My Election Reflection


This is not going to be my most popular post.

Like most things I write about, I expect some people will totally get where I’m coming from, while others won’t get me at all. That’s one of the beautiful things about life–we’re not all cut from the same cloth. How terribly boring and stagnant it would be if we were.

I once wrote that this never was nor will be a blog about politics. I hope you’ll forgive me for making an exception during this tumultuous time.

For well over a year, I’ve followed the course of events that led up to this most recent presidential election. I watched the debates, read countless articles and took in the some of the sound bytes shared on television and social media. My family, friends and I discussed our thoughts, beliefs and reactions when it came to the various candidates. I voted in my party’s primary. And I voted in the general election, as I have done every year since I turned eighteen.

My candidate for president lost. Actually, she was my second choice. She might have even fallen to third or fourth place if any of the parties had put up more candidates worth considering.

But it’s hardly the first time I’ve voted for the losing candidate. Hell, my presidential choices have lost more elections than won, which makes me think, maybe it’s me, maybe I jinx them. But whatever, I digress.

My vote was primarily based on the positivity, and on what I believed to be the more down to earth and inclusive platform, of one candidate, versus what I saw as the childish, petty, mean-spirited–sometimes even vicious–and uninformed positions voiced by the other candidate. I voted with both my head and my heart. And I voted for the person I thought would be the better leader for all of us, not just me personally.

So my candidate lost, and frankly, I’m not happy about it (OK, that’s an understatement). Like anyone who feels justified in her beliefs and feelings, and like anyone who has suffered a loss, I need a little time to process and heal.

But I’m not being given that time. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with gloating posts (ha ha, go ahead and move to Canada, see if we care) and lectures on how “the nation has spoken” and how I need to grow up, unite and sing kumbaya for the president-elect–the very man who has spent nearly a year and a half pitting us against one another.

I’m just not prepared to do that just yet. And, depending on what he does going forward, I may never get behind him.

That is my choice and my right as an American.

Look, for eight years I’ve watched, read and listened to hate-filled, anti-Obama rhetoric, including the place of birth falsehoods repeatedly voiced by our current president-elect. Their hostility, animosity and loathing bothered me, but frankly the Obama-haters were entitled to their opinion, and I am a firm believer in our First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Never once did I even anonymously jump into one of those online discussions and tell them to shut the f**k up. I just took the high road and didn’t engage with them.

Why can’t I, and the rest of the pro-Hillary and/or anti-Trump voters, be afforded the same leeway?

No, we’re being told that election protesters should be jailed (which, for those who are destroying property or engaging in physical violence, I would agree) and that we need to get over it or be viewed as unpatriotic (as if the vile name calling and rants done during the Obama administration was patriotic?). We are being told to put our rights on hold for at least the next four years.

Not only am I not prepared to do that, I refuse.

Sure, I am terribly unhappy with the candidate who won this election. I have been repulsed by his foul attitude towards women, his intolerance towards non-Caucasians, his mockery of those with physical challenges, and his flippant references promoting violence to those who didn’t agree with him throughout his campaign. I am actually embarrassed that he won.

But I’m not going to pin blanket, puerile labels on our president-elect either. And I’m not going to engage in pointless discussions where ideals and facts dissolve into hostile accusations and derisive put downs.

Just don’t count on me to simply fall in line with where this administration might lead us. Or tell me that my only other alternative is to move to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Mexico City. While you won’t find me standing in the streets shouting slogans, you also won’t find me passively accepting policy decisions that go against my values.  

Like I said in the beginning, it’s a beautiful thing that we’re not all cut from the same cloth. I simply won’t stand for policies that will rip us apart, either.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Yeah, It Happens

So you may have wondered–or maybe not–why haven’t  I written a blog post in over a month?

I was wondering the same thing.

First, I ruled out causes and excuses. I haven’t been any busier during the past several weeks than usual. In fact if anything, now that business at the marina has slowed down to a mere trickle, I’ve actually had more free time than I had during the summer months.

I briefly considered attributing my creative inertia to writer’s block, but that just sounded so lame,  and in fact was not true. I have thought about lots of things I could write about, as life certainly provides a never-ending stream of raw material. Nope, I haven’t felt blocked at all.

And it’s not like I don’t crack open my notebook or laptop at least several times a day. I certainly found time to scroll through Facebook, read my email, play Words with Friends, look up articles and blog posts on all sorts of topics, print off Betty Crocker and Pillsbury recipes, troll YouTube and frequent Netflix–anything to avoid going to Google docs, the tool I now use for my writing. I just couldn’t get my brain to get my fingers to go there.

I haven’t been ill either. In fact, I’ve been feeling pretty good. A little tired sometimes, but I chalk that up to the change of seasons and the shrinking hours of daylight. Certainly I had enough energy to put in at least a few minutes a day at the keyboard. I just didn’t.

Then I started tuning into that nonstop chatter in my head. You know, that mental cacophony I wrote about a couple of months ago that so many of us live with. And here’s what’s been going on there…

Need to balance my checkbook haven’t cleaned the upstairs bathroom in weeks really should be exercising every day my house is a mess why don’t I make time to meditate in the morning I really should get rid of those clothes I never wear but what if I lose 30 pounds and can wear them again the property taxes are due this month gotta stop putting off filling out my healthcare proxy and living will speaking of wills I don’t have one yet I’m tired of all the clutter in my house but don’t know where to start getting low on toilet paper have to get up earlier for a work meeting tomorrow really need to clean out the refrigerator make sure I get my bills paid on time my house is a mess and I need to balance my checkbook man the upstairs bathroom really needs cleaning…

In other words, I had succumbed to a full-blown, paralytic state of overwhelm. Small wonder all I wanted to do was play, watch music videos, read, and sleep. Writing a blog post just seemed like one more thing to add to my overflowing, never-ending to do list.

Once I realized what the problem was,  I suddenly felt so much better. I hadn’t morphed into a lazy slug after all, or had begun to “feel my age”; I’d simply been like a deer in the headlights, trapped and mesmerized by the sheer magnitude of things clamoring for my attention and demanding action, most of which I found completely uninspiring.

Oh, I could do things I absolutely had to do. Laundry. Getting myself to work each day and actually getting work done once I got there. Putting gas in the car. Grocery shopping. But the house remained messy, I didn’t exercise or meditate, my checkbook remained unbalanced…and I didn’t write one single, solitary word for my blog.

Overwhelm had literally sucked the life out of me.

And really, who doesn’t get overwhelmed at least once in awhile these days? We are continuously bombarded with incoming data that floods our senses, and it comes at us from all directions. From television to social media, from billboards to email, from phone calls to text and instant messages, we are besieged by messaging in ways and at a frequency no other generation before us has had to deal with. And most of us don’t know when or how to turn that barrage off. We bring our work home and our home lives to work.

Plus, we’ve held onto many of the traditions and obligations we inherited from previous generations. Remembering birthdays and observing holidays. Celebrating some of the milestones in each other’s lives, and mourning others. Spring cleaning and fall raking.

Not to mention trying to carve out time for family and friends, setting up doctor and dentist visits, getting the car inspected (by the way, it’s due for an oil change) and maybe, just maybe, grabbing some sleep every night.

So sure, a lot of us surrender to it all sometimes. We just don’t have enough energy left to raise the white flag.

As with so many things, simply recognizing the source of my lethargy turned out to be the first step in treating it. Not that the same treatment works every time, though. You just have to pick something and go with it.

I decided to pick something simple and mindless to disperse this most recent bout of inertia. I began to dust the furniture in my dining room…then in my living room…then I mopped the kitchen floor…

I sorted through a pile of mail like a postal worker on steroids. I shelved books like a hopped up librarian, bagged up some old clothes for the Rescue Mission, and cleared what my mother used to call Irish lace from a few ceiling corners.

And then–totally invigorated–I sat down at my keyboard and began to write.

It’s physics, pure and simple. A body in motion stays in motion.

Have I gotten to everything on my overwhelm list? Good heavens, no. First of all, that list never ends anyway. It’s like plucking gray hairs–get one task accomplished and five more spring up in its place

But my house looks a little cleaner, I feel a tad more accomplished, and I’m writing again. So yay.

My point here, now that I’m actually blogging again, is that we need to cut ourselves some slack during those times when our energy levels run low. The onslaught of things we could, should, want and have to do can understandably overpower even the most hardy of souls. When we can’t get to all of them or don’t know where to start, it’s not that we’re weak. Or lazy. Or making excuses.

We’re human. And even when we think we’re not, we’re actually doing the best we can.

I have other remedies for the sluggishness that accompanies having too much to do, think about and remember, besides picking up a Swiffer and going to town on end tables and TV screens. But most of those prescriptions do involve some sort of physical activity. I’d be open to other anti-overwhelm suggestions if you have any you’d like to share.

In the meantime, I plan to keep the duster handy.

Writer, serial blogger and small business marketing consultant Mary Anne Hahn believes that there’s a reason old dreams don’t want to die. They want you to pursue them…make them real. They are what you are here to do. Mary Anne resides in Syracuse, New York and maintains websites at , and .

Rare Pearls


I have a favorite Avon fragrance called “Rare Pearls,” which smells a lot like my all time favorite fragrance, Liz Taylor’s “White Diamonds.”  Sure, I try other colognes from time to time, but when I come back to “Rare Pearls” it’s like slipping into a tailor-made dress. It’s my signature scent.

Every now and then, Avon offers deals on fragrance sets that include the cologne, shower gel and body lotion. What a treat for me, when I am able to indulge in a “Rare Pearls” scented shower, followed by massaging the scented lotion onto my dried arms and legs, and capping it off with strategic squirts of the cologne. A “Rare Pearls” trifecta.

So imagine my surprise one recent morning, when I opened a new tube “Rare Pearls” shower gel and went to lather myself in luxurious bubbles…only to find that it wouldn’t lather. I tried squirting a more generous amount onto my bath scrunchie in the hopes of creating more suds, but the result was disappointing. At least the scent was pleasing, I reasoned.

Next day, same thing. No lather to speak of. I even tried being even more generous with the amount I applied to the scrunchie than the day before, and only saw a slight improvement. At this rate, I’d be going through the entire tube after four or five showers. Dislike.

On day three I decided that maybe I would have make Avon aware of my dissatisfaction. I looked at the label to see how many ounces the tube contained so I could provide specific information about the product to the company–when I saw that it was actually “Rare Pearls” lotion, not shower gel, that I’d been squeezing the living daylights out of these last three days.

I had been trying to get lather out of something that wasn’t made for that purpose.

And I thought, looking at the tube–poor thing. Here I’d been annoyed with the product for three mornings, when it had actually been my fault that it wasn’t meeting my expectations. I had been trying to turn it into something it was not.

This made me think–how often do we do that when it comes to the people or circumstances in our lives? How frequently do we set expectations of others, only to be disappointed or frustrated when those expectations aren’t met? Or get frustrated with a situation that is beyond our ability to control when, in actuality, what we’re expecting might be unreasonable or unrealistic?

Even more perplexing, how often do we do that to ourselves? Try to make ourselves be, do or behave in a manner that just isn’t in our DNA?

It’s like trying to get body lotion to behave like shower gel. It’s a whole lot of wasted effort.

How much easier life is when we stop trying to jam square pegs into round holes.

Yes, I’ve sort of written about this before, this topic of how we react when life is not meeting our expectations. But this realization that so many of us also do that to ourselves–twist our personalities like some sort of mental contortionist in order to fit the expectations of others–is another how do you do altogether.

Not that I’m advising that we should be totally oblivious to the wants, needs and expectations of others. But when we constantly pay more attention to those external expectations than to our own wants and needs, or try to fit into a situation that goes against our personal grain, we eventually find ourselves rubbed raw.

Or as playwright Raymond Hull so perfectly put it, “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.”

Because no matter how hard you squeeze a tube of lotion, you can’t really make it produce much of a lather. And in the long run, no matter how hard we try to squeeze ourselves into someone else’s mold, we’re not going to fit–at least not comfortably.

This is a lesson I wished I’d learned years ago, in almost every area of my life. Or maybe it is just one of the lessons I was supposed to learn during this lifetime.

If that’s true, then I damn well plan on carrying that lesson into the next lifetime, that’s for sure.

How about you?

Writer, serial blogger and small business marketing consultant Mary Anne Hahn believes that there’s a reason old dreams don’t want to die. They want you to pursue them…make them real. They are what you are here to do. Mary Anne resides in Syracuse, New York and maintains websites at , and .




I opened the email from our department’s VP with the subject “Sad News,” more than half expecting it to be about someone in the company I didn’t know.

So when I saw Judy’s name and the words “passed away unexpectedly,” they seemed to fly right off the computer screen and into my heart. I had to read them twice, three times, before I could even gasp.

I was sitting at a desk in our East Rochester office, probably not far from the desk where she had worked, when I read about Judy’s passing. My home office is in Syracuse, but my co-worker Michelle and I travel the 85 miles to East Rochester about once a week to meet with folks there on a project.

Every once in awhile I would think, I should stop by and say hi to Judy during one of my trips there.

Judy’s job involved providing support to the Customer Care staff in East Rochester. This meant handling everything from incoming faxes and returned mail to sending out letters, forms and other materials that customers requested. And, more than likely, dozens of other tasks that she just sort of took on over the years without being told to, but just because.

I can’t remember exactly when my instant messaging relationship with Judy began; it’s been years. I must have really helped her out at some point with some work-related question, because every so often she would reach out to me when she had a situation that she didn’t know what to do with.

Over time, her messages to me began with a familiar greeting: “hi pal o’ mine!” She favored using a bold purple font and lowercase letters. That was just Judy’s style.

Me, I try to be grammatically correct and professional, even in my instant messaging (unless I forget to spell check before hitting send), although I have recently changed my font to one I find more attractive, and made it blue, my favorite color.

“Hi Judy!” I’d type back.

Then came the request. Sometimes it was as simple as sending a reminder out on the department blog, which I maintain.Other times she had a question, or needed direction on how to handle a particular piece of mail or fax.

In any case, once I sent the reminder or helped her figure out what to do with her issue, Judy’s response invariably came back in the form of one of those cute animated emoticons, the kind that gives virtual hugs, blows kisses or produces a bouquet of flowers.

Now and then, if she felt her question was particularly thorny or if I got back to her more quickly than she anticipated, Judy would simply type the words “you rock!” instead. In purple, bold lowercase letters, of course.

I’ll never see those words in that font again.

I checked out her obit, and saw the face of a pretty blond woman smiling back at me. I couldn’t recall ever meeting her in person. Not that I hadn’t had multiple opportunities.

And I read the adjectives other people used to describe her in the funeral home guest book: wonderful (used most often), warm, caring, funny, helpful, kind. Yes, she was.

And yes, I feel regret–regret that I didn’t take a few minutes out of my workday, even once, to locate her work station when I was in East Rochester and experience her smile in person. Or maybe exchange a real, face-to-face, hug.

I’m sure you know where this post is going.

If it occurs to you to call someone, call her. Send her an email or, if you’re old school, a card or a note.Stop by her desk the next time you’re in her office or on her floor.

Because you just never know, right? You just never know when “all the time in the world” ends up being no time at all. Or when there won’t be a “next time I’m in the neighborhood…”

All I can do now is return one of Judy’s virtual hugs. Maybe send her one last, big, “mwwwwwah!” A silent apology for not stopping by to say hello when I had the chances.

And the hope that, wherever she is, she is being appreciated for her wonderful, warm, caring, funny, helpful, kind self.

Because, Judy, you rocked, too.




What Do You Think?


Came across this Henry Ford quote recently that I love, love, love:

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

Now, you might say, “Come on, Mary Anne–I think all the time! In fact, I can’t ever seem to stop thinking! I think even when I’m asleep! I think that not thinking is wa-a-a-a-a-y more difficult than thinking!”

Au contraire, mon frère, and I know this from personal experience. What swims around in our brains 99 percent of the time are memories, worries, ruminations, replays, reactions and judgments (of ourselves, as well as of others). They’re sound bytes and flashbacks. We can call them thoughts–but they don’t constitute thinking.

What happens most of the time between our ears is a mental cacophony.

As seen in Rodin’s famous sculpture, thinking requires effort. It requires concentration. Just look at his face. That ‘s thinking.

Real thinking is active, not passive. Real thinking is purposeful.

What’s more, real thinking is almost always more positive and productive than the unchecked babble that goes on  in our heads much of the time. Real thinking solves and creates. It empowers us.

Take, for example, when something someone says to us hurts, whether it’s a romantic partner, a family member,  a boss or whomever. Most of us lick that wound over and over until it grows and even gets infected. We replay the words, and the subsequent pain, so repeatedly that they become etched in our memory for future playback, a permanent part of the mental chatter that consumes most of our thoughts.

Now what if, instead of reacting to the words we perceived as hurtful, instead of letting those words upset, anger or sadden us, we chose a different reaction? What if we mentally stepped back, thought “Well, now that wasn’t very nice!” and then went on to not let it affect the rest of our day? Wouldn’t being able to do that feel so much better?

I actually managed to accomplish that recently, sort of, with what I consider a great deal of success. My life partner John, who means more to me than 99.9 percent of the rest of the world, said something that I felt was unkind and unnecessary. My eyes teared and I did say, “You just crossed the line,” but that’s all I said about it.

Next day when I awoke, I realized I had a choice. I could stay hurt and angry with him and drag those feelings around with me like a ball and chain, throwing off negative vibes that would not only impact me  but everyone else within striking distance. I could stoke that hurt like an old coal stove by reliving what he’d said, damn him, and letting my reaction to those words suck the oxygen right out of me…or I could choose to be happy. Choose to make it a great day. Choose, if not to forgive just yet, then at least not let what was said yesterday become the focal point of my today

What a difference such a choice made. And choosing is, or at least can be, a very empowering form of thinking.

As has been frequently said, most of us spend more time planning their vacations than our lives, or how we can contribute to or make a positive impact on the world.

Heck, many people even spend more time planning a meal, right? Case in point: we’ll spend days planning and prepping for Thanksgiving dinner, and were seconds giving thanks. What’s up with that?

And it’s not like we give ourselves much time or space for thinking–instead we cram our days and nights with doingness and/or mindless entertainment. I’m as guilty of that as the next guy. It’s a lot easier to play two dozen Words with Friends games simultaneously or watch “Rizzoli and Isles” than to write a blog post, or deeply think about how I want my next (hopefully) 20 some-odd years on earth to play out.

I wonder about the Rodin sculpture. Is the man weighing the pros and cons of a huge decision that he needs to make? Or is he mentally working on an intricate math problem, or how to bring an invention to fruition, or about some philosophical conundrum about the nature of mankind or the meaning of life?

Whatever it is he’s thinking about, I’m convinced the world would be a better place if a lot more of us did that, too. If we thought before we spoke. Or thought before we react. Or thought about what kind of impact we’d like to make while we’re alive or what kind of legacy we want to leave when our earthly time is through.

And we can’t do that if our eyes are constantly glued to a smartphone, computer screen or television. Our best thinking is done in nature…or in silence…or while listening to certain types of music…or, for those who believe in its power, while praying.

I think, if more of us devoted more time to purposeful thought, the news media would find it a lot more difficult to come up with their endless stream of horrendous and worrisome stories to shine their spotlights on.

And wouldn’t that be a wonderful world?

Think about it.