First Friends

It’s been five years since I lost my friend Patti to a rare form of cancer. She was only sixty at the time and her sheer will and determination to fight for her life provided a model for me when I was diagnosed eighteen months later with breast cancer. Over the years, I’ve reflected on […]

Who Holds the Pen?

I recently had the opportunity to work with an experienced editor to polish a piece for publication in her digital magazine, Spirited Voices. When the time arrived for our session, I heard my usual inner critics shouting at me to be fearful of negative feedback, insisting that I wasn’t good enough and to beware that […]

In Search of the Perfect Gelato

For the past year, I’ve gotten up each morning and looked at my suitcase. She sits expectantly on my luggage rack reminding me 2020 was to be my Year of Travel and Adventure. We’ve mourned that loss together. Her mere presence brings back memories of people, experiences, laughter, discovery and pure delight. In those moments, […]

All in One

I was raised Catholic, dutifully going through first communion and whatever the thing is at twelve or thirteen . . . I think it’s confirmation. I remember having to choose a saint’s name to add to mine, so I chose the longest one, Catherine, in order to have the longest overall name in the class. […]

The 4 T’s of Transitions

Five years ago, I started this blog as a simple way to let my family and friends know where I was in the world. Its purpose morphed over time, gradually allowing me to find and own my voice.  Now, I have a website that showcases my new “portfolio career” – a combination of consulting, coaching, […]

What’s in Your Mary Poppins Bag?

One of the most common questions I get since leaving the corporate world is “How did you decide what to do next?” My urge is to say “I have no idea.” But the truth is I had a semi-organized plan called Operation  Snagglepuss that included doing inventory of my Mary Poppins bag. Let me explain […]

Journeys of Choice

It’s been five years since I left the corporate world and entered my self-prescribed 3rd Act. At the time, I thought I’d planned my journey quite well, yet looking back, it has been five years of unexpected twists and turns, accomplishments and loss, growth and setbacks. My battle with breast cancer and the death of […]

Wanted: Role Models

I was recently asked by a group of women who my role models were growing up. Given our current political environment, it seemed to carry more weight than usual as we seem to be losing our moral compass. And it should have been an easy question to answer. Yes? Actually, no. You know how there’s […]

The Sound of Musical Silliness

As part of my 3rd Act journey, I’ve created an “ideal schedule” for each day of the week. It’s color-coded a light green so my actual appointments and activities can sit on top. Not every minute is accounted for, but the blocks of time serve as a reminder for me to consciously choose how I […]

A Tattoo of My Own Choosing

In early 2018, I went through weeks of radiation to treat breast cancer. Little did I know it would require the placement of three very tiny tattoos for the technicians to “line me up” correctly. They are permanent marks and private reminders of a time when cancer lurked in my body, hidden and deadly. They […]

43 Minutes and 28 Seconds

That was how long our conversation lasted during what I now know was to be our last Father’s Day together. It was late afternoon and I was in my new office space downstairs, trying to stay cool during a rare heat wave. I was expecting the standard call; lamenting over the latest political gaffe, ruing […]

The Return of the Scavenger Hunt

One of my favorite memories as a kid was the scavenger hunt. I think it was invented by parents who just wanted their kids out of the house for a few hours during a birthday party and, boy howdy, did it work! Armed with a random list of oddities, we formed teams and ran around […]

New Year, New Perspective

I believe changing perspective, every once in a while, is like a good slap upside the head – quite necessary and oddly reassuring. So, on Day One of 2019, I set out to find my New Year perspective. A year ago, I was nursing wounds from breast cancer surgery. A year ago, I was happy […]

Lessons in Shopping

I know shopping online is all the rage these days. I get it. It’s convenient, easy and can be transacted while in bunny slippers and a robe. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s worthwhile getting dressed and going to a store. My store of choice? CVS Pharmacy. For those of you unfamiliar with this store, it’s […]

Only in Canada!

Last summer I had the opportunity to attend a family wedding in the Toronto area. It was a godsend in many ways as I was still reeling from the U.S. election, (actually I’m still reeling, but that’s another blog) and I needed a new perspective. Canada is the perfect place to regain your world view […]

The Importance of (Nick)names

I grew up spelling my name. Every first day of school, I would sit in class with my heart beating out of my chest and my stomach twisting, waiting for the teacher to get to the “P” portion of the roll call, dreading the inevitable calling out of my name. “Karen Pelka?” “Here, but it’s […]

Sisterhood of the Traveling Orange Towel

In August of 2007, I traveled to Italy with my two cousins, Lisa and Kim, and my “adopted” sister, Sharon. It was my first time traveling to Europe and looking back, this was the first, irrevocable step to unleashing my gypsy spirit. It was also the trip that started our tradition of the traveling orange […]

Not Quite the Tattoo I Had in Mind

I’ve always wanted a tattoo. It’s been on my bucket list for years. And I knew there needed to be a good story behind it. That’s the most powerful kind of tattoo; a talisman of love lost, love found, of struggle or redemption. I just hadn’t found my story until I heard the words, “You […]

My Magical Story-Telling Christmas Tree

I have a magical Christmas tree. It may look like your typical store-bought, artificial tree with pre-lit lights, but that just means you aren’t looking hard enough. Look deeper, closer and begin to listen, for it has many stories to tell. More than 30 years ago, I started collecting Christmas ornaments from places I traveled. […]

Bumps, Humps & Lumps: My Road to Slowing the F*&# Down

I was a timid driver at 16. I remember driving into the neighborhood strip mall and not being able to get the car over the speed bump in the parking lot. I rolled up to the top and then, embarrassingly, rolled backward, requiring that I give it more gas to heave awkwardly and noisily over […]

Just Say “Yes”

It often takes more courage to contemplate a “yes,” than live with an automatic “no.” What can you say yes to today? How often in your life do you say no instead of yes? Is it your default response, with yes only coming after prodding, cajoling, greater thought or just plain shaming? In a time […]

Travel makes my feet sore and my heart soar

The cobblestone streets of old world European cities, days of touring their glorious museums, hours of transport dependent solely on your delicate soles and the allure of countryside hiking all require a good shoe strategy when traveling. Choosing footwear that is light, supportive and ideally waterproof while still trying to be stylish can be a […]

Operation Snagglepuss

When I was in my mid-40s, I began to think about the next stage of my life. My boys were approaching or in college, my career was going well, and I took the plunge and hired a financial advisor to help me plot my “retirement”. Trust me, this was one of the best things I’ve […]

The Pickup

As I was planning the logistics to and from the airport for my trip to Scottsdale, I was reminded of a story that happened a few years back. For those of you too young to know, it used to be standard practice to have my designated person (usually a family member or friend) park their […]

A One Way Ticket to Barcelona

As I exited the Corporate World in early July, I had 3 goals in mind. The 1st was to cleanse my mental palette, the 2nd was to restore my creative reservoir and the 3rd was to let my gypsy spirit travel the world for a bit and be reminded that I’m never lost, just exploring. I […]