Haverhill High Class of 2014

That title appears innocuous enough but it is my eighteen-year-old daughter’s graduating class and today is her last official day of high school. For me it is fraught with emotions.

I’ve thought of little else the last few weeks as she’s prepared her last essay, attended her last HHS production, and spent many hours on Facebook getting to know those who will become her new classmates at college.

It is hard not to reflect on the good and bad things that have happened to her, events that are significant in that they helped shaped how she responds to the world.

She recently shared two such event at poetry reading explaining how she had been bullied in fifth grade and turned to poetry to cope and express her feelings. Then, how the kindness of an entire class gave her the strength and confidence to read that poetry in public.

She’s experienced the worst and the best in people, and transformed those interactions into stepping stones to become the out-spoken, eloquent and poised woman she is today.

It is with great pride and confidence that I send her out into the world. Please be kind to her.

I know she will be to you.

Boston Strong: Couple Run Marathon Again

It’s an honor and privilege to know these wonderful people. Please support the Milligans as they race to benefit the people and hospital who helped them through a very difficult time.

Watch to learn about them and their story as they explain why they are running again.


Please Donate To Our Haverhill Strong Family

Elizabeth Milligan

Peter Milligan

Our Relay for Life Team

My apologies. It’s been way too long since I’ve posted but I’m sure you’ll understand. I’ve been in a frenzy writing a cookbook for our Relay for Life team the Marvelous Purple Spuds.  My daughter decided to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, and enlisted her parents as team mates, go figure.

Initially, I was stumped as to how to raise money, but after a little brainstorming, I finally figured out what I could do. I was surrounded by cookbooks planning a birthday celebration for friends which would take place over the course of three days. Lightbulb flash! I can cook, and plan menus. I’ll write a cookbook, my husband, who works in printing, will design and print it. I am a genius. Bonus, I can use the party-goers as guinea pigs!

I’ve been making brunch for twenty years, it is my forte, so a brunch cookbook seemed doable. I had plenty of recipes that I’ve doing for years, already tried and true meals I felt comfortable utilizing. I could have just thrown all those in the book and been done with it, but no. I had to have an angle, a theme beyond brunch, something to design around.

But wait. The insecure writer in me reared her ugly head and taunted me to justify my offering up a cookbook as I have no formal culinary training. Doubt began to creep in. Who are am I to write cookbook? Then I began recalling how many times a year I actual make brunch, how many years I’ve been doing it, and who my audience is. My friends, my family, my neighbors, they’ve all been eating my food for years and they keep coming back for more. Yes, darn-it, I have enough experience and knowledge to back this up. If I write it, they will buy it.

The final concept, Brunch-a-Month: A Year of Menus and Recipes. WooHoo. Let’s do this thing!

March 23rd I began entering the recipes, researching sources, rewriting every recipe, deciding which ones needed testing or retesting, and imagining what the final menus would look like. Ack, the printer gave me deadline of May 17th. What? I can’t write a cookbook in 8 weeks.
Guess again, mon frere.  Although I didn’t quite have everything ready for him, and he’s still waiting for the Introduction, I did have the majority of it finished by the deadline. I have a few more tweaks to make on two recipes I’ll be making for friends this weekend. But, mostly it is done.

Paul’s done a beautiful job on the interior and cover. Though it is a fundraiser, and the quality isn’t expected to be that high, we have a reputation to uphold and we both hate the idea of putting something out there that someone wouldn’t be proud to own, or give as a gift.

I’ve been considering posting an ebook version for those who don’t live in our area.  Maybe they can make a donation through me to The American Cancer Society, and download it. Just speculating.

And I did buy the domain www.brunchamonth.com for what purpose I’m not sure as yet. Could be just for fundraising. I’ve never seriously considered being a food blogger. But now it feels like an endeavor I could meet the challenge of. Of course does the world need another food blog? Could I generate enough interest? Can I learn enough about photography to make it worth while? Putting that line of inquiry away for now.

Whew. Now that you know what I’ve been up to, I hope you’ll forgive me the lengthy pause between posts. So much has happened since the last one. I’m sure you can imagine, I might have something to say about the bombing of my hometown Boston. I did start a post about it but it was too close to my heart to do justice to, too raw to express. I needed perspective only time can give you. I’ll get back to it soon. And I’ll have a review of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to self-publish a book by Guy Kawasaki.

Cheers for now!

I am a cancer survivor. Check out my Relay for Life page.


Letter to my Daughters: Real and Imagined

Let’s get this over with — Ack!!! Susan Patton, Princeton grad, what is wrong with you? This is your big, meaning-of-life lesson you wish to impart to your imaginary daughters?

At your core, you know that there are other things that you need that nobody is addressing. A lifelong friend is one of them. Finding the right man to marry is another.

Seriously, that’s what she said. Read it for yourselves.

Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had.

For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

No, no, no, a thousand times no. And to those agreeing with her in the comments – ptooey.

I know I should just dismiss this silly missive for what it is, one woman’s narrow minded sentiments expressed through a clouded point of view, aimed at a very limited audience. One of which I’m not a member.
Except, I have real daughters and I would be remiss if I let this one slide. If anything it gives me chance to impart my own brand of wisdom.

Mrs. P. offers up a cautionary tale and advise to the young ladies of her alma mater, based on questions asked after a business conference at Princeton.  Questions she seems to have interpreted to mean, that though Princeton grads are savvy and smart enough for ivy league educations, they aren’t up to the task of procuring spouses once they’ve left the confines of their university.

Really, that’s her supposition – young women are clueless as to how to find men suitable to marry once they graduate and join the work force but they are intellectually able to lead corporations. That, and women’s happiness and self-fulfillment is dependent on marrying “worthy” men. Those you cull from the collegiate pool before they’re snatched up by lessor women outside the Princeton gene pool. Mothers, hide your sons.

Okay, just for giggles, let’s leave out the whole ‘women don’t need no stinking man to be happy’ side of this, addressing the intellectual capacity of female Princeton grads.

Mrs. P.’s letter was prompted by the Q&A that happened AFTER the morning session of the Women and Leadership Conference. Comments and questions that were asked AFTER all questions relating to the actual reason for being there were answered. Imagine, these young women, student—who AFTER having had a full load of intellectually stimulating (I’m assuming) speeches, and conversation — got personal, querying their elders about life, friendships and making it all work.

Mrs. P? Where did you get the idea that just because these question got asked, they subsumed the importance of all that had transpired previous to those questions? Your letter implies their main interest in participating in the conference was mining you for dating advise. Did anyone actually say “Darn, too bad we had to listen to all that business and leadership tripe when all we really want to know was how to bag a husband?”

She imagines these women – generations away from her own college experience in the seventies (she notes: her wanting to get married and have children, was not well received back then) and thinks it is relevant to this 2013 student body, some thirty-plus years later, because they wondered how to manage their personal and professional lives.

Eva, Lillian, my darling daughters, and all the other daughters I treat as if they are my own, I want you to read this woman’s letter and promise me you will never, ever, let this kind of backwards ass thinking define who you are. Or your idea of who ivy league women are. She, are not they.

It is plainly wrong to imagine you will find happiness and self-fulfillment through another. The major flaw in this thinking – what happens if you don’t find a husband, don’t want a husband, or he leaves you – who are you then?

The Only Life Lesson You Need.

Here it is, my big life lesson for you — self-fulfillment and happiness comes from defining your values, ideals and living by those principles.

That’s it.


The Purpose of College

You are going to college to obtain an education. You will explore worlds bigger than the one you currently reside, you will expand the possibilities of who you are and who you thought you could be. You will develop relationships with all manner of people, male, female, peers, professors, and they will enrich your life as you will theirs. Hopefully, you will travel and get to know the world through others eyes.


The purpose of developing intimate relationships isn’t so you will find happiness or self-fulfillment through them, it is to support one another in the pursuit of personal fulfillment and happiness. A pursuit not dependent on the other but facilitated by it.

Find the person whose values, and ideals align with yours. Find the person who encourages you to pursue being the best person you can be-for your own edification not for theirs. And you in turn, be that partner.

If there is anything we have learned over the last few months, it is that other peoples marriages are not based on or defined by our own definitions.
Ideally, and I’m hopeful it will be a legally sanctified choice, the definition of marriage is for the partners engaged in it to define.

The current reality is — women have many more decisions and choices to make in trying to balance the physical and mental challenges of “having it all” and I agree that it is mythologized to the point that women are stressed and often end up feeling unfulfilled. Mrs. P’s answer to that reality is wrong head, and counter productive.

For my friends and myself, those who have “worthy” husbands, stable, kind, involved partners, we still often struggle with self-actualization. Because no matter the state of those relationships – it is not our partners who define us. Nor is it the roles we play in others lives such as mother, daughter, friend.

It is through reflection and examination of our own values, and morals, the choices we make based on being true to these internalized motivations that lead to satisfaction and happiness.
The problem with defining yourself by others, people change, those relationships evolve, even dissolve — and when they do, then who are you?

If you are always you, you adapt, and respond, you are always true to you.

Now go out there and make good choices!

Aging as Gracefully as I Can

My birthday was the 19th and we celebrated this past weekend with the usually two-day feast. Every year my closest friends come to stay in my little house for the weekend and we eat, drink and are very merry. This year, I was in desperate need of their company and to be reminded of how much love and laughter there is in my life. I’m aging as gracefully as I can, but this year smacked into 49 pretty hard.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been struggling with depression. I don’t talk about it much, as any of my pals can attest — I’m not much into revealing my deepest feelings. Rather, I retreat, disappearing into myself, a submersion too easily accomplished when the women I’m closest to are far away and I too blithely disregard the warning signs and become engulfed.

Most of the time, though depression always haunts my psyche, I’m an upbeat and positive force, who, having learned in my teens not to feed the black beast lurking in my heart, doesn’t allow herself to wallow in bed, play morose musical interludes, or deny the despairing feelings. So when I got called out by an online friend who’d noticed I’d gone missing, I was grateful. I’d slipped, and worse, I hid it from the few who could help me.

Depression is a self-immolator, desiccating ones spirit. Being noticed, being acknowledge is usually all it takes to pull me out of the embers. Smothered by illumination, the depression abates and I can once again laugh and toss off the occasional blues.

Being noticed, I’ve found, treats many ills from misbehaving children to the downtrodden. It may not be a cure all but it is often catalyst enough to solidify our existence and that is deeply meaningful to those who sometimes feel invisible.