Dear Wrinkles: I’m Looking at You in a Whole New Way

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Took this last week as I hopped in the car to go to work.

Dear Wrinkles,

That’s it. I’ve had it.

I’m tired of looking in the mirror, seeing you, Wrinkles, and not liking you very much.

Wrinkles, you and I have been at war with one another for a while now.

As you know, at 52, I refuse to get Botox, so I do what I can to help keep my skin fresh. I wash my face with gentle soap; I use a ton of moisturizer and under eye cream (helps keep the skin moist and hydrated); I try to drink a lot of water; and I get facials when I can. I wear concealer and foundation with SPF every day, and I love to use highlight cream on my face as well.

Honestly, Wrinkles, if it sounds like I’m doing what I can to prevent you from appearing, believe me, I am.

However, you, gravity, and aging seem to have other plans in mind.

“See this face?” I said to my daughter. “It’s going to age gracefully, so what we get we get.” She laughed and found that funny. I wasn’t meaning to be funny; I was just stating the facts.

And then, Wrinkles, I thought about a viral video I saw recently with a gray, long-haired woman who had become a model in her 50s. She refuses to color her hair. She also said that every wrinkle she has on her face she has earned and worked hard for. She’s a beautiful woman, if not by magazine cover standards where everyone is super thin and youthful and lacking gray hair and wrinkles, then by what is beautiful to most of us other regular folks whose faces do not dwell on magazine covers.

In other words, Wrinkles, she inspired me.

And so now I have a new approach. A new perspective, if you will. And you won’t like it, Wrinkles.

I’ve worked super hard over the course of my 52 years. I’ve had stressful jobs (even though they were fun, they were not without their stresses); I’ve birthed two kids (neither one a walk in the park); I’ve dealt with some personal issues and come out better for them; I’ve written three books and textbook, each one taking a little bit of me; and most importantly of all, I’ve taken care of my family and continue to do so.

So you see, Wrinkles, like that model, I’m now looking at you as mini trophies.

I’ve earned all of you, each and every one.

And so now, it’s game on, Wrinkles. I’ll still work hard to keep you at bay the best that I can, but when you appear, I’ll link each one to some wonderful aspect of the life I have lived and continue to live.

Thanks for the memories.

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From Saturday night in St. Michaels, Maryland at Midnight Madness.

Monday Melancholy


I’m typically not one to dwell in malaise and melancholy, but this morning, I’m feeling a little bit of it.

It’s July 10, and vacation is over for our family. We had a great time, enjoyed spectacular weather, got to visit Charleston then spend time on the beach in Hilton Head. We ate at fantastic restaurants, the boys played golf, the girls rode bikes and relaxed on the beach, we hit a jazz club, played putt putt, and ate way too much ice cream.

I really shouldn’t be complaining.

But my son turned 17 yesterday, and now I feel like all I’m doing is counting down the days until he leaves for college and holding on to the days we have left.

Stupid, really.

I should be happy that we’re all good and happy and enjoying some time off this summer, but there’s that melancholy feeling that creeps in now and again which leaves me feeling just a little bit uneasy. Like life is passing me by. Like life moves really, really fast, and if I don’t stop and take it all in, I have the capacity to miss it.

I mean, really miss it.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve missed things. I work a lot. I spent two years getting an MFA degree while working full time and missed some quality time with my kids when they were little. I spend time on side projects, like writing books and getting involved in the community. I try to see my friends every now and again amid the crazy, hectic schedules we all seem to keep.

So what happens? You wake up and realize another week has passed you by.

I don’t mean to be depressing, especially on a Monday morning, but really, the time is now. Breathe in. Enjoy life.

Take those vacations and go out with your friends. Spend quality time with your families. Before you know it, you’re middle-aged and thinking about retirement, not the beginning of your career.

Honestly, one of the reasons I love teaching at the college level is because the students keep me young. I’m forced to hear about their interests and their activities. I may be older, but I can still related to most of their predicaments and successes.

We all like to feel young.

I’m sorry for this jagged little post. It’s not as coherent as I would like, but it represents my chaotic thoughts this morning.

They’re messy.

And maybe that’s just how life is meant to be.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to enjoy every second of it.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.




Holding On and Letting Go of Your Children

HPWorldThe second a child comes into your life, you know at some point, you will have to let go. They are babies, and they need you as infants, but not too long after, they find their own two feet can take them places, and they start walking, exploring and discovering. Even as toddlers, they are beginning their journey away from you. As much as you want to hold on, the truth is, you are already beginning to let go.

Think about it. Your toddler turns three or four, and he is ready for pre-school. You let him go. He has to find his way, make friends, create things on his own, and learn to listen and respect others, not just his parents. He is growing up before your eyes, and you watch in wonderment.

As he continues to grow and begins to become interested in activities, you guide him, but ultimately, he finds what suits him, and he chooses his own path. While some may find sports as a passion, others may dance, act, play instruments, paint, draw, or become a magician. The possibilities are endless, and you support your child’s choices.

You are proud of all of his hard work and accomplishments. Nothing can compare to the pride you feel regarding your children, each child.

Before you know it, he is turning into a little person, a small adult, and your conversations change from talking about Disney cartoons to talking about Harry Potter or Jack Bauer on “24.” You instill lessons of hard work and reward. You take family vacations together because you know time is fleeting and you have to grab hold of any moments you can that are magical and leave you with fond memories of how important this young person is to you. He grew out of a love you share with your husband, and yet, he continues to grow away from you.

This is not a bad thing. You are doing something right.

But now it’s 3:45 a.m. in the morning. Your alarm is set to go off, but you are already wide awake, and you gently tap your son so he can prepare to catch his plane to California. He’s a junior in high school, and his DECA group is heading to International competition. You spent the last evening helping him pack, and your heart sank, because you realized that in a little over a year, you will be sending him off to college.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, suit and outdoorTo college.

How did you get here?

You want to hold on, but you can’t.

He’s growing up. He’s becoming a man.

You hug him and tell him how much you love him, and he walks out the door into the dark of what is still night with his suitcase.

You tell him to have fun, have a good trip, be safe, and eat something healthy.

You’re still holding on, but you have to let go.

15781589_865992106837911_1585157622209528074_nStephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

When Someone Dies


I’ll keep this post short and sweet because it’s Friday as well as Father’s Day weekend, and I don’t want to be glum or morose, but…

The other day, a former student of mine passed away in an unfortunate car accident. She graduated in December. Those who knew her are saddened by her death, especially at the young age of 22. When someone passes at that age, it’s unexpected, and we have to come to terms with a loss like that. And while that in itself is difficult to grasp, it is no less sad when someone older dies. No matter what age, when we love and care about someone, we always wish we had longer with them, and I’m sure my whole family would say that’s true about my grandparents. While we did have some time, we never believe it’s quite long enough.

So, as we move on from talk of death, we take with us sharp reminders–that life is precious, and we owe it to ourselves to not just say we’re going to live life to the fullest and live with gratitude, but to actually do it.

Have a safe an happy weekend, all. And Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there.

In memory of Ebi Short, July 13, 1993 – June 14, 2016

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.



Reflections on Turning 30, 40, and—oh, God—50.


I remember when I was little and I looked at someone who was nearing 50 and thought—Jeez, you’re old. You will be dead soon. You are half a century.

Ten years ago when I was about to turn 40 I had a meltdown–of epic proportions. Things weren’t going too well for me at that time, but luckily, I was able to turn it around. I lost a bit of myself. I thought turning 40 was bad. And it was. The 30s had been so good to me. I loved the way I felt, had babies with my husband, and had supportive girlfriends who were experiencing the same things I was. We talked of motherhood, work, and spouses and love.

This turning 50 thing is going to be a cinch next to turning 40. I’m certain of it. Because the 40s were a time of self-reflection and growth as well. I can (sort of) look back on these past 10 years fondly.

Lots of things have brought me to this conclusion, mostly personal things I’ve been through: striving to earn an MFA in my 40s with young children (which was one of the most fulfilling things I have done educationally), publishing a novel that was in my head for 20 years, and watching my children grow into self-sufficient teens have all been gratifying during my 40s. I feel pretty good about myself these days, and I have learned the hard way not to give two rips about what other people think or say about me. I know who my friends are, have family that means the world to me, and I continue to challenge myself with projects at work, like writing a textbook for the first time with my colleagues.

I find solace with regard to aging when I consider this question: would I want to go back in time and do it all again?

I can honestly answer “no” to that one; while life hasn’t always been easy and there have been some small and big hurdles to overcome, I’ve grown and changed and grown and changed, and I don’t expect that to end during the next 10 years.

As my father said to me recently, “I’ve loved every age I’ve been.” His birthday is today, and he is 70-something. No need to go any further than that. But I remember these words he uttered, and I tend to agree with him.

While not every second of every age has been glorious, they are my years, my memories, and my experiences. They say you should not judge someone unless you have walked in their shoes. The beauty is, no one but me has walked in my shoes.

Even if the feet that will slip inside them are almost half a century.

…And Then There’s A Rainbow…

It's very faint, and I used my iPhone and not my Nikon, but it's there—a rainbow.
It’s very faint, and I used my iPhone and not my Nikon, but it’s there—a rainbow.

It hasn’t been a particularly good 2013 so far. There’s been a lot going on in my life personally, and it’s been tough so far. I’m working through it, but you know, life ain’t always easy.

So yesterday, after I blogged about my wicked tornado nightmares as part of the daily prompt that WordPress offers, I ran some errands after work, and as I was pulling into my street, there it was.

A rainbow.

It was such a fitting way to end the day…after referencing “The Wizard of Oz” and talking about nightmares, and after dealing with the chaos that has been my life for the last few months, a rainbow arched over our street.

I will think of it as a sign of hope…and to steal Obama’s former campaign slogan…of change.

The Top 10 Ways To Earn Your SuperMom Wings

This morning I woke up with a sore throat and lots of disgusting congestion. I typically get one serious cold when the weather changes, so I suppose this is it. As I stirred in my bed, not wanting to get up and make the donuts today, I thought about how moms really don’t get a break when they don’t feel well. I can’t remember the last time I spent the day sick in bed. It’s been years. Why? Because it really isn’t permitted as a mother. There are still things to be done.

Here’s my Top 10 List of Ways To Earn Your SuperMom Wings   (David Letterman style…)

10. Go to Hersheypark, even though you hate petrifying rides, and sit through the Tap Dance show twice.

9. Sit in the freezing cold, on a Friday night, with seven blankets on you, and watch your son’s three-hour, never-ending, extra-innings baseball game.

8. Take your kids to Dave & Buster’s when you have a migraine headache.

7. Make your family a chicken dinner, one so elaborate that by the time you’re done making it, you want to eat something else entirely.

6. When you find a pair of underwear stuffed behind the couch in the basement for the twentieth time, smile and say, “Oh, those kids.”

5. Take your kids shopping at the Abercrombie store where you can’t hear them shouting to you from the dressing room because the pounding music is so loud.

4. Drive your kid back to school at 5:30 p.m. after you’ve just gotten home from work and beg the assistant principal to let him go to his locker to retrieve his eyeglasses.

3. Listen to your daughter’s incessant rambling about a hamster that she may never get when you cleverly wagered with her to earn straight As to have one.

2. Listen to your daughter’s incessant rambling about what you will name said hamster that she may never get when you cleverly wagered with her to earn straight As to have one.

1. Go to work, pick up kids, go the grocery store, pick up the dry cleaning, make dinner, help with homework, pay the bills, fill out school forms, and generally be in good spirits when you’re sick and all you want to do is crawl under the covers for a day of cheerful, fairy tale-ish, sentimental Hallmark movies.

A Mother’s List: The Top Ten Things I Wish Would Never Come Out of My Mouth Again

Not every day is blissful in the Land of Motherhood.

As mothers, the reality is, we make these statements, or statements like them ADL (all day long). I’ll count down some of my favorites to number one in David Letterman style.

Poe (left) and Holly (right): Our Neglected Pets

Number 10: Who left their retainer on the bathroom floor?

Number 9: Those birds are going to be given away to a loving family unless someone cleans their cage!

Number 8: Homework is meant to be done, not admired from afar.

Number 7: I don’t care if it’s called goulash; it’s what I made for dinner, so eat it!

Number 6: Did you guys wash your private parts? Wait, let me ask that again…Did you wash your private parts well?

Number 5: Who clogged the toilet with half a roll of toilet paper?

Number 4: If you have to “toot,” please remove yourself from the kitchen table.

Number 3: If I have to say it again, I’m going to lose my mind.

Number 2: Five, four, three, two…

Number 1: That’s it. I’ve officially gone insane.