Stories of a single mother raising four kids after her divorce while trying to reinvent herself, including dating again

My Graduation from One Phase to Another

Looking into the sweet blue eyes of 10-year-old innocence, I wasn’t sure how to answer the question Kaitlyn Ecklund asked.

“Jackie,” she began. “I still don’t understand why you have to retire. You can easily teach a few more years. I’m not ready for you to quit.” And then, with complete certainty in her tone, she added, “you’re not THAT old!”

On so many levels, she was right. I’ve heard it said time and time again, “you’re only as old as your mind says.” Despite the […]

My Moral Compass

Recently, my girlfriend Mondana and I were shopping at Chico’s in downtown Los Altos. After I had squeezed myself into a sleek pair of straight-legged jeans, I asked her the proverbial question all women query whenever they are in a fashion dilemma: “Does this make me look fat?” The Christmas holiday had come and gone and once again my bloated waistline was pushing against a zipper that refused to budge.

“Ah, they’re a little snug,” she said, eyeing me up and down. “I don’t really […]

A Clean Slate

From the moment I could scramble  my chubby legs up the bathroom sink to peer into the mirror overhead, I heard the words of my mother echoing in my head: “A woman never leaves the house without her face on.”

At four-years-old, this seemed like such a strange concept. Did she peel it off at night only to glue it back on in the morning ? Ever the eternal snoop, I became determined to find out what all the fuss was about.

I spent my days spying […]

We all Need to be Our Own Advocate

In March of 1973, Los Altos was experiencing the explosion of springtime. Hillsides were awash in emerald green and fruit trees were laden with pink and white popcorn-esque blossoms. The hint of ensuing warm weather brought excitement to city dwellers and one could not help but feel re-born. All except my mother.

Lassie Pearce Madden was an intuitive woman. So perceptive that I often thought she had psychic powers for she seemed to be able to sense the trouble her children were about to get […]

Living With One’s Self

Clenching my fingers in a fist, the blood ceased to flow to my fingertips, and I stood stiff; muscles tense. I rolled my eyes in insolent teenage fashion. This was one showdown I was determined to win.

“No, mom!” I declared. “I don’t want Paula at my slumber party.”

Dropping her head in obvious disappointment, she turned away. “Ok, it’s your day. But will you be able to live with yourself when you see how hurt she’ll be?”

At first, the answer was easy. Of course, I’d […]

Living by a Number

Placing my feet squarely on my most ruthless nemesis, I closed my eyes and held my breath. “Oh, God!” I cried, horrified. “How could I have gained 5 pounds overnight?” The blinking light beneath my toes was about to set the tone for my entire day.

From the day I turned 13 in 1965, I’ve lived my life by a number. Consequently, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my bathroom scale for 47 years.

If I found my daily digits respectable, a sigh of relief rang. […]