none of us could ever venture to imagine, he was a visionary and a true seer. He was inventing new things to play. His games included dancing and singing on the utmost of levels beyond even the most talented could ever have predicted. So whether you loved him or you did not, admit and acknowledge that he somehow has changed your life.

So today, it is official, that act of saying goodbye. Saying farewell Michael -The King of Pop, we listened, we sang, we danced, we smiled, and we loved to your music. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who was so young or someone you have grown up with, but we know we must. But saying goodbye doesn’t mean we will ever forget! Goodbye Michael your legacy will live on forever, just like that of Peter Pan!

Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a conversationalTone.

Mary Caliendo

Jennifer Hudson Bringing It Home!

Although I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to attend her concert this past Saturday, I have heard that it was great!  Jennifer Hudson is on a tour of about nineteen cities with singer Robin Thicke. It is her first tour ever and still reeling from the awful murderous  incident that had taken her mother, brother, and nephew, her fans love her.

Her appearance on stage, and with  picking Chicago as the kick off leg of her tour is very special. Jennifer Hudson made great appearances of recent on the stages of several award shows, but Jennifer made it special by bringing herself  home to neighbors and friends and just fans who adore her. She has been on a stairway to fame ever since the American Idol show. The show where even the winners sometimes are never heard from again. But with Jennifer Hudson it is different. Hudson is warm and made lots of references to the fact that she is home in Chicago and her fans loved it! They ate it up.

Jennifer sang for a short fifty minutes; and the fans wanted more. The Oscar winner had sold out her show here in mere minutes, and we are hoping that the performer will come back to “Sweet Home Chicago” soon!

Ms Hudson was well-tuned, sassy, and showing everyone here and in the world, when you’re good you’re good and performers the likes of her come by only once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by Jennifer, we’re glad you came home. You let Chicago see their very own, fighting good and hard to get back after a devastatingly tragic event!  We here wish her well and await her next arrival.

Just my thoughts, just my opinions, and always in a conversationalTone.

Mary Caliendo