Here are some links and copies of Lou Ann's writing. Sit back, relax and enjoy her work, and check back often because this page is constantly being updated.
Manhattan Magazine - Around the World in 24 Days
Manhattan Magazine - Mutt Shots and School:
If you have a problem, there's a self-help book for it
The expression on Babs Spelnek's face indicated great concern.
"Are you OK?" she asked.
"Sure. Why?" I replied.
"Well ...," Babs said, "You're here ..."
I was meeting Babs for coffee at a local bookstore and had arrived early.
My obsession with promptness runs contrary to my friend's "Babs Time," so while I waited I wandered through the stacks of books. I now followed Babs' gaze to the books lining the shelves a couple feet taller than our heads and realized my friend had appeared out of nowhere to find me in the self-help section.
"I just happened to wander in here. I wasn't looking for anything in particular," I quickly said, justifying my location.
And that was the truth. But once there, I spent some time lingering over the multitude of titles offering help for just about every human malady.
This wasn't new territory for me. I've been lost in the self-help section before. During parts of my life journey that have been bumpier than others, I've read a number of the books on these very shelves.
Here you can find volumes to help you deal with failure or success.
There are books covering how to cope with change as well as with being in a rut. There are books on how to develop psychic powers, leadership, inner peace, happiness, intelligence, as well as ones on how to overcome depression, anxiety, guilt, a wide range of phobias and even procrastination.
Relationships are popular in the self-help section. I guess few of us are experts at navigating through the choppy waters of togetherness in that particular ship. Thank goodness there are books to help us through the entire journey, from how to find a relationship to how to get out of one. I was thinking how handy it might be to give the person you were trying to break up with a copy of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handling a Break Up," when Babs showed up.
We soon got into the spirit of exploring the human psyche through the titles lining the shelves. Babs chuckled as she pulled down a book and read the title out loud.
" 'Inner Peace for Busy People.' The first step toward inner peace for busy people is to put down this book, take a long walk and get a life," she said.
Deciding to play the one-up game, I grabbed "The Procrastinator's Handbook."
"Wouldn't it be funny if this one was blank," I said, holding it up for Babs to see. We both laughed at the irony, but sadly it wasn't blank.
Instead, it contained a dozen chapters about how to plan and execute a strategy to overcome that nuisance -- procrastination.
"I'll read this one later," I said, not meaning to be funny, but instead feeling uncomfortable holding a book that addressed the very reason I was having coffee with Babs in the first place -- with a deadline looming, I was putting off work and hated being reminded that the blank computer screen would still be there when I returned home.
"How about this one," Babs said. " 'The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time ... (In Two Lines or Less).' What's your most brilliant thought in two lines or less?"
"That true brilliance takes at least three lines," I said.
"Hummm," Babs turned toward the shelves. "There must be something here about learning to be less wordy."
We didn't find anything to make me be more concise, but we did find books that would help us create more peace, passion, purpose, prosperity and power. There were books that would teach us to persuade, be more creative, make small talk, meditate, let go, get rid of clutter and contact our angels. There was even a book titled "Self-Help Stuff That Works."
"Here's the one you need," Babs said in an excited voice a bit louder than usually heard in bookstores.
I reached for the book that she was gleefully holding out to me -- "Kiss My Tiara -- How to Rule the World as a Smartass Goddess."
"Wow, Babs, you think I'm a goddess?" I proudly asked.
"Well, no, but you're certainly a smartass," she replied.
"It takes one to know one," I said as I pulled her to the coffee shop, but not before making a mental note to return for "The Procrastinator's Handbook." After all, we can all use a little help now and then.
A time for turkey and old clothes
by Lou Ann Thomas
Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. For one thing, there isn't the obligatory gift giving of Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. There also aren't many expectations around Thanksgiving. About the only thing others expect of us on this day is to eat lots of turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie. And if you¹re in my family you are also expected to watch lots of football, or, if you choose not to watch football, then you are expected to remain very quiet so as not to disturb those who do.
For me, Thanksgiving has always been a time for an extended family gathering with cousins, aunts and uncles. When I was young we would all meet at my grandmother's house for a big turkey feast. There was lots of laughter and chatter, and the warm, secure feeling you get when you¹re surrounded by people who have known and loved you from your first breath.
The adults all sat together in the dining room at a long table set with Grandma's good china. My cousins and I either sat in the kitchen or at a card table set with sturdier, less valuable tableware. Of course, an adult always sat with us to try to control the giggling and to make sure the turkey and its accessories didn't become objects of warfare. We¹d always request Great Aunt Marguerite or my Aunt Lou to sit with us because they would join in our excited giggles and familiar banter. Even though they were adults we thought they were just as much fun as we were.
I never minded sitting at the kids¹ table. I knew we were having more fun than the adults were and I think Marguerite and Lou felt the same way. It was at this simple table that some of my family¹s best stories first happened and were shared. It was here that I once laughed so hard milk came out my nose, at which point my cousin Paula started laughing so hard she wet her pants, which we both thought was hysterical and commenced to laugh even harder -- so hard we nearly made ourselves sick, all to the escalating voices from our respective parents inquiring, "What¹s going on in there? What are you two doing? What in the world is SO FUNNY?" And at that, with our faces flushed from laughing and hyperventilating, we burst into even more uncontrollable giggles.
Laughter like that almost never happened at the adult table.
After dinner we couldn't wait to get the okay from our parents to put on the old clothes we always brought along in brown paper grocery bags so we could go outside and play. Those sacks filled with blue jeans, t-shirts and sneakers were symbols of our freedom. Even today the words "old clothes" bring back memories of fun and laughter, of playing ball, hide 'n' seek, and climbing trees with my cousins. As soon as the last bite of pie was swallowed we began asking, begging, and eventually pleading to be allowed to shed our clean, starched and pressed dresses and suits. When one of our parents finally relented with permission the house filled with excited squeals of delight. I imagine some of the squeals came from the adults who were just as thrilled as we were to have us outside. They were then free to play cards, visit, watch football and browse through Christmas catalogs in relative peace.
Since, in addition to turkey, football and old clothes Thanksgiving is also a time to reflect upon those things for which we are thankful, I offer a partial list of some of the things for which I am most grateful.
I am thankful for my friends. The old ones who have stood by me through the years and through the changes, and the new ones who are willing to take a chance. They all help make the journey feel a little safer and a lot less lonely.
I¹m grateful for my animals. They love and accept me without conditions or expectations. I am also thankful I don't have to clothe or send them to college. The shoes alone would cost a fortune.
I am thankful for meaningful work that allows me to do what I have always loved -- to write. And thanks to everyone who so willingly talks to me and welcomes me into his or her life for a few minutes at a time so I have something to write about.
I am thankful for a warm, comfortable house, a view of this good earth out my window that I never tire of and a vacuum cleaner that works.
And I am particularly thankful for my family. They have patiently supported and nurtured me throughout my life and never mention that instead of bringing my old clothes to Thanksgiving dinner in a grocery sack I now simply wear them.
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