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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Starting Over ~ Act II

If not now, when?       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 

I’ve let lapse my subscriptions to many of the glossy women’s magazines that I devoured as a young working mom. Their targeted customer is the me I used to be, not the me I am today. The current me has more years behind her, more experience with life’s challenges, and presides over an empty nest. Nope. I am not their targeted reader. There is a magazine I subscribe to, however, that seems to realize women of a certain age have a lot going for them, including the courage to change the habits of a lifetime.

Second Acts is a column in MORE magazine that I look forward to reading each month. It’s about women in mid-life, going after what they want–usually career related–at a moment when they realize two things: 1) time is limited and,  2) they’ve been unhappy, depressed, or just unsatisfied in how they earn a living which, of course, affects other aspects of daily life. If they want to grab the brass ring labeled “happy,” they’d better take action now!  Some have spouses, others do not. Some have financial substance, others do not. None have acted on a whim. Once they’d made their decision to go after what they really wanted, they planned for it. Step by step. They put their plan into motion and worked harder than they’d ever worked before. The search for job satisfaction is very tempting. And risky. It often requires a huge career change, financial uncertainty, and handling the incredulity of family and friends who usually believe their gal has lost her mind. In short, such a big change is not for the faint-of-heart.

file000422875241In the current issue of this magazine, for example, an economist becomes a restauranteur. In another issue, necessity was the mother of invention and a steam floor cleaner was born in Korea, eliminating the need for scrubbing floors on hands and knees. The inventor? A working woman who took out a 100K mortgage against her home to create a prototype. Others have gone from the medical field to photography, and from advertising executive to cheese maker. Dreams beckoned and lured. Dreams plus hard work plus passion equal a dream job. Maybe a dream life.

Not all second acts are related to careers. Some people’s passions are personal and satisfied by finally taking action on them. I clearly remember one story from years ago, about a woman who’d always wanted to play the bagpipes. She learned. And practiced at 4 a.m. in her basement when everyone else was sleeping. I don’t remember the aftermath, but I’d like to think she used her talents in her community perhaps at parades, weddings or funerals.

Act II is about making changes. Sometimes it’s related how we look –  hairstyle, body fitness or cosmetics. These personal changes might follow a significant life event, such as a divorce or a “big” birthday. Or it might happen because you look in the mirror one day and realize the woman staring back at you is not quite the one you used to see. The woman in the mirror needs some freshening up!


I buy more make-up now than I ever did years ago. Not because I apply it heavily, but because I apply it, period!  A dash of lipstick will no longer do. I’ve discovered I like playing with color palettes- eye shadow, lipstick, nail polish. I like chatting with the gals behind the Clinique counter at Macy’s. I’ve learned to trust their opinion. I don’t buy a lot–and they don’t really push–I just think they like their job: make-up artists sharing their knowledge and tricks with everyday women. After we figured out the right shade of foundation and blush, I enjoyed experimenting with other stuff. I’ve become pretty good at it now. More important, I’m having fun. And I think that’s what Act II is all about.

Grab that brass ring, ladies! Have a little fun. If not now, when?

One more thing –  If you missed this on Facebook, here’s the link to an article about me that ran in a Tampa regional paper to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month for them. I was interviewed at home, and the reporter had to condense a lot of information. I think she did a pretty good job.


As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope I see you for the next edition of Starting Over.



Newsletter Note: If you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you should have received it last Thursday, October 3rd. If you didn’t, please let me know. If you’d like to receive it, you can sign up here on the website. It’s an easy way to keep up with my writing news, and I promise not to clog your In-box. The newsletter comes out four or five times a year at most.

OCTOBER CONTEST:  We’ll have TWO winners this month! Post a comment and your name will be entered into a drawing for two of the books below plus a gift card to BN or Amazon. Your choice! All books from authors of On Fire Fiction!













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Starting Over ~ Wasting Time or Recharging?

LEAVE ME ALONE!     file951258260864

When my oldest son was about thirteen years old, I found him lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling, hands behind his head. His knees were bent and one leg crossed over the other. The afternoon light penetrated the room. I couldn’t stand it.

“What are you doing?”

“Mom! Can’t I just do nothing for awhile? I never get to do nothing.”

Well, that gave me pause. Fair enough.  As  working mom, I’d made sure my kids were programmed from morning til night, particularly after school. Between homework, bar-mitzvah classes, a newspaper route, and a basketball team, my son may have had a point. So I said, “Okay. Let me know when you’re ready to return to the world.”

That little incident has stayed with me, and I’ve sometimes repeated it when friends talk about kids and their activities. I’ve learned that my generation was not the first to program their kids. From what I can gather, my son was lucky. Kids today don’t have a minute to daydream.  Between soccer, dancing, music, gymnastics, scouts, Little League, clubs….there is a team or a class for every age, every stage and every wage. Classes cost. file0001683376869

Another dream deferred...until now?

Another dream deferred…until now?

We want to give our children everything. Or at least, as much as we possibly can afford. But I wonder if what they most need is time. A free commodity. Which will allow dreams to flourish, creativity to develop, and the mind and body to rest and rejuvenate. Even children need peace of mind. I’m glad some others think like I do:

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”   ….John Lubbock.

My dreamtime occurs in the early morning hours, before my eyes open, before my brain is fully engaged. In that delicious time between sleeping  and waking, my mind drifts to the stories I’m writing, and I usually solve a problem. It drifts to this blog, and a new topic that might interest me. I dream about my own mother and father and miss them to tears. During my dreamtime hours, my mind is free to wander. It conjures up images I didn’t know I had inside me. I love those moments because something good usually results from them. When I actually get out of bed, I’m not only refreshed, but I can’t wait to get to the computer.

Ladies First Choice

Ladies First Choice in Clearwater, FL

We need time to reconnoiter with ourselves. I found the quote from John Lubbock printed in a newsletter from Ladies First Choice, a “stylish ladies boutique” for women who’ve had mastectomies. Women who know that “rest is not a waste of time.” Rest is mandatory for healing and becoming whole again. That’s right. A whole woman–in mind, body and spirit. The breast is not the person. While fighting for our lives, our dreams are laced with nightmares. When we regain our health, our minds can rest.

An active life deserves time for thinking and daydreaming.  Just ask my busy son. Who still fights for a moment to do “nothing.”

What about you? Are there times of the day that are natural dream hours for you?  Do you close yourself away from the family for awhile each day? Refuse to answer the phone?

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over when I’ll announce the winner of the July contest.



LEAVE A COMMENT AND YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED INTO MY JULY CONTEST. Prizes are a choice of two books from the selection below, written by the authors of On Fire Fiction. Plus a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or BN.  Remember, some of these stories are hot, hot, hot while others….not so much.  Your choice!

MA25EC~1ARe DEBRA SALONEN BANG 2Brashear, Texas RootsDire Distraction_lo resRelease-MeNewJpgbook cover


Starting Over ~ Dive Right In

I’m one of those people who eat to live, not live to eat. So I wouldn’t call myself a foodie. Niko's counterBut there are definite exceptions to my take-it-or-leave-it  eating habits. Why is it that I find the very best meals, meals that I would become a foodie for, in the small, elbows-on-the-table kind of places. You know the ones I mean. No tablecloths. Order at the counter. Grab your own plastic utensils and drinks. And then wait for your order to appear on giant paper plates.

When I discover a dive that sets my taste buds singing, I’m in heaven. At that moment, it’s all about the food. These place don’t depend on ambiance because there isn’t any. But the food…? OMG!  Whether ethnic, American, breakfasts, lunches or dinners, I don’t care. When I find an eatery that makes we want to keep it on my list of “regulars,” I’m so happy.

I love Greek food. In Houston, I ate at Niko Niko’s, which i think I mentioned in an earlier post. I lunched there every week, never minding the wait to order. You can imagine that I sure wasn’t the only one in the place at lunchtime. The meal was worth the wait. Eventually, long after I discovered it and long after the owners enlarged it, the Food Network discovered it, too. It was featured on Drive-Ins, Diners, and Dives. But I get a kick out of know that I was there first!


I never, ever thought I’d find another Niko’s in Florida. But…drum roll please — I did!

Leave it to my golfer guy to drag me to this little place where the restrooms are in the outside of the building. What the H…?  But clean inside. And the gyros…freshly sliced meat, and oh, oh, oh! The homemade tzatziiki sauce..(picture me kissing my finger tips). Delicious! The Greek salad, always one of my choices was delicious, too. So, now I’ll got to Peck’s for a real gyro and Greek salad. A new great dive. Maybe one day, it will be discovered by the Food Network. In the meantime, they’ve opened a second location – same family ownership – and everyone who goes there raves about it.

Just for the record, I’m picky about Italian food, too. There’s Italian and then there’s ITALIAN–when that first forkful of lasagna almost melts in your mouth, and you know you’re in Italy. This goes for pizza joints, too. I will try any pizza joint once. But it’s got to be way above average to land on my list of regulars.

Now, let’s switch gears and talk about pancakes. Why? Because I love them! I had a place in Houston called Frank’s. For $5.75, you ordered from a big breakfast menu…which was available throughout the day. Frank’s pancakes with a side of thick bacon slices got me through the weeks of chemo and visits to the plastic surgeon when my expanders were being filled in order to get me ready for implants. That experience was worse than the chemo, which in hindsight wasn’t too bad. I really looked forward to my pancakes at Frank’s as my reward for the fills. The portions of food were bigger than my stomach could hold. The pancakes, themselves, were the size of the dinner plate. But again, I was in heaven. Have I mentioned that I love pancakes?  French toast, too. And Belgian waffles.

Once more in Florida, my sweetie took me for a ride. First, of course, we have to accomplish something. We never just “go for a ride.”  In this case, we dropped off donations at Goodwill, which was a bit self-serving as we got to clean out the garage a bit. After unloading the car, my golfer guy says, “I know a place…for pancakes.”  Well, he didn’t have to ask me twice. Off we drove to Poppi’s.

Pancakes and sausage at Frank's.

Pancakes and sausage at Frank’s.

It might have been Franks. It looked so similar with the casual booths and tables–no cloths–and with the efficient and friendly waitstaff. Windows all around.  But the true test is always measured by the food. The pancakes matched the circumference of the plate. Oh, yeah. Three strips of bacon sat on the side dish. My heart started doing a tango. I drizzled the maple syrup just on the part I would cut. My fork slipped through the two layers, and I ladled it into my mouth.The outside of the pancake had a slight crispy coat–unusual and delicious. Rapture! Another OMG moment for me. I’d found home. In Florida.

I won’t embarrass myself in a high class French restaurant. But I’m basically a low maintenance gal who appreciates quality in the basics. I can usually take it or leave it in regard to food. Truly, I’m not a foodie. But if I visit some good dives on a regular basis, I just might become one.

How about you? Do you have a favorite inexpensive restaurant that sets your palette singing? A favorite food style that you MUST have from time to time?  Let me know in the comment section.

As always, that so much for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.




LEAVE A COMMENT AND YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED INTO MY JULY CONTEST. Prizes are a choice of two books written by the award-winning writers of On Fire Fiction, plus a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or BN. Remember, some of these stories are hot, hot, hot, while others…not so much.  Your choice!

MA25EC~1ARe DEBRA SALONEN BANG 2Brashear, Texas RootsDire Distraction_lo resRelease-MeNewJpgbook cover