Tag Archives: Fun

May 10 – A Newfound Friend

by Patricia Roop Hollinger

“Who is this Lois Halley from Westminster?” I asked my husband as her name kept appearing in the Story Circle Journal with yet another writing. Since he was a former Westminster, Maryland resident I thought he might know. Her name did not appear in the local listings so, I virtually gave up on ever finding her.

“Oh, but I just might run into her at the check out line at Safeway if I am brave enough to ask the females in line with me what their names are.” No luck though with this strategy.

During the weekly Chair Yoga event at Carroll Lutheran Village, the Retirement Community where I now reside, the instructor called out our names. “Patricia Hollinger, so I have that right?” She asked. “That’s me,” I responded. When all our names were called, our bodies age 70 and over began to twist their bodies in positions that were just not familiar, but downright foreign.

Ah! the hour was finally over and I must say so myself, my body and that of the woman adjacent to me performed better than most. She approached me, saying, “I am Lois Halley and are you the Patricia Roop Hollinger that writes for Story Circle?”

“Why yes, I am she,” I exclaimed with surprise!

Lois then shared with me the recent death of her husband and that she was also now a resident at Carroll Lutheran Village Retirement Community. Since that serendipitous meeting, we have shared gatherings in the local Pub and just a week ago a meal at the local Gypsy Tea Room. Since we are both lovers of words, we attend local library events that feature current writers. The most recent one being with Judith Viorst, whose most recent book is “NEARING 90 AND OTHER COMEDIES OF LATE LIFE.” Her book has given us both a more lighthearted approach to our advancing years that also include more writings to Story Circle Journal.

“Pat” was raised on a farm, and thus developed an imagination pondering the nature of the universe. Words held the magic of stories. Other cultures intrigued her. She is a retired Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor/Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who lives in a retirement community with her husband and their cat “Spunky.” 

August 7 – GLOW

by Carol Ziel

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – GLOW – showing now on NETFLIX

I want to be a Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling, to show up for work in a spangly sequined leotard, full of feathers, glitter, and bangles. I want to have a name like Spanish Red, Mathilda the Hun, Thunderbolt, Beastie, or Lightning. I want to be part of the drama between good and evil played out each night in the ring. I want to belong to a group of women who use the full strength of their bodies to enact that struggle—- to know the complete abandon of leaping and tumbling, flipping, bouncing, and to feel the trust each woman has in the other.

I grew up Catholic. Female wrestling was not an option. Getting married or becoming a nun was. I joined the convent. But what if the bishop, instead of requesting vocations had said: “Be strong, be wild and adventurous for the spirit. Test your physical and creative muscles to the limit because that is your true vocation.”

Of course, now that I’m 70, it’s a little late to change professions. I’m seriously overweight, have had 3 knee surgeries, and am getting ready to retire. I became a social worker instead of a wrestler, frequently fighting for justice and healing from a cubicle. For many years I was wired to a headset. My uniform was frequently navy blue, instead of feathers and glitter. The evil I most frequently battled was the bureaucracy that hired me, but then created obstacles to actually doing the job. Still, I think I did some good.

How I would have loved to tussle with a corporate figurehead in the ring: suit and tie against myself in that sequined, spangled unitard. I’d start with a Leg Drop, followed with a Knee Shot to the Ring Post. I’d use the Arm Wringer, Gorilla Press, and Glam Slam. Then the Keister Bounce, Spike Pile Driver, and Monkey Flip. I’d flip him from rope to rope and toss him like a pizza until he begged for mercy. But he’d get no mercy until I’d get his pledge, a pledge to give us the time, space and staff to be truly compassionate and effective. The grace to be more focused on the soul of our work, and not the financial gain, the imperative to put the client first, the clarity that corporate rules were to serve the well-being of the client, and not primarily the company.

That can only happen in my dreams, and now it’s time to retire. I am grateful for the trust that clients had in me when they revealed their pain, confusion, and loss. It was a privilege to be part of their lives, and I frequently believe that they have gifted me more than I have gifted them.

I will never know how I would have made it as a gorgeous lady of wrestling, but I do know that I had a splendid career as a social worker!

Carol has been an SCN member for six years and is grateful to be nurtured by such wonderful women writers. She is also a gardener, grandmother, social worker, Quaker and Goddess-centered woman who primarily writes poetry but is branching out into more essay types of writing. More to be revealed.

August 1 – Why I Love Story Circle Network

by Len Leatherwood

Story Circle Network Founder and President Susan Wittig Albert leads an award ceremony

I have just returned from the “Stories from the Heart IX” writing conference in Austin, where I had the honor of spending time in the company of the most open, honest, loving and wise women I’ve had the occasion to meet in a very long time. I don’t even know quite how to put these feelings I have into words because they are so visceral.  Let me see if I can share a few glimpses of my time there, just to give you a sense of what I mean.

I arrived at a dinner for the Story Circle Network board the night before the first day of the conference and there I was seeing these women I only “talk” to mainly on the Internet. I felt shy for just an instant, then spotted my beloved Pat Bean, who has been in my e-circle writing group since I joined SCN ten years ago.  (The e-circles are small groups where we share our writing online.) Pat was wearing her usual tie-dye tee-shirt and the minute she saw me, she stood up and held her arms wide open.

The Author and her friends at dinner.

The next day, I presented my pre-conference workshop on Flash Fiction/Flash Memoir and found myself surrounded with women who were all there for the exact same reason I was there: to figure out how to be a better writer. In my presentation, I read them one of my student’s nationally award-winning essays, and as I read, I watched as every woman in that room was moved, some to tears. I was so pleased to see that my student’s writing had touched them; I was just sorry she wasn’t there to witness that reaction for herself.

Luncheon Keynote Speaker Bird Mejia shares the power of wild women!

Linda Joy Myers, our opening keynote speaker spoke about the power of women breaking their silence and telling their personal truths. She was humble, self-disclosing, real. Bird Mejia, our Sunday lunch keynote speaker, emphasized the importance of embracing who we are and sharing that pride with women of all ages. She brushed out her beautiful curled hair to show us the power of the “wild” woman when her locks extended full and wide into a glorious fan that framed her entire head. Jeanne Guy, the incoming SCN president, made us all laugh with her ever-present sense of humor and perfectly timed quips. The Sarton winners and finalists awed us with their beautiful words when they did a noon-time reading of excerpts of their books in historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction; memoir as well as biography.

Incoming President Jeanne Guy is supported with a friend on each side!

The workshop presenters offered insight and advice on a whole host of topics, ranging from writing about your mother without guilt to using the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment for character development to creating space for writing to publishing through CreateSpace to developing and facilitating a writing-from-life workshop and more and more and more. On Saturday night, there was an open mic where conference attendees could read their work. In between, there were countless conversations about writing, life and each other. The entire weekend could be summed up with these words: love, kindness, generosity, openness, connection, sisterhood, learning, and hugs.

Dear women friends, please join Story Circle Network!  This is an organization that can use YOU and your unique gifts, whatever they are. I believe you will find this group exemplifies women helping women at its best. You will not be sorry. You might even find – as I have – your life changed forever through this experience.

Len Leatherwood: Program Coordinator for SCN’s Online Classes, has been teaching writing privately to students in Beverly Hills for the past 17 years. She has received numerous state and national teaching awards from the Scholastic Artists and Writers Contest. She is a published writer of ‘flash’ fiction/memoir. A longer version of this post appears on Len’s daily blog: 20 Minutes a Day.

March 29 – My Bosom Was Buzzing: Tales From A Reluctant Techie

by Carol Ziel

cell phone

I am a serial cell phone loser. There should be a Twelve Step group for people like me.

“Hi, my name is Caroline and I just lost another cell phone!”

They fall into the toilet, the gutter, and the Twilight Zone. I rarely find them. I’m sure that they have formed some kind of club plotting to kidnap my current one.

Usually cell phones are black, navy, or brown and blend into the ambiance of coffee stains, sofa cushions, and area rugs. They are so small–small enough to fit in my bra. I have breast-fed twice so discreetly removing a cellphone from my bra is easy peasy, and if I keep it on vibrate it gives my day an extra kick, if you know what I mean.

Occasionally I have a senior moment and don’t know where the buzzing is coming from.  Then my grandson tells me: “Babcia, your bosom is buzzing !”

This is an observation that hopefully will not arrest his development.

Last Tuesday I put it on the nightstand after work and it vaporized by morning so it was time to visit my friendly neighborhood Sprint store. If they had the same reward system as my favorite coffee cartel has it would be time for a freebie: if you lose 8 you get one free. No way.

This time my primary criteria for buying a phone was size because sometimes size does matter. I wanted the biggest phone in stock, and I got it–a 3″ by 7″ Otter iPhone; it is almost as big as my Kindle. And heavy. If I wasn’t afraid of cracking the screen I could clobber someone into his or her next lifetime.

Although my only criteria was size I should not have been surprised that its magnificent circumference hosted three hundred apps. I can now translate text messages into Spanish although I don’t know how to send them.

The Vienna Boys Choir can wake me up singing like trumpets and force me to complete a puzzle before they are silenced. I can track my Weight Watcher’s points, use Mapquest, take a selfie, check my email, and learn to crochet on You Tube. I can video, do calculations, and file memos. I have a calendar and both an analog and digital clock. I can edit slides and file my life on Life Square. I can listen to music and make movies.

But I cannot figure out how to answer my phone or check voicemail.

I have always been reluctant to get an iPhone or a smart phone as I didn’t want to be at the mercy family and friends. Instead I’m at the mercy of widgets. My acquaintances can dial on the hour but until I decode the mystery of correctly swiping the icons I may never hear their sweet voices again.

I may have successfully found a way to never lose my phone, but I may never find a way to use it either.

Carol has been a grateful member of SCN for four years. She is also a gardener grandmother, social worker, and Goddess centered woman who is delighted to learn and grow in the company of such splendid women.

March 19 – Chemobearapy

by Cathy Scibelli


I write a blog dedicated to those with serious illnesses but rarely discuss topics specifically related to illness, preferring to focus on stories that will make people laugh and forget for a while the problems they face. However, there are times when the very act of dealing with illness brings love and laughter into my life. I thought I would share a recent example of how I’ve changed “chemotherapy” into “chemobearapy.”

Every three weeks, I go to the Monter Center on Long Island to receive a “maintenance dose” of Herceptin to control the breast cancer that has metastasized in my body. My blog sidekick, a 3″ teddy bear named Stretch, comes along with me.

Most of the nurses in the center know about Stretch, so when we arrive he’s greeted and fussed over. Last Friday we had a nurse, Jane, who hasn’t treated us before so she was curious about the hub bub that Stretch causes. I explained to her about the blog and introduced her to Stretch. Their eyes met, she smiled at him, and it was love at first sight.

Stretch of course wanted to impress her, so he volunteered to help her by watching my IV monitor. As he was sitting on the monitor, another visitor arrived, a social worker named Sandra who came to tell us about some new support programs the Monter Center is starting for breast cancer patients. In turn, I introduced her to Stretch.

Well, that fickle little bear left his post at the IV monitor, crawled into Sandra’s pocket, and proceeded to charm her and offer his assistance in getting the word out about the new programs. But he deftly managed to get back to the cubicle in time to look as if he had been sitting there diligently watching the chemo monitor just as the alarm went off to indicate the session was completed.

We shared some hugs and laughs all around, Stretch presented Jane with a St. Patrick’s Day plant to reassure her that she was Number One in his heart, and we went on our way feeling that not only had we treated our cancer, we had also replenished our spirit.

Living with a life-threatening illness is like being on a roller coaster. Friday was one of the days when you reach the top of the hill and instead of crashing down in terror, you plunge laughing and waving your arms, forgetting your fears. Unfortunately you don’t get to step off the roller coaster at the bottom. But as the ride continues it’s always good to look forward in hopeful anticipation that the next loop around the bend will be fun instead of scary, and make sure you take along fellow riders who give you courage and inspire you. I was going to suggest you might want to find your own little mascot, too–but be warned that they are high maintenance and tend to take over your blog, as well as run your life.

Cathy Scibelli has been living with metastatic breast cancer since 2012. She blogs about the ways she continues to enjoy her life with her sidekick Stretch who always has a unique perspective on their adventures.

November 29 – Swiss Trains Leave On Time

by Patricia Roop Hollinger


 “Where’s your wife?” the tour guide asked my husband with angst in her voice.

“Why she is in the bathroom.” my husband replied. “The local tour guide told her she had 20 minutes before the next train pulled out of the station.”

“No, she doesn’t,” replied the tour guide with the yellow duck umbrella that we followed like goslings over the alps of Switzerland.  “The train leaves in 4 minutes.”

As I unwrapped myself from the back brace I was wearing and began to lower my body onto the commode I heard someone shouting.


I wondered who that could be. The door opened again and the voice was now desperate as it called out.


I pulled up my garments and fled the bathroom hoping there was not a trail of paper behind me.


It was my desperate husband attempting to retrieve me from the bowels of the bathroom before the train left us to our own devices at the foothills of the Matterhorn.

The women waiting in line considered him to be a pervert and made every effort to direct him to the men’s bathroom, but he was not dissuaded. His wife was in the women’s bathroom and he needed her OUT of there ASAP.

You see we were on a Road Scholar train tour of Switzerland in August of this year. The trip consisted of 31 train trips, 12 buses, 3 boats, 6 hotels and 8 lectures. They had left minimal time for potty breaks.

The sights were awesome. Swiss cleanliness and promptness resonated with my own inherited German genetic makeup. Obesity was absent in a culture that hikes, walks and rides bikes with great frequency. I am still bemused by the fact that Switzerland is absent flies and other flying pests, thus the absence of screens on windows that allowed unfettered breezes into our rooms.

So, a word to any of you traveling on the Swiss Rails: drink less, potty before and after any need to catch the next train. It is true. Swiss trains are PROMPT!

Patricia Roop Hollinger is a newlywed of three years to a long-lost lover from over fifty years ago. She is a voracious reader, cat lover and lover of words and stories. Pat is also a licensed counselor by profession and currently giving of those services to Give an Hour.

March 21 – Literally Letty: Snake Face

by Letty Watt

The funniest picture I never took happened the moment I threw out some old tuna salad. Now, you ask, why would throwing out tuna salad be a funny picture. The answer is easy. We lived in the country, and I often “juiced” our breakfast meal. So I had left over pulp that I took outside for the critters that lived around our country home East of Norman, Oklahoma. I had selected an area covered with low bushes and grasses very near the corner of our stonewall. On a regular basis I would take the pulp, peelings, or other tasty morsels outside past the stone wall and toss them to critters that could hide under the bushes and eat them.

One day I found a young deer sitting there, as if it were waiting on a treat. I sat quietly at the wall and just watched in silence. It was a quiet moment that I reflect on often to still my heart, but then that is not the funny picture. One energetic morning I decided to clean out the refrigerator, and that’s when I found the stale tuna salad bowl in the back of the shelf. It only smelled slightly of aging fish, so why would I waste it, knowing that some raccoon or opossum would delight in the aroma and taste.

With the refrigerator cleaned, I stepped out passed our stonewall to the bushes and tossed the aromatic bowl of tuna. Usually, the food hit the leaves of the bushes and settle down to the ground. On that day, at that moment it hit a snake squarely in the face as the snake lay resting on the bush. The snake reared his head first, in shock I’m sure. I yelped in surprise and jumped back hitting the stonewall that stopped my retreat. The two of us then stared at each other in wonder until I absolutely broke into laughter. I must have been the only person in the world to have ever laughed at a snake face covered in smelly tuna. The snake sent his fangs out, as if licking the tuna, then shook its head much like a dog shaking off water. Silently he slithered away humiliated, leaving me laughing out loud as I sat on the wall alone with nature at my side.

We’ve moved to Kansas since then, I miss those moments of country life, but I have the memories, and they restore my soul.


Letty Watt is a retired librarian/teacher and now spend as much time outside in nature as possible by gardening, playing golf, walking the dog, and studying the stars from her hot tub. Winter months bring her inside and she writes daily collecting stories that mutter around in her head.

January 21 – A Daughter, Sand Angels, and the Sun

by Tania Pryputniewicz

I woke curmudgeonly grumpy from a tangle of blankets, one son’s knees grazing my spine, husband and Husky hugging the far wall. At my feet, my middle son. Parallel to the bed on the floor, my twelve year old daughter, hair smothered by pillows as I turned off the alarm. Transplanted from northern to southern California, I should have been overjoyed after three years of two-city living without my husband to be reunited under one roof.

But I’d acquired a hyper-vigilance due to raising our children alone–a “too-little-to-go-around” self whose reaction to any sentence starting with, “Mom” opened with, “What?…can’t you see I’m….” x, y, z. My daughter, with infinite patience last year, drew note after note decorated with rainbow letters, “Can I come down for tea with you tonight?” Fatigued, as hard as I tried, I felt locked in internal sorrow, afraid I’d never rise above our circumstances to be larger of heart.

I feel my shortcomings as a mom most intensely in relation to my daughter. Because we are both firstborns? Female? Because her brothers’ needs seem easier? I only know I’m more conflicted with her. And she has no qualms about letting me know how I’ve failed her. Which took me to some dark places last year (given the struggle to raise the children, work, hold down the fort, and stave off the ever present poet’s dream of writing a poem worthy of eternity).

But even as we wrangled, I understood the only way was “through”–not over, not around, not under, but through. The sun would rise; I’d try again. Some nights we had tea; others I deferred to stacks of student papers, dishes, or her brothers, especially during the month the littlest broke his elbow and needed surgery.

We’ve only been in the new city for two weeks, but my shoulders have dropped several inches now that two adults absorb the field of the kids’ needs. The one place that soothes all of us remains the ocean, mercifully close by here as it was up north, so instinctively, we keep the ritual.

Within moments, I’m photographing patterns–the retreating waves make sand angels below each beached pebble everywhere I look. My girl comes abreast of me and delights in the find. My husband salvages a purple bucket and one tiny green plastic soldier; the boys catapult down the sand dunes. The Husky runs leashless in wide arcs, nipping at the waves.

Dusk finds my daughter and I walking together. She’s willowy, lovely, inching towards adolescence. Hard to believe soon she’ll yearn less and less for my attention. I ask her to stop long enough for a double self-portrait. Finally, we get it right, shoulder to shoulder, positioning the setting sun so it crowns half of her face. We found that when you tilt just far enough apart, the light of the sun breaks into a gold-red fan of spokes across both faces like a blessing.

Tania lives in southern California with her husband, three children, husky, and two disoriented housecats still recovering from the move. A poet by night (MFA, Iowa Writers’ Workshop) and a writing teacher by day, she is heading into her second year of teaching Transformative Blogging for SCN (next class starts February 4th) and is writing a book for women bloggers.

July 18 – Magic Mike and Me

by Carol Ziel

The Gravois Bluffs Great Escape Movie theater promised a night of raunchy male entertainment. I’m nearly sixty-five years old, haven’t dated for five years, and decided that reacquainting myself with the male anatomy was an attractive proposition. The movie was “Magic Mike” and it plunged me back into my adventurous past.  Like Alice, I fell into the rabbit hole where I found memories of my wild self.

Suffice it to say that I was a late bloomer. The shackles of Catholic training and a convent past stayed intact until my mid-twenties.  I usually looked for myself in all the wrong places–first the Peace Corps, the army, and then the USO.  However when I found strip clubs and other party places I knew I had finally come home.

I remember the first time I saw a stripper dance.  It was as if the Red Sea had parted and the scales had fallen from my eyes. I looked around and recognized my tribe in the drinkers and dancers, in the crazy colors and mist machines, and mostly in their frenetic freedom. For the first time I was truly alive feeling that I actually belonged somewhere. I stood at the bottom of that stage , gazing at the dancer with the thirst of someone who had been wandering in the desert for a lifetime. The burial clothes I was born in no longer bound me hand and foot . I emerged into my future life.

Like the character, Mike, I entered that lifestyle in innocence.  What we both saw was the wild abandon and freedom to be yourself: perfect bodies, perfectly present. No shyness or excuses for being anything but who we were. Embracing our sexuality like the sun embraces the summer sky.  Strutting our cosmic stuff.  We were butterflies exploding out of cocoons; every dance was Fourth of July.

However, like sunbursts, meteors and other blazing things we extinguished ourselves in the heat of passions.  We were both Ithacus flying too close to the sun and melting into deepest darkness.  We both found that all that glitters is not gold.

There is a paradox here. What we saw was true–the ownership of raw energy, and manifestation of exuberant sexuality was real, but that is only part of the story. The price one must pay to stoke the furnace of desire, to feed the beast of libido is heavy.  Like Alice we went through the looking-glass, but what we found eventually was a shadow life full of empty promises. We both became shadow people.

Thirty five years later I sat in a dark theater contemplating the past, I mourned for the loss of the dream, and what I lost reaching for the dream.  I have no regrets now that I am on the other side. I travel with a different tribe now, and the most “blaze” I get is gardening in July. But, I am grateful for that time and place, and what I learned. It’s part of who I am.

Carol Ziel is a sixty-four year old grandmother, gardener, mental health professional and grateful member of Story Circle Network.

January 27 – The Fork in the Road

by Pat Bean

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”–Neale Donald Walsch

It was a sunny day in 2004, just three weeks before I would retire from a 37-year career as a journalist, when I drove a brand new RV off an Ogden, Utah, sales lot. It felt like the butterflies in my stomach had developed thorns on their fragile wings.

Everything that had been a part of my past life was about to change. I had just blocked off all chances of remaining rooted in my small, but cozy home that sat in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains I loved. There simply was not enough money in my future to both fulfill my lifelong dream of living and traveling on the road while maintaining fixed roots within a circle of friends that had taken over 20 years to acquire.

This day I had not only chosen the unknown road that lay ahead, but had wrapped my choice in cement. I had even traded in my Honda Odyssey as part payment for the undersized, 22-foot RV that was now my only form of transportation, and soon would be my only home.

By the time all the paper work giving me title to the 2004 Volkswagen Vista/Winnebago had been scrutinized, signed and finalized, it was early evening. I was too unsettled to take my purchase for a check-out spin. So, feeling tall and strange sitting behind the wheel with my new living, dining, sleeping, cooking and bathroom facilities behind me, I drove home. Emotional turmoil, good or bad, always sapped my energy.

On carefully pulling into my driveway, testing the wideness needed to turn my new RV, I heard frenzied barking from inside the house. It was how my dog, Maggie, reacted to the sound of strange vehicles invading her territory. She never barked when I returned home, nor did she at any of my frequent visitors. But she did not recognize this new vehicle.

When I opened the door, Maggie gave me a quizzical look of surprise. Then, realizing in a split second that something new was parked in the driveway, she dashed between my legs and ran out to explore.

I opened the RV’s side door and she eagerly hopped in. She slowly sniffed every surface she could get at, then finally hopped up onto the couch and gave me a look that I easily interpreted as: So where are we going? To explore America, the beautiful, I reply. I always answer my dog’s inquiring looks. .

And that’s how my my travels with Maggie began. It’s been a journey that’s now heading into its eighth year. And I still have nary a regret.

Pat Bean is a wandering/wondering old broad who is beginning her eighth year of full-time RV-ing with her canine traveling companion, Maggie. She is passionate about writing, nature, books and birds and writes a daily blog.