Wednesday, February 21, 2018

     It’s only fitting that a week before performance, I get sick and cannot sleep. Oh, yes. It’s tradition. Maybe the stress causes it, but fortunately, it’s not debilitating, and for the 87-year-old character I play, my weary face will be timely.

     Yesterday, I had coffee with a friend. She is a relatively new friend, but she is a treasure, and I am so buoyed by the conversation we had. We talked about our crazy busy lives—-hers is much crazier and busier than mine. She is always helping people. I don’t know how
she cares for others while completing bigger-than-life projects for her business. We laugh about our own shortcomings and about things that happened on her cruise, and we muse about how to cope with the difficult people in our lives. What a joy to have found this woman whose energy makes mine look silly.

     My friend is a musician, so she gets my musical angst. She is a public speaker, so she knows the rigor of preparing a speech (for me, an 8-page script), and she understands the intensity of marketing and selling when one is trying to promote one’s business.

     I remember my mother saying to me, “Cultivate and nurture your girlfriends. You will never realize how important they are to you.” Well, ok, maybe she didn’t use those two big verbs, but the message was clear. My mom would go out at least once a month with her girlfriends, and I remember wondering (at age 11) what on earth they talked about for hours at a time. I get it now. I also recognize how right she was about connections that stimulate, soothe, heal and inspire. 

     I had to leave my closest friends 1.5 years ago, and I miss them terribly. Finding a couple of new ones will never replace those I’ve enjoyed for over 10 years, but I plan to nurture the new ones as well as the former with whom I speak on a regular basis. My “Sis” gets it. My new friend “gets it,” and my other dear treasured friends (who have others besides me, of course), are always there for me, and me for them.

     There are many books written lately about this new buzz word “connection.” I have read none of them; but I know that “love and belonging” are where it’s at, no matter how old we are.

     Our challenge as parents and grand-parents is to be sure to teach our children and grand-children that face to face always trumps device to device. A phone call (and I don’t like the phone) is much more meaningful than a text or an email. Hearing a friend’s voice is precious. My friends can tell by how I say “hello” just how I really am. 

     Have you connected face to face this week? Have you written to someone you miss? Have you answered a question while multi-tasking so your kid never sees your eyes? Have you said a thank you prayer for those cherished souls who feed your heart? I have, and I don’t have to put this on any to do list. 


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

     I am an addict. Yes, I am obssessed and humbled by the power my addiction has over me. I have really not tried to rid myself of it yet, as I am still reeling from the high I get daily. I don't go to meetings, at least not meetings to cure my addiction. I go to meetings to block out my addiction and to see if there's something else that sends me into my awesome "zone" like my addiction. So far, nothing can compare--not even the bike riding I miss when I'm lost in my craft.

     I am a "Performance Addict." Being addicted to performing is something most would never even contemplate. Who wants to put themselves out there continually allowing others (most of whom are not qualified to judge) to scrutinize, criticize and compare? Who wants to slave and sacrifice for minutes on a stage only to discover that perfection is illusive. Who wants to spend sunny mornings indoors while runners and dogwalkers pass by? Who wants to give up beach time for practice and rehearsal schedules? Who? Me.

      For anyone who knows anything about this addiction, there is little glamour in the origins, despite the excitement and gratification of a job well done. There is a short-lived thrill in the applause and the testimonials, but you're only as good as your last performance, so the cycle begins shortly after descending from the stage.

     Why do people like me become addicted, and why do they continue to succomb to the temptations of "the next show?" Come see it, and you will understand.

     If you live near Sarasota, sign up on my website for the next concert.
Photo by Timeless Images, Susan Richardson, Belleville, Michigan

Monday, February 19, 2018


What a beautiful week-end it turned out to be. After a week of focus and angst, nature and wonderful friends make it all worthwhile.   Naples Bay

A hearty walk on the Ringling Bridge will clean out all the cobwebs. So thankful we live in this beautiful place!

Random funny bikes around town always make us smile.


Sandy giving her two-minute intro speech to new NSA
Academy members. So cold in the room, she had to wrap herself
in a tablecloth. Of course, she sang her intro:)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

    Belonging to a group of people who energize and motivate is the absolute best! No matter how old I am, I am hooked on positive energy and goal-oriented people. 

     My National Speakers Association chapter in Central Florida is a group of the most dynamic, successful, hard-working people I have ever met in one place. It's Toastmasters at its best on steroids. 

      I am no doubt one of the oldest in the group, and I am a member of the "Academy," not the "Professional Speakers Association" itself. You have to have given at least 25 paid speeches in one year in order to qualify, and I am not a paid speaker; I am an underpaid performer. But that's ok too, as that's what I choose to do at this point in time. 

      So why did I join knowing this? Because being in the presence of positive, ambitious, kind people is chicken soup for my soul. We have at least two wonderful speakers at our monthly meetings, and we have an oppotunity to network for whatever purpose during the course of the day's activities. I have met people from all over the country who have had a myriad of experience in careers I didn't even know existed. There are people who endured crises and trauma who are taking their stories on the road to educate and enlighten others. There are entrepreneurs who have left the corporate world to venture out on their own. There are entertainers who use their talent to heal and motivate. It's all terrific stuff.

      I feel so lucky to be a part of this group, and I look forward to continuing my membership until I "graduate" in August. 

     No matter how old we are, there is always a place to learn, to grow and to give. I have certainly accomplished the first two, and I'm working on how to give back to this group in my own unique way. So far, it's only been with a funny song and my baritone uke, but I am working on a more lasting and helpful method. Stay tuned. 

    The National Speakers Association has chapters all over the country. If you are a speaker, a business owner or an entertainer, this is the place for you. Check it out.

Friday, February 16, 2018

     I could write about this subject every single day, and the clueless would never get it. So I continue to preach to the choir. Oprah's quote is a variation on the famous words of wisdom by Maya Angelou which suggest that when people leave you, they feel better about themselves. Think about how you make others feel in any conversation throughout your day. If you can honestly say to yourself, that this person should feel energized and happy that she spent time with you today, then you are spreading joy.

     I cannot tell you how often I feel the opposite when people leave me exhausted, drained, frustrated and sometimes even angry. I know that the reaction I have to anyone is my own choice and problem; however, if people knew that they drain others or make them feel "less than," I would hope that they might think twice about what comes out of their pie holes.

     Do you have bathroom friends? Bathroom friends are those who bore, drain or frustrate me so I have to excuse myself to go to a restroom wherever I can escape. Some people don't realize, apparently, that their stories that drag on for fifteen minutes each with sidenotes of another 15 are so tiring to the listener that she must escape. Are men or women the worst? I would have to admit that women are the worst, but there are men who aren't much better.

      I wish there was a manual (maybe I need to write it) that indicates just how long the average person can focus on someone else's "stories." Storytelling is for little children that like to see pictures while you're reading. Storytelling is for sitting in an audience and listening to someone who is really skilled at relating something in a way that it becomes alive. Storytelling is not just for giving a blow by blow account of an incident that is uninteresting to most.

     I am tired of hanging out in restrooms because people are clueless. I will be putting my tiny tongue in my funny cheek and writing the manual for pie holes. Watch for it in your newsfeed.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

In the early 70s, my Dad (on right), was fortunate enough to
meet Van Cliburn. What a thrill for him (my Dad), although it should have been a thrill for Van as well. My Dad was awesome. He played the piano, the violin and the guitar and had a beautiful voice. Van Cliburn was simply a gifted, fabulous concert pianist:)

I never met him myself, but he was a legend for a number of years. My piano teacher told me that if I wanted to be a concert pianist, I would have to marry a practice room, not the cute guy I was dating (who wanted 12 children, RIP). I chose not to marry the practice room, and thank the Lord, I didn't have 12 children. I did, however, have a mini-career as a concertizing musician in my 70s, and I owe that to the man on the right.

He taught me that discipline and drive will get you anywhere you want to go. Little did he know it would take me 70 years to get there.

My Dad was my first love, my first Valentine, my first hero. I will always love you, Daddy, even though I never made it to Carnegie Hall. I am married to your clone, and I do plan to go there this summer, however, and I will perform there (even if it's just to have my picture taken on the stage while the guide continues the tour).

RIP, Van and Daddy

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


      This is my kind of humor. I am so jealous. Why didn’t I write this? Someone beat me to the punch. What does that mean - “Beat me to the punch?” What’s a punch anyway? I thought it was liquid for tee-totalers. And I may be wrong, but I thought “beating” was passé. 

     This morning, I’m very happy it’s Tuesday. This means my favorite program is on, and I can turn off my brain without guilt. Can you turn off your brain without guilt? If not, you are addicted to thinking, and this is not necessarily good. Not thinking is good. Just ask Congress. 

     Tuesday has a certain sparkle to it. Today, I will go to the studio to watch the 12-year-old owner master my disc I recorded last week. He can master it, as I sure didn’t. Amazing what a machine can do that a human can’t. Ask the Roomba. I thought that was a dance.

     Tuesday is a relief for most in the mainstream. Monday is like a boil; it feels so good when you pop it and it disappears. Tuesday is full of hope and promise for Hump Day. (Do people really do that in the middle of the week?)

      Tuesday in French is “mardi.” Ever hear of “Mardi Gras?” Of course, it means Fat Tuesday. The good thing about being fat on Tuesday is that if you really work at it, you can be thin by Saturday. 

      People born on Tuesdays are more cheerful than Monday frowners. Tuesday babies slide out winking. This is based on no apparent research.

     What will you do today to make yourself sparkle?