Image by Rondell Melling from Pixabay

As dusk darkens my yard, hundreds of tiny lights rise from the grass, like silent fireworks. The yard is alive with light. As I watch these little stars twinkle, it is hard to remember that this is the magic of an insect, not some ethereal spirit.

I am awed by the evolutionary miracle that has taken place so that fireflies can find a mate in the summer darkness. Suddenly, I am aware of the mystical importance of it all — primeval life going on amid the suburban rubble.

As humans, we can feel that only our own existence…

a story inspired by a writing prompt in Stephen King’s “On Writing”

A styllized illustration of the side of a woman’s face with long dark hair streaming in the wind.
A styllized illustration of the side of a woman’s face with long dark hair streaming in the wind.

Dick covered his face with his arms, vainly trying to avoid the fists that pummeled him repeatedly. Oh God, not again, he thought. This can’t be happening again.

As he struggled to twist away from Jane’s fury it was as if he was caught inside a silken bag that softly brushed his face as the punches eventually slowed. He opened his eyes to bright morning sunshine filtering through his bed sheet and a tiny voice in his ear “Daddy, no hiding.”

He pulled the sheet from his face…

Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

A fictional account based on real stories told to me by the people who lived them. Previously published in the US1 Newspaper’s Summer Fiction Issue. ©2003 Noreen Braman

The house is silent, so silent; not at all as it was on that day forty years ago when the Schwartz Furniture Company delivered my mother’s dining room set. All morning she paced the house, swatting the already immaculate room with a dust rag, picking invisible lint out of the soft, dark carpeting. The chandelier she had brought with her from Poland as a young bride was polished and shining brightly. …

This year, looking back may help us move forward.

Me, age 3, indulging it the photo with Santa tradition. This was at Macy’s in NYC

In 2018, I recorded a podcast about holiday traditions. It is now 2020, and a pandemic is keeping many of us apart, resulting in changes of plans.

Perhaps this year is the time to look back at those traditions you took for granted or left behind in your box of holiday memories.

As I look back at what I had to say about this in 2018, I invite you to remember holidays gone by, and maybe write about your memories and traditions too.

Next year, we might just get to gather and share those annual rituals again.

December 2018

I wouldn’t be your strategic humor facilitator without telling you that laughter is a big part of my own holiday survival plan. Some of my favorite memories are of a fun, crazy, tradition of the family holiday photo. Most of you think of that as a sometimes high stress battle of fancy clothes, a photo studio, and babies who cry, puke and poop. Even more fun is that photo shoot with Mall Santa. Ahh, good times.

I added a different spin. In fact, it was a different spin each…

A simple pattern, an attainable goal, and a reasonable time frame for completion: the perfect chore to keep her from drowning.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Doing laundry was a good thing. A traditional, household chore with an established pattern of steps. Sort the clothes, load the washer. Add the detergent and fabric softener. When the cycle finished, move the clothes to the dryer. Start over again with the next load. Like the mantra on the shampoo bottle of “lather, rinse and repeat,” doing laundry had a simple pattern, an attainable goal, and a reasonable time frame for completion.

Once the clothes began sloshing around…

We must preserve our first person stories

An angry sky fill of dark clouds and smoke.
An angry sky fill of dark clouds and smoke.

We’ve been told we should capture our first person stories, especially for those who have been born since this happened. I remember my parents and their peers talking about the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941. My babysitter, when I was very young, was born on that day. She grew up having a birthday that was always a sad remembrance.

It helps us understand the reality of history when we realize we are only one parent, grandparent, or great grandparent away from significant events that we need to learn from much of…

How to deal with the Oversharing Monster in your life

Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay

Talking about your problems with friends is some of the oldest advice given to people in distress. Women are often credited with being better at this than men, to the point that many bestsellers have been written about the differences between male and female communication styles. (Remember Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus?) Talk therapy has been around a long time. At some point though, the Oversharing Monster may arrive.

In the digital age, “oversharing” and “TMI” have become shorthand for anyone divulging too much personal information, especially over social media. …

Born on the 4th of July, Mario DeCarolis would have been 95 years old this year. He would be amazed to know his name and legacy live on in the students he mentored and taught, down to music students some of his students would teach, or those who still perform for fun or professionally. For me, I spent some time satisfying my desire to sing with years of community theater with my children, who all spent years celebrating music through dance. …

Thoughts on Independence Day 2020

Even better, to mend America’s flaw ourselves. ©2020 Noreen Braman

Just re-read Frederick Douglass’ speech about the Fourth of July, written when the country was a mere 76 years old.

He describes what the celebration of
American Independence “meant” to slaves, especially in light of the Fugitive Slave laws. Much of what he talks about can still be heard echoing, starting with actions taken after emancipation: deliberately depriving African Americans of jobs, education, housing — Jim Crow — denial of GI benefits, redlining of neighborhoods … all of which contributed to what is now called white privilege.

Most middle class and poor white people would…

Photo of sunlight shining through a window covered with spiderwebs
Photo of sunlight shining through a window covered with spiderwebs
Not an actual photo of sunlight penetrating my house. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Image by stokpic from Pixabay

Most of the year, I rise in darkness, get ready for work, spend most of the day in a practically windowless part of the office, and return home after dark. During that too-brief time of year when my day actually has daylight on both ends, I revel in the light and warmth, and take every advantage to be outside, including using a speed cleaning process on weekends to tidy my house. But the reality is, for much of my life, I have been a career vampire, living and working in the shadows.

Now comes the pandemic-required time of working from…

Noreen Braman

Noreen Braman is the author of “Treading Water,” and is a keynote speaker & workshop facilitator.

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