PETS–Animals Aiding Anxiety

The news is so grim.  It eats away at me.  Eighty-four dead in Nice, France and more critically injured.  I’ve been to Nice.  I’ve been on that street.  What’s going on?  Why?

I am finding the best way for me to reduce anxiety and stress is to turn to nature.

These are our pets.  Ou rescue mixed breed dog has been a calming friend for seven years.  It seems she instinctively thinks she’s a lap dog.  All I have to do is sit cross legged on the floor and she beelines to my lap.  I can barely see over or around her.  We named her Halle because we got her in 2009 when we’d seen Leonard Cohen in concert.  Leonard wrote the song Hallelujah.

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We take Halle for walks in Fullersburg Woods, at the lake at Harvester Park, and to the Farm Club nearby where she’s nose to nose with the goats, pigs, and horses.  She likes it and I think we like it even more.  It’s nature.

Simon is our African Grey who appears shy, but who will talk up a storm when in the mood.  His first words were “Hakuna Matata”.  He loves the Lion King soundtrack.  Kiwi, his sidekick, can only whistle and repeat his name.  Simon does a whole sing song rendition of “Simon & Kiwi sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

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I miss my Guinea Pig, Oreo, who died recently (I was a foster grandmother) and Ruby, our white rabbit we got at the Iowa State Fair who died several years ago.  Both had very good lives in our home and reminded me to eat more lettuce and kale.

I grew up on a livestock farm specializing in purebred, prize winning hogs.  My father’s winning vision assured my childhood summers of wonderful adventures at many midwestern fairs.

We milked cows, raised chickens, and sometimes had sheep.    Farms mean hard work but the resulting ties with nature endure for a lifetime.

However, after I got married and I experienced having pets, my attitudes about animals have deepened.  I feel our animals sense our moods, both happy and sad.

Thank you, Halle, for sitting on my lap again today.

Oprah & Marilyn–Two of a Kind!

And then today….

I celebrate the 62nd birthday of one of my favorite people, my niece Marilyn.  I’m always reminded of Marilyn’s birthday, because she was born on the very same day as someone else I admire very much–Oprah!  Today they are both 62.

We all know about the many accomplishments of Oprah and how she’s helped change the world in a most positive way!

Marilyn’s changed the world in a most positive way too, and her quiet successes have come in many different ways.

As the oldest daughter in a family of eight children, nurturing has always been a given with Marilyn as she helped to raise her younger siblings.  She continues to be the glue in the family bonds that tie the generations together.

It was no surprise when compassionate Marilyn studied nursing and for many years she has worked as a hospice nurse.  As a hospice volunteer for several years, I know from experience that the hospice health care workers are cut from a different mold and indeed very special people.

Marilyn lives each day to the fullest and in recent years has enjoyed trips to Greece (her husband’s homeland) and deep sea diving in Cozumel.  She gathers friends all along the way.

I am so glad to have Marilyn live nearby.  I wish Oprah could meet her too!  I’m sure they would comprise a mutual admiration society.


Top Ten Tips Selling Real Estate

And then today…

I began reflecting on the fact that I am beginning my 29th year (yikes) in real estate sales.  Recently, a young woman asked me about my job and if I would recommend it as a career for her.

I became a realtor by accident.  While we were expanding and remodeling our home, I needed studio space to continuing making my soft sculptures–Marli Originals–and, as I rented space in a realtor’s building, she twisted my arm to get my real estate license.

I was “burning out” on the art shows, and the timing could not have been better, as it turned out, because the housing boom was about to begin!   My highest  honor was 2003 when I  received the Prudential Real Estate Chairman’s Circle award and was featured with other top 8% producers in the Wall Street Journal.   Not bad for a pig farmer’s daughter, I thought, and wished I could tell my dad.

Looking back, I realize I was “flying by the seat of my pants” in the frenzy of the good years, but the following ten tips (in no special order, just as they bounced into my head) are all important for my continued success:

  1.  HONESTY      You just can’t fake it.  I’ve seen others get caught in lies.  Honesty is everything in building your reputation.
  2.  INTEGRITY    You have to do what you say you’re going to do, and you want to surpass your client’s expectations with a few creative surprises.
  3. TECHNOLOGY     You need to love technology and embrace it in every facet of your work.  You need to keep up with the latest and greatest.
  4.  MONEY     You need to realize it can take months, sometimes years, before you get your first sale.  Also, it costs money up front for all your fees including insurance, MLS, and dues.  Remember, it takes money to make money!  Plan for it.
  5. OFFICE    Although most realtors work independently from home, you need to be part of an office where you get “on the spot” support and work with people you trust.  Also, it’s a bonus if there’s good humor in the room and good candy in the dishes.
  6. CLIENTS     Always remember who you are working for and keep their best interests in mind at all times.  We are talking about major life choices when we are buying & selling real estate.  It’s someone’s home!
  7. LAWYERS, LENDERS, INSPECTORS   Set up a support system of individuals you can trust.  Contrary to some thinking, there are no kick-backs with referrals.  You are just helping your clients to have good, competent help.
  8. CONTINUING EDUCATION    The state requires 12 hours of continuing education every few years including an Ethics class.  I would recommend taking the classes in a group setting and not by internet.  You hear and learn from the craziest stories in a live class.
  9. SAFETY    Listen to your instincts.  Be vigilant at open houses and at showings with people you do not know.  While hosting an open house, I always make sure a back door is unlocked and I always follow clients when going up and down stairs.
  10. RESPECTFUL    Respect the property (all kinds) and respect the people (all backgrounds and religions).  Just as there are no two properties exactly alike, there are no two people exactly alike either.  Be open minded, be resilient, and be respectful.  The differences are what makes the world go round and keeps the job so fascinating!

This is off the top of my head, as I try to help the young woman.  Changes and additions will come as I think of them.

Also keep in mind that when you are in sales, you have to be able to accept rejection.



David Bowie, Joseph Cornell & More

And then today, I added a new page to my “Dead Rock Stars” journal.

Also, I began a new art class last week with Laura Lein-Svencner and this class is called “Collage and Assemblage Boxes”.   “Out of a drawer and into an art piece”is the idea, a style made famous by artist Joseph Cornell, and I once again feel the freedom of kindergarten-type creativity.

Yesterday I enjoyed the adventure of Joseph Cornell’s magical website, and I always enjoy Laura’s website for instruction and inspiration.  I’m lucky to live only 3 miles from Laura’s Mayslake classes.  Many of the students travel considerable miles, even over the state lines of Indiana and Wisconsin.

I was fortunate to see the David Bowie exhibit at the Chicago Contemporary Art Museum last year.  I have been a fan forever and have often thought how “Changes” is the theme of this blog.  “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars” are also two favorites.

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My music memorabilia includes the guitar pick pictured above.  I will be using it in a David Bowie tribute piece in the art class.  I’m also looking now at a Jerry Garcia doll I bought at a garage sale and anxious to look up my Eagles albums with Glen Frey’s recent death.  All are treasures.

I bought a record player for my granddaughters at Christmas and selected some special albums for them from my collection of thousands.

Thank you for the music–and so much more, David Bowie.  What an exceptional class act!  At this stage in my life your last album is an especially meaningful gift.



Definition of a Successful Life

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; 

to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;  

to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived!

                    Ralph Waldo Emerson


Again, a new year’s resolution….

Last year it was to get this website off and running which happened, but then a lull.  This year I’m hoping to be more diligent in posting.

When you turn 70, time becomes very precious, because we realize that time is running out!  This became quite obvious to me this holiday season as three of our neighbors died within a few weeks of each other.  I’ve often read that there are more deaths at Christmas time.

At funerals, we learn new and interesting details about the deceased and, of course, we wish we could sit down one more time with them and talk.

I’ve known all three of these neighbors over 40 years–4 decades!!


Bert became my Union Church buddy several years ago when her husband Bill died and she could no longer renew her driver’s license.  Going back to church was on my bucket list, and Bert’s situation provided the push.  I often felt we were like a couple of high school girls giggling together on the drive to and from the church.  I knew her memory was slipping away, but it didn’t matter.  We simply enjoyed the here and now!

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Tim was an all around good guy, helping wherever needed, and serving our neighborhood for years as a Park District Trustee.  Tim enjoyed driving his spotless vintage convertible to lead our Golfview float in the 4th of July parade.  He loved his Schnauzer dogs over the years and I’m sure “Ernie” grieves for him today.

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Ann, as it turned out, worked as a window dresser for Carson Pirie Scott years ago.  How I’d love to talk with her more about that!  I have autographed copies of her children’s books, “Randal, the Flannel Camel” and “Mike’s Monarchs”.

I celebrate this snapshot of three kind, gentle souls who made this world a better place.  We will miss them, but we will remember them!

Labor Days Past–What I’ve Done for Money!

And then today….

I’m grateful for my work ethic as learned from my family while growing up on the farm.  My dad encouraged resourcefulness and initiative.  I think that’s why I’ve often been “self-employed” in so much of my work.

Last Monday, Labor Day, I began to think back and list my lifetime of jobs.  They include:

  1.  Detasseling corn and baby sitting–early teen years… was so exciting to make money.  I used to pour over the Sears catalog with the thrill of deciding how to spend it.  I believe I bought clothes and maybe my first record player & records.
  2. Waitressing and store clerk–once I turned 16……my junior yearbook is autographed by many truck drivers who would routinely stop at The Galley along Route 66.  I then graduated to a bigger restaurant, Paul’s New Log Cabin in Pontiac, because the tips were better.
  3. Shoe salesgirl at Marshall Field–ages 18, 19…..while I spent a year in Chicago studying Fashion Merchandising at Patricia Stevens.
  4. Grocery checker–ages 19-21…..while I went to college at Illinois State.
  5. Teacher 1968-1969…..summer school, first grade, fifth grade, and substitute teaching while our boys were young.  (Regrets, I have a few, but then again, to few to mention.  However not getting back to teaching is my one main regret.)
  6. Homemade Barbie Doll clothes, a couple of children’s stories and a greeting card 1970-1977….the first lady who answered my ad for handmade Barbie clothes bought $70 worth and I was hooked!  I even made original patterns for Barbie and sold my copyrighted patterns via McCalls Crafts Magazine.  It was fun to get money in the mail.
Armful of Nudes
Armful of Nudes                                 












7.  Sculpture “People” sold at art fairs throughout the country–1978-1992….designed and created all kinds of themes and sizes under my business name of Marli Originals!  Modest Melvin was always a favorite.

8.  Real Estate Broker 1988 to present….with Prudential for many years (2003 Chairman’s Circle Winner as advertised in the Wall Street Journal) and now with Re/Max.  I never dreamed I could work so hard and make so much money in the really booming years of production.  I wanted to call my farmer parents (deceased) and tell them, so we could have a good laugh together.

9.  eBay 1999 to present….through years of gathering garage sale treasures (began when I was making my “people”) I have an eclectic mixture of items I’ve sold and continue selling on eBay.  I usually only list items before the holidays.  My best profit came from vintage Air Jordans I bought for $2 and sold for $665.00.

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Moral of this story:  If anyone is willing to work hard, take changes, and put yourself out there, you can make money and have fun doing it!

Vinyl Record of the Day:  

Listening to an oldies album, At the Hop, and especially picked the song “Get a Job” by the Silhouettes.


And then today….

I’ve been thinking about the Pope appearing on network television’s 20/20 program last night as he prepares for his visit to the United States.  He took questions and gave heartfelt and comforting responses.

He seems to be an answer to our prayers as he is so perfect for these times in history.  We need him.

I was raised Methodist and now continue to search and study all religions.  My background taught me that God is love, not fear.  I reach out to other religions including Buddism and Islam.  I read Thich Nhat Hanh and embrace mindfulness.

In 2001 when we visited Italy, I particularly was drawn to Assisi and the works of  St. Francis’.  Pope Francis has chosen his name from St. Francis, I believe, and I am comforted by his inclusive, kind, courageous, caring and loving words.  He is so like my Jesus Christ whom I met in childhood Sunday School and who has been a guiding light in my life.



Above is photo of the front of a shirt my children gave me for my birthday.  I love it.  I think it is another way of saying the Golden Rule.

At the end of last night’s program, the Pope asked for something from us.  He asked that we pray for him.

I pray and wish him well, now and always.

Yesterday I was thinking of how religion has caused so much desperation and strife in the world.  Today I celebrate a man of peace.








CROWDS–Desperation or Celebration

And then today….

I see the news story of the Syrian Refugees and I wince.  It is now burned in my brain–the crowd’s desperation, the cramming into flimsy boats and trains and through bus windows.  The beautiful children, the haunting expressions, the death, the hysteria–what can I do?

I remember visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and the experience of crowding into an elevator, getting off on the upper lever and crowding down the narrow hallway to begin the tour.  I’m sure this was architecturally designed on purpose, reminding visitors of the crowded cattle cars.

I have experienced crowds on numerous occasions but my experiences have been celebrations!  A few of my favorites include:

  1.  Crowding into a venue to see a concert–U2, Paul McCartney and Bon Jovi , to name a few.
  2. Crowding into Memphis and the Pyramid on the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death was a celebration of The King we shared with thousands of his loyal fans.
  3. Crowding onto The Mall in Washington D.C. for the inauguration of President Obama (picture above) will always be a life defining moment.  Millions of people of all ages and sizes and colors mingled together with mutual respect and kindness and with the hope that this country had finally grown up and somehow changed.   It’s turned out to not be that easy.  Racism and hatred are as evident today as ever.


We walked for a while to a spot near the Washington Monument with this guy, Bill Murray, who seems to be a fan of crowds in a historical context.  He has related several stories over the years on Dave Letterman.  (Oh how I miss Dave.)

But now back to the crowds of desperation….again, my garage sale adventures led me to a home where the proceeds of the sale were to benefit the Syrian Refugees.  The seller is from Syria and we talked for a few minutes.  He thanked me for caring.  But again, what can I do?  I asked him that and he said it was too late.  It seems the most horrible things happen in the name of religion.


And then today….

Before I got out of bed this morning, I finished watching the last segment of this  3 hour documentary — awesome!

The DVR description says:

“Sequences feature the galleries of the National Gallery in London that shows how the exhibits are studied, restored and planned out over time.”

I love to hear English people talk, but I love even more hearing English people talk art!  I caught the programming (initially released in 2014) in the middle of the night and was awake enough to push the record button.

For the second time this week, the Bible story of Mary and Martha, was discussed.  First at a funeral and then with the artwork above.

The artwork of the early masters are particularly thought provoking.  The “Virgin of the Rocks” below is one example they discussed.


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I would encourage all to invest 3 hours of your life and enjoy this treasure.

And hopefully some day we can visit the museum in person.



MTV. VMA, Vinyl Records–If aging isn’t for sissies, then neither is today’s music!

I’m crazy about music–always have been!

I try to act my age, but I remember when the country was upset about Elvis and his simple gyrations on the Ed Sullivan Show.  That makes me 72. I watched the Video Music Awards Sunday night as I always do.  I know most of the music.

I’d love to have purple hair like Jim Peterik above, whom I ran into at the Brian Wilson show at Ravinia last month.  Jim is the EYE OF THE TIGER guy (Survivor, Ides of March) and he’s always gracious to his fans!

I’ve been picking up vinyl records at garage sales for years and now I’ve even been buying new vinyl–Hosier, Father John Misty, Jack White.  I have thousands of albums, hundreds of books, and all kinds of memorabilia–Grateful Dead Cookie Jar, Jerry Garcia doll, Beatles bootlegs–again from garage sales.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.  When will I grow up?  Or should I work at growing up?

Or should I just keep enjoying today’s scene.  Outrageous is in.  Every year it seems like a “can you top this?” event.

The music I listen to covers every genre and every decade.  I play a record almost every day and now this week they sound better than ever with my new Kef speakers–again a garage sale.

One of my Artist’s Way projects is making a handmade journal from an old book.  I took an old library copy of “Life, Death, Legend” (Jim Morrison) and I am transforming it into my Dead Rock Star Album.  It’s so sad to recount the tragedies of so many young musicians–and the quirky way many have died!  I do this out of respect for all, but especially some favorites–Elvis, Ricky, George, John, Whitney, Marvin, Sam Cooke, Freddie Mercury, John Denver, Jackie Wilson, to name just a few.  Just think of the story of how each of them died.  I also treasure the journal I found by Kurt Cobain.

I sometimes wonder why music grabs such a hold of me, but I have been aware of music always.  I listened to it on the farm while helping to milk cows, I watched Dick Clark’s American Bandstand religiously, and I’ve toted my growing record collection to college to marriage to now!

Music helps make good days better and it helps make dark days tolerable.  I thank Elvis gospel for helping me deal with a family suicide.