A few weeks ago, my husband Steve decided it was time for a getaway. “We’re going away this weekend,” he announced one morning before I left for work. “By the time you get home, I’ll have it all arranged.”

Going away? Just thinking about organizing and packing and schlepping made me feel overwhelmed. “I don’t think so,” I said. “Not this weekend. I have too much to do.”

He gave me a look that made it clear he’d already made up his mind. “You always have too much to do. Don’t worry – you’ll hardly have to pack anything except your jeans.”

 That’ll be the day, I thought, but I gave him a weak smile and a hug before I rushed out the door. “Remember,” he called from the doorway, “we discussed this last month and we both made a commitment to get away together at least every other month.”

It was true. I had agreed we needed some time away from the routines and the hassles of our day-to-day lives. We had no plans for the weekend and the gorgeous fall weather had been beckoning us to get outside and soak it in. There was no reason not to get away and so we went. We ended up in one of my favorite locations – Lambertville, NJ -- just across the bridge from New Hope, PA, less than an hour’s drive from our home in the Philadelphia suburbs.

“I always forget how beautiful it is here,” I said as we drove past spectacular views of the Delaware River, surrounded by magnificent fall foliage. We spent a leisurely day strolling through the galleries and shops, had a yummy lunch followed later by a snack at a cozy coffee shop and then headed for our B&B, the Woolverton Inn in Stockton, NJ, just five minutes down the road.

My first glimpse of the historic stone manor house – elegant and enticing in its secluded woodland setting -- made my heart flutter with excitement. As we turned into the parking lot, we saw sheep grazing in the field. “This is just what I needed,” I said as Steve pulled our overnight bag out of the trunk.

The Woolverton Inn turned out to be the perfect getaway. Our room was immaculate and provided a peaceful view of the lovely countryside. It was a real treat to cuddle up on a true featherbed covered with the coziest, softest sheets I’ve ever slept on. The three-course breakfast – served by staff who seemed really, truly happy to work there -- was scrumptious. And the owners, Mary and Mario, were gracious and charming and clearly take pride in having successfully maintained the Inn’s historic elegance while at the same time providing modern amenities.

Our overnight escape reminded me how important it is to take a break – for fun, relaxation, and most of all, for reflection. And as soon as I took a step back and began to think about my writing life, I realized at once what I need most of all – balance. Now the challenge is – how to achieve it! More in my next blog post….


It’s been a year since I discovered CALM, the amazing meditation app that’s guided me on many journeys that have eased my body, mind and soul. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true. For the last 370 days, CALM has led me through at least one – but usually many more – meditation sessions. I choose the topic – inner peace and sleep (two of my favorites), creativity, confidence, lovingkindness, energy, motivation, etc. Then I decide how long I want the session to be – usually 10 minutes, sometimes more and occasionally less. Two minute or five minute sessions really give me a boost when I’m at work and feel my energy level drooping.

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Every now and then, the memory of a frightening experience I had when I was 12 or 13 returns to haunt me. I was on a hiking trip along some mountain trails with a group of girls around my age. Although everyone knew I was afraid of heights, somehow my adventurous and always reassuring friend Candy had talked me into going. Her best friend Marti didn’t look too happy when I showed up but I wasn’t surprised, since Marti had always made it clear she couldn’t stand me. All day, Marti kept her eye on me and I knew why – she didn’t want me homing in on her status as “best friend.”

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Cathy M. is beautiful and sexy and yes – though it’s hard to believe – like Lydia Birnbaum, she’s a “woman of a certain age.” Strong and independent, she lives in Bucks County and thinks nothing of hopping on this tractor when she needs to get a job done. Cathy’s plan was to read a couple of chapters of PROJECT EX before she tackled cleaning up her twelve-acre property. “But once I started reading,” she told me, “I just couldn’t stop!”

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I couldn’t stop laughing when I found my neighbor Judy and her beloved dog Lucy curled up on a cozy chair in our lobby, totally absorbed in PROJECT EX. Was it possible Judy had sprayed the cover with “Eau de Ralston Purina?” It seemed more likely that -- like any beloved “furever” friend – Lucy was simply taking advantage of a perfect opportunity to snuggle. Whatever the reality or the reason, I love finding PROJECT EX fans, furry or otherwise!


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When I began writing this blog, I promised to take you along on my self-publishing journey.  Well, over the last few months, I’ve been so absorbed in the journey –which has been longer, bumpier, and definitely more challenging than I’d anticipated—that I haven’t had much time to stop along the way to fill you in on the process. However, the good news is… PROJECT EX is almost ready for publication!

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