Marsha - Lovers

I remember it like it was yesterday. I just don’t remember whether it was Marsha’s 40th or 50th birthday. Pretty sure it was #40 and Duane *Duke*, husband and love of her life and her son, Scotty, were throwing  a big surprise bash for her.  A blast to the past — the fifties!!

We (being her family and friends from all parts of her life) were waiting in ambush in the darken hotel banquet room for her innocent arrival for a “family dinner”.  Surprise!

Marsha walks into the scene to the amped up music rendition of “My Girl”, and looking upon the stage, there sees the Duke, suavely attired in his letter sweater, baggie slacks and saddle shoes, while son, Scotty plays away on the electric guitar, both perfectly lip-syncing to the famous tune.  I never since hear that song without reliving the magic of that moment in time.

Stunned, Marsha is guided to her table, has her hands to her cheeks in disbelief, and eventually begins laughing so hard, tears stream from her eyes. She often laughed that way — with her tears — when overcome with rediculousness, and this fit the bill. She later said, everytime she looked around the room, she was surprised by seeing some friend who had come there to be with her at this fun time.

40th HS reunion

Today, we are crying tears of another kind, the very sad kind. I received the very sad news that Marsha had passed unexpectedly and suddenly on May 12, 2016, just last week — after surviving several health challenges and surgical procedures. She suffered a post-surgery heart attack after returning home from the hospital for an anticipated recovery.  I received this sad news from a telephone call friend, Diane Ignatowski made to me after speaking with Barbara, whom Duane had called.

We are shocked and grieved. Each day since, I feel a bit of the lead in my heart. Marsha’s funeral Mass will be tomorrow, May 18 and we unite with her and Duane and family in sorrow for this loss and gratitude for the gift of life that Marsha was.

I felt my immediate response to be once again to “raise the wall”. The one that doesn’t protect, but engages instead the dull ache of what has to be eventually accepted and then released with tears. Some of that will probably happen at the memorial that will be Marsha’s at a Mass liturgy in Lansing. I will be there.

 Wall 2 clocks


In the meantime,  I look at a SoulCollage card I recently created. The Wallbuilder.  There I am,  hastily adding bricks and mortar to my wall, trying to escape from all those dreadful feelings!! The wall does a pretty poor job of that.

But the two clocks are there. The one in the palm of my hand reminds me of the gift of time was all had with Marsha. Time, oh precious time, we have with our loved ones. Gift indeed.

Marsha RHS GraduateRHS 1961 Graduation

We had a gift of time that spanned from our  high school days into our 70th decade of life.  We enjoyed ever so often girl trips to fun places, under the direction of Diane Ignatowski.  We treasured our friendship.

Diane Ignatowski, Barbara Czubak, Marsha, Sue, Diane Hess,  and Mary Lee Green. The trips were all fun, but perhaps none more than the trip to Atlantic City, with an ocean view hotel room.

Oh,  and then there was the casino downstairs. Diane used to wait in the room for us to return to see how fast each one ran out of their gambling fund.  Mary Lee shared a birthday cake (I think this was our 40th) table celebration with the guys at the table next to us because she had beaten them the night before at the Black Jack table!

Our friendship spanned special events in our different life trails….


Celebration Rome Pilgrimage Dinner

2000 -Dinner Celebration in Rome
on pilgrimage & writing and video production


Lennie's WeddingFamily Weddings
Son, Lennie Ignatowski

Marsha - and DuaneFun Times in Florida

First GrandsonHolding First Grandson

It spanned our college times together, our career moves, the building of our families up through this point in time.

We’ve shared Shamrock reunions and RHS monthly luncheons.

RHS Friends1

RHS friend John Lynch

John brought many of us together and the luncheon gatherings continue.

RHS Friends2

RHS Yearbook pages

And there is always the published yearbook pages. Barb and I were co-editors of the Shamrockette in 1961, something I will always treasure. Thanks, Sister Ann Judith.

Coach Paul Cook remained a shaper of our abilities and belief in ourselves, so many can claim.  Marsha and Diane and I enjoyed girls basketball for Resurrection.

RHS growing up with Paul Cook

and we all sang for Miss Klein. Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, especially. And the boys always pushed someone off the top tier, to her total consternation (as she laughed underneath it all).

Marsha Fun Table 50th

The Jackson’s and the English’s became down south and up north neighbors, enjoying the good life both had to offer.

RHS Friends Sparty

Sparty remains a good friend of us all.

Marsha - Duane & Scotty

Never a happier Marsha than in her married life with Duane, her visits with son, Scotty and her enjoyment of grandmotherhood.  I am so happy she had her recent California visit with them all.

Marsha - grandmother

Marsha - and then there were two - grandkids

To Barb, may God fill up the hole this leaves with his Amazing Grace.

Marsha & Best Bud Barb

Most say death is a slowing down. It can look like that. But I am beginning to think that is not true. I think death is actually such a speeding up of the good, whole, spirit and soul of a person that the vibration of uniting, at last with God, is too FAST for the body to contain it, and it flies out of its “container” — its Temple, and continues to unite with all that is Love and God.

We are united to you, Marsha, through our Love, and know that God will bless us with the Love we need as we continue life without you here, facing forward to the time we, too, will be in love and union once again with you.

God bless Duane and your family and friends. We all need it.

Opening to my path

Opening to my Path
SoulCollage(R) by Susan Heffron Hajec

It is Mother’s Day today. As I am preparing to facilitate a SoulCollage Open Studio this coming Friday on Mystical Mother, I have been gathering various reflective words and images to set the stage for image creation. I know it will be wonderful.

I came across a copy of Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”, and it really caused me to pause.  I can still see the small, square illustrated hard copy book of this poem where I placed it on a table top at a focal point in our living room. Above it hung an image of mother with a baby at her breast and the word, love, that I had framed special, for that was my central purpose in life….wife and mother.

It was in my mid-twenties going into my thirties, that consciousness raising and independent thinking were beginning to take root in my life; only one of many waves which kept occurring and I kept stepping up to. There were many layers to explore, choose, get rid of, and suffer the pain and experience the joy and freedom of doing so.

But this book, a copy of Desiderata, traveled on with me for many years. It may still be in my bookcase downstairs. I will look.  It made a deep impression on me in my early years. The impression was one of grandeur and inspiration. The impression was one of , “could this be possible?  The impression was one of a deep sounding chord or fertile seed of Truth.  I didn’t know for sure this was true, and yet there was something in it proclaiming to me that it was a good path to follow.

I pretty much did follow it in the winding labyrinthian paths of my life.  My conclusion is that Max was onto something.

Today, I read the words as a woman seventy-three years of age and quite a bit of life experience. These words contain the Truth and strivings of my daily life and sometimes in viewing the failings, along with the good, these words give cheer to my heart.

I think it is most likely true that I am no less than the trees or the stars; and that as a child of the Universe, I have a right to be here.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Valentine Table

Napkinwriter has been silent lately. While I hold great value in silence and quiet and while it serves me well, I also need to keep speaking as Napkinwriter. I hope over the next two weeks that intention manifests as I enter new posts.

I am not sure what form it will take. Probably just practice writing. But it will be a start.

Ahh, the word……practice…..so very important in all phases of life and being.

I may use writing prompts as jumping in points. I have relied on reading daily in my spiritual guides and uplifting literature increasingly these past few months. I am grateful to pick up a long-held book or review one of my favorites on my Kindle. They hold much support for me, indeed.

My life is filled with caregiving for Tom these days as he has had a steep, uphill recovery path from skin surgeries for cancer coming very close together. From his usual Mohs procedures to complicated full OR surgical procedures, for about six months now with a weekly return for more procedures and checkups coming up in March. These treatments and medical care have been given expertly and consciously by the medical staff members at University of Michigan Cancer Center. We have deep gratitude for the caring attendance and professional guidance and skills they have given us all through this ongoing journey.

We have had to allow a lot of quiet space and companionship in our days together. Not much talk. Some. But a lot of observation on both the physical and emotional planes. Respect. Love. Trust. Gratefulness, above all. Never to let that slip, keeping our hearts open to the goodness and richness of our together life.

Tom's Valentine

Remembrances. I made a SoulCollage for Tom’s valentine. I was hearing the clues in music played that led up to Valentine’s Day.

I have stood on the mountains with Tom. The Smokey Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains, Pikes Peak and the Colorado Rockies and Mount Haliokula in Hawaii.

We swam together and snorkled in the luscious Caribbean seas of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. What glorious times.

I do want to stay this way forever, as lovers, companions, spouses…..

Until the sky falls down on me.  It has been above us for more than fifty years.

For that, I am grateful.

Golden Anniversary

I have a “Stuff” file that piles up at the end of every year as holiday festivities and fun take over the days into the new year. Then I usually procrastinate and stare the pile down before I work up the courage to sit down and take care of “the stuff.”  Usually medical EOBs and other stuff that bears looking into or catagorizing and making a place for.

Today was that day. I did it.

But in the midst of the work, came some playful fun. There were several cards in this pile given to us for the celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary in June.

So as I sorted them out, I began to see an image form for a SoulCollage card, and I stopped the work and brought a beautiful and symbolic image together from the cards that I now add to my SoulCollage deck.

I love having this card, and Tom and I being the golden butterflies, fly freely among the roses and into the see breeze.

The lighthouse stands as a symbol of the guiding spiritual light we have always felt in our love and our lives. The seashore brings the water of graces flowing into our lives.

And while there is sand, our love is rooted on firm ground, strengthened by the rock of faith and the values of church, love and joy. The Holy Spirit brings these gifts to us and we are grateful.

The poem that back the card says:

Love is the power
that brings two souls
It is a promise,
a dance, a song.
It opens doors
and explores
new worlds.
Love is a gift
to be celebrated,
and love is
a lifelong journey.
Love grows
in the marriage
of two
devoted hearts.

We have made that promise of love. We have opened new doors and explored new worlds. We are on a lifelong journey.



Crying for a Woman I Never Met – Honoring Seena Frost.
Posted on January 14, 2016 by Barbara Techel

Seena FrostSeena Frost, Founder of SoulCollage®.com


by Barbara Techel

I never met Seena Frost— the remarkable woman who created the process called SoulCollage®. A creative, intuitive, and fun process I learned about in 2014 and trained to become a facilitator.

I was overcome with emotion when I read this on her daughter, Jennifer’s Facebook page today: “my mother and friend, merged peacefully into oneness with Spirit late last night at home with her family gathered around her.”

Why does this feel so emotional? I wondered. And as I thought about it there are many reasons. First, to think about losing my own mother someday I know will be one of the hardest things I will ever have to face. I can’t even imagine it. But I know this is reality and I pray she will have the same peaceful transition as Seena when her time comes.

Second, I have such immense admiration for Seena. She made such a difference in this world. She has helped thousands, many being women, to find their authentic voices and to be proud in letting their light shine.

In a world where so many are frightened to let the mask come off and be who they really wish to be in fear of judgment, to have had someone like Seena who thrived on encouraging others to tap into their own wisdom, was such a gift – a deeply, rich, wonderful gift.
I’m also getting ready to facilitate a SoulCollage® workshop in my home this Saturday in the lower level of my home which I’ve dubbed, “Joyful Pause Studio.” It’s not my first time sharing this process, but it is the first time in my new space.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve felt scared to take this leap – scared that no one will sign up for the workshops —worried about being disappointed. But I’m honored to have five ladies who will be taking part in the workshop this Saturday.

And so it will be an even more special honor in sharing this with this group of ladies, knowing that I, along with over 2,300 other facilitators, are carrying on the legacy of Seena – with our own authentic styles and voices added to the mix.

I discovered through the many thoughtful memories being shared on Facebook of Seena something she wrote in an article that I want to share also in her honor and memory:
“I truly believe that creating our SoulCollage® cards and sharing them in groups adds positive energy to this cosmic vibration, and will help humans move into the next paradigm. We may not be able to see it, but perhaps, if we look up at the night sky, we can be reminded and reassured of the vastness of Indra’s Net, and, as individual jewels, continue to create and share compassion and hope and humor and love.”

Seena, now part of that night sky, shining ever so brilliantly bright – I take into my heart that beautiful vibration of her spirit and hope that by sharing this process with others, I too, can make a difference in helping others feel safe in sharing their inner light.

Godspeed Seena. Godspeed.

Winter Weather

Steamboat SpringsSteamboat Springs photo by Stacy Taluskie

Winter is coming late to Michigan this year. It is January 10th and we have yet to have much of it, by direct comparison to the blizzards of 2015.

But this morning we got out and about for the necessary things and back home again, fortified for in-door living if the predicted storm arrives.

The snow falling now makes me long for by-gone skiing days of our early adulthood. Both Tom and I enjoyed the cold and frozen temps of Northern Michigan–every moment of them and a bonus was even sometimes getting “snowed in” so that the roads closed and we couldn’t get back to lower Michigan.  Oh darn, another day of skiing. We called in……”snowed in!”

I have a friend from Kentucky, who traded in her days of medical practice as a Physician Assistant, to return to a love of her life — Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She got herself a place to live and went back to work as a lift operator at the famed resort, and is living a life of her dreams. Talk about options!!


Tom and I lived in Lexington Kentucky for the first twelve years of our married lives and became dear friends of Stacy’s parents and family, leaving Lexington to pursue another dream for ourselves when Stacy was just a toddler.

But before we left, we talked her mom and dad, Stan and Sheila, into going on a cabin snow vacation with us up to Northern Michigan.

And……we offered to teach them how to ski.


So that went well, but I don’t think either of them became fans of skiing.  Super bundled up, they both looked almost like the young toddlers with snowsuits where they can barely move their legs and arms. But they were game.

Tom and I taught them the basic snowplow, and assured them they could slow down, turn a bit, and even stop by employing that technique in varying degrees.

Then came the first run. Sheila skied successfully down one hill with Tom closely behind her, issuing verbal and calm directions, which she followed to the tee. She said if she didn’t hear Tom say to do it, she didn’t do anything.

I, on the other hand, took Stan to another hill, and we started off and practiced the snowplow at the top of the hill. That was fine until…..Stan’s skiis started to tilt downward with the gravity of the hill.


Maybe Stan should have had some of Stacy’s headgear, for he started straightlining down the slope. I picked up speed behind him, shouting (for I am never the calm one), “turn, turn, turn”….. to which Stan replied,  “how, how, how”.

Then he went straight off of ski run and flopped into the fluffy, deep (thank God) snow piled in the out-of-bounds area, with trees ahead of him.

I was between laughing and fright when I arrived beside him, and he lifted up his head from the snow bank, and the snow broke off around his eyes and mouth and mustache, and we corrupted into duo laughing.

He survived and I coaxed him down the rest of the slope. The next day, while Tom and I returned to the snowy slopes, Stan took to roasting the turkey and Sheila sat by the fireplace with a good book and a hot toddy!  Yet they survived, and if they haven’t told the tale, I am doing that right here.

TaluskiesTaluskie’s at home, Stacy on the slopes

Happy New Year and Anniversary Stan and Sheila. Happy Birthday, Sheila. Hi Steve, Shari and Sandi.

Tom and Sue Christmas tree

Traveling Afar

Advent Post

In Father Jim’s homily on Epiphany this morning, he offered to us that God is always being revealed to us through our experience. Always. In every experience. He said at the time of the birth of Jesus and the Epiphany of revelation at the visit of the three kings, that Mary didn’t know at that time what was being revealed.  What was she doing? She was “holding these things in her heart…..she was pondering these things in her heart“and continued to do so throughout her life.

How could she possibly understand what was happening now? How would she understand what was to come?  How?  She held them in her heart…a true contemplative.

I approach a lot of my life this way now, having just turned the age of 73. There is much going on above, around and through me. I journal, I hold these things in my heart. I feel gladness and joy; I experience pain and tears, uncertainty and fear. But I ponder and I am aware of gratitude for the gift of life and love all around me so freely given.

I love the words and art and spiritual vision of Jan Richardson and I share her poem of Epiphany with you for my first 2016 Napkinwriter blog.


For Those Who Have Far to Travel
A Blessing for Epiphany

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

“© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com

New from Jan Richardson
CIRCLE OF GRACE: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Within the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us. —from the Introduction

Beginning in Advent and moving through the sacred seasons of the Christian year, Circle of Grace offers Jan’s distinctive and poetic blessings that illuminate the treasures each season offers to us. A beautiful gift this Advent and Christmas. Available in print and ebook.




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