Monthly Archives: September 2015


I used to be quite the magazine junkie, whiling away my free time with the likes of O, More, Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, Self, Shape, Vanity Fair, and even the occasional issue of Vogue. Lately, the only magazines I read regularly are Writer’s Digest, Saveur and Sunset—the latter two because my niece was selling magazine subscriptions for her Girl Scout troop. I still love magazines’ glossy, carefully composed images—windows into the perfect life (as conceived by advertisers). There’s something seductive about all these scenes: friends laughing, drinking and sharing nibbles in a lantern-lit garden; a mother and daughter peering from their tent as dawn paints the mountains pink and gold; a sassy woman strutting down a rain-glazed Parisian street…

Before I retired, I’d start my day with a cup of tea and a magazine—a bit of precious alone time before the busy workday began. Look! Here’s the key to spiritual enlightenment on page twenty-six. And here on page thirty-four is a heart-wrenching piece by a cancer survivor. Here are some lovely suggestions for the perfect Provençal-style garden, and here’s a travelogue, and here are twenty questions that will reveal my true calling. All this entertainment and wisdom, laid out in easily-digestible bits of no more than 1,000 words. What fun!

What I love about women’s magazines is their optimism, their constant reassurance that I’m just one make-over away from a shiny new me. And I do love to start my day with a little inspirational reading. Not being a religious person, I find inspiration in tales of self-improvement, of weathering storms and emerging stronger, of finally mucking out the closet and finding one’s ideal wardrobe.

Oh, but the ads. While they can be pretty, they do clutter up a magazine. I get it—magazines are financed by the advertisers. Much of the content of a magazine is designed to sell the sort of stuff the sponsors offer. And that’s where magazines have lost their shine, as far as I’m concerned. I get so tired of the constant sell, sell, sell—as if a pushy salesman keeps poking me on the shoulder and interrupting my enjoyment of the articles. Ugh.

Just for fun, I’ll sometimes tear out every magazine page that contains ads on both sides; this results in a much slimmer magazine. Have you noticed how many of these are ads for medications? And we’re not just talking about Tums or Advil, fine products that I would actually use. No, these are ads for serious medications for very serious conditions. Can you believe those long pages of tiny print listing the many side effects, and how often those side effects include suicidal thoughts?

But I digress.

How marvelous it would be to find a magazine containing no ads—a magazine full of the hopeful, optimistic, light content that I find so relaxing, without any promptings to buy, buy, buy. I know, I’m just fantasizing, here. But wouldn’t it be great to find an ad-free magazine filled with articles like these?

  • The Miraculous Health Benefits of Afternoon Naps
  • Gorgeous Goodwill: How to Restyle Used Clothing
  • Fun, Cheap Potluck Parties
  • You Look Marvelous! Twenty Ways to Appreciate Your Own Gorgeousness
  • Easy Homemade Holiday Gifts for under $5
  • Ten Quizzes that Reveal How Brilliant and Talented You Are
  • Interviews with Fascinating Women Who Don’t work in the Fashion, Beauty or Entertainment Industries
  • Mentor of the Month: Mature Women Who Shape Lives
  • Smart, Creative People Who Are Building a Better Future for Us All
  • The Joy of Volunteering: Neighborhood Heroes
  • Fun Crafts Made from Stuff You Already Have Lying around the House
  • How to Attain Inner Peace and Enlightenment in a Supine Position
  • Celebrate National Buy Nothing Day
  • Plump, Sexy Role Models
  • The Joy of Inter-Generational Friendships
  • How to Host a Fashion Swap Party—New Clothes for Free!
  • How to Take Photos That Are Not Selfies
  • Fifty Gourmet Recipes to Transform Your Leftovers.
  • You Won’t Believe What You Can Get for Free at Your Library!
  • How to Lose Weight and Get Fit by Dancing to Music on the Radio
  • Amazing Skin Cream You Can Make in Your Own Kitchen

Perhaps someday we’ll see an online blog collective/e-zine that isn’t cluttered with pushy, obnoxious pop-up ads. A woman can dream…

Joyful, Joyful

happy baby in the park

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
― Rumi

Lately, “joyful” seems to be my favorite term of high praise. Earlier favorites were “passionate,” “fascinating” and “lush.” In my fifties, I definitely gravitate toward people and animals who are joyful. I find myself drawn to

  • Little children and babies. This is probably my grandmother instinct kicking in; I don’t have any grandchildren yet, and I certainly don’t want to rush my daughter or step-son into producing the next generation. But I just love the giggly, wide-eyed, wondering way that little children look at the world around them. Is there anyone more joyful than a little kid in the park, picking daisies, examining bugs, running and whooping and climbing and loving life?
  • Dogs. Joyful is the default mode of most dogs. I like cats too, but dogs are just SO. HAPPY. TO SEE YOU! And if you deign to toss a ball? Ecstasy! Dogs have a tremendous capacity for joy. I know that one important key to happiness is to take joy in ordinary things; after all, our days are full of ordinary things. I strive to be more like a dog in that respect, joyfully enthusiastic about life’s little treats.
  • People who’ve found the right job. This is very hard to do, given our need to pay the bills, and most of us grub along at a job that’s OK, but doesn’t express our essence. But now and then I meet someone like Phil, the man who runs our YMCA. He loves his job, he loves people, and he just beams humor, welcome and joy. The mission of the YMCA is “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all,” and Phil embodies these attributes so well. He has a great big joyful heart.
  • Kat Ross, my former belly dance teacher, is another. Look her up at if you’re in Tacoma. I’ve always emerged from her dance classes feeling energized, mellow, and like a luscious, saucy wench. In fact, most dance teachers I’ve known have had this kind of joy and knack for spreading it. Dance class is always a reliable quick joy fix.
  • My former Spanish teacher at Tacoma Community College, Dan Call. How I wish I’d met this joyful young man back when I was teaching foreign language classes. He so much enjoyed guiding, tugging, and encouraging us toward speaking Spanish, and his enthusiasm was contagious. His full-immersion classes were filled with games, puzzles, cartoons, films, and lots of conversation. If only we could teach all school subjects that way, there’d be no dropouts.

I guess that’s the key: find something you love to do, and then find a way to share that joy with others via teaching or mentoring—or playing in the park. I think I’ll take a walk to the park right now. I need a joy break.