For Your Holiday Viewing on Amazon Prime

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Traditionally during the Christmas holidays, millions of us travel by train, plane, and automobile to spend time with our families. This year, things are likely to be different. In the interest of not getting our loved ones sick, please stay home. But if you’re like me, you’ll be missing your quirky, beloved family more than ever. If you’re looking for a good fix for missing out on the real thing, check out some of my favorite movies featuring families of all kinds.

They’re my favorites for different reasons, including stellar ensemble casts, quirky humor, the most accurate depiction of a female orgasm I’ve ever seen, realistic love, and that unmistakable feeling that comes when you get it wrong, and what, if anything, you can do about it. At their best, these movies remind us that we are connected, with roots that run deeper than mere compatibility. Make yourself a bowl of popcorn and settle in for the duration. …

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Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

For one memorable year, I taught full-time at a school for certified nursing assistants, or CNAs. My students, ranging in age from sixteen to sixty, came through job corps or workforce training, with a few taking the course as required training before launching a healthcare career. Many were family caregivers with hands-on expertise and their own ways of doing things. My students’ unifying quality was the desire to help others in a direct and immediate way.

They were an empathetic group, helping each other to succeed in skills’ lab, encouraging those with tenuous ESL skills, and even expressing concern during my menopausal hot flashes. “Are you alright, Miss?” I often heard. …

Things I said to indicate my unhappiness, in approximate chronological order

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Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

Let’s work on our marriage.
Doesn’t every garden need tending?
We have no connection. I don’t feel loved.
I promise if you let me know you appreciate me,
You will see the benefit in the way we get along.
You could be nicer to me. I wish you were nicer to me.
I’m done trying — I need you to step up and make an effort.
Things aren’t working: Our marriage isn’t a priority for you.
I’d like to be included in the group of people you say you love.
It really hurts that I’m not. Can you try to understand that? Please?
The kids will be out of the house soon. We need to focus on “us” now.
I’d like you to go to counseling, and then we could both go to counseling.
I want to feel safe — like someone has my back — and I’ve never felt that way.
I feel like you don’t think our marriage has any value. You’re throwing it away.
I feel like you’re throwing me away. I don’t need a miracle, just a little love.
You’re going to have to make an effort — let me know you care about me.
If this is an example of your effort to communicate, you’re scaring me.
I know that I am going to feel abandoned — I already feel abandoned.
How will our marriage survive when you’re 3000 miles away?
You’re going to have to try harder — you’re killing me, here.
You’re giving me nothing; give me something. Please.
Do you even want to be married to me?
It really doesn’t seem like you do.
Please, tell me I’m wrong.
If you can’t love me,
Let me go. …

Inhabiting Love and Courage

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Photo by Mark Timberlake on Unsplash

“She told me once, when we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the books are like a roof and four walls. A house. She, more than anything else in the world, loved the moment when you finished a book and the story keeps playing like the most vivid dream, in your head.” Thus starts the remarkably charming movie, “The Bookshop,” from the novel by British author Penelope Fitzgerald. I loved everything about this movie.

Set in 1950’s England, the film stars Emily Mortimer, who wears Wellingtons with a dress as well as any actress working today. An intrepid entrepreneur, widow Florence Green sets out to achieve her life’s passion: opening a bookshop in a conservative seaside village. She is assisted by several likable residents, the reclusive intellectual Mr. Brundish, played sensitively by Bill Nighy, and a quirky, underage shop girl, played by the talented actress who plays the young “Elizabeth” in “The Crown.” …

A Photo Essay

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End of summer, Gold Creek, Montana, up Highway 2 along the Blackfoot River

I was born an April baby, but something must have happened when I hit the six-month mark. On a crisp, October day, someone popped me into a pile of fallen leaves. Or, I rode in my older brother’s arms in the backseat of our blue Buick, through the hills of Appalachia, mesmerized by yellows, oranges, and reds. Now that I’m all grown up, I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice lattes, but apple cider is my beverage of choice. I’m a fall girl and always have been. Goldenrod, rust, taupe, and smoky green heathers that reflect the landscape in autumn are the colors that comfort me. …

A Poem of Remembering

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Photo by Michel Bosma on Unsplash

Through the squeaky gate with tight hinges we walk, and there it is — a pear tree drooping with fragrant white flowers made heavy by raindrops in late April, and we know this all will be ours. We’ll paint the house blue.

Through the years it grows tall and its boughs are heavy with golden fruit, which falls to the ground into October, drawing in yellow jackets in such numbers that even the dog learns to avoid the sweet, decaying fruit.

The following spring is sweet and mild and the rain does not wash away the blossoms too soon. The pear tree bears a galaxy of small, hard fruits that cling to the branches through the dry heat of summer. …

It may be as simple as focusing your energy on what you want — not on what you’ve left behind

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Photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash

You leave because you reach the point of no longer staying. It gradually, or suddenly, appears to you that life is much larger than what lies between two people, and you know that this is true. As soon as you understand this, you will have all the courage you need. It’s as if the Universe says, “Go ahead. Take whatever you need. Time? Space? Focus? Be as selfish as you need to be right now.”

Starting over in your fifties often means you’ve ended a long relationship or career path, or both. For some of you who have endured a terrible loss, it means an enormous expenditure of will and courage in order to move forward. …


Wendy Cohan

Exploring relationships, travel, the arts, and entertainment. Seeking literary representation. &

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