Category Archives: Uncategorized


Non nobis solum nati sumus.  ~Cicero    (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)   Pictures by Marylin Warner.

Non nobis solum nati sumus. ~Cicero (Not for ourselves alone are we born.) Pictures by Marylin Warner.



Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once. ~ Robert Browning

Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.
~ Robert Browning

The Earth Laughs in Flowers.  ~ Emerson (Especially when the flowers fill the little boots worn by your grandchildren.)

The Earth Laughs in Flowers. ~ Emerson
(Especially when the flowers fill the little boots worn by your grandchildren.)










Those of you who watch Good Morning America may have seen it when Dan Harris, Nightline anchor, had a panic attack on camera and couldn’t continue.  Instead of ruining him, the crisis set him on a new path.  10% HAPPIER is his touching, hilarious, skeptical and profound book that shares his journey to rewire his thinking.

Harris’ book helped him deal with stress and have at least 10% more happiness in his life, and that’s nothing to scoff at, if you think about it. What would be your plan for 10% more happiness?

Before her dementia, I know how my mother would have answered. I once overheard her in the kitchen trying to encourage an unhappy friend. Mom was baking, and as they drank tea and talked, Mom asked the woman what things made her happy. I’ll never forget the cynical reply: “Do you think I’d be sad if I knew how to make myself happy? How do I know what might make me happy?”

Things got quiet. Mom was kneading bread dough. I heard her pound on the dough and say, “Well, at least try doing things and see if you stumble on something that makes you happy.” I peeked around the corner to see Mom move the dough bowl over in front of her friend and say, “Punch around on the dough for awhile and see if you feel better.” It didn’t take long until I heard them both pounding away and laughing.

Any time I want to feel/think/be happier, I go for laughter. I agree with writer Anne Lamott: “Laughter is carbonated happiness.”   And I know for sure that in church, in meetings and other ‘serious’ situations, whenever I try to suppress laughter, the worse it becomes. I’m not a big fan of Woody Allen, but he and I agree on one thing: “I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”

So I take my cues from my mother: I try doing things to see what makes me happy. Even with the dementia, when a caregiver put a straw in Mom’s chocolate milk to help her drink it, Mom did something…she blew bubbles.   When I was growing up and got moody and mopey, I soon found myself doing something:  helping Mom in the garden, taking the dog on a walk, hanging up laundry in the sunshine, or going to the library to find a good book.

Or baking bread. Pounding the hell out of bread dough didn’t always make for the best loaf, but it got me pushing, pulling, breathing deep, and working out my feelings.

My happiest suggestion to add laughter to your life is this: become a snake charmer. Miss Harper Lee (not the author, but a darling, funny golden retriever) teaches you how in just a few pictures. Do yourself a favor and click on her link:

If you have personal helpful hints for 10% more happiness—or any degree of increased happiness–please share them. Life is hard, and we’re all trying to do the best we can! And don’t misunderstand; there are times when we need more help than pounding bread or blowing bubbles in our milk. When that happens, we should support and applaud each other for getting the help we need.

This past week readers lost an inspiring and wonderful writer, Maya Angelou.   Her legacy will be celebrated for generations to come.

Many times I taught I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS in my high school English classes.  Each time it became obvious which students felt caged in their lives, and there were many who felt that way.  Angelou’s words made a profound difference in their growth.

She’ll be remembered for many things she said and wrote, but this quote by Maya Angelou is one of my favorites: “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”

Maya Angelou  (photo by Gerald Herbert/ AP photo)

Maya Angelou
(photo by Gerald Herbert/ AP photo)



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, Ralph Waldo Emerson, special quotations, Uncategorized

Choices For The Last Weeks of September

Historic school house ~ Fort Scott, KS (all photography by Marylin Warner)

Hi, Mom,

It’s our favorite time of year again, when the air is crisp and the leaves begin to change.  About this time each September, you’d begin asking what special dinner I wanted for my birthday, what cake I wanted you to make for dessert, and if there was a special something I wanted as a present. We didn’t make a huge deal of birthdays, but you always made them special. Because of your sudden spiking blood pressure during pregnancy–the doctors now call it pre-eclampsia–I was delivered quickly by C-section, more than 3 weeks early. You and I decided it was because I was determined to be born in September; I cut it pretty close, taking my first breath on the evening of the 30th.

Okay, Mom, just for the fun of it, during the last weeks of September there are some choices to make. We’ve already missed National Cream-filled Donut Day on the 14th, which Dad would have loved, and Make A Hat Day on the 15th (which you tried once, but we won’t talk about it, right?) Today, Sept. 16, there are many choices: Collect Rocks Day, Mayflower Day, National PlayDoh Day, and National Women’s Friendship Day. And tomorrow, the 17th, one of the choices is Wear Sneakers to Work Day. How’s that sound?

To make things simple, how about limiting the choices to food options: the 17th of September is National Apple Dumpling Day; the 18th is Cheeseburger Day; the 19th is Butterscotch Pudding Day; and the 20th is National Punch Day (we’ll assume this is the drink and not hitting). This year Oktoberfest begins on the 22nd, and the 26th is Johnny Appleseed Day in case apple sauce sounds good.  The 29th is Confucius Day, and you always used to have fun with fortune cookies.  On the 30th, there are more choices than just my birthday:  Yom Kippur; National Mud Pack Day; oh, and on this day in 1902, Rayon was patented, so we could celebrate that, too.  It can get silly, but it’s fun.

Tonight as I was working on the computer, Oldies But Goodies were playing on i-Tunes. Bobby Vinton was  singing a song: “…so let us make a pledge to meet in September…and seal it with a kiss…”   It made me smile. For years we’ve done that, meeting in September, on or close to my actual birthday. I drive from Colorado for my regular visit with you in Kansas, but I bring cupcakes so you can have a choice of flavors. When I sing the Happy Birthday song, you sing along. You usually ask if it’s your birthday (which we celebrated in July).                                                                 I tell you it’s OUR birthday, because it is.

The date of my birth was September 30th, but it’s actually a special day for both of us. It’s the day we became Mother and Daughter, and that’s something worth celebrating.

I love you, Mom.  See you soon…with cupcakes.     Marylin                       

Cupcake choices: Maple with Bacon (!), Chocolate Mint, Black Forest, and Peanut Butter Special


Filed under birthday celebrations, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, Uncategorized


This Mother’s Day, remember that Home Is Where Your Story Begins.

Think like a child and make a Mother’s Day Card for Mom, Grandma, Aunt Sally, or a favorite teacher.

Write like a husband, boyfriend or best friend and tell your special woman how wonderful she is. Or write a general greeting card that anyone could send to almost anyone at Mother’s Day. Write a message that makes the judges go “Aw” or “Wow,” that makes them smile, or laugh out loud, or brush away a tear.

It can be a poem, a story, a bumper-sticker message…your voice, your choice.  This is your chance to join in the creative fun!

Three cash prizes, and NO ENTRY FEE. (Check the “New Contest! post below this one for full details, and read some of the entries in the comment boxes.)

The deadline is 8:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time on Mother’s Day,Sunday, May 13, 2012. Winners will be posted on May 20.

 Where Does Your Story Begin?


Filed under Uncategorized



Years ago, while I was teaching a greeting card-writing workshop, I wrote a Mother’s Day card. When I showed it to my mom, she laughed and thought it was great (but you know how moms are, so of course she’d say that.)

____________________Here it is:__________________________

(cover art)  Cartoon person wandering in a jungle, looking lost.

(cover message)  100 people were asked this question.  What if you were stranded on a deserted island, wounded, with no food or shelter, no weapons and no communication devices?

Only one person can help you survive.  Which person will you choose?   a)  a hunter,   b) a doctor,    c) a farmer ,   d) a politician,   e) none of the above

Here was their unanimous answer…

(inside message)

      d) none of the above

                   I want my mommie!


Not your card of choice? Well, here’s the good news:  Now it’s your turn.

The third Writing Contest honoring Mary Elizabeth Shepherd begins now.

- No entry fee (never)   – Open to everyone (always)

- First place: $25   Second place: $15   Judges’ Special Award: $10

- Words only: poetry, prose, joke, song lyric (tell tune of song)  Your choice.

Directions:  Write a greeting card message for Mother’s Day for anyone important to you ~ mother, grandmother, wife, aunt, sister, friend, teacher.

Post your entry (only one per person) in a comment box for this blog. Sign with your name or initials, general location (state), and your email or blog address.

Contest deadline is 8:00 pm (Mountain Daylight Time)                                      Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012

                           Winners announced on May 20 and posted on this blog.


Filed under memories for grandchildren, Uncategorized


I admire Susan Shuman’s variety of insights and wealth of information in her blog– –so when she informed me of her endorsement of the 7×7 Link Award for my blog, Things I Want To Tell My Mother, I was both grateful and honored.

As part of the award I’ve been requested to identify up to 7 of my favorite blog entries.  My posts are listed in the sidebar to the right. I’m partial to them all, but among my favorites are “Rules, Ponies and Smiles,” “Our Word for 2012: Huckleberries,” “Birthday Sugar,” and “Best Friends.”

There are many bloggers who inspire me and make my day with their creative, helpful and entertaining blogs, and they deserve numerous awards, including the 7×7.  I especially recommend the following:   


Filed under Uncategorized, writing


      Are you writing a “Christmas Memory With Mom” story

             to enter in the contest?  Write fast!

  Contest ends at midnight (Mountain Time) tonight, December 5th



(If I left out your locale, I apologize…it’s so hard to tell with internet entries, but I thank you all.  And your entries ARE included.)


                       THURSDAY EVENING, DECEMBER 8TH


Filed under "Christmas Memories With Mom" contest deadline, memories for grandchildren, Uncategorized, writing


Do you have a funny, touching or lesson-teaching    

Christmas memory that includes your mom?

Write it in 100 words and share it with me.  You know I love “Mom Stories.”

If yours is the winning entry, it will be posted here and on popular writing blogs.

There’s also a great PRIZE! 

Click on “Christmas With Mom” Contest
in Menu Bar for full details!


Leave a comment

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All That Glitters

Dear Mom,

When I called to talk to you recently, one of your caregivers answered.

You’d misplaced your pretty ring, she said.  It must have slipped off your finger, but it didn’t take long to find.  The ring had caught in the yarn of the afghan that kept you warm as you watched TV.  Once it was back on your finger, you smiled and closed your eyes and took a nap.

This has happened before, Mom, your rings sliding off your now-thinner fingers.  Last year on one of my regular visits, when I opened the door of your apartment I saw something glitter in the carpet of the living room.  It was your diamond wedding set.  That same day, I found your anniversary ring on the floor next to your recliner.

I took the rings to be sized at the same jewelery shop where Dad originally bought them for you.  The jeweler is receiving special care now, too, and his son has taken over.  Both of us are adult children doing the best we can for our parents, and on his advice I put your real rings in a safety deposit box and then brought you to the shop to pick out a “new” ring.

Later, as you studied the band of glittering “diamonds” on your hand, I told you the truth about your new ring with its synthetic diamonds.  You weren’t upset.  Especially when I reminded you of Dr. J. Willard Hershey, head of the McPherson College chemistry department.  In the 1920s he created the first synthetic diamond under laboratory conditions by adding a starch carbon to molten iron in Harnly Science Hall.  In the mid-1950s this feat was mistakenly credited to General Electric, but both the McPherson Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas Academy of Science set the record straight through what was known as House Resolution #21.

You might have forgotten, Mom, but for awhile you were a student assistant to Dr. Hershey.  You were an elementary education major at the college, and you did filing and secretarial work for the chemistry department.  You also typed his dictated responses to the many requests for information that came to Dr. Hershey.  You said he openly shared his research.

You told me stories about the tiny synthetic diamonds on display in the McPherson Museum, and the harworking, determined college professor who had challenged the accepted theory that synthetic diamonds required higher temperatures and pressures than could be produced in a college laboratory.

All those years ago, when I asked why he shared his research and experiments, I remember you saying that Dr. Hershey was a good professor and a helpful man.  He shared information so that others could learn from it, build on it and go on to share it with others.

Even now, I remember saying that the chemistry professor’s generosity sounded to me like a perfect opportunity for someone else to steal an idea and then claim it as his own.  I also remember the look you gave me, and the way you shook your head.  You said I shouldn’t think so negatively.  If I looked for the good in people, you said, that’s what I would usually find.

Now, in your ninety-third year, Mom, this continues to be your philosophy about most people.  You and Dad built successful dealerships together, and along the way the business world undoubtedly taught you hard lessons about what less-than-good things some people are capable of doing.  Those lessons made you lose naive trust  in specific people, but, amazingly, you never seemed to lose hope and belief in the basic goodness of people in general.  While I was growing up, many times I saw you careful and cautious, but I never saw you cynical.

Eventually, when your real diamonds are passed from your grandaughter to your great-grandchildren, together she and I will tell them the story of the young college student who typed letters for Dr. J. Willard Hershey.  We’ll also tell them how their great-grandmother knew that everything that glitters doesn’t have to be gold–or even real diamonds–to be valuable.

I love you, Mom.



Filed under Uncategorized