A Polish Mother’s Stern Warning



I’m thrilled that my friend, mentor and former editor Greg Archer has moved his blog on over to WordPress!

I encourage you to give yourself ten minutes to sit back, relax, and take Greg’s latest post A Polish Mother’s Stern Warning in fully.

Greg’s writing style, like his personality, is warm, immediate, profound and oftentimes hilarious. A prolific writer for decades, he held down one of the toughest writing jobs I could possibly imagine: being the editor of a high-profile, award-winning weekly paper. This paper isn’t some backwoods three-pager; it has a huge circulation and cult-like following. Greg was editor-in-chief at that publication for a whopping fourteen years!

I shiver thinking of the pressure he must have been under all that time, yet he never once complained to me about it. (If you watch Greg’s video he made about gratitude on his blog’s “About” page, you’ll get a glimpse about why he’s wired that why…also, look for that big clock tower that’s behind him in the opening shot. I worked two minutes away from it at the State Parks-related job I wrote about last week! 😉  

Greg boldly left his editorial position to complete his memoir Grace Revealed which received rave reviews. Plus both my Mom and my husband Craig loved it – for those of you who know me, their endorsements speaks volumes.

Since his memoir’s publication, Greg has been searching for his true home. His travels have taken him from Chi-town all the way to Maui and he’s not sure where he’s landing yet.

Through his blog Greg shares his quest with us. The highs and the lows. Even if you’re not looking for your new home at the moment, Greg’s writing will entertain you (there are several laugh-out-loud lines in this piece alone, and I’ll never think of one’s first menstrual period or pickled pigs feet the same way again!). His insights will apply to different areas of your own life – I know it.

Enjoy this amazing writer’s post – and don’t be fooled by the bits of self-deprecation. He’s way too humble about his talent and his wisdom.

Please spread the word about my wonderful friend Greg Archer’s blog

KNOW PLACE LIKE HOME. Thanks so much and I send you all my love.

Press One For More Options


Worthwhile journeys toward finding the true essence of home and place within (and without) us requires grit. For it is not as if you can call ahead to Starbucks or Gino’s Pizza and place a to-go order for Authenticity. (Extra-large, please. And with a side salad and deep-fried cheese sticks of Courage.) Inevitably, we must turn inward, locate and then befriend our inner GPS. Maybe that is the only way home.

That is not to say this is an easy journey on which to embark.

All this comes to mind, as I glide—OK, fine, occasionally stumble—through another excursion back in my birth home of Chicago before and during the holidays. Truth is, at times, I feel as if I have devolved into a 5-year-old. I’m a wilting flower here—emotionally speaking. I crave fertilizer for my soul, something which felt readily available during my 90 days on Maui. (and Darlings…

View original post 2,268 more words

Gift Shop Glee @ Donner Memorial State Park


We had a glorious time at the new Donner Memorial State Park Visitors Center! Built for $9.6 million dollars, I was expecting a day spa and amuse-bouche as part of our visit, but ’twas not to be. 😦

Years ago in my pre-bipolar diagnosis/pre-child days, I worked at a nonprofit called Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks (also known as Friends). Friends supported free educational programs at the Santa Cruz State Parks. Through my job as office manager, and later on as development assistant, I learned about the natural and cultural history of our local state parks. I worked with incredible staff, some of whom I profiled in articles I wrote for Friends‘ quarterly, award-winning newsletter Park Views. Ever since my Friends job I make a point of visiting state parks wherever we travel, whether it be in Tahoe or Hawaii.


I worked next to the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, built in the early 1800’s

Thanks to growing up with a father who loved backpacking in the Sierra Nevada and who was was well-versed in California history, I was familiar with the story of the doomed Donner Party.

Today’s field trip brought us near the site of the Donner Party’s ill-fated venture. If you’re unfamiliar with this tragic, stomach-turning epoch of Sierra Nevada Mountain history, this blurb taken from Wikipedia sums it up:

Donner Memorial State Park is a state park of California, USA, preserving the site of the Donner Camp, where members of the ill-fated Donner Party were trapped by weather during the winter of 1846–1847. Caught without shelter or adequate supplies, members of the group resorted to cannibalism to survive. The Sierra Nevada site has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The state park contains the Emigrant Trail Museum and the Pioneer Monument dedicated to the travelers of the Emigrant Trail.

Donner Memorial State Park is located outside Truckee, California.

(For more info. visit here.)

Whenever I visit a state park I love to check out the visitor center gift shop. Donner’s shop was extraordinary. There were the usual cute stuffed animals like deer, bear, and Tahoe Tessie. 


The Tahoe Tessie Family

There were historical books galore, key chains and coffee mugs. I continued wandering around the spacious store until I spotted a snack section. Feeling a bit peckish, I went to take a look.

To my delight, there was jerky, but not just any old jerky.

Donner Party Memorial Jerky!

Yes, it’s new! It’s cutting-edge! It’s gluten-free!

And Donner Party Memorial Jerky was calling my name. And each packet had a very special name.

There was Spicy Grandpa flavor, Uncle Ned (now in Teriyaki!), Tangy Clara, and Garlic Black Pepper Annie!


The Breens didn’t make it into the jerky…

I’m pleased to tell you that 10% of Donner Party Memorial Jerky proceeds benefit the Sierra State Parks Foundation.



I was hoping for a red carpet at the entrance and valet service; c’mon –

$9.6 million dollars???!!! And not even a gold-plated toilet or bidet in sight.

Photo on 12-25-15 at 4.25 PM #3

Mmm, mmm good! Spicy Grandpa sure tasted delicious!

And how could I possibly leave out the “Beef Jerky Time” scene from the classic Coming to America?

This post is:

“…just a fantasy
It’s not the real thing
But sometimes a fantasy
Is all you need.”

Sometimes a Fantasy, Billy Joel

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.