1974 photo of author holding her baton
1974 photo of author holding her baton
Photo courtesy of Kathy Scanlan

Growing up with seven brothers in rural central Ohio had its perks. I learned how to climb trees, catch frogs, play army in the woods, and dodge body-checks during vicious hockey games. I could hold my own in a backyard brawl over the best seat around the campfire, and I was not afraid to haggle with the oldest sibling over the last piece of pizza.

Thanks to our physiological differences, I had my own bedroom while all the boys were crammed into two bedrooms with bunk beds, much like a military barracks or reform school. …


Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

I wonder. Is there a Boyfriend Guild, a centuries-old band of merry lovemakers and heartbreakers? Perhaps they gather for an annual conference in a swanky beach hotel or a rustic cabin in the foothills. Maybe they have a creed and membership dues and an obscure Instagram account. What I am certain of is this: Each member of the Boyfriend Guild is marked with a destiny, a distinct duty they must fulfill in humanity’s never-ending drama of love giveth and love taketh away.

The First Boyfriend

Most often, the first boyfriend lives in the land of awkward, trying to figure out…


Reflecting on the mistakes made over the course of a lifetime is guaranteed to deliver a lot of chuckles, a few tears, and a stiff dose of humility, especially when cake, tattoos, and dogs are on the list.

1. Eating an entire homemade chocolate cake in less than 48 hours. I showed no restraint or decorum. I didn’t take time to breathe or blink. I bundled the half I had not eaten in six layers of plastic wrap and buried it in the freezer. Just shy of two days later, I discovered how scrumptious frozen chocolate cake can be with a glass of wine. Who Knew?

2. Proudly wearing paisley. I wore a bright-orange paisley dress for a presentation I gave to a theater full of 500 people. I distinctly remember the looks of sheer horror from a…


Photo by Kathleen Cardwell

The smallest of her angels was a pure white figurine encased in a clear stone, barely bigger than a quarter.

My mother collected angels of every size and style. Her host of angels included shiny Christmas tree ornaments, zipper pulls, and wooden magnets. Several angels stood in a perfect row on the window sill above her kitchen sink. An angel nightlight blinked a soft blue in the bathroom, and the catch-all basket on top of her clothes dryer was a wicker angel with its wings spread wide. She believed the bronze angel clipped to the sun visor in her car watched over her on her weekly jaunts to the grocery store, church, and her quilting club.

The smallest of her…


Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

My father planted his garden of tomatoes and green beans just beyond the barn on the far side of the pond, where the water was a mossy green. Every morning, he would release the chickens and lone rooster into the garden to feast on bugs and worms.

The tall sycamore tree, at the shallow end of the pond, towered over the water, casting long shadows to the other side. When my brother Jeff and I were young, the thin curls of peeling bark on the sycamore tree were a welcome distraction on our daily trip to the garden. He would…


Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I left the store seething at yet another instance of feeling like a smart woman who‘d been outsmarted. In the solace of my home office/cave and a fresh cup of coffee, I reached a small but mighty revelation.

Yes, it’s me. I’m that person, once again paralyzed in the mile-long cosmetic aisle at my local drugstore. My shoulders are slumped and my shopping basket is empty. As the alert comes over the store’s loud speaker, the cosmetic specialist perks up behind the counter, ready to remedy this sad situation unfolding in front of her. …


Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

“I started our usual conversation, a circuitous parade of family updates, gossip, and her insistence on moving back home. I dodged my way through, avoiding the answer I didn’t want to give and she wasn’t prepared to hear.”

No one suspected anything when I entered the nursing home with a banned substance. Not the receptionist, and not even the feisty residents who sat in the TV room and greeted every visitor. After all, I was a regular, I looked harmless, and I followed the rules…well, most of them.

The extra large, hot, frothy French Vanilla Cappuccino — Mom’s absolute favorite…


Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

You have absolutely no idea who you are when you’re 21.

At this age you can’t be held accountable for insisting that gold lamè is the best color for bridesmaid dresses and that a wedding party of 14 is perfectly reasonable. The nuclear battle with your mother over coordinated glittery-gold napkins for the wedding reception further proves that as a young adult with a college degree, you are clueless.

You also can’t be expected to know that two people who are madly in love can change into different people with different ideas about what love really is, or isn’t.

And suddenly, without barely a warning, you are thirty-one and divorced, sitting on your polished oak stairs with your two children, ages three and six.

Ponder the sting and the shame when the end of your marriage…


hand holding a compass
hand holding a compass
Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

At 53-years-old, I was coasting along in my career of three decades in the corporate world and in higher education. The mileage was there in my graying hair and in my laugh lines. I had become seasoned with a calm demeanor, a few life lessons, and a quiet self-confidence. I was more than comfortable being that vintage car on the corner of the lot, squeezed in between the newer models.

But slowly, I realized it was time for me to go. Years of leadership changes and silly office dramas had started to wear me down. …

Kathleen Cardwell

A practicing crafter of relevant and entertaining narrative.

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