Resolved: No 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

2017 New Year's Resolutions

No 2017 New Year’s Resolutions for me: I’m doing what I did last year. Find what makes you happy and do more of it.

Resolved: Make No 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

At the beginning of this New Year I am making no new 2017 New Year’s resolutions. Except maybe that I will continue doing what I’m already doing.

I know  2016 was a rotten year for many people. But it was a pretty good personal one for me even though Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential election. Now my stoic old heart is broken and the whole country is DOOMED. (I’m STILL With Her, by the way.)

Last year I stopped caring about a lot of things that had hindered me ‘lo these many years…61 to be exact.

I stopped worrying about what other people think of me. I finally like me…and really…isn’t that enough?

So, if I were to make some 2017  New Year’s resolutions, I would just stick with what is working for me.

  • I stopped putting myself down. No, I didn’t suddenly become an arrogant asshole. I merely stopped saying self-deprecating things, trying to make other people feel OK by pointing out all my flaws. I finally learned that when I do that, all they can see is my flaws.  And they think less of me for them. I still tell funny stories about myself, but not to make other people feel better.  I no longer spill the beans on all my insecurities.
  • Ironically, I also stopped telling other people the “great things” I have done. I stopped being so insecure that I had to point out that I also might, maybe, possibly be worthy of their
  • I stopped worrying about how I look. Yes…I still shower and wash my hair and occasionally wear make-up. I quit reading articles about how to look younger. I am 61 years old and I am quite fine with that, thank you very much. I look like I’m 61…and I am fine with that as well.
  • I stopped focusing on how fat I am.  I bought some larger pants that feel good when I wear them. Yes, they have elastic in the waist and I am grateful for that. It leaves my mind open to think about things I like to think about, like:

falling leaves,


how good the winter sun feels on my face,

planning a doll house and making the furniture,

illustrating a book,

taking a walk,

reading a good book,

and hanging out with my grandkids.

I no longer focus on my uncomfortable britches. 🙂 🙂  🙂 Whew!

  • I stopped making excuses. If I don’t want to do something and I’m questioned about it, I say “Because I don’t want to.” If I want to do something…and someone questions me about my choices, I answer “Because I want to.” Next Question.
  • In 2016 I spent a lot of time thinking, laughing, working at things I enjoyed, writing, pursuing what is really important to me, traveling to places I’d never been, and looking at eagles and stars in the sky. It made me happy. Very happy indeed.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever heeded is this: Find what makes you happy and do more of that.

I did. I am. And in 2017, I think I’ll just keep on doing that.



2016 Election, Air Pollution, & My Mental Health

My Rosy Outlook is being disrupted by the 2016 Election.

women over 50


Breathe, Peggy, just breathe…

I’m having a grouchy day today. To be more accurate, I should add that I’ve also had a grouchy week. And probably 15 months of grouchiness. How long can this damn 2016 Election last?

I have no personal reason to be grouchy. My life right now (and I emphasize right now because experience tells me that it could change tomorrow) is pretty great.

I live in a nice-enough apartment with a comfortable bed, food, water, and heat & cooling. I am well-clothed. I have good health; my cholesterol and glucose are well within the normal limits. My grandchildren live within easy visiting distance.

I am pursuing one of my life’s idealistic dreams of serving in Americorps/VISTA. I work with people I like and respect and I am proud to be a part of that enterprise that serves my country.

I exercise daily and take my anti-depressants and vitamins religiously. I meditate and pray and count my blessings. I laugh and smile A LOT. I tell jokes. I hug people…even the 20 second hug that is supposed to be life-changing and affirming.

And yet…I can’t shake this underlying vague anger and anxiety that’s bothered me now for a week or longer.

The only thing I can blame this grouchy demeanor on is this: election fatigue.

The 2016 Election has gone on way too long.

I know we’re all tired of hearing about this election and  all the ugliness that is hurled outwardly through the media by sparring campaigners.

  • The accusing rhetoric
  • The threats
  • The Rebel flags
  • The white hoods
  • The racism
  • The out and out lies
  • FBI, Russia, email hacks

I am having trouble breathing with all this BS floating around in the air.

All of it is toxic air pollution, as deadly as any smog, smoke, exhaust fumes, or burning coal could ever be. It makes it hard for me to breathe and I seriously need to breathe…in with the good…out with the bad. In with the happy…out with the grouchy.

It feels too late to ask people to talk about the issues. I’m pretty sure that all the real issues of this campaign have been forsaken to make the point that America is not great, that America is in the shitter, that America…Land That I Love…is doomed. Doomed, I say.

I am disappointed that all these ugly accusations have clouded the real issues of this campaign. I am incredibly disappointed that we have sunk so low that we resort to fear-mongering and name-calling. And I am immeasurably disappointed that so many people seem to have such little grasp of history.

I am so tired. I can’t wait until November 9…I plan to sleep late and I pray the pollution will have cleared when I awake.

I need to breathe again. And I’d really like to lose the grouchy attitude and anger and anxiety.


Trump’s American Vision vs. Peggy’s American Vision

Trump’s American Vision Sucks

by Peggy Browning

Trump's American Vision

Trump’s American Vision: Scorched Earth and Fear

Trump’s American Vision leaves me cold. And kind of pissed off.

Of course, everyone who knows me knows that I would never vote for Trump for a seat on the local school board or city council much less for President of the United States of America. Trump’s American Vision is in direct opposition of my own American Vision.

I get it…I know he was the star of a “reality” TV show. He also seems to be a legend in his own mind. He seems unhinged and out of touch with the real world. He is projecting his version of horror-filled scenarios on to the rest of us.

Trump’s American Vision is made of fear. It is based on exclusion, xenophobia, homophobia, economic disaster, racial unrest, terrorism, war, trade inequalities, and dwindling power of the white American male. Have I left out anything that he thinks we should be afraid of?

He’s trying to scare and manipulate the rest of us so we will see America through his fearful crazy-goggles.

I’m not afraid. I never have been. I don’t think I ever will be.

I don’t rely on National Enquirer for my information. And I have no respect for the opinion of someone who does. I have no respect for conspiracy theories and rumors. I don’t base my opinions on what someone else spouts off. I like to investigate and learn the truth on my own. I like to see for myself just what is happening.

Trump’s American Vision is to “make America great again.”

Donnie and I obviously don’t live in the same America. I like mine best. I think Trump should get out more…you know…see the real America.

My vision is that America is already great and that it will continue to be great if we do not give in to fear of change. America is in a period of change and growth right now. I believe we will come out of this period stronger and better than ever before.

My vision is based upon experience and knowledge from the past.  My confidence is based upon what I have observed this spring and summer.

Blue Skies

My American Vision: Blue Skies, Verdant Fields, and Confidence.


I’ve been watching the Oklahoma legislature during the second session of 2015-2016. The Oklahoma state budget was in a shambles (and still is). Deep cuts were made to essential services that improve the lives of Oklahoma citizens. Education, state parks, human services, medical care, disability payments…all these vital services were cut to the bone. The shortfall in money was not due to the falling oil prices or to lack of stewardship by the various agencies. It was due to the short-sighted partisanship of the governing body.

So what happened? Exactly what you would expect would happen in an America that is great. People said…No, this is not right and we will change this. Record numbers of new candidates filed for offices in the Oklahoma State House of Representatives and Senate. They spoke up about the unfair distribution of ad valorem taxes for school districts. They went to the State Capitol and talked to their congressmen and they successfully passed bills that had been on the books for years…like autism insurance reform. They stopped bills that discriminated against the LGBT community.

No riots or other hub-bub occurred. But change is coming to Oklahoma and it’s coming through the use of our consciences and our votes. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be done.

America is already great.

This summer I worked as an Americorps/VISTA volunteer for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. I had the privilege to travel all over western Oklahoma monitoring summer feeding programs for children ages infant – 18 years old.

And you know what I saw as I traveled from small town to small town? I saw dedicated, caring people who were concerned and DOING SOMETHING for their communities. They weren’t merely feeding children. They were feeding their spirits as well.

I saw people working together to make sure their children were provided for and that their futures were secure. I saw kindness and generosity everywhere I went.

I saw that the system…and the people…are working and keeping America great.

And yes, I saw blue spacious skies and golden fields of wheat. I saw the red Gloss Mountains and the Little Sahara sand dunes.  But mostly I saw that America is great…that America is working…that America is beautiful.

I believe that my American Vision…in direct contrast to Trump’s American Vision… is the correct one. I believe that our home of the free and the brave is still great and we have nothing to fear.

(Unless, of course, Trump is elected without my vote. If that happens, I will be afraid, very very afraid.)


National Teacher’s Day: My Favorite Teacher

National Teacher's Day

National Teacher’s Day
Image by Paul Gooddy/

Most of us have a teacher who encouraged us to become our best. On National Teacher’s Day, I wish to honor my favorite teacher, Mrs. Wilma Skinner.

by Peggy Browning

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” — Carl Jung

National Teacher’s Day Tribute to Mrs. Wilma Skinner

I have no doubt that teachers make a difference in children’s lives. Mrs. Wilma Skinner was the teacher who made the biggest impact on my life. She died twenty years ago at the age of 68 from complications of a stroke.

Mrs. Skinner’s death  was properly noted in the obituary section of this newspaper. The notice named her loving children, the time of the funeral service and a few of the accomplishments she achieved during her lifetime.

When I read the announcement of Mrs. Skinner’s death, I could only feel that the obituary was incomplete. It correctly stated that she was a retired teacher who taught at Midway and Bellevue Schools and Midwestern State University but said nothing of what a wise and wonderful woman she was. It never mentioned the impact she had on the lives of at least two generations of students from the tiny country schools where she taught.

Perhaps that was because there isn’t enough room in an entire newspaper to tell what Mrs. Skinner gave her students. A few inches in the obituary section certainly couldn’t cover the importance of her influence in our lives.

To fully describe Mrs. Skinner would have required interviews with all the people who loved her. And there were many of us.

Simply put, Mrs. Skinner was the best teacher I have ever known. I had the good fortune to be her student for several years. Mrs. Skinner taught fifth and sixth grade reading, handwriting, and grammar at small, rural, Midway School situated between the communities of Joy and Bluegrove, Texas.

I loved my first grade teacher, my second grade teacher, and my third grade teacher. I was afraid of my fourth grade teacher. In fifth grade,  Mrs. Skinner became my most very favorite teacher ever and she remains so today. I mourned when I had to leave her class to go on to the  7th grade even though at Midway that meant that you only moved down the long hall to the other end of the school.

And then I rejoiced in 8th grade when Mrs. Skinner “graduated” to high school where she became the junior high and high school English teacher.

Mrs. Skinner had that rare ability to detect your hidden strengths and praise you for them. She challenged  us to do our very best, but never chastised us if we fell short of her expectations. She knew our talents and she had faith that eventually we would recognize them too..

I feel like Mrs. Skinner taught me almost every important thing that I know. She certainly gave me many of the skills that I use every day. She taught me everything I know about writing: correct usage of grammar and not to add a bunch of baloney to your story just to fill up space.

Mrs. Skinner shared her love of the written word with us and allowed us to develop our own love of it. She encouraged us to find words of our own and gave us the knowledge we needed to do it.

I have many beloved memories of Wilma Skinner.

I remember her patience while she tried to teach me the finer points of handwriting in 5th grade. I remember that she practiced with me after school to prepare for the district spelling bee. I also remember my pride when she reported in her current events section on the blackboard that I won 3rd place in that competition.

I even remember her amused expression when she explained that “motley” had meanings other than this little country girl’s definition of an “old, motley-faced cow.”

I remember her merrily singing “O, Henry “ at the top of her lungs on the school bus during annual class trips to Wichita Falls. And I remember her laughing after Junior Smothers told a ribald joke in the school hallway when he thought she was out of earshot.

Mrs. Skinner introduced us to Shakespeare and William Faulkner, Sara Teasdale and the Bronte’ sisters, Edgar Allen Poe and Christina Rosetti. She showed us a world beyond the dairy farms and ranches where we lived: a world of dreams where anything we aspired to was possible. She showed us our potential and gave us the belief that we could accomplish whatever we desired to do. And she did so with compassion and understanding.

12 book categories to read this year

Mrs. Skinner shared her love of the written word with us.
image by

Mrs. Skinner understood that we needed to know more about life skills than about language skills and she proceeded to tell us some of the lessons she had learned.

National Teacher’s Day

When I had a mad crush on a boy who had more looks than brains and who didn’t reciprocate my affection, Mrs. Skinner kindly told me that boys don’t like girls who are smarter than they. She added that I should never pretend to be dumb, but instead to look for boys who were as smart as I.

Once when I was still in “flower child” mode, she and I debated over the goodness that I believed existed in everyone. She believed the opposite. In the years after high school I often thought of that when I encountered those people who are not inherently good. Only then did I appreciate her wise counsel.

Mrs. Skinner was not the teacher to whom you went with your problems, although you could have done that and she would have listened.

No, she was the teacher with whom you shared your dreams and knew she could give you credible advice and would never make you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with your feelings. She was the one who validated your ticket to fly among the stars.

I still cherish a worn piece of paper with a descriptive essay written upon it. Not because I received an ‘A’ on my effort, but because Mrs. Skinner  added “beautiful”  next to the grade. It is tucked away among my treasures because her favor is still valuable to me.

I always felt like I was Mrs. Skinner’s “special student.” So did everyone else.

She had the gift of making all her students feel special. Perhaps it was because she really believed they were.

Years after I graduated from Midway High School and became a teacher myself, I asked Mrs. Skinner how she always managed to treat her students with such respect and caring. She told me she prayed every morning for them and asked for wisdom and the ability to teach them the things they needed to know.

I hope she rests well knowing her prayers were answered.


Why do we wait until National Teacher’s Day to honor our favorite teacher?

See You Are Safe with Me

Inspiring Women over 50: Siggy Buckley, Author

Inspiring Women over 50: Siggy Buckley, Author

Siggy Buckley, inspiring women over 50

Siggy Buckley, author of I Once Had a Farm in Ireland.
One of the inspiring women over 50 that I have the pleasure to know.

As Siggy puts it…”we over 50s can rule the world!”

Author, organic farmer, matchmaker…given all of Siggy’s qualifications…I believe she is one of the most inspiring women over 50 that I know!

She has a new book out: I Once Had a Farm in Ireland. She writes about her experience on her organic farm in Ireland. Funny, touching,and full of information….you will want to read it.

Siggy Buckley Bio:

A former English teacher, Siggy Buckley’s life took an unexpected turn when her husband, a CPA, opted out of the rat race in Germany and made his family emigrate to Ireland to become organic farmers.
Her new life only produced a crop of misgivings and the breakup of her marriage. Single again, she reinvented herself, launched a dating service in Dublin. Remarried, she now lives and writes in Florida. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women.

Amazon author page

My blog:

My books

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Dreams of becoming a journalist were thwarted early on; I became a college teacher instead.

What or who inspired you to write?

I had kept a diary through my formative years as a farmer’s wife and then as a matchmaker. My now husband encouraged me to put my accumulated memories and experiences into a book while blogging about several topics. Authors who inspired me are strong female voices like Benoit Grout and Irish writer Nuala O’Faolain.

What is your favorite part of your book?

My Favorite part of Next Time Lucky is the beginning of the last chapter on p. 230:

“ Homeward Bound

The only obstacles that could keep us apart were visa issues.  A European resident is allowed to visit the USA for up to 180 days a year but only 90 per visit.  My first 90 days were up.  At the end of January, shortly before I had to leave the country, I started to feel blue.

“What’s up, Sweet-pea?” He wrapped his arms around me on the sofa.

“I don’t want to leave you.  For once I’ve found a man I love whole-heartedly, who respects me, who fulfils my needs, and I have to go away for silly reasons like a frigging visa.”

“We’ll find a way.  I’ll visit you in Germany next month.  And then you come back to me here in the US.  Are you sure you want to come back to me or do you want to think about it while you are over there? Maybe make a trip to Spain and check it out as planned?”

“Why should I go to Spain if all I want is to be with you, Connor? Start all over in yet another country? I’ve felt uprooted for such a long time; I don’t know anymore where my home is.” I leaned more into him, and he caressed my neck and shoulders.

“After my break-ups in Ireland, I didn’t know where I belonged.” I continued.  “I didn’t want to stay in Ireland any longer and now I miss it.  Imagine!”

“Well, it was your home for a while.  It all makes sense to me.”

My head snuggled even further into his arm that embraced me.  “When I am with you it feels like belonging again.”

Connor took my face in his hands.  Our eyes interlocked.

“My poor darling! I want you to be with me, I want to take care of you and spend my life with you.  You are my partner, my friend, and my beautiful lover.” He placed a gentle kiss on my lips.  “We have so much in common though we come from different backgrounds.  Quite extraordinary, really.  You are like the female version of me – maybe at long last the proverbial soul mate I have been waiting and searching for all my life.  We’ll figure something out.”

“But how?”

“Something will come to us.” This line from Meet Joe Black had tickled us both when we watched the film together.  In the eyes of adversity, that couple kept looking for a way to master their future together.  Sometimes all you can do is keep trying. “

 What have you learned from writing?

Patience, persistence and that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details–Insider-Successful-Homeswapping-ebook/dp/B005N0N3CO/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385282046&sr=1-6&keywords=Siggy+Buckley

Inspiring Women over 50: An Interview with Children’s Author, Margaret Arvanitis

Margaret Arvanitis chose writing as her second career. She started writing children's book after she turned 50.

Margaret Arvanitis started writing children’s books at the age of 50.

Source: Inspiring Women over 50: An Interview with Children’s Author, Margaret Arvanitis

Dear Oprah: Don’t Mess with the Thin Woman Inside Me

dear Oprah


Dear Oprah,

Oh my dear Oprah, I have listened to you speak about issues for more years now than I care to count.

You have done many good and inspiring things. Heck, you started a mini-revolution in the publishing industry just by recommending books to read. Dozens of authors can personally thank you for reading their book, suggesting it as a good read, and initiating a rocket launch for their book sales.

Lots of women listened when you spoke.They still do.

But, now you should listen to me.

It’s time that you give up on this weight loss thing. I don’t care what you personally do about your own weight, but stop trying to influence the rest of us.

Recently you said, dear Oprah, and I quote:

Inside every overweight woman is the woman she knows she can become. – Oprah –


What the hell is that supposed to mean?

I am already the woman I know I can become. I became her a long time ago.

I am sixty years old. And I finally feel OK about myself. I don’t need you to transfer your insecurities about your own weight issues to me. I don’t have any of those insecurities any more.

I’m over it.

I don’t have a thin woman inside me who is trying to get out. Long ago, that thin woman said “fuck it” and just started living her own life.

Now that woman in me is just fine with the way she looks and the way she feels and the way she dresses  and the make-up she wears. She is fabulous and smart and funny and kind and sarcastic and hard-working and creative and wise. And she’s soft in all the right places, especially her heart.

I like her a lot. She used to be such a whiny bitch, but she finally succumbed to age and red velvet cake and we get along just fine now.

So, please, dear Oprah…it is time we parted ways. I know you just bought 10% of Weight Watchers stock, but I don’t need you to tell me to that there’s someone wonderful inside me if I could just lose enough fat to find her.

I know where she is. And she’s happy. Leave her alone.

Reflection … What Do You See When You See Yourself?



image:Stuart Miles/

A few months ago I moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma. I knew only one person in this place, a friend of 20 years, and she had generously offered for me to come stay with her, take a break, work on my writing, and re-organize my life. She was giving me time for reflection.

I am a native Texan. And I have moved to north central Oklahoma, twenty miles from the Oklahoma-Kansas border. For the very first time in my life, I am away from my family, away from my kids…and I feel a bit homesick, but strangely free. I am a stranger in a strange land. (You probably have to be a Texan to fully understand this…native Texans don’t quickly acknowledge that there is another world just across the Red River.)

Not long after I arrived here, I wandered downtown trying to acquaint myself with this lovely town. I stood in front of a shop and tried to determine if it was open. The sign said it was, but there were no lights on and it didn’t look welcoming…


I looked to my left and saw a woman standing there. In the span of a second or two, I thought…that’s an attractive lady…she looks nice…I could ask her a question and she would answer it kindly and with a little bit of humor…and I know she would smile at me and be helpful. I could see that she liked me.

I opened my mouth to ask her about the shop…about the town…about helping me a little. Then I realized that nice, attractive, kindly-looking woman was me. I was looking into a mirror.

“Well, good lord,” I laughed at myself. ” I have finally lost my mind. I didn’t even recognize myself in a mirror.”

I have often described myself by the reflection from my mirror. Put on a few pounds…I’m fat. Have a pimple…I’m ugly. Unhappy with my job…I’m a loser. My hair is gray and I have a new wrinkle…I’m too old. That was all I could see.

And then…I saw that kindly woman in the mirror on the street in Ponca City. And I didn’t even recognize myself.

But the moment and reflection stuck with me. I felt like I had the rarest of all chances to see myself as I am, and how other people may see me. And I liked it. I hope that is my true reflection: kind, friendly, tolerant, humorous. I would really like that.

And now I’m in Oklahoma…being free…seeing all kinds of interesting stuff…learning all kinds of interesting stuff…meeting all kinds of interesting people…and hopefully putting out a reflection of my truest self.

Last week I had the opportunity to meet Ryan Reid and sit in on a music video shoot for his new single Ain’t Enough Water. Then I had a chance to interview this talented, soft-spoken young man. And we talked about reflection. It is his hope to reflect the Light…and Shine. That’s my hope, too…for both of us.

Here’s the story at Red Dirt Report….

I have Become My Mother…

I have become my mother.

by Peggy Browning

I am reposting this in honor of what would have been my mother’s 101st birthday. She was born on January 14, 1915 and married my Daddy in April, 1935. She went to Heaven in June, 2005 at the age of 90. She lived through two World Wars, and cooked on a wood cookstove. She and Daddy farmed with mules and drove an old Model A. She used coal oil lamps until the Jack-Archer-Clay Electric Cooperative was created and electricity lighted up the country-side in 1947. She got her driver’s license at age 45 and was finally legal to drive everywhere she had already been driving. She drove a tractor, raked hay, and worked alongside Daddy every day. She made our dresses and shirts and baked a pie darn near every day. In the later years of her life, after Daddy passed away in July 1985 shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary, she started traveling with her older daughters and their children and her sisters. She enjoyed airplane trips and she loved talking about a helicopter ride she took with her grandson, Keith and his wife, Teresa. 

There is so much more to tell about my Mama, but it is enough to know that she lived a good, long life. She is missed every single day. 


“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”  — Abraham Lincoln

Uncle Pete, Aunt Lizzie, Mama, Aunt Durelle, Aunt Pauline, Grandma, GrandDaddy


“I have become my mother.”

I often hear women my age…and women who are younger than me…say that. Sometimes they say it jokingly; sometimes they say it disparagingly.

They almost always say “I have become my mother” like it’s a bad thing.

Maybe it is a bad thing…if you had a mother who lacked good qualities.

That, however, was not my experience. Perhaps other women  had mothers who lacked good qualities. I did not.

When I say “I have become my mother”,  I am hopeful that I have, in some good way, emulated her.

I had a very good mother. I aspire to be as much like her as I can be. I fall short every day.

Mildred Viola Martin Browning was a good woman, a good friend to those who were fortunate enough to know her. She was a faithful, loving daughter to her own parents. She spoke highly of her own mother. She was the middle child of five and her love for her three sisters and baby brother never wavered.  She was a wonderful mother and grandmother. Her love for her offspring never wavered either.

Mama was a good wife and helpmate to my father. Together, they made a living by farming. My mother was an excellent farmer. When she was asked to describe herself, she said “I am a farmer.” In her opinion, being a farmer summed up her life.

It sums it up in my opinion as well. I believe that being a farmer is the purest calling in life. If you can farm, you can do anything and everything.

I believed my mother could do anything and everything, too. She was not boastful about her abilities. She simply did what was required of her lifestyle. And she did it well.

When I came of age during the era of women’s liberation, I wondered what all the fuss was about.

Equality was not a question in our home. My mother could do anything my father did and more.  She did not do it with pride or arrogance. She did it with quiet grace and aplomb.

Mama could work hard in the fields, then come to the house and harvest the crops from her garden and use them to cook our meals. She sewed our clothing, washed all the laundry, kissed all the scraped knees, raised chickens and gathered their eggs and wrung their necks and fried them in a cast iron skillet, milked the cow and fed the hogs, put three meals on the table every single day and then told us a bedtime story before turning out the lights and saying “Good night. I love you very much.”

Mama was more than equal. And my Daddy affirmed it again and again to us. He did not undermine her authority; he demanded that we respect her. He showed his children how to do that by loving and respecting her himself.

My mother was kind. She was firm but gentle. She was a great story-teller. She was an excellent farmer.

She loved her family: her husband, parents, children, sisters and brother, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great- grandchildren. They all loved her, too.

My mother is the best example of fulfilling womanhood that I can summon. If someone were to tell me, “Peggy, you are just like your mother,” I would be flattered and pleased. I would be honored to even come close.

“I have become my mother” are words I would be proud…oh, so very proud…to say.

Retail Hell

Retail Hell

Christmas Eve… Just another day in Retail Hell
image by imagerymajestic/

Retail Hell

by Peggy Browning

On Christmas Eve, I walked out of Retail Hell at 7:12 p.m and I never looked back. I was not shopping; I was the person behind the counter ringing up totals for ice cream and milk and eggnog and listening to people complain because the store where I work didn’t have all the ingredients for the pie they wanted to bake.

It’s Christmas Eve. Maybe you should have planned ahead, fool.

I am convinced that anyone who works retail is a special kind of person. Actually, I am convinced they are saints. I’m not a saint; I’m a full-on sinner. I have no place in retail sales. I hate every minute I am working because, basically I don’t like people all that much.

Here’s a sample of what I endured on Xmas Eve in Retail Hell.

A woman purchased a gallon of milk for $3.36. Her change from a five was $1.64. I placed the paper money in her hand and put the coins and receipt on top of it. She grimaced.

I said, “Is something wrong?” “Yes,” she said. “That’s not how you are supposed to return change. I was taught that you put the coins in the hand first, then the paper money.”

I asked, “Is the change correct?”


“Okay, then.” Next…

“I got the last eggnog on the shelf,” my next customer said.

“Well…it’s your lucky day, then!” I said.

“No it’s not. I have to pay $4.29 for it and that’s before tax.”

“Actually, the price has gone down and is only $3.99 for a half gallon, so with tax it’s only $4.34.”

“That’s still too high.”

“You don’t have to buy it; I can put it back on the shelf if you don’t want it,” I said.

Then we had a staring contest….I guess I won because he finally broke and said, “My wife wants it.”

“Okay, then.”  Next….

More than one frantic woman yelled… “You don’t have any frozen pecan pies!”

“No. We sold out early this morning.”

“What am I going to do?! I depend on you all to do my baking!” (No, folks, I am NOT exaggerating this.)

And I said, helpfully I thought, “How would apple pie work for you?”

“No, no, absolutely not. We always have pecan pie. It’s our tradition.”

And I thought, but didn’t say…shitfire, lady, it looks like it’s time to start a new tradition. Frozen pecan pie sucks.

My register went down….it stopped scanning on the biggest order of the day while people lined up past the frozen pizza section. The manager fixed it by re-starting the computer because they don’t trust us to re-start it even though every clerk behind a register knows how to do it. Then it stopped weighing bananas…and, well, let’s just say, lots of folks might have received a banana flavored Christmas miracle.

On Christmas Eve in Retail Hell, our store ran out of half-gallons of whole milk, eggs, half-gallons of 2% milk, sausage, canned biscuits, frozen pecan pies, and whipping cream. People begged me to go look in the back storage refrigerator for them.

At first I tried to console the shoppers and offer alternative suggestions.  But after five hours of pouty, whining customers asking me to do the impossible, I finally broke.

“I’m mad at this store,” said a relatively sane looking man. He was dragging along his tween-age granddaughter and both were sucking down milkshakes. I hadn’t had a sip of water for five freaking hours.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you’ve only got gallons of whole milk. And I need a half-gallon. Would you go get me one out of the back?”

“We don’t have any.”

“Why not?”

“We sold out of them. We’ve been very busy today.”

“And you don’t have any in the back?”

“Sir, I assure you we don’t have any in the back. We are not hiding anything from you.”

“I’m not getting any then. My wife told me to get a half-gallon.” He scowled and lingered at the register.  He shouldn’t have stayed.

“What can I say, Dude? We had them this morning. You should have come in earlier.”

I could have said so much more, like…suck it up, whiny-butt….do I look like I care?…sir, you need to get out of my line before I stab you in the eye with a spork… but I didn’t. I kept my thoughts to myself.

I’m sure his wife dealt with him later…because she needed more milk, obviously,  and wouldn’t have cared if it was in a gallon or half-gallon.


Some really nice folks came in. Some wished me a Merry Christmas. But the experiences with rude jack-wagons far outweighed the nicer ones.

Moral of this story: Hell is real. You can experience it in any retail business on Christmas Eve or the day before a major snowstorm is predicted. Be nice to the person behind the counter; don’t be a jack-wagon and you might get free bananas instead of a spork in the eye.


Save me from Retail Hell next year…I’m begging you! …Please purchase my books!

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