Mary-Jo’s Submission

Margaret and I were best friends since we were 3 and 4 years old. She was the little girl down the street, and I loved her - still do. It is her mom, Jean Hahn, who did “Simple Things” to enrich my life. Jean kept a cabinet in her kitchen full of wonderful things for baking - flour and sugars and chocolate chips and food coloring and baking soda AND baking powder…. and to me it was a cabinet of treasures. One of my big joys was knowing that Jean would let us bake anything - and we did, and we always used chocolate chips whenever possible - pancakes, cookies, muffins - anything. And Jean was always there to help us out with a big comfy smile, as we messed up her kitchen and left trails of flour all over, and enjoyed our warm creations with a glass of milk. She was a special person in my young life, and I have to say - I know realize why I have that treasure of a cabinet in MY OWN kitchen - and yes, I have both baking soda AND baking powder, and ALWAYS a stash of chocolate chips… just in case some of the kids want to bake something fantastic.

Thank you, Jean - you are one special person in my life still - and a very special part of my childhood memories.


Audrey’s Submission

My mom is famous for her pies - at least in our family. She makes them for almost every holiday, and I always look forward to digging into my favorites: cherry, apple and pumpkin.

I remember when we lived in New York, she made somewhat of a business out of it, selling homemade and delicious pies to our local apple farm. We’d head over there every week, when she’d drop off her orders. My mom would always let us pick out some flavored honey sticks at the front counter, and I would look over all of the different kinds of freshly picked apples, fruits and vegetables. I absolutely loved it.

I hope that one day I’ll be able to make a pie as tasty as one my mother makes. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying hers at each chance I get.


WINNER: Mary’s Submission: The People’s Bridge

At some time or another we all hit troubled waters.  It is during these times our souls are tested to grow beyond what we thought were our limits.

Often times, we don’t get to where we need to go without the love and support of someone, or many.  I’m certain we all need a “people bridge” to get us over those troubled waters.  We all need to take turns being the people bridge for one another in times of suffering and need.

For my husband Dave and I, our troubled waters began with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility. We were grateful to have found each other and looked forward to having a family together.  After a year of trying unsuccessfully, we sought help from a fertility specialist who seemed hopeful that we could conceive with some help from specialized treatments (IUI’s, IVF’s)…

Sixteen treatments, five years, two miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy later, we were emotionally, physically, soulfully and financially drained. We didn’t recognize each other anymore.  We went from happily in love, fun people, to a zone of anger & disappointment.  Why were we being punished?

Going to the birthday of a friend or relative’s child was hard (although we always did, so as not to disappoint the children).  I think most people go through trials in some manner that is signature to them, but you have to keep cheering yourself on and hope that others will when you can’t. Thankfully, Dave and I had a big support group with family and friends, who unfortunately had to take this journey also.  It made them worry, cry, get angry for us and than cheer us on when we were ready to get back on our feet for another round.

There were some who could not handle the gloom that at times overtook us; it was too much to be around.  Some people even made very rude and hurtful comments.  We tried to keep our hardship to ourselves, but people who really knew us could tell what it was doing.  They were the ones who saw us through with gentle nudges, pep talks, wisdom chats, etc.

Dave and I got our inner resolve back and we saved up enough money to pursue adoption.  Our hearts were happy, hopeful, and dreaming of finally becoming parents.  Our hearts long cherished dream was buzzing anew.

Well, we wish we could say it worked out, but after two years and a few birth mothers later, that wasn’t the case.  Two were scandalous about the process and made it a practice of scamming vulnerable, desperate people like ourselves.  One simply changed her mind and decided she wanted to raise the baby.  Once again, we started to become hollow people enveloped in vanishing dreams, broken hearts, and perhaps bad luck or bad karma…

Then, something magical happened.  Instead of disappointment and pain taking us down again, my husband and I began to look at each other through new eyes.  Instead of letting this horrible time break us apart, we were in awe of each other. It’s like we we’d been through trenches of war together and survived.  We were never so happy to see ”us” again.  We beheld others on a new level as well.  We are both in “helping people” professions.  Our experience deepened our hearts for others even more.  We became better listeners, better partners, better friends and better family.  We celebrated the relationships that developed through these hard times.  Those who stood by us could never know how much they shine.

We have this amazing circle of true hearted people who really care, who would always show up for us when we were deflated.  We learned that the Circle of Love, the Circle of Life and the Circle of Light can foster and grow.  That’s what all our suffering gave birth to.  We now hope that people who suffer the world-over will remember that WE are the miracles that can show up for people in need.  WE can surround each other in this Circle of Love Light and Life, and in doing so, help new miracles to be born everyday.  We are commited more than ever to helping others.  We made peace with our situation and basically surrendered to it…

Now, lo and behold, as surrendering would have it, out of the blue, we met a wonderful young women, who was willing to affordably donate her eggs to me.  It turned out to be a very positive experience for all.  My husband says I can never keep a secret…and he’s right.  I do want to shout it out from the rooftops that we have a “bun in the oven”…in part due to the miracle of people who strengthened us with their prayers, good thoughts, hugs, laughs and wise words.  It hasn’t been an easy journey, but what we’ve learned is worth sharing.   


Jim’s Submission

When I was young in the 1950’s and early 60’s there was a bakery in the greater Los Angeles area that did neighborhood marketing. The company was Helm’s Bakery and they had trucks that would drive up and down the residential streets each day offering baked good for sale from the back of the truck. The driver would sound a little whistle announcing the arrival of fresh bread, pies, cakes, cookies and doughnuts. At the sound of that whistle, the kids in the neighborhood would rush to find their mom’s in hope of getting a treat. The truck was a yellow panel truck (the size of a standard pick up with a camper shell on it) and when the rear doors opened they released the most amazing smells from the many wooden drawers filled with bakery delights.

Over time the trucks began to show up less often until finally in 1969 we were all saddened when the trucks stopped coming around altogether. The company went out of business. The iconic main building in Los Angeles lived on though and was re-purposed as a shopping complex. And those mustard yellow trucks with their “toot-toot” live on in the memories of many a Southern California child.


WINNER: Jessica’s Submission

I grew up in Springfield, Illinois back in the late 1980’s (when things were seemingly safer). The school days dragged and then came the one hour of homework.  It seemed back then since the WWW hadn’t came around yet, that all the kids, including myself, would emerge at he same time from their houses to all go play in the field where there was no houses built.  I am not telling a story about one person but rather about all 10 sets of parents from the block. It was almost as if an unwritten understanding went between them all.  When the last one arrived home from working their long day they would honk the horn and we all knew it was time to go in.

We always hoped that someone’s parent wouldn’t notice that they were last and no honk would ever come.  It always did.  One late Wednesday night, the last parent decided that I guess we looked as if we were having too much fun and I remember looking over along with everyone else and waiting for the honk.  On that night, a most perfect night, maybe he just didn’t want to go inside yet himself.  He went and sat on the porch watching us and laughing as he did.  Imagine 10 or so kids just looking at him as if to ask, where is the honk?  After a few minutes we realized he was giving us extra time…the extra time needed to finish the simple game of tag we had going on.  Nothing special, just a simple running game.  To be able to finally finish one meant so much.

It wasn’t until I was older that I had realized that my neighborhood were true believers in the phrase ‘it takes a village’. They were my village.  All of the parents watched out for each other’s kids.  All the kids respected each other’s parents.  As I said this was when things seemed safer. While it might not have been, on that block it was.  We all have grown up and moved apart and I am sure all had kids of our own. I only wish that I could find my way back to that block with all the kids that grew up there. Then, maybe us “village kids” could be the horn honking parents and I could be the one that goes to sit on the porch…and lets them finish their game of tag.