Is It Just Me? Why Do I Always Do This On Airplanes?

Is It Just Me? Why Do I Always Do This On Airplanes?

I am that lady in Seat 12B.

Maybe even stuck in that middle seat of 27D.

I’m that lady you’re trying to discreetly poke your travel partner. “Check out the woman over there,” you whisper. “She’s crying her eyes out.”

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Dear Reader, what is it about airplanes?

The altitude?

The recycled air?

The isolation 36,000 feet above the ground?

Whatever it is, I’m a goner.

Just say, “Boo,” and I’ll start crying.

Watching a movie, that on the ground would bring a tiny tear to my eye, inspires a flood of water works.

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Recalling a simple, pleasant memory leaves me a mess.

Working on some of my more heartfelt columns— well, forget about it.

My friend, Tricia, who is good at making me not me feel not entirely crazy, confessed one day that she is equally tear-challenged on airplanes, as well.

Now, when either one of us takes a trip, we text, “Safe travels!” along with that particular emoticon face with tears streaming down the cheeks, because we know what’s coming.


I find myself thinking about this particular condition as I fly back from a trip with my baby sister.

A few months ago she called me and said, “Come join me for a Sisters’ Trip in the French Alps after I wrap up a business meeting!”

There were only two things to say, “Mais oui!” and “Husband, could you please cash in some miles?”

Sister and I had a grand time. We hiked, we laughed, we shopped. We ate. We took care of no one but ourselves.

It was simply bliss.


As I fly home, I’m thinking about the lifetime gift that is my sister.

I remember our parents telling my brother and me they were going to have another baby.

I remember my brother hauling me in the backyard and threatening me to beat me up if I told any kid on the block that our mom was pregnant. He was 8, I was 7. The difference of that one crucial year meant he understood what our parents had done to create this situation and sure wasn’t going to spread news like that around the neighborhood.

I remember her being born, winning the bet with my brother that the baby would be a girl, as this was back in the day when you had to wait to find that out.

I remember creating slumber parties for her friends, driving her carpool, being her protector, so many of the things a tired older mother is happy to pass onto an older child.

And here we are a zillion years later, married, living in different countries, still able to giggle like we are kids.

Her world knows her as a big time entertainment executive.

I know her as my little sister.

I’m so proud.

So, thankful,


Wait, I better head to the plane’s bathroom for some Kleenex. Either that, or ask to borrow the sleeve of the stranger sitting next to me.

Surely, it must be the air up here.

Find more stories on my website,

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution,the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

Your Take On My Husband’s Surprise–You More Than Helped Me Decide What To Do

Your Take On My Husband’s Surprise–You More Than Helped Me Decide What To Do

Oh, what a trip it has been!

The adventure has started, even weeks before I get on the plane.

For that, I have you to thank, Dear Reader.

It was just a few weeks ago that I asked you for some marital advice.

I shared how my husband has this crazy, geeky hobby where he collects frequent flyer miles without flying.

How he’s whisking me off to a tropical paradise in the Maldives..

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That was where I was stuck.

The next part of the journey was to be a surprise.

Husband thought this was a grand idea.

“Romantic and fun” are the words I think he used.

I thought it was,

Well, not.

And so I turned it over to you.

“Should I let my husband surprise me?” I asked.

Boy, did you ever rally.

Let’s just say this—

You are not shy about saving me from me.

The resounding response,

And trust me, they came flooding in,

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Was to loosen up, let him surprise me and enjoy.

That’s not even the best part.

The best part was you.

You, who took the opportunity to teach me a thing or two.

Especially you husbands.

“This is how a man shows he loves you,” more than a few of you tried to explain to me in the simplest of terms.

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Larry wrote, “DON’T spoil your husband’s surprise. He sounds like me, and if he is, then it’s very hard to come up with an original romantic idea.”

It was as if you were interpreting that exotic foreign language known as “Husband Love,” that clearly too many of us women are far from fluent in.

I read the fellow husband replies aloud to Husband who nodded and smiled as if finally, someone understood.

There were those of you who really gave me a reality check.

“I think you need a real problem,” Sally wrote.

You got me there, Sal.

And those who brought a similar point home with a little more sugar sprinkled on top.

“Oh, what I would give for any more time or adventures with my late husband. He’s been gone three years now,” said Marie.

I get it.

I’m lucky.

You have been heard.

So, stand down troops.

I’m taking your advice—staying in surprise mode.

Won’t know until half way through the trip where Husband is taking me.

A few of you, like Jolene, want to make sure I know what to pack.

For that, Husband has given a clue—it’s going to be in the 60’s during the day, 50’s a night.

This one has thrown me.

Where is that chilly in June?

Southern Hemisphere?

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Northern Europe?

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Those are just guesses.

I’m not trying too hard.

After all, I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.

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Find more uplifting stories on my website,

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution,the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

Here’s My Absence Slip

Here’s My Absence Slip

“So, where have you been, young lady?”

No matter how old we get, there still is some splainin’ to do when you’ve been gone for awhile.

I’ve shared before how my husband has this crazy hobby of collecting millions of frequent flyer miles without traveling.  Most days of the year, it drives us crazy because he refuses to let us ever use cash. But it does allow us to go on some pretty remarkable trips.  We’re just back from taking our teenagers to Paris and London.  Who knew that the most important sites to see in these great cities were the H&M and Forever 21 stores that we have in our own malls here at home?

So, we survived and somehow managed to fit in a few of the lesser sites like Notre Dame,The Louvre, The London Eye, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey. Here we are as we approach the Eiffel Tower. Certainly, not a mecca for teenaged girl shopping, but as one of the most impressive structures to see in your lifetime, it will do.

eiffel tower pic

Time to get back to collecting more miles, piles of laundry, and of course, blogging, writing, and sharing uplifting stories with you.

A bit late, but here is one of my latest newspaper columns inspired by Thanksgiving.

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.  Here’s this week’s column:

Serving Up A Gratitude Buffet

    Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pies.

Welcome to Thanksgiving, the tastiest holiday of all.

Beyond all the delicious food, I find some years the biggest challenge is to cook up is a big helping of what the holiday is supposed to be all about: Being thankful.

I’ve been known to struggle with gratitude as much as the next guy. Life gets hard with jobs, families, health challenges. Some days it can be gratitude-schamtitude.

So, with a little help from my family and friends, I’m setting a Thanksgiving buffet that helps me get there.

-ABC Alphabet Gratitude Soup: My friend, Tricia, introduced me to this simple game. “I go through the alphabet thinking of something I’m grateful for starting with each letter,” she explained to me. “A for my abs which are looking so much better all the crunches I’ve done this year. B Bella my wonderful dog, is for C courage, the courage to do the hard things I know I’m facing.”

I’ve tried the ABC Gratitude Game. Never fails, 26 letters later, I’ve forgotten whatever has gotten me down and am overwhelmed by my abundance.

-Eyes on Your Own Plate: This could also be known as, “Keep Eyes Off Facebook. I had to figure this one out soon after graduating college and getting alumni magazine with the updates in the back. It was overwhelming to realize I was a total failure that I wasn’t sailing around the world, birthing 5 children and running a major international corporation. It took me some time to realize that the person who is sailing around the world isn’t birthing children and the person who is birthing multiple children is not sailing around the world and the person running the international corporation might not even be happy. I need to keep my eyes on the delights on my own plate.

-The Leftover Bag: Let’s face it, even when you’re grateful you can still have problems and challenges. “Hang onto them,” my mother would say.

“Huh?” Would be confused response.     My mother has always said, you might not like your problems, but given a choice, if you threw your problems along with all the problems of other people you know you would pull your own back out. Get ready to laugh at yourself when you realize, generally, that’s true.

Which leads me to Dana’s Pancakes:

When times get hard, and they invariably do, my friend, Dana, makes pancakes.

This from a woman who has faced some doozies the last few years including her townhouse burning down, a large tree falling through her new house and being diagnosed with a serious disease.

“I’ve come to realize,” she told me just the other day that every awful, scary, terrible situation I’ve been through has led me to a new and better chapter. The fire got us out of our townhouse and forced us to get rid of so much stuff we didn’t really need. The tree falling on the house got insurance to pay for a new roof, which the new house really needed. And getting sick forced me to slow down and work again on realizing how little I control in my life.

Now, when things are hard, I ‘make pancakes.’ I flip that challenge over and ask myself what’s the flip side of this? How might this be good?”

With friends and family like these, what’s not to be grateful for.

And let me take this opportunity, Dear Reader, to say how thankful I am that you sit down at this table with me each week as I share making my way through the challenges of life.

For you, I am truly grateful.